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Blogchatter A2Z Culture Guide

Zen at Ziro

Hello there!

I am glad that I could write to you finally. This is the last postcard of the month and here’s Ziro from Arunachal Pradesh. Don’t try to find a connection with the number here, because there’s none. I am a place like no other tourist destination you’ve ever been to.

Culturally I am as modern and liberal as you can get, but I’m also deeply rooted thanks to the tribals living here for centuries. The Apatani tribe who built a settlement here long ago defines me to the globe, and I define them. Here in the cradle of Eastern Himalayas, they chose a lone plateau hidden among the lofty mountains and called her home.  I’m on UNESCO’s tentative list of world heritage sites. They define me as the Aptani cultural landscape. So come, let’s take you on a slow walk in the green paddy fields at the feet of blue mountains.

Imagine a quiet sojourn with miles of paddy fields,  numerous trails leading to hill-tops, forests of bamboo and pine trees guarded by the huge Himalayan range. You have reached Ziro, and zen is not far away.  Located 115 km from Itanagar, the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh, I was unknown to many until recently. People came to know me by the famous outdoor music festival that is held with great pomp every year. People come here for the festival and fall in love with me.

Let me tell you a little about the Apatani tribe who live here. They are lovely friendly people who were pagans – worshippers of natural forces. With foreign invasions and rampant conversions by missionaries, they started to lose their traditions. They found the need to form an organized religion called Donyi-Polo in the 1970s. You must visit one of the Donyi-Polo temples here.

The Apatani women adorn distinctive facial tattoos and large nose rings. Don’t mistake this for some beauty tradition because it is, in fact, the opposite. The women started this practice to make their girls look less attractive to save them from abduction by other tribal groups. That’s how it became a custom. a friendly tribal group is known as the Apatani tribe. A unique fact about the Apatani tribe is that women of this tribe used to practice a custom of getting facial tattoos!! This was done since they believed that women of the Apatani tribe were so beautiful that they had to tattoo their faces to avoid unwanted male attention. The practice was done for good in 1970 but you can still see some old ladies wearing them.

Photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

The Apatanis practice paddy-pisciculture. This means that they fish and farm in the same field. I am the only place in India where you will see this practice dominant. Besides this, the Apatanis are appreciated for their unique handlooms, and skill in crafting out of bamboo and canes. UNESCO also recognizes its unique self-governance system through “bulyan”. They operate not on the fear of law and punitive action, but on people’s conscience. How they manage to do that will be a study relevant to the whole world.

Visit me during the festive season of Morung in January, or Myoko in late March or Dree in July to see the hamlets turn into living Apatani museums. The best way to appreciate their culture and enjoy their hospitality is to stay in their homestays. The Apatanis have set an example of sustainable civilization where human lives in synergy with nature.

Our love for music in this town is boundless. This gave birth to the famous Ziro Music Festival in 2012. Every year this 4-day long musical extravaganza happens in the scenic town sometime in September. Music enthusiasts from all over the world come here to listen to original compositions and appreciate fresh musical talent. Camps are laid down for all the visitors on the opulent grasslands here.

So here was an untouristy guide, rather a mere introduction to my humble abode. So when the lockdown is over, ditch your conventional tourist destination for me, and make memories of a lifetime. I am waiting for you.

Yours truly,

Ziro

An introduction to Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh. A vibrant landscape and admirable culture that in on the tentative list of UNESCO world heritage site. #travel #indiaBlogger’s Notes

This is the last post in the series Postcards from India, written during the Blogchatter A2Z challenge in April 2020. When more than half the world was on lockdown, I took refuge in writing and virtually traveling to the remote corners of India. In the last one month, I have tried to showcase offbeat destinations of India that can put your dream destinations in far-away continents to shame. As we earnestly look forward to better times, recovery from the deadly shackled of COVID the travel industry banks of domestic tourists. So this year, let’s explore India and boost the local economy.

This has been a humungous task to blog daily this month. I have never written more than six posts in a month. The shift from writing detailed travel guides to letters imagining myself as the place was an added challenge. But work doesn’t seem to work when you love it. That’s what I realized. Hope you enjoyed the series. You can find all posts in the series here in reverse chronological order. If you liked this, please spread the word through social shares and word-of-mouth. Subscribe for more travel stories.

Source of information for this article: UNESCO, Wikipedia.

21 Comments

  1. Sonia Chatterjee April 29, 2020

    I have read about Ziro on national geographic site. You have finished the series with an usual choice of location. Congratulations on the successful completion of the A2Z challenge.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh April 30, 2020

      Thanks a lot Sonia!

  2. Durga Prasad Dash April 30, 2020

    Ziro, I think, is a Japanese name. Interesting to know that such place exists in India.
    Thanks for being a co traveler in this series. Wishing you all the best. May the journey never end.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh April 30, 2020

      Thanks a lot sir!

  3. Madhu Bindra April 30, 2020

    I have heard of Ziro but never had a chance to visit it. Stunning pictures. Congratulations on the successful completion of the A to Z Challenge. I will be back to discover more hidden gems with you.

    Reply
  4. Noor Anand Chawla April 30, 2020

    Congratulations on successfully completing the A to Z Challenge!
    I learnt about so many new places through your series and I plan to visit them some day for sure.
    At first I didn’t recognise Ziro, but as I read through your post, I could recall hearing of the famous music festival and seeing pictures of the Apatani ladies.
    I feel domestic travel will get a huge boost post lockdown, as people will be wary of international travel for a while.

    Reply
  5. Jyoti Jha April 30, 2020

    This looks amazing and great to know about the Apatani tribe.
    I have adored the beautiful places you have interestingly personified and presented through this series Sinjana! So many places from all the nooks and corners of our country. It has been a pleasant virtual tour with you and I look forward to keeping in touch and continued interaction. Best wishes! And next time I will wait for your chapters from the UK, More of Europe, and many more places

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh April 30, 2020

      Thanks Jyoti. I have not visited UK. Had planned this year but don’t think we will get visas given the situation. Hope to stay in touch.

  6. Sundeep Ananth Dubey April 30, 2020

    You have made me envious of your experiences throughout the series with lovely pictures, great experiences, and so much more. Thanks for the series and congratulations on successful completion.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh April 30, 2020

      Thanks Sundeep. The series was not really about my personal experiences but about the places and the people.

  7. Shubhra Rastogi April 30, 2020

    Sinjana I really loved reading your posts and the way you conveyed them across. I liked the way you became the voice for the place. Though I started reading your post from Jamshedpur … they were really nice. Shall catch up on the earlier posts now!

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh April 30, 2020

      Thanks a lot Shubhra. The feeling is mutual.

  8. Dr.Amrita May 1, 2020

    I have boon to Ziro and the vista is outstanding .Enjoyed traveling with you in April

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh May 1, 2020

      Thanks Dr. Amrita. The feeling is mutual

  9. Pradeep May 3, 2020

    Arunachal Pradesh is an amazingly beautiful place.
    You have done a great job in the challenge. The series came out excellently well. Congratulations!
    I have bookmarked this so that I can go back and check.
    Looking forward to your future posts.
    Thanks for dropping by my blog and for taking time to comment.
    Hope you will keep coming back to my blog.
    Take care and good wishes.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh May 4, 2020

      Thanks a lot Pradeep for your comments.

  10. Jay Artale May 5, 2020

    So interesting to read about the tribal tattoos and the nose piercings, and unique that they’re not done for beauty reasons, but to put people off. I’m glad that the tradition has died out, but I hope there are longs of photos of this tribe to preserve their cultural history.

    Reply
  11. Jan May 7, 2020

    Thanks for pointing in the Ziro direction as I did not know about this place! I know Arunachal Pradesh has beautiful landscape and natural beauty and Ziro looks very attractive. The nose piercings are interesting and huge! Adding this to my bucketlist. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Ajit May 8, 2020

    This is one place in your list that I knew of, having lived in Arunachal Pradesh all my childhood. The Ziro music festival is bringing some much-needed attention to the town and nearby areas. It’s baffling that even in this day and age, most tourists only think of Sikkim and Shillong, and Assam to an extent, when they think of the northeast.

    On thing though. If I’m not wrong, paddy-pisciculture, though perfected by the Apatanis, is practised in other areas of the state too.

    Fantastic post. Belated congratulations on finishing the challenge. Best wishes for your next endeavours.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh May 8, 2020

      Thanks a lot Ajit for your kind comment. Noted your point on the paddy pisciculture.

  13. Ritika Patel May 14, 2020

    Very Nice Articles My Friends….

    Reply

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