I’ve been travelling for almost two weeks non stop from Shillong, to Assam and now Arunachal Pradesh. I rounded up at Along, and turned back towards Itanagar. After six hours of riding on small mountain roads I thought I had arrived deep into Arunachal at Along, but looking up on the map made me realize I had just scratched the surface. So much more remained unexplored, but from here the going gets tough.
The difficult mountain terrain makes it even harder. The boundary with Assam is easily distinguishable; Arunachal begins where the mountain begins. So technically Arunachal is a mountain state, there are hardly any plains except for small valleys in the midst of mountains, which also make it difficult to travel from one district to another. Most of the bigger towns and even the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar are near the border with Assam. The accessibility and the transport factor cannot be ignored here. So the majority of Arunachal Pradesh remains inaccessible, or very difficult to reach. There is also the factor of locals not welcoming outsiders. It also very difficult to go to places where there are no hotels, unless you have a good local friend or a guide. Further north or north East of Along, there are many places to explore, but very limited facilities for transport, lodging and food. The real tribal traditions and lifestyle lay hidden in these mountains that are bordered with Myanmar and China.
The most disappointing thing about traveling in Arunachal Pradesh though is that every time you want to travel to another town, you have to come back towards the Assam plains before crossing into Arunachal again. Driving through the plains doubles the time, but it is less risky and serves well for buses and big vehicles. If you check out the map you’ll see how every time you want to go to some town you have to navigate through the corridors of the Assam plains near Brahmaputra. There are hardly any roads through the mountains.
Area wise Arunachal Pradesh is the largest State in North-East and sparsely populated. The difficult mountain terrain makes the journey long and tiring- as twice as it would normally be in the plains.
Arunachal Pradesh is not a destination where you can travel from one end to the other. The mountain terrains are precarious and the road always ends somewhere. The bumpy ride also sucked up a lot of your body’s energy. So while planning a trip to the State, you could look up for a specific travel circuit and plan accordingly.
Here are the 11 Travel Circuits fairly approved by the Tourism Department of the State:
1. Tezpur-Bhalukpong-Bomdila-Tawang Circuit
2. Itanagar-Ziro-Daporijo-Aalo-Pasighat Circuit
3. Pasighat-Jengging-Yingkiong-Tuting Circuit
4. Tinsukia Tezu-Hayuliang Circuit
5. Margherita-Miao-Namdapha Circuit
6. Roing-Mayudia-Anini Circuit
7. Tezpur-Seijosa-Bhalukpong Circuit
8. Ziro-Palin-Nyapin-Sangram-Koloriang Circuit
9. Doimukh-Sagalee-Pakke Kesang-Seppa circuit
10. Aalo(Along)-Mechuka Circuit
11. Darorijo-Taliha-Siyum-Nacho circuit
I didn’t follow any Travel Circuit and it made my trip a lot harder. My trip started in Salipathar (than towards Along-Itanagar-Bomdila) and ended at Tawang. It was more of an East to West journey with around 60 hours traveling time mostly on Sumo Taxis.