Tag Archives: arunachel pradesh

Tribal Culture

Ten years ago I came to North East India and visited the northern Naga tribes. They had only recently opened the land to outsiders. We needed four people and a guide to get a permit. Other than a couple groups of anthropologists we were the first tourists they had ever met. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

But the Naga’s are a warrior tribe, unaccustomed and unfriendly to foreigners who they considered a threat. The children often threw sticks and stones while yelling and waving machetes at us to scare us away.

I now find myself on the other side of the Brahmaputra river valley walking thru Apani villages of Ziro district of Arunachal Pradesh, greeted with smiles, invited into the family homes and offered drinks (rice beer, millet wine and wild kiwi wine).

I’m told that they defend themselves and their culture thru kindness and their helpful nature is respected by anyone who travels thru their valley. UNESCO has recognized their unique culture and they are famed for their sustainable agriculture practices: rice paddies double as fish farms (the fish fertilize the rice and keep the soil loose while feeding on the rice); they also plant pine and bamboo forests for building.

Both of these indigenous cultures hold the mithun (semi-wild jungle buffalo) is high esteem. Apani burial sites are marked with a mithun skull which is believed to help guide the souls of the departed to heaven.

Those who have not been converted to Christianity worship the god Danyi-Piilo who is described as the Sun and the Moon. I’m told the Catholics have some respect for these traditional beliefs and many people are following both religions without contradiction. But there are also revisionist Christians who have split families and clans by introducing this idea that those who are not following Christianity are evil. Of course this has caused some push-back against the revisionist; or rather against the idea that if you are not doing like I am doing then you’re doing it wrong.

We visited a traditional temple for Danyi-Piilo and like many traditional cultures and beliefs, the only people there were over 50 years old. In this area all the women had their chins and foreheads tattooed and large nose piercings while the men had a ‘T’ tattooed on their chins. Nobody I talked to knew the reason for these tattoos: some said to beautify, others said to make ugly so they would not be stolen by other tribes. In any case, it seems clear that this religion, the tattoos, the language and ultimately the culture will mostly disappear as the elders follow the mithun into the after life.

For this it feels like a great honour to be up here staying with these people, hearing their songs, greeting them in their own language, drinking with them, and watching them laugh at us for whatever reason. The joy and kindness of the people will hopefully be passed down to their children and grandchildren.

Tribal Tour and Trekking in North East India

March 26 – April 20, 2019

This is a backpackers dream as we go far from the well worn tourist paths of India and immerse ourselves in some of the most ancient untouched civilizations on earth. The amazing bio and cultural diversity of North East India awaits. This could very well be the life changing trip that many people are looking for; it will certainly change the way you view the world.

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The itinerary will be subject to some slight fluctuation as we travel and things come up.

This trip will start in Guwahati but we would quickly go to Shillong and spend a few days in the area trekking and getting used to the area before taking the train to Tinsukia to visit Dbru Saikowa Nation Park by boat. We will then go by bus to Roing in Arunachel Pradesh and spend a few days on various day hikes. We’ll then hire a jeep and head up into the remote town of Anini and perhaps a little further into the Himalayas to the end of the road before making our way south again.

Manjuli Island is a must see since they figure it may be gone due to erosion within the next 20 years. However, depending on time, we might skip this one in order to spend more time in Nagaland: Mon to Longwa. We will take the treacherous mountain road down thru the middle of Nagaland to the capital Kohima, taking our time to visit several spots along the way. Just a bit south of Kohima is another short trek and then another short trip to Imphal. We will return to Gawahati and have a feast before parting ways.

Some of the things which sway us from this itinerary include: Kaziranja National park, opportunities to get more involved with the local tribes, and local infrastructure. This is not a resort holiday and all participants are expected to be in good physical and mental health. Nights in Arunachel may be as low as -5C, while the days down in the Bramaputra valley may be over +35C. We will take at least one train and perhaps a few local state buses where we will literally rub shoulders with the locals. Tourist infrastructure in some places will be non-existent and sleeping conditions will often be less than ideal. Hopefully we can make up for this with some more comfortable home-stays or eco-tourist lodges occasionally. It will also be possible to skip some day activities in order to take time along or just rest. I do not expect much wifi connectivity, though phones (including data) should find a connection for most of this trip.

Explore India, Arunachal Pradesh Tourism, Along, Anini, Anjaw, Bomdila

Iincludes transportation within India, lodging, all group meals, permits, guides, and pretty much everything we will need on the trip. Maximum of 5 people for this trip. Currently accepting minimum deposit of $600 to hold your seat for this trip. I expect it to go fast.

The following are not included: Spending money, baksheesh/tips, flights, Visa for India, inoculations and other personal extras.

Highlights: There will be many, however, the root bridges around Cherrapunji and the sacred forest by Mawphalang will be among the first sights to open our eyes. This will also be our first contact with local tribals. The Bramaputra River surrounded by tea plantations as we make our way north. Majuli Island is the largest river island in the world. The ferry to get there will take about an hour. The biodiversity of Arunachel Pradesh and the opportunity to see several species of wild cat as well as a large array of birds, river dolphins, and other kinds of big game animals. We will be on the edge of snow leopard territory in Anini. The incredible cultural diversity including Khasi healers, Naga warriors, Ao merchants, Anini herdsmen and many others. The treks; unbelievable treks and the beauty of nature. Expect stunning picks from every angle.