Photograph courtesy: Lovel D’Souza/Creative Commons
Arunachal Pradesh is one of India’s lesser-explored states. And while the north-eastern state is slowly but surely getting popular it is far from being as commercialized as some of the other places in the country. But first, a few things about Arunachal Pradesh.
Arunachal Pradesh is located on the northeastern-most tip of India bordered by Assam and Nagaland to the south, Bhutan to the west, China to the north and Myanmar to the east. Arunachal Pradesh has the highest number of regional languages in India. It is also one of the less explored destinations, making it all the more lucrative for people craving for something new. However, since Arunachal Pradesh is not one of the most popular destinations in India, the number of options for accommodation and places to eat are limited.
All that said, the state is rich in culture and heritage along with having a vast forest cover. In order to travel in Arunachal Pradesh, one will need to have an Inner Line Permit which you can get issued from the airport at Kolkata, Guwahati or Tezpur. While traveling in Arunachal Pradesh you will be spending a significant amount of your time on the road. The best time to visit Arunachal Pradesh is from October to June. Winters are severe here and so this is about the best time to visit Arunachal Pradesh. Here is a 10-day itinerary for your next vacation to Arunachal Pradesh.
Day 1: Guwahati/Tezpur to Bomdila
Land in Guwahati or Tezpur. Guwahati is a better-connected airport, but know that it takes twice the time — about 10 hours — to reach Bomdila by road from here. Tezpur to Bomdila is about five hours apart.
Arunachal Pradesh State Transport (APST) buses connect Guwahati/Tezpur and Bomdila. They run on fixed schedules and are affordable. Take the bus if you have the luxury of time, else opt for a cab.
Renting a car can be expensive, but it is a practical option. Most cabbies will be happy to stay with you for the entire duration. A cab will cost you Rs 1500/day from Guwahati (North East Car Rental Contact: +91-89749-47599).
Tezpur-Bomdila cab should put you back by Rs 1,200.
Spend the day relaxing in Bomdila; you’d have had a long journey behind you and an even longer one ahead of you.
Day 2: Bomdila
The Bomdila Monastery is the biggest tourist attraction here besides the several Buddhist temples that dot the village.
Trek up to RR Hill, Bomdila’s highest point and you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Tibet and Bhutan.
The other major attraction of Bomdila is the Eaglenest Sanctuary, home to close to a hundred species of birds and animals and offers a view of a waterfall formed by the Kameng river.
Bomdila is also home to beautiful apple orchards that are open for you to take a stroll in and buy apples from!
Where to stay in Bomdila: Hotel Sweet, Circuit House, Hotel La and Tourist Lodge (Approximate tariff for one night: Rs 1,500 to Rs 2500)
Where to eat in Bomdila: The Bomdila market place has several options for local cuisine like momos, thukpa, soups and noodles. If you are adventurous enough, try out the roadside stalls and dhabas. Some of the better restaurants include Tsepal Yongjam, Dragon and Silver Oaks.
Day 3: Bomdila to Tawang
Head to Tawang after breakfast. Depending on the condition of the roads, the drive can take anywhere between eight to 11 hours.
While on your way to Tawang from Bomdila you can stop by the Nuranang Waterfalls which is 130 km from Bomdila and approximately 40 km from Tawang.
Rest well for the rest of the day.
Where to stay in Tawang: The Circuit House, Hotel Nichu, Hotel Shangrila, Inspection Bungalow and the Government Tourist Lodge (Approximate tariff: Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000)
Where to eat in Tawang: Food in Tawang is not as cheap as you may expect it to be because most of it is transported to Tawang. Roadside stalls and restaurants like the Cafe Nirvana, Orange Restaurant and Lounge Bar, Blue Pine and the Sno-Yak Restaurant also serve decent food.
Day 4: Tawang
Visit the picturesque Tawang Monastery followed by the War Memorial.
Head to the Shong-Tser Lake also called the Madhuri Lake and Pankang Tso, which remains frozen through the winters but offers stunning views from autumn to spring.
Visit Jaswant Garh, a memorial built in honor of a soldier named Jaswant Singh Rawat of the Indian Army who fought the invading Chinese all alone for three long days.
Local cabs in Tawang will cost you anywhere between Rs 1500 and Rs 3,000 per day.
Day 5: Tawang to Dirang
Though Dirang is situated between Bomdila and Tawang, it is advisable to stop on your way back because it serves as a good point to break your onward journey to Itanagar.
If you are taking local transport note that the last bus from Tawang to Bomdila leaves by noon. A cab ride will take close to seven hours but the bus journey can go up to eight or nine (sometimes even more due to bad roads or weather).
Where to stay: Hotel Samdup Khang, Hotel Pemaling, and Hotel KC are some of your budget to mid-range options. (Approximate tariff for one night: Rs 1,500 to Rs 1800)
Where to eat: There are a bunch of options in Dirang for eating, the best of them will be the local street-side food stalls.
Day 6: Dirang
While in Dirang you can start your day by strolling around the village or a visit to the five centuries-old Kalachakra Monastery.
Then head to Dirang Dzong, a tribal region located on the banks of the Dirang river. The architecture of houses in this region is said to be over 500 years old.
Next visit the Sangti valley. If you’re interested in treks, local guides will be happy to take you up to a vantage point from where you can get a clear view of the eastern Himalayas.
Dirang is a one-horse town and you can easily cover it on foot. But if you must, the local taxis will cost you about Rs 1500.
Day 7: Dirang to Itanagar
Drive down to Itanagar. Buses from Bomdila to Itanagar depart from the terminal as early as 6 am and the ticket will cost you around Rs 160. After the 12-hour journey, you can either visit the Itanagar Craft Centre and emporium or directly check into any hotel/hostel in Itanagar for the much-needed sleep.
A cab from Dirang to Itanagar will easily save you at least three hours of travel time.
Where to stay: Hotel Arunachal, Hotel Donyi Polo Ashok, Hotel Itafort and the Field Hostel are some of the best options in the city. (Approximate tariff for one night: Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000)
Where to eat: Zero Point is the most famous restaurant for people craving for some familiar Indian cuisine. On the other hand, Poong Nest is for people who want to try local food in its true form.
Day 8: Itanagar to Ziro
In Itanagar you have two options. Either you could head towards Ziro early in the morning taking the APST bus (departure from Itanagar at 6 am arrival at Ziro at 2 pm, ticket: Rs 110) in order to spend some more time at Ziro.
Or you could spend some time in Itanagar, visit the Ita Fort (timings: 8 am to 4 pm) and the Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary after which you could rent a car. The travel time here will be five to six hours. You could check into a hotel, hostel or try a homestay to charge yourself up for the next day.
Day 9: Ziro
Visit the Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary home to several endangered animals such as the clouded leopard.
Visit the 5,000-year-old Meghna Cave Temple and then spend your day strolling around pine tree forested Midey.
Next up, visit Ziro Puto the place where the first administrative center was set up after India’s independence.
Where to stay: Pratigya Ziro valley Resort, Pine Ridge Hotel, Siiro Resort are among the best options available in Ziro. (Approximate tariff for one night: Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,500)As far as homestays are concerned, the only way to know is to reach the destination and ask around.
Where to eat: Ziro also has a few dhabas, roadside stalls and shacks serving local cuisine. By now if you haven’t developed a liking towards the local food, you can always turn to Maggi instant noodles, served at almost every other turn.
Day 10: Ziro to Guwahati
You have some time to walk around and enjoy the scenery in Ziro if you’re planning to board the APST bus (departure from Ziro: 12.30 pm, arrival at Guwahati: 5.30 am, Ticket: Rs 225). A local cab to Guwahati ( 16-18 hours) will cost you Rs 3,000.