This Weekend We Virtually Visited Ziro
Ziro valley, located in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, is a budding destination that is sure to captivate every traveler’s soul. Declared as a World Heritage Site for its panoramic beauty, its wide range of enticing trekking trails, lush green rice fields, soaring pine trees, and the snow-laden Himalayas make Ziro an ideal escape for nature-lovers and adventurers alike.
The town is also home to the Ziro Music Festival, which brings together artists from across India to perform amidst picturesque paddy fields! - making for a truly unique musical experience. Festival attendees camp within walking distance of the venue, explore the surrounding villages, and jam with the musicians!
Those seeking a cultural immersion can interact with the indigenous Apatani tribe and learn about their traditions and culture. They are the primary inhabitants of Ziro and many of them still live deep inside the rainforests of Arunachal Pradesh. They are one of the 20 tribes in the state and are known for their skills in cane and bamboo craft, beautiful handloom designs, and vibrant festivals.
Get set to kick-start another 36-hour adventure - this time to a magical valley in the northeast of India!
36 Hours in Ziro
6:00 AM: Trek Through an Elevated Forest
Start your day early with a trek across the beautiful Talley Valley Wildlife Reserve. The sanctuary is home to a variety of endangered species, and the range of subtropical trees such as Silver Fir, Rhododendrons, Orchids, and Ferns add a spectrum of biodiversity to the region.
You can hire a local guide to help you traverse through the forest. Don’t forget to look out for clouded leopards and giant squirrels!
9:00 AM: Visit a High-Altitude Fishery
Next, get ready to explore a fishery in the Bulla village that is inhabited by the Apatani tribes. Witness the process of raising crops of rice, Mipya and Emoh, along with Ngihi, a traditional breed of fish consumed by the tribe.
During the paddy cultivation season, several varieties of these fish are bred and sold to farmers in the region. Those craving a little more adventure can trek up to the farm amongst the plethora of pine and bamboo trees.
11:00 AM: Picnic in the Highlands
Following an action-packed morning, head over to the lush green grasslands of Dilopolyang Maniipolyang. Located close to Ziro’s main attractions, this twin hillock makes for the perfect picnic spot! Enjoy a pre-lunch snack as you soak in the awe-inspiring views of this landscape.
1:00 PM: A Scrumptious Local Meal
Before moving onward with your exploration of Ziro, stop by a local homestay such as Hospitality Inn Ziro to devour a traditional meal of boiled vegetables cooked with bamboo shoots, served with rice and Pika Pila, a favorite accompaniment of food in Arunachal Pradesh. It is a type of pickle made using bamboo shoot, pork fat, and chilli, so make sure to prepare your taste buds for a very spicy meal!
2.00 PM: Pay Homage at a Cave Temple
Embark on a spiritual journey by visiting a 5000-year old temple! Meghna Cave Temple is a popular destination for devotees of the Hindu God Shiva and is renowned for its exquisite carvings and architectural style. Located at an altitude of 300 feet, the temple also offers breathtaking views of flowing rivers, majestic mountains, and a lush green landscape. If you happen to visit the temple in February, you will have the opportunity to experience it during the grand festival of Maha Shivratri.
3:00 PM: Get Enlightened by the Sun God
Continue your culture-filled afternoon with a visit to the Apatani tribe’s indigenous place of worship: the Donyi Polo Shrine. The followers of this religion believe in the worship of the sun, moon, and other elements of nature. Villagers frequently gather here for prayers and fill the atmosphere with peace and tranquility as they chant. You may also witness the traditional practice of the Shaman priests making prophecies to eager Apatanis.
7.00 PM: Dumplings and Eggs for Dinner
Treat yourself to some delicious northeastern fusion food at one of Ziro valley’s top diners, Sela Restaurant. Try out a variety of dishes such as momos (Tibetan dumplings), thukpa (noodle soup), and the renowned egg bhurji, which consists of scrambled eggs mixed with chilli and other vegetables. While these dishes can be found in other regions of India, they originate from this part of the country and thus guaranteed an authentic experience.
9:00 AM: Morning Views for All
Kickstart day 2 with a short trek to Kile Pakho, a gorgeous ridge located in Ziro Valley. It is one of the most popular attractions in the region and for good reason. Not only does it offer a variety of trekking expeditions of different intensity levels, but presents stunning views of contrasting landscapes, with the Ziro Plateau on one side and the snow-capped Himalayan ranges on the other. A topography like this definitely turns out to be a treat for all photography enthusiasts!
11:00 AM: Pray to the World’s Tallest Shiva Linga
Discovered by accident by a gardener cutting a tree, this 25-foot tall Shiva Linga has been a sign of miraculous unearthing for most Hindus. Located in the Sidheshwar Nath Temple in Ziro Valley, the Shiva Linga is surrounded by constantly flowing river water at its base and is visited by hundreds of devotees annually, many of who believe that the spirit of Lord Shiva lies in this particular rock. Get ready to embark on this spiritual journey as you experience the peace and serenity of the location...
12:00 PM: Street Food For the Win!
Indulge in a unique culinary experience for lunch at Hapoli Market, where you can pick from a variety of street foods such as Momos, Lukter, and Chura Sabji. While Lukter is a side dish combining cooked dry meat and chilli flakes that is had with rice, Chura Sabji is a kind of curry made of fermented cheese and topped with chilli and other spices. For those wanting to cool off with a drink, make sure to try Marua, a millet-based alcoholic beverage.
1:00 PM: Embark on a Shopping Spree
Post a satisfying lunch, explore the commercial side of the valley at the Market where you will be able to shop for a variety of items. From ingredients used in the local cuisine (dried rats, snakes, frogs, and bamboo shoots!) to handicrafts made of bamboo and cane, there’s something for everyone here. The best part is that sold items are packed in leaves instead of plastic bags. Don’t forget to take home your souvenir!
3:30 PM: Visit an Armed Cantonment in the Hills
The country’s first administrative center and army cantonment was established in Ziro Puto in the 1960s and is of historical significance to India because it also served as a strong managerial institution. The added benefit is that visitors can get a breathtaking view of the Apatani Plateau and also have the option of trekking to the top to get a panoramic sight of Ziro. Currently, there are a lot of inhabitants of the Apatani tribe that live in Ziro Puto.
6:30 PM: Spend the Night in an Apatani Home
A visit to Ziro is incomplete without spending a night with the Apatanis in their bamboo homes.
Learn about the practice of wetland cultivation, interact with the older women of the tribe who dorn facial tattoos and massive nose rings, and sip on a variety of rice beers known as Apong and served as a welcome drink in Apatani homes.
There’s no better farewell dinner in Ziro than a home-cooked meal consisting of rice, boiled vegetables, wild boar, and pork cooked with bamboo shoots. For the more adventurous travelers, forest rodents are a popular local delicacy and might be worth trying!
Nestled amongst the mountains of northeast India, the mysterious but magical town of Ziro has one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. With a mix of pine forests, rice fields, layered mountains, ancient temples, and mythical villages, the town has a lot.
Ziro is still an unheard-of port of call for most international travelers, although the Ziro Music Festival has exposed more Indians to the region. January and July are a good time to explore Ziro because of the Murung Rituals and Dree Festival, where the Apatani tribe is said to practice animal sacrifices to honor the Gods. While the Dree Festival is a three-day agricultural celebration where the tribe comes together and performs a dance to pray for a good harvest, the Murung Festival is a six-day long ritual celebrated by families for the well-being of their community. As a result of the long hours and expenses involved in the latter, as well as a lack of interest from the new generation, the Murung festival has slowly been fading out over the years.
How To Get There
The best way to get to Ziro is by hiring a taxi from Guwahati, which is well-connected to many international destinations. It is at a distance of about 470 kilometers. For those not wanting to embark on a long road journey, there is the alternate option of taking a flight from Guwahati to Lilabari and then hiring a taxi to get to Ziro.
Where To Stay
Ziro Palace Inn is an ideal option for those wanting a more luxurious stay. For budget travelers, experiential travel companies like ChaloHoppo and the Arunachal Tourism Board can help book homestays and curate tours
When To Go
March to October is the best time to visit Ziro.
Citizens from most countries, including the US and Europe, require a valid Indian visa to visit.
The best way to get around the town is via the State transport buses and local taxis. For nature-lovers, trekking is another great way to traverse through the region.
The Indian Rupee (INR) is the official currency of India.
Apatani is the primary language spoken in Ziro Valley. In all, there are over 200 languages including Hindi and English that are spoken across the rest of India.
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