A D V E R T I S E M E N T
In the northeasternmost of India’s northeastern states, a modern trunk road stretches for a couple-thousand kilometres, an arterial route hugging the blue Mishmi and Patkai Bum hills and overlooking the raging Siang almost for the entirety of its length. Running from Kanubari in the southeast to the snowy frontier of Tawang in the west, the Trans-Arunachal Highway is a rallyist’s dream playground, offering pristine driving conditions and accessibility to and from districts on the Assam-Arunachal border. More than just a new dimension to the region’s tourist appeal, the highway is expected to help shine more light on local life, as more intrepid itinerants and discerning motorheads make their way to the tea estate-speckled city of Dibrugarh.
Photographer Rana Pandey set out on the route as part of the Trans-Arunachal Drive 2022, capturing vignettes of life from pit stops on the way.
Deer skulls at a local’s home in Rima village, Changlang district. Tribal communities all over the state adorn homes with skulls, horns tusks and beaks as trophies.
As I was about to enter the Kambu village in West Siang, home to the Galo tribe, I saw children playing football and I was straightaway drawn to the game. When I came closer to the ground, I was surprised to find an Astroturf in such a remote region of the state, instead of natural grass. The boys playing told me that the this came courtesy of a self-sponsored project by the zealous local MLA, in a bid to support the youth of the nearby areas and keep them off drugs. All the materials needed for the construction had been brought from Bangalore.
In Kambu, we stayed overnight at locals’ homes. I, along with two other members of the group, was put up at 80-year-old Nyumge Ninu’s residence, where the family gave us a warm welcome. Sitting down, we were offered apong, which is the local alcohol prepared by fermentation of rice, along with some meat and fish snacks. The house was made of wood and bamboo and had a single large room under the thatched roof with the kitchen right in the middle of the living room.
Also Read | Tribal Tastes in Arunachal Pradesh
The next morning, Nyumge’s 27-year-old son Gebin Ninu showed me his traditional attire and how he hunts using bows and arrows. He went on to brandish a poisoned arrow, the likes of which are supposed to retain their toxin for about 10-15 years. The poison is extracted from local plants and herbs found in the nearby mountains.
In Menchuka (also known as Mechukha), located close to the McMahon Line in Shi Yomi district, a local prepares a regional rice beer called Senja.
The tranquil Sela Lake, which lends its name to the famous pass. According to legend, a sepoy of the Indian Army named Jaswant Singh Rawat fought alone against the Chinese soldiers near the pass during the 1962 Sino-Indian War. A tribal woman named Sela who had brought food and water to him is said to have killed herself upon seeing Rawat’s dead body.
A monk at Tawang Monastery, one of India’s biggest and most iconic Buddhist monasteries. The prominent religious site is close to four hundred years old.
Jang Waterfalls in Tawang, cascade with full force into Tawang river from a height of about 300 feet. The fall is also known as Nuranang.
Also Read | In Tawang, Tibet’s Timeless Folk Theatre
To read more stories on travel, cities, food, nature, and adventure, head to our web forum here or our new National Geographic Traveller India app here.