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Arunachal Pradesh in India's Himalayan Northeast

Arunachal Pradesh is a microcosm of Himalayan cultures in India's Northeast. Sharing border with Bhutan, Myanmar and China, this remote and underdeveloped state is truly the “Land of Dawn-lit

Mountains.”Itanagar is the capital of the state of Arunachal Pradesh and is accessible from Assam; the gateway state to the Northeast. In Arunachal Pradesh, participants will explore local markets, Buddhist towns, tribal villages as well as natural lakes, wildlife sanctuaries and stunning mountain vistas. Some of the programs include trips to:

Kaziranga, a thickly forested, wild-life sanctuary in Assam, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With tall grass, flat fertile lands and natural lakes covering the park, it hosts two-thirds of the world's One-horned Rhinoceroses. Kaziranga also has the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. The park is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer and birds. One of the highlights of the Northeast trip will be a wildlife safari in Kaziranga on jeep or elephant back.

Ziro, one of the oldest towns of Arunachal Pradesh and is home to paddy fields which are used for fish farming. The Tarin fish farm is an example of high altitude fish farming within water logged rice paddies. One of the biggest attractions of Ziro are villages of the local Apatani tribe. The Apatani are a farming tribe known for their unique costumes, facial tattoos of both the sexes and nose pins for women. Students will visit such an Apatani village and explore the architecture of Apatani houses, built on tall bamboo poles creating a platform called “lapang” for the actual house and will walk through rice paddies which also serve for fish farming. This unique method of rearing rice and fish together in the same wet field is a specialty of this tribe.

Bomdila is the headquarters of West Kameng district located at the height of 8500 ft above the sea level. More or less a Buddhist town where traces of the of spirit and nature worship exists among some of its tribes; Bomdila is known for its scenic beauty, Buddhist monasteries, numerous trekking trails and its panoramic view of Himalayan terrain with its snow-covered summits. In Bomdila students will visit its Buddhist monastery and its main craft centers which are famed for their woollen carpets, Buddhist “tangkhas” and colorful facial masks. From Bomdila while driving to Tawang students will stop at Sela Pass on the way, the second highest motorable pass in the world at 14000 ft.

Tawang is holy for Tibetan Buddhists by being a prominent centre for Gelug or Gelugpa, the pre-eminent Buddhist school in Tibet. Tawang shares boundaries with Tibet in North and Bhutan in Southwest. Students will visit the Tawang Monastery which is the 2nd largest (after monastery in Lhasa) in India and the 3rd oldest monastery in the world. They will also visit the Tibetan Emporium and the Tawang Craft Center, where Monpa artisans weave sarongs and make traditional masks. From Tawang students will visit the Shungetser; a lake that was formed in the valley of the pastures when due to a flash storm a part of a mountain broke off and the rocks formed a natural dam at the meeting point of 4 streams in 1970.

Dirang is famous for its lush valleys, and views of the Himalayas. The resident Tibetan Monpa tribes build picturesque stone houses which are a assemblage of intricately carved stone tablets. Dirang and its surrounding hills are dotted with Buddhist gompas which is the religion of the “Monpas” the local tribe who are also one of the 56 recognized minorities of China. The Monpas are known for wood carving, carpet weaving and their sheep breeding farms. One other thing that makes Dirang famous are its hot springs that attracts both devotees and patients who come in large numbers come here to take a dip into the hot water which has got medicinal values for arthritic/rheumatic pain and skin diseases.




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