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The Mountains Beckon

Karizma Ahmed, AFP Exclusive, 27-06-2023

One of the astounding buildings in the old Porvoo is the pink town hall. Located in the he

The trees echo with the melody of endlessly chirping birds, the ice-cream carts flirt alongside the thirsty graveled roads, wet clothes dry up faster and quicker and the sun shines brighter and harder, almost punishing. All these indicators are enough to beckon the clarion call of weather that summer has finally arrived. When I think of summer, my mind automatically conjures up an image which I’m sure would fill you with nostalgia. It is that of the dainty pages of a tiny calendar detaching themselves one by one and flying up in the air as the screen cues up the title track of an animated cartoon series called “Phineas and Ferb.” It is an appropriate visual representation of how we spend our summers, wondering what to do with the excess time on our hands. The best way to spend your summer vacation is to take a trip and what’s better than the towering mountains that beckons everyone that wishes to beat the summer heat.

Unfortunately, this is the exact thought that runs through the mind of every vacationer willing and wanting to take to the cooler regions. The result is that a select few hill stations end up being overcrowded, and over-priced because of excess demand. Not to men the quality of experience takes a steep dive since there is simply so much crowd! The increased carbon footprints also injure the environment. But if you’re an environment-conscious traveller looking for cooler vacation destinations that you can enjoy, then I have got you covered. The mountains of Arunachal Pradesh beckon you!

Nestled at the top of the north-eastern belt of India, Arunachal Pradesh is crowned with the mighty Himalayas. This idyllic state boasts an unparalleled natural beauty that is truly awe-inspiring. With its lush green forests, snow-capped mountains, and crystal-clear rivers, this Indian state is an oasis of tranquility, a perfect getaway to escape the scorching summer heat. Waking up in the lap of 'dawn-lit mountains’ and being the first to experience the first rays of sunlight in India is an opportunity that must not be missed.

Despite nature's bountiful squalor, Arunachal Pradesh remains relatively unexplored as opposed to the other states of the Indian subcontinent. Its remote location makes it inaccessible to tourists by comparison. The rugged and difficult terrain along with the lack of proper transportation facilities further adds to the challenges of travelling to the state. The limited accessibility owing to the restricted entry for tourists, even to follow Indians who require an Inner Line Permit (ILP) issued by the state authority due to security reasons limits the number of visitors allowed to enter the state. This further limits the development of tourism-led infrastructure and revenue. But all these restrictions are what make Arunachal Pradesh the perfect summer getaway. It is a chance to connect to the natural state in its true essence rather than a curated, managed, and shallow experience. Here’s what makes the state special:

Abundant Natural Splendor

Start your journey by exploring the lush green valleys and cascading waterfalls of the state. Bask in the glory of nature's bounty as you hike through the verdant forests and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Witness the majesty of the Himalayas as they tower above you, casting a spell of awe and wonder. From the leisurely extending paddy fields of Ziro valley to snow-capped peaks of Sela Pass—Arunachal Pradesh has it all. Its prominent towns and cities from Tawang to Itanagar are equally blessed by nature in terms of scenic beauty. They are a lifetime away from the exalting, and taxing life of a metropolis. Some popular valleys and waterfalls include Dirang Valley, Sangti Valley, Nuranang Waterfall, Bap Teng Kang Waterfall, and Bhalukpong Waterfall etc.

Adventure and wildlife

For the daring and adventurous, indulge in some adrenaline-pumping activities such as river rafting, paragliding, and trekking. The Siang River, Kameng River, and Subansiri River are popular destinations for river rafting. The state is a trekker's paradise since it’s home to some of the most challenging and rewarding treks in the world, each promising a unique and unforgettable experience. Trudge through Talley Valley, the Bomdila Dirang and Pangey Valley. These treks will take you through abundantly dense forests, pristine rivers, and soaring mountains. Scale the towering peaks of Tawang and be rewarded with panoramic vistas that will take your breath away. Arunachal Pradesh is also home to some of the rarest and most exotic species of wildlife, including the Red Panda, Clouded Leopard, and Takin. The Namdapha National Park, located in the Changlang district, is a haven for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. You can go on a wildlife safari in the park and get up close with these magnificent creatures.

Cultural Diversity

No trip to Arunachal Pradesh is complete without immersing oneself in the rich and vibrant local culture. Despite its comparatively small compass scale, the Indian state is home to over 25 tribes, each with its unique culture, customs, and traditions. Take a cultural tour of the state by visiting the tribal villages and witness their traditional dances and music, feast on the delicious local cuisine, and participate in the colorful festivals that are celebrated with much fanfare throughout the year. One of the most popular cultural tours in Arunachal Pradesh is the Tribal Circuit, which covers the major towns and villages of the region. This tour offers visitors a chance to explore the cultural diversity of the state and to learn about the history and traditions of the many tribes that call Arunachal Pradesh home. Festival Circuit, which covers the many festivals that are celebrated in the region, is also another lucrative choice for a cultural tour. Festivals which form an integral part of the cultural fabric of the state offer visitors a chance to witness the colorful rituals and traditions of the local people.

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Devout Spiritualism

For those seeking solace and spiritual enlightenment, the state is home to several holy sites that are steeped in legend and myth. It has some of the most beautiful and ancient Buddhist monasteries in the world. The Buddhist culture in Arunachal Pradesh is deeply rooted in the ancient teachings of Lord Buddha, and the many monasteries and temples that dot the landscape are a testament to the rich history and tradition of this spiritual practice. The monasteries are peaceful havens that offer visitors a chance to connect with their inner selves and experience the spiritual teachings of Buddhism. Visit the Tawang Monastery, one of the largest Buddhist monasteries across the globe with halls are adorned with intricate murals and carvings that depict the life of Lord Buddha or seek blessings at the Parasuram Kund, a sacred site where thousands of devotees flock every year to take a dip in the holy waters. The Buddhist culture in Arunachal Pradesh is not just limited to the monasteries and temples; it permeates every aspect of life in the state. The local people are deeply rooted in the teachings of Buddhism, and their way of life reflects this spiritual practice. Visitors to the state can witness the peaceful and harmonious way in which the locals live their lives and can gain a deeper understanding of the spiritual teachings of Buddhism.

Indigenous Handicraft Collection

Arunachal Pradesh is a paradise for handicraft enthusiasts and shopping enthusiasts alike. The state is known for its rich cultural heritage and traditional handicrafts that have been passed down through generations. Visitors to Arunachal Pradesh can explore the local markets and handicraft centers to find a wide range of exquisite handicrafts that reflect the diverse cultural traditions of the state. From woven baskets to hand-carved wooden bowls, from intricately embroidered shawls to beaded jewelry, the handicrafts of Arunachal Pradesh are a true testament to the skill and creativity of the local artisans. One of the best places to shop for handicrafts in Arunachal Pradesh is the state capital, Itanagar. The city is home to numerous handicraft centers and markets, such as the Craft Centre and Emporium, which offer a wide range of handicrafts from across the state. Another popular shopping destination in Arunachal Pradesh is the city of Tawang, which is famous for its hand-woven carpets, shawls, and jackets. The city is home to numerous local markets and handicraft centers, where visitors can find a wide range of traditional handicrafts.

Hot Springs

One of the most unique and rejuvenating experiences that the state has to offer is its hot springs. The hot springs in Arunachal Pradesh are a natural wonder that offer visitors a chance to relax and rejuvenate amidst the scenic beauty of the state. The most famous is the Dirang Hot Spring, which is in the West Kameng district. The hot spring is situated amidst the lush green hills and is surrounded by a serene and peaceful atmosphere. Visitors can dip their feet in warm water and soak in natural minerals, which are believed to have therapeutic properties. The Tawang Hot Spring, which is in the Tawang district. The hot spring is situated at an altitude of 10,000 feet and is surrounded by the majestic Himalayan mountains. Visitors can enjoy a relaxing soak in the warm water, while taking in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Apart from these, there are numerous other hot springs in Arunachal Pradesh that are worth exploring. The Kharsang Hot Spring, located in the Changlang district, and the Rupa Hot Spring, located in the West Kameng district, are two other popular hot springs that offer visitors a chance to relax and rejuvenate in the lap of nature.

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