Ziro is a quaint mountain town nestled in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.
It may be seen as a town that practices its own set of rules,
A far-flung valley that is demarcated by its unique culture from the rest of the world,
A place that has a tribal heritage or
A place that practices a unique system of cultivation.
Know it for any of it’s famed characteristics, but you certainly don’t want to miss visiting this unconventional town.
Ziro is known as one of the most beautiful & pristine towns of the country. It is a treat for a photographer’s lens and a paradise for a dreamer’s mind. The stunning landscape of Ziro encompasses lush green rice-fields, burbling rivulets, and picture-postcard villages of the Apatani tribe.
The beautiful landscape of Ziro.
Initiated in 2012, The Ziro Music Festival is held in the picturesque valley of Ziro every year. And the best part about visiting Ziro in this month is that you will get to be a part of this grand music festival. The Ziro Music Festival is a grand outdoor music festival that showcases the talent of various North-eastern Indians. It is held from 22nd September to 25th September, 2016. It is a wonderful opportunity to spend 4 days amalgamated with Music, Nature, Adventure & Food. You can opt for accommodation in hotels or homestays, but the best way to go about this festival is to opt for campsite accommodations and enjoying bonfires every night to eat and sing along. This music festival is the perfect escape from the woes that plague our hectic & fast paced lives.
Campsite accommodation at Ziro Music Festival.
A major attraction of visiting the Ziro valley is meeting and knowing the Apatani folk as the valley is inhabited by the Apatani tribe. It is the most well settled tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. They are simple, friendly and hospitable people and have an interesting culture and legacy. They are an agrarian tribe that places emphasis on their responsibility towards nature and is redefining its ways in environment conservation,
It is important that you hire a local guide to take you to authentic Apatani villages so you will know exactly what to explore and whom to approach. There is a local self-help group named the ‘Ngunu Ziro’ that will guide and help you acquire great access into the lives of the local villagers.
The Apatani women were made to wear black nose plugs & dark facial tattoos to stop other tribal raiders from stealing the Apatani women considering them less attractive.
The Apatanis are known for their colorful culture, intricate handloom designs & skills in cane.
The Apatani tribe of Ziro valley are an example of how co-existence of man and nature can be achieved and perfected. The Apatanis are renowned for their unique method of agriculture without the use of animals or machines. They practice wet rice cultivation instead of shift cultivation. And despite one river watering the entire expanse, it is only the dedication of the Apatanis that has earned Ziro valley the ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ tag. Another interesting culture popular amongst the Apatani tribe is the Paddy-cum-fish culture, wherein fish is also reared on the fields while the rice is being cultivated. The agricultural methods of the Apatanis have drawn worldwide attention and are responsible for sustaining ecological balance in the valley.
The Paddy-cum-fish Cultivation in Ziro ensures higher productivity.
Ziro promises some great adventure activities like trekking, rafting, angling, cycling and so on. You can trek through its undulating trails which leads to other attractive spots like Talley Valley, Dolo Mando, Midey and other pristine spots. You can also go rafting in the Kamle and Siang rivers. Pange, on the way to Talley is a perfect spot for angling. You can also embark on cycling expeditions and bird watching sessions in the rich and bountiful region of this beautiful and scenic place.
Rafting in Siang river.
You can optimize your visit to Ziro by exploring the exquisite Apatanis cuisine. The staple food of the Apatanis revolves around rice, fish and pork and boiled vegetables. One of their known delicacies is suddu yo (bamboo meat), wherein a mixture of minced chicken and egg yolk is stuffed into tender bamboo stems and is baked on fire. Having freshly made home-brewed rice beer is also an aspect of the Apatanis food culture. You certainly do not want to miss out on apong, local rice beer that is known to never disappoint.
If you wish to venture deeper into the depths of the mystical town of Ziro, there are a few spots in and around Ziro that you should certainly visit to rejoice in the real beauty and splendor of this place.
The Talley Valley is a major attraction of Ziro. It is a wildlife sanctuary and a biodiversity hotspot located 32 kms from Ziro. This sanctuary is a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Silver fir trees and orchids can be spotted strewn around the sanctuary. It is home to some of the most endangered species like the Clouded leopard. The shy Mithun, a cross between the wild gaur and the buffalo can also be found here.
Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Tarin Fish Farm is another popular attraction of Ziro. It is a high-altitude fish farm near Ziro where high-altitude fishes are bred. It is a perfect example of how the Apatanis’ paddy-cum-fish culture works. Here, two crops of rice and one crop of fish are raised together.
Tarin Fish Farm.
This museum is located towards the end of the new town of Ziro. You can buy souvenirs and keepsakes for your friends and family from here. This is the best spot to buy souvenirs and you can also find Apatani weaves, and bamboo and cane products.
Ziro Puto, also known as Army Puto is a hillock where Independent India’s first administrative centre was initiated. It goes by the name ‘Army Puto’ also, as the base of a military cantonment was established here in the 1960s. From the crest of the hillock you are endowed with the most spectacular panoramic views of the Apatani plateau.
Meghna Cave Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located at an altitude of 300 feet in Ziro. It is around 5000 years old and was rediscovered in 1962 by the archaeological department. This cave temple is famed for its stunning landscape layered with towering mountains, lush green forests and a beautiful river meandering below you.
Meghna Cave Temple.
Pine and Bamboo groves in Ziro are both most frequented tourist spots. They are a testament of the level of expertise of the Apatanis in the field of farm forestry. The pine grove has been planted by the Apatani tribe to rely on pinewood for household purposes. The bamboo grove is clad with one stem bamboo, known as monopodial. Both these spots are frequented by hikers and tourists.
Kile Pakho is a ridge that is located 7 km from Old Ziro and is renowned for the breathtaking view it offers of the Ziro plateau on one side and snow clad Himalayan mountains on the other.
September & October.
The Nearest Airport is the Tezpur Airport in Assam, 272.9 km via NH15 and NH13. However their flights are unreliable as they are often cancelled. The best option is to fly to Guwahati, 479.1 km and then take the road to Ziro via NH27 and NH15.
Nearest railway station is the North Lakhimpur Railway Station in Assam.
You can board direct buses, opt for car rentals or shared taxis/ Sumos to Ziro from Guwahati, Itanagar and North Lakhimpur.
Ziro is one place where the woes that plague our daily hectic lives take a back seat. If you want to share your experiences about this stunning and unconventional town and its culture, please write to us in the comments section below.