Arunachal Pradesh is a state of India, located in the far northeast. It borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south, and shares international borders with Burma in the east, Bhutan in the west, and Tibet (now occupied by the People's Republic of China) in the north. The majority of the territory is claimed by the People's Republic of China as part of South Tibet. The northern border of Arunachal Pradesh reflects the McMahon Line, a controversial 1914 treaty between the United Kingdom and a Tibetan government, which was never accepted by the Chinese government, and not enforced by the Indian government until 1950. Itanagar is the capital of the state.
Arunachal Pradesh means "land of the dawn lit mountains" in Sanskrit. It is also known as "land of the rising sun". Nestled in India's distant northeast lies this little known state. Though it lies within the political boundaries of modern India, it is culturally distinct from much of the rest of the country. Tribal living and diverse faiths combined with unique cultural practices make Arunachal a fascinating frontier for modern exploration.
Arunachal is one of India's Eight North Eastern States. It shares its border with Bhutan, Tibet and Myanmar. Much of the land is mountainous, covered by the Himalaya in the north and west and the Patkai hills in the east. The state is also home to countless valleys and rivers, the mightiest being the Siang. The climate of Arunachal ranges from alpine to temperate and sub-tropical, varying with elevation. The state receives heavy rainfall during its monsoon season making it the perfect home for dense forest and an enormous diversity of plant and animal life. This part of India is appropriately known as the "unexplored paradise."
It is a thinly populated state positioned in the foothills of the Himalaya. Just over one million people inhabiting an area a little over 83,000 square miles. Much of the Arunachal population live in tribes whose ancestors are believed to have migrated from pre-Buddhist Tibet two to three thousand years ago. Oral histories and material culture, including the traditional way of dressing and religious practices, are the strongest indicators of a Tibeto-Burman origin among many of the tribes.
Ziro, a town in the lower Subansiri region of Arunachal Pradesh. With a population of just over 12,000, it is a town of mostly rice and bamboo growers. Apatani as the local tribe is called, derives their name from the Apa Tani plateau where Ziro sits. Tourists are drawn here to see their distinct lifestyle and bamboo village. Here you will find ancient customs and traditions still being carried out and untouched by time.
Outside of Ziro and Tawang, much of Arunachal remains relatively unexplored by the outside world. With its rich and diverse tribal cultures, it is a unique face of India. As globalization expands its reach into India's far eastern state, the tribes of Arunachal have become less and less isolated. However, despite a shift in cultural practices towards a more modern lifestyle, Arunachal still remains rooted in its traditional religious and cultural ways and its people continue to celebrate its heritage.
No matter where you are in Arunachal one will see how fairs and festivals have become an essential part of their culture. Full of dancing and singing, tribes have different dances be it the Buddhist dance drama or the colorful swinging of the tribes on the Apa Tani Plateau.
The Arunachalis have a very low stress level in their lives. It is their spirit that can be seen in their unique song and dance. Arunachalis seem to already be where the rest of the world wants to get to -- a group of communities that live close together, in happy isolation from the rest of the world, with little or no antagonism, leading self-sufficient, healthy and balanced lives.