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Arunachal Diary-Part I

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We reached Naharlagun of Arunachal Pradesh at around 7 am in the morning. Naharlagun is a small town situated in the foothills of Himalayas of Arunachal Pradesh. Surrounded by mountains, Naharlagun sees annual long monsoon rains. The weather is hot and humid summer and moderate winter. There is also a helicopter service of Pawan Hans to Dibrugarh Airport and Guwahati Airport. It is connected by road to the rest of country via Guwahati which is 380 km away. Naharlagun is the gateway of Itanagar, capital of Arunachal Pradesh. If you want an Itanagar sightseeing tour you have to enter Itanagar through Naharlagun.

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, it will incur no extra cost to you but I will get a referral bonus to fund our travels.

Somewhere I read planning a trip is more enjoyable than the trip itself. I have spent a lot of time on planning of this 9 days excursion to Arunachal Pradesh for myself, wife, and my son. I like the satisfaction of finding something online (even if by accident) that saves money and/or gives me really useful information. Regarding planning a trip to Arunachal I decided to go by train up to Naharlagun and coming back partially by train up to Guwahati and from Guwahati by air up to Kolkata.

Naharlagun railway station is a railway station located in Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh which is about 15 kilometres from Itanagar. The station has three platforms. 4 trains are running from Naharlagun Station at present. First is Naharlagun – Guwahati Donyi Polo Express on daily basis, second is 22412/Naharlagun – New Delhi AC SF Express , third is Naharlagun−Guwahati Shatabdi Express and fourth is 15907/ Naharlagun- Tinsukia Shatabdi express.

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Itanagar sightseeing

We went to Itanagar by 22412 Arunachal Exp (Naharlagun – New Delhi AC SF Express). This is the first fully air conditioned train connecting Arunachal Pradesh to Delhi and touching Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh. 22411 – Leaves Naharlagun every Tuesday, Saturday at 9.35 pm and reach Delhi on Thursday, Monday at 11:30 AM. 22412 – Leaves Delhi (Anand Vihar Terminal) every Sunday, Thursday at 15:45 Hrs and reach Naharlagun (Itanagar) on Tuesday, Saturday at 5:55 AM. We boarded the train from New Jalpaiguri station around 6 pm. Train is good and pantry is also available. We took our dinner around 8.30 pm and went to sleep.

DAY 1 – Itanagar sightseeing

Itanagar sightseeing

Next day morning after reaching Naharlagun when I show my booking slip to the retiring room booking clerk he requested me to wait for 10 minutes as cleaning of rooms are going on. When I was a kid that time I had the experience of staying one or two nights in a railway retiring room along with my family. Truly speaking from that time I was carrying a bitter experience regarding Railway Retiring Room. The rooms were dirty and untidy. Bedcovers were dirty. Walls were tampered and damp. Bathroom was most unhygienic. Moreover, taps and lights were not functioning properly. Due to these reasons I avoided Railway Retiring Rooms when I used to travel. But recently some where I read an article which tells that now Railway Retiring Rooms are not less than any star category hotel rooms. When I stayed at Naharlagun Railway Retiring Room recently, I found it was true. For detail review click below mentioned link-

NAHARLAGUN RAILWAY RETIRING ROOM

After taking bath we went to Jan Ahaar Restaurant for our early lunch which is on the same floor. We have taken rice, salad; dal, fry and egg curry (all fresh Rs.75/plate). In the meantime our driver Rabi (8721941002 / 9707177906) reached there. We started our Itanagar sightseeing tour after lunch. The capital of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar is a well-planned town. Embraced between two hills, the Governor’s residence on one and a Buddhist temple on the other, many of the buildings in Itanagar are new, light, wooden-framed and earthquake-proof structures. Sacred by the Dalai Lama, the Buddhist temple, a beautiful yellow-roofed shrine, reflects the extensive Tibetan influence and provides good views of Itanagar and the surrounding countryside.

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Itanagar sightseeing

The climate of Itanagar is very pleasant. Although there is a lot of humidity and considerable heat during summer, a mild breeze blows during the day that keeps the entire area cool. During winter, it witnesses snowfall between December and January.

Arunachal Pradesh finds mention in the Kalika Purana and in the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. It is believed that sage Vyas meditated here. Itanagar was called Mayapur during the reign of the Jiti Dynasty that ruled the region in the 11th century. Even during the reign of the Jiti kings, Mayapur was the capital city. The magnificent Ita Fort (ita means brick), dating back to the 14th-15th century, is believed to have been built by King Ramachandra.

A number of festivals are celebrated in this capital city of Arunachal Pradesh. Losar is the New Year celebration of the Monpas. It is celebrated for a period of five days. The festival is marked by prayers, hoisting of religious flags atop the homes, reading of Buddhist scriptures, and lighting butter lamps in the houses. Another important festival is Reh, which is mainly associated with the Idu Mishimis tribe. The special attraction of the six-day celebrations is the priest dance. During Tamladu, the Digaru Mishimis offer prayers to the God of the Earth and the God of the Water. The supreme God Jebmalu is also worshipped. Khan is significant because of a ceremony where the priest ties a piece of wool around everybody’s neck. During Sangken, people sprinkle water on each other as a sign of happiness, while smearing of rice powder on each other’s face marks the beginning of the five-day celebrations of Mopin.

I found Itanagar is very congested now. Due to reckless driving and violations, traffic situation in the capital complex of Itanagar is worsening and in need of urgent policy action. Nearly 80% of the road length is bituminous but the fact is the quality of most of the internal road system is extremely poor marked with distressed pavement, potholes and poor, maintenance practices.

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The air quality data released by Arunachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (APSPCB) for capital during festive period is shocking. This was one of the cases but overall the capital complex is witnessing massive rise in pollution level. Day by day the air pollution is emerging as big threat. Growing number of vehicles and large scale construction activities is contributing to massive rise in air pollution. First we visited-

1. Ita Fort

Ita Fort in Itanagar town is one of the most important historical sites in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, India. The name literally means “Fort of bricks” (brick being called “Ita” in the Assamese language). It also lends its name to the city Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh. The Ita Fort at Arunachal Pradesh was built as early as the 14th or the 15th century by kings of the Chutia dynasty

(Ref: Official website-https://web.archive.org/web/20120320144930/http://arunachalpradesh.nic.in/tourism.htm). 

The fort has an irregular shape, built mainly with bricks dating back to the 14th-15th Century. Archaeological finds from the site are on displayed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Museum, Itanagar.  The Ita Fort is thought to be one of the early forts which the great Chutia king Ratnadhwajpal initially built.  According to the Nishi tribal folklore, one of the kings from the plains was charmed by the beauty of Nishi women who then married her and built the Ita fort as a palace for the new queen. The Copper bell which was built during the time of Satyanarayan mentions the name Ramachandra as well, who might have been his father Nandeswar. Thus, it can be stated that the fort was built in around the late 14th century by the Chutia king Nandeswar. Then we went to

2. My old primary school

Did you ever have the expertise of returning to the school you studied in? This happened to me, when I reached at my middle age; decided to visit the old school. I hoped to recapture memories and had nostalgic feelings about the old place. I had a wish to reconnect with my childhood. Because many things from the past are forgotten there is a hope that, by going back, they will be able to recapture memories that are important to me. Money cannot purchase all these things.

I revisited my primary school after 35 years and the experience was as magical. Itanagar Government Higher Secondary School, where I trotted in as a 5 year old and was nurtured up to class V. My formative years were spent in the corridors that somehow seemed huge in my memory. From the moment I stepped in, the flash back mode was on! I started chewing my wives’ ears with endless tales of every nook and corner. Even the staircases whispered to me. The trees, the shed, the labs… all brought back memories of another time when the world and me were both different.

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I got eager to visit our old hangout places. The drinking water taps, the principal’s room, the staircases..Ah, the list is endless. I tried to find out for small things that were there during my school days, like a bird cage or the jungle behind the school. I explored the whole place and tried to look for things that have changed. Yes, my school has changed.

It became shabby and dull. I went in search for our old classrooms, library and playground. Playground was there but I felt out of place when I found that the classrooms have changed. V-B used to be on the 1st block? When I saw students wearing the school uniform it made me nostalgic and I went into “I-used-to-wear-that-too” mode. I entered V-B once again and searched my name on the bench which I scratched. Can someone tell me where I had written my name in bold? Then we went to Itanagar Biological Park.

2.Itanagar Biological Park

Biological Park Itanagar covers an area of 40.30 hectare. The valleys and the hills with streams offer great views to nature lovers. The sanctuary is rich in a wide range of trees. The sanctuary is home to wild species including antelopes, languor, porcupines, Himalayan black bear and many more. Bird watchers would love their visit here as the species of birds seen here run into over 400 varieties. Resting sheds and toilets are available for visitors. For more details, visit

http://www.arunachalforests.gov.in/

After that we went back to Naharlagun Retiring Room and have our dinner. In night I inserted my ear phone and started listening- Bertie Higgins – Casablanca and forgot when I slept.

Last updated on 12.01.21

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