Thursday, 13 October 2016

Travelling Solo In Arunachal Pradesh

I’m so, so happy to have got back to my ‘solo travel’ with Arunachal Pradesh! Northeast India had always fascinated me for its culture, people and of course, its natural beauty. I had been thinking about beginning my tryst with the seven-sister states as soon as possible. I’m glad that I began it with Arunachal Pradesh.


To begin with, Arunachal Pradesh is a huge state with different regions, tribes, cultures and landscapes. You need at least a month to explore it deeply. I could do only Ziro and Dirang Valley in my week long trip. But, I’m complacent.

Travelling alone in Arunachal Pradesh was different from my previous solo travels – it was more challenging. I felt lonely and homesick on many occasions. But, it was still epic.



Is it safe to travel solo in Arunachal Pradesh?

Yes, it is. There are no apparent dangers or hitches that should discourage anyone to travel alone in Arunachal. The people are generally nice. In fact, I met some really fabulous people in Arunachal.


So, what should you explore and experience in Arunachal Pradesh –

Different tribes and their cultures
The first thing to get intrigued about Arunachal is its varied cultures that come from its different tribes. I began my voyage with Ziro Valley, where I got introduced to the interesting Apatani tribe – their everyday life, the kind of houses they live in, and the language they speak.

Then I also rubbed shoulders with Monpa folks in West Kameng District of Arunachal. I was amazed to spot pretty monasteries in possibly every corner of their villages.


The people
Yes, it’s a great idea to visit Arunachal just for its people. Although they like to be reserved, they open up slowly and turn out to be gracious people. The fact that they are so much into their roots makes it an enriching affair to interact with them.

I got to meet some lovely locals at a couple of home stays in Arunachal Pradesh –

I met Tenzin in Itanagar (the capital of Arunachal Pradesh). I stayed at his home stay for a couple of nights, and it was an endearing experience in terms of meeting new people in a new place. Being a solo traveller, it comes as a solace when you meet warm people and they welcome you in their world. It was wonderful sharing a meal with them. That’s how I like to travel – I like mingling with the unfamiliar.     

Tenzin House, Itanagar (9862100588)    

  
The other home stay that I stayed at was Kalden Home Stay (9436877255/9774410104), which was around 10-11 km away from Dirang Valley. Although the home stay needs to have a comfy bathroom, it is a great place to get close to the Monpa folks and their life. The hosts are extremely hospitable and friendly. I think I’ll always cherish my stay with them. 



The villages and the farmlands
Arunachal Pradesh is a complete break from your city life for the kind of rusticity it offers. There are so many fascinating villages in different regions of Arunachal that transport you into another world. Whether it’s the bamboo houses of the Apatani villages, or the love for red chillies and maize in the Monpa villages, each village has something unique to capture your attention.


Also, I loved stopping by at Kiwi vineyards in Ziro and Dirang Valley. I didn’t visit an apple orchard because October is the not the season for apples.

The food
Arunachal Pradesh has a diverse cuisine. I tried various Monpa dishes in Dirang Valley. They like to use a lot of local cheese and butter in their preparations. What I liked was that they eat a lot of greens along with their meat dishes. Besides the local food, it’s a good idea to try their traditional drinks like Arak, Bangchang and Apong.


The challenges of travelling in Arunachal Pradesh

The first and foremost challenge of travelling in Arunachal Pradesh is the condition of the roads, which is extremely bad. My journey from Lilabari airport to Ziro was something that I don’t want to remember. So yes, travelling within the state of Arunachal Pradesh is definitely not cushy.


Private taxis cost INR 7000-8000 for distances like Itanagar to Dirang Valley. The affordable transport option is the shared Sumo, which costs INR 700-800 per head for the same distance. And, if you want a comfy seat (that’s the front seat), it’s advisable to make your booking at least a couple of days in advance.

The Inner Line Permit – You need Inner Line Permit to enter the state of Arunachal Pradesh. If you reside in Delhi or Kolkata, you can easily get it well in advance. The online system is not reliable. In my case, I could get it after I landed in Lilabari. You got to do a little running around, but you will get it.

Have you been to Arunachal Pradesh? What did you like about it?    
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36 comments:

  1. What would you suggest apart from homestays (though food looks just great) as far as traveling with family with kids is taken into consideration? Or Homestays would be a great choice?

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    1. Home stays are any day better than hotels or other options. You get good food, cultural experiences and hospitality of the locals.

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  2. Solo travel is also one of the great experience. Awesome pictures/selfies and well written post.

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  3. I have been twice to Arunachal Pradesh. Once to Tawang-Bomdila circuit and the next to Tuting-Gelling-Bishing-Menchukha. I also started from Lilabari airport and crossed Banderdewa to Itanagar before further proceeding to Aalo. I was for three weeks solo in that Tuting-Gelling-Bishing-Menchukha circuit which is pretty remote definitely. The far eastern side of this state has dibang,dihang and lohit valleys which will be more remote I guess. Nice write up. :)

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    1. Wow! Sushobhan, I appreciate you for your courage to explore Arunachal so deeply. It's wonderful! I'd love to visit Menchukha and Along on my next visit.

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  4. Lovely account of your experiences. Can the inner line permits be obtained from Guwahati/ Itanagar? Where did you get yours done?

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    1. Thanks Niranjan! Yes, you can get it from Guwahati, but I don't know about Itanagar. I got mine from Lakhimpur(Assam). All the main offices are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Though there are agents who get you the permits even on the weekends, it's advisable to reach Arunachal on a weekday to get your permit with ease. You can see this link - http://arunachalipr.gov.in/ILPEntry.htm

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  5. wow thanks for such a wonderful travel blog.. You have motivated me to visit all these beautiful places. Thanks for the clarity rich pictures as wel... I enjoyed reading and I definitely will visit these places for sure and taste different foods as well.

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  6. that should be one of the most exhilarating experiences..

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  7. wonderful and lovely snapshots...amazing work...

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  8. Very useful post! Arunachal looks and sounds stunning! Would love to visit someday and when I do I'll come back here for tips. :)

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    1. Thanks Chaitali :-) I hope you visit Arunachal soon. However, make sure you plan your trip properly, as it's quite a challenging destination.

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  9. Looks like a wonderful time! I like how you said, Arunachal Pradesh will easily take a month. That's one reason we haven't yet ventured into North east - want to spend at least 3 months in that region. Good to see pictures of the people and their homes - gives a good idea of the life there.

    Happy to know you are getting back to solo travel, despite the homesickness et al.

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    1. Yeah,3 months would be just fine for Northeast. These places are challenging to explore, but epic. I'm glad I could do Arunachal. :-)

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  10. What a lovely post! Thank you for shining a light on a region that I know so little about. The scenery looks spectacular, and the people seem really friendly. I hope I can go there some day.

    And yay for solo travel!!! There's nothing quite like it :)

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    1. Yeah, I'm happy to be back to solo travel after a year or so. I hope you get to travel to Arunachal Pradesh on your next India visit.

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  11. As a female it's always good to know where is safe to travel alone, great post and wonderful photos too :-)

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    1. Thanks Becky! Arunachal is safe for women solo travelers.

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  12. Hey Renuka, glad to know about your solo travel. You surely had a great time. I remember being scared during my first solo travel. It was to Malaysia. But it turned out to be one great trip.

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    1. That's cool, Ashween! Solo travel always turns out to be good as long as you are confident. Arunachal is a great solo travel destination.

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  13. I am glad to read your solo journey here and your journey is superb. There is one thing that i miss a lot as solo traveler 'you have to survive on selfies mostly' :)

    Is not it?

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    1. Yes, that's right. :-) I rely on selfies mostly unless I find a good photographer.

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  14. Traveling alone can be very challenging. You must consider a lot of things and be very careful, its good to see that you are enjoying every moment and have met a lot of new friends. Your travel stories serve as an inspiration to students working on their affordable research paper writing service project.

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  15. Hey Renuka, I am going to Arunachal for 15 days in January with a friend. Stumbled upon your articles while doing research. Wonderful to know that you went solo. It can get lonely at times, I understand. Tell me one thing, with Apatani and Monpa tribes is there any better homestay with a good washroom? We don't mind paying a bit extra.

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    1. Hi Gaurav, Arunachal can be a little difficult destination, but rewarding as long as you have time and good research. So, plan well. As far as home stays are concerned, there are quite a few. You can call +918974788935(Tawang tourist office)/7085399947

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  16. Hi, I am planning a trip to Arunachal in February 2017. Do you think that Twang would be accessible that time by passenger sumo? I am a solo traveller. Would appreciate your time....

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    1. Yes. But, you need to plan your trip well ahead and do a good research. All the best!

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  17. Love this post! Thanks for sharing vital information. Keep traveling! :)

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  18. Hey.. Stumbled across your page while googling info... Would Feb be too cold to explore tawang Durango ziro .. Loved the pics they r so spring sorts

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  19. Hi renuka got here as I was googling for info. Do u think Feb is doable for AP would it be snow. Loved the spring sort pics here . Best wishes

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    1. I'm not sure of Feb. But yes, October is a great time to visit Arunachal.

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