Voted as the 4th best destination in the world to travel by Lonely Planet in 2012, tucked away in the north eastern tip of India, Arunachal Pradesh is home to quaint mountains, uncharted passes, calm lakes and famous monasteries. Encompassing extensive geographical diversity with a variety of rare wildlife, flora and fauna, Arunachal Pradesh is now gaining acclaim worldwide as one of the richest biodiversity and heritage spots. It is the only Indian state that can claim to have four major varieties of the big cats in its jungles- tiger, leopard, clouded leopard and snow leopard.
This mystical land of bliss has many wonders and attractions for travellers. The wavering rivers, the snow clad mountains, the stubborn plains, exclusive flora and fauna, legendary cultural heritage trailing since ancient times, the habitat of wild savages, the thick woodlands, the historical heritages, the tribal terrains. Among the thousands of species of orchids as many as 600 species of orchids are found here.
Arunachal Pradesh finds mention in the literature such as the KalikaPuran and in the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. It is believed that sage Vyasa meditated here and also that the remains of the brick structure scattered around two villages in the hills north of Roing was the palace of Rukmini, the consort of Lord Krishna. The sixth Dalai Lama was also born on the soil of Arunachal Pradesh.
Arunachal Pradesh the 24th state of the Indian Union, is bounded by Bhutan to the west; Myanmar to the east; China to the north and north-east and the plains of Assam to the south, and is the 24th state of the Indian Union. In this incredibly beautiful state, more than 500 species of birds have been recorded, many of which are highly endangered and restricted to this state. One of Asia’s largest Orchidarium is in Arunachal Pradesh and almost every district of Arunachal Pradesh has its own exclusive and rare variety of orchids.
Like other parts of Northeast India, a majority of the people native to the state are of Tibeto-Burman origin. There are 26 tribes and 110 sub tribes living in the state. Most of these communities are ethically similar having derived from an original common ancestors but their geographical isolation from each other has brought amongst them certain distinctive characteristics in language, dress and customs. The first group of people are the Monpas and the Sherdukpens of Tawang and West Kameng district. They follow the Lamaistic traditions of Mahayana Buddhism. Culturally similar to them are Membas and Khambas who live in the high mountains along the northern borders; Khamptis and Singphos inhabiting the eastern part of the state are Buddhists of Hinayana Buddhism. The second group of people Adis, Akas, Apatanis, Bangnis, Nishings, Mishmis, Mijis, Tangsas, etc., who worship the sun and the moon namely Donyi Polo and Abotani, believed to be the original ancestor for most of these tribes. The third group comprises of Noctes and Wanchos, adjoining Nagaland in the Tirap district. They are hard working people known for their structured village society in which the hereditary village chief still plays a vital role. The Noctes also practice elementary form of Vaishnavism.
The culture of Arunachal Pradesh is truly varied in the sense that the state has 26 major tribes including sub-tribes. Every tribe has their own unique set of traditions and customs. The major tribes of Arunachal are: Adi, Galo, Aka, Apatani, Nyishi, Tagins, Bori, and Bokar etc.
The sun and the moon are the presiding deities of the major tribes who follow the Donyi-Polo religion (the name stands for sun and moon). The West Kameng and Tawang district are mainly inhabited by the Tibetan influenced Monpa and Sherdukpen tribe. In Lohit district it is the Khampti and the Singpho tribe. All these four major tribes are followers of two different sects of Buddhism (Mahayana Hinayana). The other tribes are basically followers of ancient beliefs with animal worship being quite prominent amongst them.
Arunachal’s cultural lifestyle is dominated by colourful festivals. Since agriculture is the mainstay here so people generally celebrate festivals as a mark of thanksgiving to the Almighty for giving them a good harvest. These festivals also showcase the artistic skills of the various tribes. To experience the cultural festivals of the state, one should visit Ziro district which is very popular for festivities.
In terms of linguistic diversity, the state has a unique position in Asia. Here people speak over 50 dialects and most of these come under the Tibeto-Burman language structure.
This write-up on the State of Arunalchal Pradesh is just an introduction to the land and its people. It is not meant to be an exhaustive or authoritative document.