Every time, I meet other travel enthusiasts and we talk about North East India. We always say that North East is so beautiful & untouched, everyone should definitely visit it. I also share my plans of visiting it soon, but it was this year that I finally decided to go.
Planning for North East can be a bit overwhelming. The region has so much to offer and the information available on the internet is not as copious as for, say, Leh Ladakh. I decided to go to Arunachal Pradesh because it’s the one state, apart from Sikkim, which has massive mountains. Sikkim is turning to a mainstream destination given the easy accessibility by taking a flight in Bagdogra and destinations like Darjeeling have been famous since ages. Given I always prefer offbeat destinations, I decided to go for Arunachal Pradesh.
I am always on a look out for offbeat destinations and experiences. This pic was taken while going to Zemithang, a much lesser known village.
Arunachal Pradesh is the largest state in North East, with a population density of only 13 people per sq. ft. So, if you also like to avoid tourists like me, Arunachal Pradesh is the state for you!
Tourist Routes in Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh is a massive state. The West to East border spans a distance of more than 1200 KMs! If you look at the map of Arunachal Pradesh, you can’t go from one point tucked up in north to another, especially if you are traveling by public or shared transport. You have to come back south and almost touch the Assam Border before embarking upon another destination which doesn’t fall on your current route.
For example, I took the Tezpur – Bhalukpong – Bomdila – Tawang – Zemithang – Tezpur route. Now, if I want to go to Ziro Valley, without coming down South, it’s not possible. Even though there is an apparent road through Seppa, there are just no transport options available to cut short one route and hop on to another. In order to go to Ziro valley, I will have to come back all the way to Itanagar and then again go up North. That means a day or two more in traveling.
This is maybe to keep the travelers on one route and in compliance with their permit.
Read – How to get Inner Line Permit (ILP) for Arunachal Pradesh
Below mentioned are the recognized routes where you will easily find public buses or shared Sumos. If you try to hop from one point on a route to one point on another, getting a public or shared transport is next to impossible.
Arunachal Pradesh has 12 recognized tourist routes.
Tezpur – Bhalukpong – Bomdila – Tawang – Zemithang (The route which I took)
Itanagar – Ziro – Daporijo – Aalo – Pasighat
Pasighat – jengging – Yingkiong – Tuting
Tinsukia – Tezu – Hayuliang
Margherita – Miao – Namdhapa – Vijoynagar
Roing – Mayudia – Anini
Tezpur – Sejiosa – Bhalukpong
Ziro – Palin – Nyapin – Sangram – Koloriang
Doimukh – Sagalee – Pake Kessang – Seppa
Aalo – Mechuka
Daporijo – Taliha – Siyum – Nacho
Jairampur – Manmao – Nampong – Pangsau pass
For more information on all these routes and what to expect, check the official website.
A typical public bus plying on the Bomdila – Guwahati route. Don’t expect a lot of luxuries.
I decided to take the first route because of the higher altitudes and weather conditions. The monsoon sets early in the east Arunachal as compared to west. Also, the average altitude of West Arunachal is more than that of East. On the route which I took, the Tawang one, I was able to experience two high altitude passes: Sela Pass (13,700 feet) and Bum La pass (15,200 feet). If you also have a penchant for high altitude, you can also consider the routes in west.
Best time to visit Arunachal Pradesh
Like every state in the North east, Arunachal Pradesh also receives a lot of rainfall. So, it’s best to avoid the rains if you are planning to explore and use public or shared transport. However, if you want to chase monsoons in particular then the 82% forest cover in Arunachal Pradesh will totally exhilarate you.
The Monsoon sets in early in East Arunachal, around April mid. While West sees the monsoon set in by May mid. I went for 15 days at the beginning of May, it was mostly cloudy and drizzled on some days. But, the eastern towns like Mechuka were already soaked in heavy showers.
Here’s when you should go depending on what kind of landscapes and weather conditions excite you.
November – April: The temperature dips to around 0 degrees at high altitude destinations like Tawang (~9000 feet). The lower altitude areas are dry but pleasant. The landscapes are snowy and there is experiencing snowfall is almost certain. Some roads, like Sela pass, and attractions, like Bum la pass, may close without any warning in case of heavy snowfall. However, roads to the eastern towns might be unaffected.
May – August: Be prepared for heavy showers. Towards the later part of this season, a lot of greenery will take over the landscapes. Arunachal Pradesh is really green and beautiful. But, the rains might spoil your hiking plans or road trips.
September – November: Green, lots of green. The post monsoon season leaves Arunachal Pradesh gleaming with shiny green tree leaves accompanied by gorgeous sunshine bouncing off them. If you ask me, this might be the best season to visit Arunachal Pradesh. However, this year I had other travel plans during in October, so I went in May. I didn’t want to push North East by yet another year.
The gorgeous Tawang Monastery