Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh is 323km from Guwahati. The road runs across the Assam plains before traversing a few hills to reach Itanagar. Arunachal Pradesh is a hilly state, and one of the least inhabited. Mainly for transport convenience, most of the bigger towns are near the plains of Assam. Further inward, big towns disappear and forest reign supreme. Itanagar is located at a modest elevation of 750m. Because of its closeness to the plains of Assam, the whether is warm and moderate. Itanagar connects Arunachal to other parts of the country and it doesn’t feel like a hill station, as the climate is moderately warm- compared with chilling winter in other parts of the State.
Itanagar is a small town and most of the important landmarks, shops, ATM’s and hotels are confined around Ganga Market. Most of the town can be traversed by a single main road. Local taxis ply on that stretch of road from the lower valley as far as the Raj Bhavan Marg.
There are few cyber cafes in Itanagar and one of them is located in the main Ganga Market. It is owned by an Assamese guy from Tezpur. Thought the Itanagar area was originally inhabited by Nyishi tribe, now the town is a blend of various races from all part of the country. The main language as in bigger towns of Arunachal Pradesh is Hindi. The problem of not having a common dialect is a major dilemma, though there are many tribal dialects they have no common language that can be spoken by everyone. It has to be either Hindi of English. Where to Stay:
There are lots of hotels near Ganga Market. Hotel Blue Pine just near the Shiva Temple is perhaps one of finest mid range hotel. Hotel Pine Ridge is just near Hotel Blue Pine and was recently constructed. A single room starts at Rs.800. Rooms are small but clean and have spacious bathrooms. It also gives a good view of Ganga Market. Another place to stay is Hotel Dawnland opposite Pine Ridge Hotel.
A few budget hotels in Itanagar are Hotel Shangrila and Hotel Greenland near Ganga Market.
How to Reach and Get Away:
There are buses and taxis which leave Along for Itanagar. I had to go back the same road I came- to Salipathar then drive through the plain corridors of Assam and then to Itanagar. We started around 5pm and reached there only in the morning around 6am. So it accounts for around 13 hours of driving continuously except during a food break.
Itanagar can be easily reached by bus or taxi from Guwahati. Bus or taxi tickets to Tezpur, Bomdila and other places are available at many taxi counters at Ganga Market. For buses to Bomdila go to the Yatayat counter.
Where to Eat:
In order to get the local taste, eat at small eateries, rather than big restaurants run by people from the plains. For best local meal do visit Poong Nest at VIP road. The interior is colorful and painted in popular Buddhist art. The name somehow resonates in my heart when I visited Itanagar and I made all the necessary effort to reach there. It was an odd hour in the afternoon and I was the lone customer. I had a sumptuous meal of boiled chicken curry with rice. It was cooked without any oil, but was very tasty. Meals at Poong Nest start at Rs.180 onwards. A small eatery called Shangrila near Ganga market also serves good meals for just Rs.100.
Places of Interest:
Itanagar is not so richly blessed with beautiful landscape as some other parts of the state. There are not too many places to see unless you are a keen traveler and you want to explore people’s culture more than just the landscape.
1. Ganga Lake is 6km from the main town. It is a picturesque lake surrounded by hills. A local taxi will ask for Rs.500 for dropping and return.
2. Ita Fort is the most important tourist destination in Itanagar.
3. Indira Gandhi Park is a regular park without any entry fee. It is carved out of a gentle slope at the base of a hill. Since it is the only park, it is a popular place for youngster to hang out after a cricket match or on a date with someone. The park is busiest during morning and evening with regular joggers.
4. The Gompa on top of a hill near the Jawaharlal Nehru Museum is a cool place to hangout. The elevation also gives a good view of the town and surrounding areas.
5. Jawharlal Nehru Museum is a good place for an educational tour of the state’s rich culture and tradition.