India // The Northeast //

Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh, “the land of the dawn-lit mountains”, is one of India’s last unspoilt wildernesses. A wealth of fascinating cultures, peoples and tribes – plus a staggering five hundred species of orchid – are found in its glacial terrain, alpine meadows and subtropical rainforests.

The capital, Itanagar, is north of the Brahmaputra across from Jorhat. In the far west of the state, the road from Bhalukpong on the Assamese border to the monastery of Tawang climbs steadily through rugged hills, streams and primeval forests, crossing the dramatic Sela Pass (4300m) midway. Along the route lie the Buddhist towns of Bomdila and Dirang. In the far northeast, Namdapha National Park is home to clouded and snow leopards. Arunachal’s remote and unspoilt central highlands, home to a myriad tribes, hides some of the best the Himalayas have to offer including, the mysterious Buddhist land of Pemako.

Despite its beauty, tourism has been discouraged because of the extremely sensitive border with Chinese-occupied Tibet in the north and Myanmar in the east. In 1962, the Chinese invaded Arunachal Pradesh, reaching the outskirts of Tezpur in Assam, a 300km incursion that India has never forgotten. Since then, a strong military stance has been adopted in the area with China laying claim to much of the state. All visitors require a permit to enter the state.