Simplifying Train Travel

Touring the unusual Itanagar

By Ashima Sharda

Situated in the secluded part of Northeastern India, Arunachal Pradesh is one of the most beautiful Indian states. It is a pity that though Arunachal Pradesh tourism has immense potential, yet somehow it escapes the attention of the Indian travel lovers. Ziro Valley, Tawang and Bomdilla are the only three tourist places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh which have gained, relative, publicity in the recent years. But the entire state is filled with breathtaking views. Itanagar, the state capital, nestled in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas would be a great place to start your exploration of Arunachal Pradesh. The city is a prosperous mix of historical sites, magnificent viewpoints and a confluence of great socio-cultural significance.

Setting foot at Itanagar tourists would be greeted by a modern city, yet hidden within it lies the history, culture and food practices dating back to many centuries earlier. Itanagar is still inhabited by number of indigenous tribes, who add color to this beautiful city. Buddhism and Hinduism have peacefully co-existed in this city for many centuries now and you can easily spot a Hindu temple and a Buddhist Gompa side by side.

5 Must visit tourist places in Itanagar

Ita Fort

Ita Fort

“Ita” in Ahom language means brick and hence this ancient fort is popularly known as the “Fort of Bricks”. The structure of Ita Fort dates back to 15th century. The fort was built by King Ramachandra, one of the most prolific rulers of the Jitari dynasty. The fort was deliberately built in an irregular shape to confuse the invaders. There are three large entrances to the fort, which are quite beautiful. The Ita Fort is believed to have been built using 16,200 cubic meters length of pre-medieval era bricks by expert workers.

  • Timings: 8 AM – 4 PM
  • Tip: Ita Fort spans across a huge area, so stay ready to walk a lot.
  • Trivia: Many ancient artifacts from this ancient fort have been shifted and are neatly displayed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Museum.
  • Must visit: Indira Gandhi Park, known for its rich collection of flora, is only at 2 KM walking distance from the fort. Do check it out.

Gompa Mandir

Gompa Mandir

For those who love peace and tranquility, Gompa Mandir is the place to visit. Nestled among hillocks and just a short distance away from Itanagar’s city center this Buddhist temple was constructed by none other than the Dalai Lama. Located on a hill top, the Gompa Mandir is blessed with great natural beauty. Wherever you stare you can view the beauty of Arunachal’s valleys. You would be welcomed into the Gompa by a small and multi-hued entrance gate. Sitting inside the temple is a huge statue of Lord Buddha. Buddhist monks can be seen chanting prayers and giving sermons, filling the air with positive energy. There is a white stupa in the center of the temple with golden carvings and some Buddhist teachings. It is believed that taking four rounds of the Stupa brings peace in life.

  • Timings: 5 AM – 8 PM
  • Must see: There is an ancient Banyan tree, with a life-size meditating statue of Lord Buddha that is filled with colorful meditating flags. A perfect place to click some photographs.
  • Shopping: There is a shop, inside the temple premises, run by the Buddhist monks. It has a delightful collection of artifacts. Do check it out.

Geker Sinying or Ganga Lake

Ganga Lake

In Nyishi dialect Geker Sinying means a “confined lake”. This beautiful lake is confined by majestic hills and big rocks. The shores of this lake are beautified by all those colorful varieties of Orchids. There are various primeval trees bordering the lake. One of the peculiarities of this lake is the color of its water. The lake adorns a green look all through the year. While there is a legend that claims that the water of this lake went green after the lake was cursed by a hermit. Other practical minded folks claim the water derives its color from the abundance of vegetation in the surrounding areas as well as teeming marine vegetation inside the lake. However, the lake is a great place to hone your swimming skills. If you feel the water to chilly to get into, then there are of course boating rides that would help you feast your eyes on the natural beauty of this lake.

Jawaharlal Nehru Museum

Jawaharlal Nehru Museum

The Jawaharlal Nehru Museum in Itanagar is a must visit destination for the history buffs. This museum spans across two floors. In the ground floor one can find exhibits showcasing the tribal history, culture and heritage of Arunachal Pradesh. There is a special section for the musical instruments, art works, handicrafts, religious items. The first floor contains historical exhibits collected from the Ita Fort and other historical places near Itanagar.

  • Timings: 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM (remains closed on Fridays)
  • Entry fee: INR 10 (for Indians), INR 75 (for foreign nationals), INR 20 (for cameras)
  • Must see: The museum houses the entire expedition gear of Tapi Mra, the first Nepalese mountaineer to scale Mount Everest.
  • Shopping: Shops within the Jawaharlal Nehru Museum sell best collection of cane products. These are made by the tribal artists. Do visit the shop.

Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary

Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary

Well, your Itanagar tour cannot be complete without a visit to the Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary. Situated in the hilly terrains of Naharlagun, this is a very beautiful forest area. Due to lack of human interference wildlife sightings remain high at this wildlife sanctuary. One can easily spot a herd of Elephants, Sambar or Barking Deer at Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary. But if you are really lucky you could have a chance encounter with a Tiger or Panther. The forests here are home to as many as 45 species of rare birds. Hornbill, the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh, can be sighted here. Apart from this, the forests of Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary have a charm of their own. Many varieties of Orchids bloom in various parts of the sanctuary.

  • Timings: 9 AM –9 PM
  • Tip: Venture into the Eastern and Northern parts of the sanctuary for better wildlife sighting chances.

Itanagar is one of the unexplored beauties of the Northeast India. Apart from offering a great travel experience, the city is ideal for travelling with your family.


5 thoughts on “Touring the unusual Itanagar

  1. Ishita

    Interesting article. Thanks for helping me decide upon my next holiday destination. Will definately visit all of these places.

    Comment
  2. Yash Pal sharda

    Itanagar is a place where I worked initially when it was selected as capital of Arunachal Pradesh. At that time there was nothing except dense Forrest and remains of Itafort. Now it appears to be well developed town with train connection up to Naharlagoon lagoon, temporary capital town at that time. The article is quite informative and presented in interesting way.

    Comment
  3. Bharatendu Vyas

    Such a detailed description of the place fascinates the reader and inspires him to immediately plan a visit to this beautiful city.

    Comment

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