Arunachal Pradesh is one of the prettiest states in all of India. Clouds and clouds surrounding the peaks all around, green leaves whistling into the ears of tree parks, bright apple orchard farms and gurgling streams. Probably, the foremost thing to put the state on the map has been the Ziro Valley Festival.
How to reach: Fly down to Jorhat and then travel by road. Alternatively, fly down to Guwahati and then board a bus to Ziro. In case you want to travel by train you can head to Lakhimpur.
Best time to visit: March to October. In case, you want to visit during the festival you can go in the month of September.
The charming mountainous region offers picturesque landscapes at every nook and corner. There are rolling green hills sandwiched with rice fields looking back at you as you drive through these regions.
For a taste of the truest tribal lifestyle you can visit the Apatani tribe. Their villages of Siiro, Baro, Bula, Hong and Hari offer a front seat view to this tribe’s culture. Unlike a number of the regional tribes, the Apatani were non-nomadic as they practised permanent cultivation of land. The women of this tribe are famous for bearing face tattoos and distinctively big nose rings. In the ancient times the Apatani women were considered to be the most beautiful in the area, so, other tribesmen would abduct them. To stop this practice the Apatani men branded the women with these tattoos and rings to make them less appealing. Today, thankfully the practice has been stopped. If you visit you can see their local homes, witness their ceremonies and if you’re lucky even their traditional music and dances!
For the further colloquially curious, there are even some local fish farms to explore which allow you to see how the people of Ziro earn their meals and their means. Their breeding and farming are on display at such farms.
And for the adventurous ones there’s trekking too at the Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is at a distance of 32kms from Ziro and is home to a number of endangered species including the clouded leopard. It’s also home to the trademark mountain friends here such as sheep who in their soft grazing through green lands take you back within an 80s classic that showed the slow life we noew yearn for. Some days. There are small waterfalls nestled between pines and meadows awaiting here. Ziro allows you to walk through bamboo mangroves and even discover its exotic flora and fauna.
The Ziro Festival Of Music sees throngs of travellers and music lovers from across the country making their way to this slice of nature every year. The festival has been held in the area since 2012 and prides itself for being one of India’s biggest outdoor music festivals. It was actually started and is still hosted by some people whose origin traces back to the aforementioned Apatani people. The event is spread over 3 days allowing you to immerse yourself in the hills along with the music to make it even dreamier.
Accommodation: Organizers provide tents as per your tickets which have to be booked well in advance. You can even pitch your own tents at the Hapoli ground. In case camping isn’t your style then you can stay in the nearby lodges but forewarning these are pretty basic.
From techno to electronic to indie, the music junkie soul can be found singing in all sorts of genres here as they come up with a power-packed line up of artists. You can meet travellers from all over India here sharing their passion for travel and music both. However, its increasing popularity promises a sizeable crowd at the event so if you’re a traveller for whom crowds are a big no, then I’d suggest visiting Ziro at a time other than this fest.
All in all, the famed valley of Arunachal Pradesh can offer one too many experiences depending on what you’re looking for, from the quiet to the loud, from the cultural to the mad. Or if you want to experience it all, then just pack your bags and go for one whole week, with the festival’s musical days to the softer ones later by yourself. Arunachal is a gem, don’t miss out on it.