We welcome you to the pristine Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh. 

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An Apatani Tribal lady of Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

Ziro Valley also known as the ‘Land of the Legendary Apatani Tribes’ is a beautiful and picturesque Hill Station located at about 1500 m above mean sea level in Arunachal Pradesh. Ziro Valley is the headquarters of the Lower Subansiri district and is home to over 50,000 Apatani Tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh. Ziro Valley is surrounded by hills that are beautifully covered with bamboo and pine trees. The entire area is surrounded by lush green paddy fields. The natural beauty and unadulterated landscapes and the rich culture and heritage of the Apatani Tribes of Ziro Valley has attracted the attention of many tourists and researchers and hence Ziro Valley has been shortlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ziro Valley, Arunachal Tourism, Apatani Tribes, Ziro Hotels. Ziro Resorts
A Traditional Apatani Tribal Home Kitchen at Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

Ziro Valley is primarily home to the ‘Apatani’ Tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh – friendly, simple and hospitable people with an interesting culture and legacy. They are a non-nomadic, agrarian tribe who share a responsible relationship with nature. ‘Apatani’ people cultivate permanent wetland cultivation instead of dry land cultivation which involves burning forests. Ziro Valley is lush with paddy farms and is known for its unique paddy cum fish cultivation where using traditional irrigation methods, farmers rear fish in the knee-deep water. A unique fact about the Apatani tribe is that, women of this tribe used to practice a custom of getting facial tattoos! This was done since they believed that women of the Apatani tribe were so beautiful that they had to tattoo their faces in order to not let men from other tribes steal them away!

Ziro Valley is also host to the Largest Outdoor Music Festival of India ~ ‘the Ziro Festival of Music’. The Ziro Festival of Music showcases the independent music scene in India. The festival was founded in 2012 by Bobby Hano and Menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty, and has featured artists like Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, Louw Majaw, Shaair n Func, Indus Creed, Peter Cat Recording Co, Menwhopause, Guru Rewben Mashangva, and Barmer Boys among others. The festival is spread over four days and is hosted by members of the Apatani people in Ziro Valley.

The area of Ziro Valley is located about 115 kms from the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh at Itanagar. Even though this town is far atop the hills but people from across the world know Ziro as the place the hosts India’s largest outdoor Music Festival – ‘the Ziro Festival of Music’. Although this may suggest Ziro as a modern place where the parties and festivities cease to come to an end but it’s completely the other way around. Ziro is a quaint and silent place that is home to the Legendary Apatani tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.

Ziro is the district headquarters of Lower Subansiri district of and is one of the oldest towns in Arunachal Pradesh. It was the headquarters of the undivided Subansiri district comprising the present districts of Upper Subsansiri, Kurung Kumey, Lower Subansiri and Papum Pare. Ziro has been a favorite town for World Heritage Site for a number of years now.

Apatani Tribes Ziro, Ziro Tour, Ziro Visit, Arunachal Pradesh Tourism
The Apatani Tribes of Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

Ziro is primarily home to the ‘Apatani’ Tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh. The Apatanis of Ziro are friendly, simple and hospitable people with an interesting culture and legacy. They are a non-nomadic, agrarian tribe who share a responsible relationship with nature. ‘Apatani’ people cultivate permanent wet land cultivation instead of dry land cultivation which involves burning forests. Apatanis have few unique special characteristic features which differs from other tribes in Arunachal Pradesh and India. Few of these special characteristic features are ~

  • Apatanis of Ziro are permanently settled in one place whereas other tribes are nomadic in nature move from one place to another in search of fertile lands. They travel vast area of forests and settle temporarily for not more than four to five years in one place.
  • Apatanis  cultivate permanent wet land cultivations whereas other tribes practice dry land cultivations by clearing the forests by burning the jungles.
  • Apatanis of Ziro Valley used to practice facial tattoos before but now they have dropped this custom few decades back though you can still see a few old women with tattoos which is a highlight of this place. The Apatani ladies are shy to pose for a picture and hence do ask for their permission before you take pictures.
  • During the savage days that existed in Arunachal Pradesh till the middle nineties, the women of the tribe; who are considered to be the most beautiful in the eastern Himalayas, were often stolen by invading parties of other tribes due to their beauty. This led to a unique tradition where the Apatani men started to tattoo their women and made them wear large nose plugs, called as ‘Yaping hurlo’, in order to make them appear unattractive. Though the tradition is no longer followed by the younger generation, even today one can find many of the older women around Ziro following the tradition.

Ziro valley is lush with paddy farms and is known for its unique paddy cum fish cultivation where using traditional irrigation methods, farmers rear fish in the knee-deep water. Keeping them company are the adorable, shy, and harmless Indian Bison. Around here, they are called ‘Mithun’ and considered auspicious and are very tasty too!

Apatani Tribes Ziro, Ziro Tour, Ziro Visit, Arunachal Pradesh Tourism
The Mithun which is a part of the cuisine of the people of Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Ziro Valley, Arunachal Tourism, Apatani Tribes, Ziro Hotels. Ziro Resorts
Night View of an Apatani Home at Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Ziro Valley, Arunachal Tourism, Apatani Tribes, Ziro Hotels. Ziro Resorts
The Apatani Tribes of Ziro Valley at the Local Kitchen at Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Ziro Valley, Arunachal Tourism, Apatani Tribes, Ziro Hotels. Ziro Resorts
An Apatani Tribal Lady of Ziro Valley weaving on the Loom at Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

To Plan your visit to Ziro Valley with Kaziranga National Park please fill the form below ~

Things to do and places to visit near Ziro ~

1| The Ziro Festival of Music ~ Ziro Valley

Apatani Tribes Ziro, Ziro Tour, Ziro Visit, Arunachal Pradesh Tourism
Welcome to India’s Greatest Outdoor Music Festival ~ the Ziro Festival of Music ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India. Image Zirofestival.com

The Ziro Festival of Music is described as India’s largest outdoor music festival. The Ziro Festival of Music was started in 2012 by renowned artist Bobby Hano and Menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty. Set in the lush greens of the Ziro Valley, this is an outdoor music festival with Indie music, Himalayan views and a carpet of green grass to lie back on. The line up at the Ziro Festival of Music includes a mix of bands from the North East of India as well as Electronic rock and Folk-Jazz acts from Mumbai, Chennai and India’s Rock Capital ~ Shillong. International acts are also included at the Ziro Festival of Music. The festival is spread across four (4) days and is usually held in the last week of the month of September (mostly starts on 22nd September every year).


2| The Dree Festival ~ Ziro Valley

The Dree Festival of Ziro is an important agricultural festival celebrated by the Apatani Tribes. The festival is celebrated with great zest marked by sacrificial offerings and prayers. The Dree Festival is held every year on the 5th of July with the pre-celebration rituals starting on the eve of July 4th. Considered as one of the biggest traditional festivals of Arunachal Pradesh at the Dree Festival, four (4) Gods are offered prayers namely Tamu, Harniang, Metii and Damji. Dree is celebrated to bring in a bountiful harvest as the Apatanis of Ziro practice agriculture as a primary occupation. At the Dree Festival, Fowls and Animals are sacrificed as a part of the Traditional Rituals and practices. Traditional Songs and Dances are performed and displayed to the Visitors at Ziro. The Apatani Women Folks brew wine and visit homes of their relatives and present them wine as a symbol of love and affection. Community feast is organized at the Ziro Community center and people are served mouth watering cuisine comprising of Meat and Rice/Millet Beer.


3| Tallest Shivling at the Shree Siddheshwar Nath Temple ~ Kardo ~ Ziro Valley

Apatani Tribes Ziro, Ziro Tour, Ziro Visit, Arunachal Pradesh Tourism
The Tallest naturally formed Shiva Lingam at Kardo ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

The largest naturally formed Shivling in the world has been discovered not quite long ago by the people of Arunachal Pradesh at the Sree Sidheswar Nath Temple Kardo in Ziro Valley.

A miraculous discovery of Shiva Lingam at the Sidheswar Nath Temple took place on the 1st fortnight of July’2004 at Ziro. According to the Hindu Calendar, it is the month of Shravana, a sacred month to worship Lord Shiva. A Nepalese, Mr. Prem Subha was cutting tree standing at the right of the Lingam. The tree was expected to fell just over it, fortunately, nothing harmed it and the tree landed a few meters away from the Lingam. He felt surprised over it and looked at the rising stone. Suddenly something struck in his mind and realized that it was not a mere stone. It stood clearly visible which appealed him to believe it as Shiva Lingam. Being fully inspired with his beliefs, he started telling the people of Ziro all about what he had seen and what had happened.

The mystery of this Lingam in Ziro Valley has obviously mentioned in the SHIVAPURANA in 17th chapter of the ninth section (Nava Khand ke Satrahwa Adhyaya) edition 1893 that the tallest Shiva Lingam will appear at a place which will be called Lingalaya and the later the whole will be known as Arunachal.

Now it makes everyone belief about the reality of its appearance. There one can see not only the Lingam but also the image of Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha with trunk turning leftward. It is also said that the Goddess of water, the Ganga lives with Lord Shiva. Therefore, the constant flow of water from the base of the Lingam can be clearly seen.


4| The Hari Rantu Sacred Groves ~ Ziro Valley

Apatani Tribes Ziro, Ziro Tour, Ziro Visit, Arunachal Pradesh Tourism
The Rantu Pussa of Hari Rantu Sacred Groves ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

Hari Rantu is one of the oldest and the best Sacred Groves in the Whole Plateau surrounding the Ziro Valley. The Sacred trees – “Rantu Pussa”, viz Pumin-Pubyan, Yalyo-Yabo, Soki-Soli, Sai-Taje (commonly known as pumin-pubyan Trees) stands tall and proud overseeing the welfare of the Village at Ziro Valley. The trees, some of the tallest trees, Age-dated back to a few centuries and are said to have been named after the women who planted them when they migrated to the present habitat. The magnificent Trees are testimony to the roles women must have played in the Apatani society from times immemorial.


5| Talle Valley Wildlife Sanctuary ~ Ziro Valley

Apatani Tribes Ziro, Ziro Tour, Ziro Visit, Arunachal Pradesh Tourism
The Talle Valley Wildlife Sanctuary at Ziro ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

At the altitude of 2400 metres, Talley is a plateau with dense forest of silver fir trees, pine clad plateau of beautiful grandeur, and a vast wasteland. The area has some of the most important endangered species including the clouded leopard. Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary covers 337 sq. km. of land and it is one of the leading attractions of Ziro. The sanctuary is home to various endangered species. The beautiful forests that enjoy a much less human intervention have a wide range of flora and fauna. Silver fir trees, orchids, stunning ranges of bamboo and ferns are some of the trees found here. Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a Bio-diversity zone.


6| Meghna Cave Temple at Daporijo ~ Ziro Valley

Apatani Tribes Ziro, Ziro Tour, Ziro Visit, Arunachal Pradesh Tourism
Welcome to the Meghna Temple at Daporijo near Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

Daporijo is a small town about 30 kilometers from Ziro and is the land of Tagin Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Daporijo is the headquarter of Upper Subansiri district and is located at an elevation of 600 m above sea level. It is located beside the river Subansiri and is a very beautiful place surrounded by greenery of the Eastern Himalayan mountains.

Meghna Cave Temple is a famous tourist destination of Daporijo. The temple is built in a cave and is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is worshiped here as Lord Lakulisha (which is the 28th incarnation of Lord Shiva). The temple is located at a height of about 300 feet on a mountain. This ancient cave temple dates back to 5000 years and it was rediscovered in the year 1962. The Meghna temple offers stunning views of the surrounding area. Majestic mountains, dense forests presenting lush greenery to your eyes and beautiful river flowing below give you the most wonderful experience.

Apatani Tribes Ziro, Ziro Tour, Ziro Visit, Arunachal Pradesh Tourism
Idols of Lord at the Meghna Temple at Daporijo near Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

7| Homestay with the Apatani Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh ~ Ziro Valley

Apatani Tribes Ziro, Ziro Tour, Ziro Visit, Arunachal Pradesh Tourism
Traditional Homes of the Apatani Tribes of Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

When at Ziro, do not miss out of an opportunity to stay with the Apatani Tribes of Ziro to witness their warm welcome and eager hospitality. Also, get to savor ethnic delicacies of meaty delights prepared with the spicy locally grown peppers of Ziro and locally brewed Rice Beer at one of the homestays at Ziro.


8| Sirro Resort ~ Ziro Valley

Apatani Tribes Ziro, Ziro Tour, Ziro Visit, Arunachal Pradesh Tourism
The Sirro Resort at Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

Built with thick logs of pine trees, the Sirro Resort at Ziro is an ideal stopover to spend a night at the Land of the Legendary Apatani Tribes. The Sirro Resort is located at Siiro village on the way to Talley Valley, scenic grassland which is surrounded by the natural forests with full of grown blue pine trees and which is 2.5 km away from Hapoli.

Because it is situated in Siiro village, the tourists here can get chance to have a closer view of rich Apatani culture and experience tribal life style in true sense. One can see Tarin Fish farm which is a walkable distance from the Siiro Resort where breeding of beautiful high altitude fishes is done. After crossing the Siiro Resort one can reach Dilopolyang-Manipolyang, beneath the twin hillocks lies paddy fields and in the middle of the fields flows a small river of Kele.

During your stay at Ziro Valley:

  • Stay with the Legendary Apatani Folks of Ziro Valley at their homestays
  • Savour traditional Apatani Local Cuisine at Ziro Valley
  • Visit the Ziro Festival of Music in September
  • Indulge in the never ending festivities of the Apatanis at Ziro Valley
  • Take a walk along the lush green paddy fields of Ziro Valley
  • Visit the tallest natural formed Shiva lingam at Kardeo
  • Visit the Hari Rantu Sacred Groves at Ziro Valley
  • Indulge in luxury at the Sirro Resort at Ziro Valley
  • Visit the Talley Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Visit the Meghna Cave Temple at Daporijo
  • Be a part of the adventure journey to Ziro Valley

So why wait?! Plan your visit to the Land of the Legendary Apatani Tribes at the Ziro Valley, the State of Arunachal Pradesh, Incredible India!

Contact us: 

EMAIL: info@jungleideas.com

Phone: +91 7086009708

Sample Itinerary for your visit to Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh ~

Day 1 ~ Guwahati and Cherrapunji

Arrive at Guwahati Airport. On arrival you will be received by our representative at the airport offering a warm welcome in traditional Assamese style. From the Airport drive to Cherrapunji. Enroute visit the Umiam Lake at Barapani. At Cherrapunji, visit the Nohkalkai Falls and Mawsmai Caves and Seven Sister Falls. (if time doesn’t permit visit next day depending upon flight arrival time at Guwahati)

Night Stay: Sohra Plaza at Cherrapunji or Similar 
Meals Included: NA

Day 2 ~ Cherrapunji, Mawlynnong and Dawki

Early morning, depart to the Border of India and Bangladesh at Dawki. Click pictures at no man’s Land at the pillar 1275 at Dawki. Later visit the Asia’s Cleanest Village at Mawlynnong. At Mawlynnong visit the Living Root Bridge of Riwai. Back to Cherrapunji for night halt.

Night Stay: Sohra Plaza at Cherrapunji or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast 

Day 3 ~ Cherrapunji and Kaziranga National Park

After Breakfast, enroute to the Kaziranga National Park. On the way visit the Don Bosco Museum at Shillong which showcases the rich culture of North East India. Arrive at Kaziranga National Park. Evening free to visit the nearby Tea Gardens of Kaziranga.

Night Stay: Nature Hunt Eco Camp at Kaziranga or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast 

Day 4 ~ Kaziranga National Park and Kaziranga Orchid Park

Early morning go for an adventurous Jeep Safari into the interiors of the Kaziranga National Park to spot the endangered Indian One Horned Rhinoceros species. Afternoon, visit the Largest Orchid Park in India at the Kaziranga Orchid and Bio-diversity Park.

Night Stay: Nature Hunt Eco Camp at Kaziranga or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast 

Day 5 ~ Kaziranga and Itanagar

After Breakfast, proceed to Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh. On the way visit the lush Tea Gardens of Assam. Arrive at Itanagar.

Night Stay: Comfortable Hotel Itanagar
Meals Included: Breakfast 

Day 6 ~ Itanagar and Ziro Valley

After Breakfast, proceed to Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. The Land of the Legendary Apatani Tribes, Ziro is also host to the World’s Tallest naturally formed Shiva Lingam at Kardo. At Ziro, visit the Village of the Apatani Tribes, the Rice cultivation fields and spend your evenings by the Bonfire savoring traditionally brewed Rice Beer and smoked meat.

Night Stay: Sirro Resort at Ziro or Similar 
Meals Included: Breakfast 

Day 7 ~ Ziro Valley and Daporijo

Today you will visit the the Land of the Tagin tribe of Arunachal Pradesh at Daporijo. Later in the day return to Itanagar.

Night Stay: Comfortable Hotel Itanagar
Meals Included: Breakfast 

Day 8 ~ Itanagar and Chandubi Lake

Depart to Chandubi Lake near Guwahati. One of the best Eco-tourism destinations of North East Chandubi Lake is famous for the variety of migratory Bird species.

Night Stay: Chandubi Jungle Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast 

Day 9 ~ Chandubi Lake and Guwahati Airport

Early morning enjoy the sunrise, boat riding and Jungle hike near the Chandubi Lake. After breakfast you will depart to Guwahati Airport for your onward destination. Trip Ends. Bid Adieu!

Meals Included: Breakfast

To Plan your visit to Ziro Valley with Kaziranga National Park please fill the form below ~

Arunachal Pradesh Tourism, Hotels Ziro, Ziro, Ziro Valley, Apatani Tribes
The Apatani Tribal lady with customary facial tattoos and nose plugs at Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Arunachal Pradesh Tourism, Hotels Ziro, Ziro, Ziro Valley, Apatani Tribes
Inside a traditional Apatani tribal home at Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Arunachal Pradesh Tourism, Hotels Ziro, Ziro, Ziro Valley, Apatani Tribes
The Picture Perfect landscape of Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Arunachal Pradesh Tourism, Hotels Ziro, Ziro, Ziro Valley, Apatani Tribes
The traditional Apatani tribal homes of Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Arunachal Pradesh Tourism, Hotels Ziro, Ziro, Ziro Valley, Apatani Tribes
The majestic landscape of Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Arunachal Pradesh Tourism, Hotels Ziro, Ziro, Ziro Valley, Apatani Tribes
Our visitors at the Siro Resort at Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Arunachal Pradesh Tourism, Hotels Ziro, Ziro, Ziro Valley, Apatani Tribes
The grand Siro Resort at Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

 

​A visit to Ziro Valley with my friend from Itanagar ~

On April 1st, 2016 I had planned on my visit to Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. Famous across the World for being home to the legendary Apatani tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, a visit to Ziro Valley is a must for any person who is interested in nature, tribes, culture, village life, heritage, etc. Ziro Valley has been long on the list seeking grant as a UNESCO World Heritage Site but it has not yet been granted this status for some reasons. As I had just started my Travel Company ‘Jungleideas’ that promotes sustainable and offbeat tourism across North East India, I was exploring the places across the North Eastern States of Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland in particular to begin with and discovering new places and also checking out on how to make the regular touristy places clubbed into an offbeat package. I had finished exploring Assam and Meghalaya and next up i ventured into Arunachal Pradesh. It is convenient for me to explore the various States across North East India because I have friends across each of the States here and the only thing I need to do is call them and check on their availability to travel with me. Once they confirm the dates the only thing I have to do is to reach their home city and the rest of my visit is handled by them as they arrange for a vehicle and book the stay at he places we intend to explore.

Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
The Beautiful landscapes of Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

I called up my friend in Itanagar Mr. Abhishek who works at a large construction company here and told him of my interest to visit Ziro Valley. he asked me to come over to his home in Itanagar on friday evening and we could go over to Ziro valley on saturday morning and then after exploring the place return home to Itanagar by Sunday evening as he had work on Monday. I readily agreed to his proposal and it was decided that I would be going to Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh on April 8th, 2016 and then head on to Ziro Valley on April 9th, explore Ziro Valley on 9th and 10th April and return to Itanagar by 10th evening and 11th morning I would continue on my return to Guwahati.

On the morning of April 8th I reached Khanapara area near Guwahati from where I had planned to catch a bus to Tezpur in Assam and from Tezpur i would catch another bus to Gohpur from where my friend would come to pick me up and we go to Itanagar. The bus started from Guwahati at 7.30 AM. As it was not an express bus it made regular stops to pick up and drop passengers along the way. Gradually we crossed Sonapur, Jagiroad, Raha, Nagaon, Amoni, Missa and then reached Kaliabor area. From Kaliabor we had to take a left to head to Tezpur as the straight road continues to Kaziranga National Park and Upper Assam and eastern Arunachal Pradesh.

The Bus took the left and then continued to cross the Kaliabhomora bridge to finally arrive at Mission Chariali area near Tezpur town at 10.30 AM. We had to get down here as this was the last stop of the bus and I decided to eat something light here as the next journey would be a longer one and I didn’t know whether the bus would make a halt to eat or not. So I grabbed a quick bite of roti, sabji and tea. By the time I got a bus it was 11.15 AM and I headed on my journey again to Gohpur in Assam. The bus crossed Balipara and took a right towards Biswanath Chariali. We reached Biswanath Chariali at around 12.45 PM and the bus made a halt here at the public bus stand. It was a stop for around 15 minutes and I took a bathroom break here. Many vendors were selling peanuts, snacks, bottled water, etc. I bought some peanuts to chew along the way. The bus started at 1 PM and we headed on our journey to Gohpur. The ride was across the beautiful tea gardens of Assam. The countryside of Assam looked very beautiful along this drive as well. By the time I reached Gohpur it was around 2.30 PM. I got down from the bus and checked out for a place to have my lunch. As I was having lunch of a veg thali and chicken I could see many people approaching the circle area of this small town. I went out to enquire what was going on and I was told that the Honorable Prime Minister of India – Mr. Narendra Modi was coming here today to address a rally as the elections in Assam were upcoming and hence the entire place was now crowded with people from the nearby towns and villages coming here to witness the rally. There was a huge traffic jam and I immediately realized that my friend would have a tough time now to come and pick me up.

I called my friend who informed me that he was stuck in traffic and would take a different route to come and and pick me up and hence it would take a little time for him. So I waited at a huge ground where the rally vehicles were parked. I realized that this was not the best of time to chose my visit to Ziro Valley. By the time my friend arrived it was already 4 PM. The Prime Minister too had left after the rally and gradually the traffic had reduced considerably. I greeted my friend and we started our drive to Itanagar. We took a different route instead of the Banderdewa Checkpost where outsiders have to present a valid ILP/PAP for entry into Arunachal Pradesh. As the vehicle was known to the guards they only checked my ILP and allowed us to pass through. As we entered Arunachal pradesh the road conditions were not that good as infrastructure here was still building on. We gradually approached Itanagar and my friend told me that stayed at Naharlagun and not Itanagar and I was not aware of this. Both of these are twin cities situated close by. At first he had to head to his office to take care of some work and also pick up his car as he had bought along the office vehicle to pick me up. We went inside his office where he introduced me to his manager and we spoke for a while. My friend finished his work and then took time in showing me around his office. At 6 PM we left his office to go to his home at Naharlagun. On the way we halted at the nearby market to pick up some mutton to be cooked for dinner. By the time we reached his home it was 6.45 PM. At his home I was greeted by his wife and their 2 year old daughter. My friend’s wife made us some tea while I played with his daughter and her toys. My friend’s wife was a vegetarian and so she didn’t know how to cook meat and so my friend took the task of cooking the meat himself. I watched TV and we had an early dinner and retired to bed as we planned on leaving to Ziro Valley early next morning.

At 5 AM I was up and I started to get ready. My friend’s family was up shortly and his wife got busy preparing breakfast after serving us with a cup of black tea each. Breakfast was served at 7 AM and it had puri sabji and tea. We finished breakfast quickly and then started on our drive to Ziro Valley at 7.30 AM. The roads to Ziro are not good and so it is always better to start quickly and drive slowly to avoid much pressure on the car. We crossed the Naharlagun railway station that is on the outskirts of the city. The drive to Ziro Valley from Naharlagun takes around 5 hours as the road condition is not very good. It is good for the first 1 hour and then it starts deteriorating. On our way we first stopped at the yupia bazaar where we made a quick stop have some tea. The roads up to the Yupia bazaar is good and is on a plain. The climb starts now across the mountains to Ziro Valley. After a while we started to drive again. The roads started to get bumpy and we moved on slowly. After about two hours drive we reached the Ranganadi Hydro Power Project here near Yazali in Arunachal Pradesh. We made a quick stop over here as my friend’s company’s project was going on here and he checked in to see the status of the progress of the work. I got down from the car to admire the beautiful valleys of Arunachal Pradesh here.

Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
The Beautiful view of the Valley on our way to Ziro ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

The area was filled with beautiful blossoming trees and I could see the ‘Mithuns’ all around. My friend finished his work in another 30 minutes time and then we continued on our drive again. We reached Yachuli and then at around 1 PM we approached Ziro town. It was a very interesting approach as suddenly out from the long drive amidst the mountains with no human habitation we suddenly reach a big town area bustling with activities and filled with business establishments. My friend took me to their company guest house where our stay was booked for the night. We reached by 1.30 AM to the guest house. Lunch was ready for us and we got to eat rice, dal, sabji, omelette, salad and pickle. My friend had invited a local person who worked for his company to show us around Ziro Valley. After lunch he came over to the guest house where he briefed us about the place and the life and culture of the Apatani people of Ziro Valley. He told us that the Apatani people mostly practice agriculture as their way of living. However today, the Apatanis are also well educated and hold key positions in the government and political bodies of Arunachal Pradesh. The Apatanis who stay in Ziro Valley rely on agriculture, handlooms, bamboo and cane handicrafts as their source of income. Every Apatani household owns land in Ziro Valley where they practice wet rice cultivation system where they do not use farm animals or machinery and instead plant and harvest the crop with their own hands only. They have a unique way of managing natural resources and conserving them as well. Pork and Mithun are an important part of the diet of the Apatani people of Ziro Valley. Although they have 2 major festivals – Dree and Myoko, the person Chizing mentioned that every month is an occasion of celebration for the Apatanis. The families cut a Mithun during each of these festivals and the meat is distributed across the people of the village.

Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
Traditional Apatani homes of Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

He said about why the Apatani women earlier had facial tattoos and nose plugs. It seems that the Apatani women are the most beautiful among all the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and so invaders came to Ziro Valley and used to take away the Apatani women along with them. So in order to make them look less attractive the practice of coloring their faces with tattoos and wearing nose plugs became prevalent here in Ziro Valley. This practice is gradually dying away among the modern youths here. As we were getting late and had to go out to explore the areas around Ziro Valley Mr. Chizing told us that he would tell us more during the course of the day.

At first we headed out to explore the World’s tallest naturally formed Shiva Lingam at Kardeo near Ziro Valley. The Shiva Lingam at Kardeo in Ziro Valley is said to be the tallest naturally formed Shiva Lingam in the World and is about 25 feet in height. Locals say that this Shiva Lingam is also growing bigger over a period of time. It was discovered here by a Nepali worker named Mr. Prem Subba. About this Shiva Linga, it is found to have been mentioned in the Shiva Purana as well where it has been stated that the tallest Shiva Lingam would appear at a place called Lingaya and in course of time this place would be called as Arunachal. many devotees come here to worship the Shiva Lingam at Ziro Valley.

Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
The Tallest Shiva Lingam at Kardeo near Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

Then the local person took us to his Apatani Village to get a glimpse of the rural life of Ziro Valley. We took a short hike around the village admiring the various Apatani traditional homes. We could see the Apatani tribal ladies with their customary tattoos and nose plugs. We were then taken to the Apatani Sacred groves at Ziro Valley. The sacred groves of Ziro Valley also called as the ‘Hari Rantu’ is located close to the Apatani village and considered to be a holy spot by the people of Ziro Valley. The trees here were planted several years ago by the Apatani people when they had come over to reside in Ziro Valley. The Sacred trees – “Rantu Pussa”, viz Pumin-Pubyan, Yalyo-Yabo, Soki-Soli, Sai-Taje (commonly known as pumin-pubyan Trees) stands tall and proud overseeing the welfare of the Village at Ziro Valley. The trees, some of the tallest trees, Age-dated back to a few centuries and are said to have been named after the women who planted them when they migrated to the present habitat. The magnificent Trees are testimony to the roles women must have played in the Apatani society from times immemorial.

Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
Chizing’s friend family sitting around the fire in Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

It was around 4.30 PM and it was getting dark. Chizing invited us over to his friend’s home to witness the Apatani way of life. We met his friend’s family who were all sitting around the fire in the kitchen area and savoring local Apatani rice beer. They offered us some and we gladly accepted it. I took time admiring the heritage of the way Apatanis of Ziro Valley live. It was a small house with two rooms and a kitchen and a unique roof that was built in a way to wade away rainfall which Ziro receives in plenty during the monsoons. The house was made up using bamboo and wood and the walls had hangings of skulls of various kinds of animals which spoke about the keen hunting skills of the people of Ziro Valley. We spoke for a little more time and then returned to the guest house. Chizing would meet us the next morning to show around more villages and witness the culture of the Apatani people of Ziro Valley.

It was very cold at night here and it is pretty obvious why the homes here at Ziro do not have a fan inside the rooms because the weather here is always cool. We were up in the morning at 6 AM as the day earlier was very hectic and we took adequate rest. Chizing was to come at around 8.30 AM and so we took a short walk around the place. The rice fields were all looking green and beautiful. There was a stream flowing near the guest house and we could see fishes in the stream. The water was sparkling clean and we could see fishes in the stream. We came back to the guest house at 8 AM to have our breakfast. Chizing arrived at 9 AM and he took us out to explore another village today here at Ziro Valley. We took the car and drove across the beautiful paddy fields of Ziro Valley. The entire place looked so clean and green. We could see people doing the rice cultivation. We reached a small village where he took us to see women weaving exquisite Apatani handlooms. Beautiful hand woven fabrics are a wonderful sight to be witnessed here in Ziro Valley and most of the women here wear these handwoven wraps around them.

Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
An Apatani lady weaving on the traditional loom in Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India

Next we went to see the Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Ziro Valley. We did not enter the premise but spotted the ALG from a small hilltop nearby. My friend got a call from his office stating that something urgent had come up and so he had to come back to Naharlagun quickly to go to Changlang the next day as one of the machinery had failed and immediate replacement of a part was necessary to resume operations. We had to cut short our visit to Ziro Valley and head back to Naharlagun. We thanked Chizing for all his help and promised to return very soon to Ziro Valley to witness the festival of Dree. We left Ziro Valley and headed to Naharlagun and we arrived by 5 PM in the evening. The next morning while my friend headed to Changlang via Lakhimpur, I came back to Guwahati via Tezpur with a bucketful of memories from the beautiful land of the Legendary Apatani tribes – Ziro Valley!

Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
Night view of an Apatani home in Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
The Hari Rantu Sacred Groves in Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
Cooking food in bamboo sticks at an Apatani home in Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
The skull of animals at an Apatani homes at a local village in Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
The line of traditional Apatani homes at a local village in Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Ziro Valley, Kaziranga National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, Apatani Tribes, Itanagar
The Advanced Landing Grounds of IAF in Ziro Valley ~ Ziro ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
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