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The perfect itinerary for Ziro and around

Ziro festival of music is one of the coolest festivals in the northeast
Image courtesy: ©Christian Bertrand/Shutterstock

What’s better than a music festival? A music festival in the mountains!

2 stages, 4 days, 40 bands and a grand mix of genres from folk to metal. If that isn’t enough here’s a perfect handpicked week long itinerary, snugly packing in both the Ziro Music Festival and the must visit sites in Ziro.

This funny sounding lush green hill town is an epitome of coexistence in today’s highly polarized world. The seamless and harmonious blending of traditions and modernity has helped retain and refine the unique and fascinating culture.

We ensure you target the best sites and experiences in this culturally and geographically blessed city, abode of the industrious Apatani tribe.

1) Ziro Music Festival: 4 days

2) Tarin Fish Farm, Bamboo Plantation: 1 day

3) Talley Wildlife Sanctuary (Trekking and Camping): 1 day

4) Cultural Tour (Hari, Baro and Siiro Villages): 1 day

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Image courtesy: ©Himmat Rana

Tarin fish farm: This high altitude fish farm, surrounded by a magical backdrop of pine and bamboo groves is spread over 7 acres, and lies just 3 kms away from the city’s centre. It primarily serves as a fish nursery, supplying to local farmers who practice the unique farming technique of rearing fish and rice simultaneously in the same field. Try and time your visit during the fun filled fish catching sessions, which you can enquire about from the staff that reside in the farm.

Image courtesy: ©Himmat Rana

Mithun is the state animal of Arunachal and is intimately associated with the lives of most residents. It’s a domesticated version of the wild Gaur, or to put it more simply, a cow on steroids, raised mainly for its: tender meat, fat rich milk and leather. It can be spotted in plenty along the trail heading to the Talley Wildlife Sanctuary.

Image courtesy: ©Himmat Rana

The mesmerising river side meadow at the Pange camp is home to the forest rangers and the perfect midway stopover en route to the Talley Valley camp site. From galloping away to the other side of the river at first sight; to warming up gradually and eventually trying to eat up my tent, all in a span of 4 days. Guess making friends is universally the same. Tip: Cheat-code to make friends quick with horses and cattle-SALT! They are salt junkies and just can’t get enough of it.

Image courtesy: ©Himmat Rana

The Talley Wildlife Sanctuary spread over 330 sq km. is located at just 10 km from Ziro with its entry point at Pange. This treasure trove is credited with housing a whopping 40% of the floral and faunal species in India. It houses various endangered species like the clouded leopard, red panda and tiger, in addition to the black bear, elephant, leopard, leopard cat, porcupine, wild boar, gaur, barking deer. There are multiple trekking trails and rivers running through its pristine and colourful landscape which varies from the sub-tropical to the alpine (2000-4000 meters), offering an unmatched diversity. Prior permission from the forest department is a must to enter the Sanctuary. The process is simple and just requires a visit to the office. The forest department can also arrange for a guide and accommodation at minimal costs. A must do, during one’s visit to Ziro.

Image courtesy: ©Himmat Rana

The blood red fish farms in Hong village: This strikingly intriguing red algae infested fish farm in Hong village is just a km away from the site of the Ziro music festival and lies en route the Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

Image courtesy: ©Himmat Rana

Bamboo groves: These tall, dense and perennially green grass farms with fallen leaves strewn across every inch of the ground make for an unforgettable setting. As one walks through these shaded and slippery groves one can’t help but reminisce and in some crazy cases even try imitating the Kung Fu fight scenes shot in similar locations.

Image courtesy: ©Himmat Rana

The world’s largest natural Shiv Linga, Siddeshwarnath Temple: Of the many firsts, Ziro also has the distinction of having the world’s largest natural Shiv Lingas. This ginormous 25 feet tall Shiv Linga has an incredibly interesting story behind its discovery. A must do once you reach the temple site, is to request the priest to narrate the entire story behind its discovery while pointing out all the uncanny resemblances to mythology.

Image courtesy: ©Himmat Rana

Apatani: Ziro is home to the industrious, friendly and most literate tribe of Arunachal, the Apatanis. That said, there lies hidden a dark tale behind the tattooed faces and the oversized nose piercings which are synonymous with the women of this tribe. Legend has it that the Apatani women were renowned for their beauty. Their pretty faces and sharp features attracted a lot of undue attention from the men of neighbouring tribes, who started to kidnap and forcefully marry them. The solution that the village elders came up with next was worse than the horrid problem itself. Though this primitive practice of facial distortion has long been discontinued (since 1970’s), but the fading remnants on the wrinkled faces of older women still act as a bridge that connects one from the not-so-distant past.

Image courtesy: ©Himmat Rana

Rice-cum-fish culture: Another must experience in this little green hill town is the unique practice of rearing fish and paddy simultaneously in the same field. It’s a whammy for the pests and weed as the fish feed on both, while organically fertilising the field with their excreta. Each field is equipped with two perpendicular trenches intersecting at the centre, acting as a refuge for the fish. As the water level gradually starts to recede post flooding during the transplantation of seedlings, the drains still retain enough water for the fish to survive and grow.

Note: The best way to experience the Apatani culture and hospitality is to ditch the hotels/resorts and live in a homestay.