Why Arunachal Pradesh is the next big chapter in Indian tourism


Arunachal Pradesh, once known as the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), is a land of unparalleled potential. Often referred to as the ‘Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains’, this enchanting region is renowned for its lush forests, vibrant wildlife, and an incredible mosaic of cultures that have coexisted with nature for generations. Emerging as a must-visit destination in India’s tourism landscape, Arunachal Pradesh has gained national and international attention for its sustainable tourism development. Here’s why we believe Arunachal Pradesh is becoming an unmissable chapter in Indian tourism:

Forest Cover Map of Arunachal Pradesh


Unrivalled ecological beauty of Arunachal Pradesh

Geographically, Arunachal Pradesh is all about its vast landscapes – its untamed, wild blue rivers flowing down the towering snow peaked Himalayan mountains. From subtropical forests to alpine meadows, the state’s geographical beauty is more than just a visual treat; it is a vital part of the state’s tourism potential.
A. Himalayan Highlands: These areas with their alpine meadows provide habitat for species such as the Red Panda and Snow Leopard.
B. Tropical Rainforests: These forests are rich in biodiversity and are home to rare orchids, hornbills, and the endangered Bengal tiger.
C. Brahmaputra Valley: A unique ecosystem that is home to an abundance of aquatic and terrestrial life forms.
D. High Altitude Passes and Lakes: The state is dotted with passes like Sela and Bum La, the gateways to serene lakes like Sangetsar Tso. With over 108 sacred lakes in Tawang district alone, these places are ideal for finding peace in nature. The summer months are the best time to visit these high-altitude areas as they offer clear views and roads.

Unique contiguous Ecosystems or Biomes in the region

Arunachal Pradesh is endowed with rich ecological and biological diversity. The state is part of two global biodiversity hotspots – the Eastern Himalayas and the Indo-Burma region. The Eastern Himalayan biome in particular, with its diverse ecosystems, forms the basis for biological diversity within Arunachal Pradesh, providing an important habitat and resources for a wide variety of flora and fauna.

A number of conditions are responsible for the state to have such diversity – the varied topography, altitude variations and climatic conditions of the region have created unique ecosystems. The isolation of the region before 1987 due to limited connectivity and national policies have helped to preserve these ecosystems and the biodiversity they contain.

This incredible diversity of ecosystems within the state’s geography contributes to the heterogeneity of habitats that supports more biodiversity to coexist. More importantly, these biomes (i.e, interconnected ecosystems) facilitate the movement of species, allowing for gene flow and the exchange of genetic material. This movement has helped to maintain healthy populations, genetic diversity, and resilience in the face of environmental change.
A. Flora: Arunachal Pradesh is a botanist’s paradise as it has over 5000 plant species. The state is particularly famous for its rhododendrons, orchids (over 600 species), and medicinal plants.
B. Fauna: The state is a haven for wildlife lovers, although the fauna varies greatly depending on the type of forest. The dense mountain forests hold the elusive species like the Clouded Leopard in Lower Subansiri district’s Talle Wildlife Sanctuary and Dibang’s Wildlife Sanctuary along with the big four cats in Namdapha National Park.
C. Birder’s Paradise: Siberian Black necked cranes in Zemithang, Ward’s Trogon, Wedge-billed Wren-Babbler, Chestnut-breasted Hill-Partridge and Blyth’s Tragopan. Apart from these endemic species, Arunachal Pradesh also hosts migratory birds. Amur Falcons visit the eastern districts of the state every year during the winter months on their way from Siberia before continuing to South Africa.
D. Protected Areas: The state has several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries such as Namdapha National Park and Pakke Tiger Reserve. The Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary covers 217 km² . Nearby, the Sessa Orchid Sanctuary, part of the Kameng Protected Area Complex, showcases over 200 orchid species.
Namdapha National Park
Namdapha National Park
The opportunity to explore different ecosystems, experience unique flora and fauna and immerse oneself in the rich ecological heritage of the region has helped Arunachal Pradesh emerge as a prime tourist destination.

Rich Cultural Heritage

Home to 26 major tribes and over 100 sub-tribes, Arunachal Pradesh is rich in cultural diversity. Each tribe, with its distinct languages, festivals and traditions, invites tourists to immerse themselves in novel cultural experiences. The indigenous tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, from the Monpas, Adis and Galos in the western region to the Nyishis and Apatanis in the central part of the state, have coexisted with their natural surroundings for centuries. Their traditional knowledge and sustainable practices are invaluable in conserving biodiversity.

The diverse cultural landscape of Arunachal Pradesh is also reflected in its arts and crafts, including intricate handwoven textiles, traditional wood carvings, and exquisite handicrafts. Visitors can witness the skilled craftsmanship of the local artisans and even participate in workshops to learn traditional craft techniques firsthand.

The state is also renowned for its colourful and vibrant festivals, such as the Ziro Music Festival, Losar, Nyokum, and Mopin, which provide a window into the cultural identity of the different tribes and offer travellers an opportunity to partake in the traditional dances, music, and elaborate rituals.

Moreover, the traditional cuisine of Arunachal Pradesh is a gastronomic delight for food enthusiasts, with each tribe offering its own delectable culinary specialties. Tourists can savour a variety of indigenous dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, adding a flavorful dimension to their cultural exploration.

Development of Niche Tourism opportunities:

We are well aware of the tourism opportunities the state has to offer. Its geographical beauty and ecological and cultural diversity provides a great base of niche tourism arenas to develop and grow. As an all-year round destination, different tourism segments have developed to appeal to a broad range of travellers – whether one is a young adventure seeker in their 20s or a cultural enthusiast in their 60s. Here are a few areas we see flourishing in the coming years:
A. Historical and Religious Tourism: The state has significant spiritual and historical significance. Buddhist monasteries such as Tawang Monastery attracts pilgrims and tourists alike. The state is currently developing the Dalai Lama’s escape route from Tibet to India into a special tourist circuit, with additional accommodations, wayside amenities and pathways along the route. Additionally, sites like the Ita Fort in Itanagar, 14th Century Malinithan Temple in Lower Siang District and the ruins of Bhismaknagar in Lower Dibang district offer fascinating new insights into the region’s often shrouded ancient history and its archeological wealth. For travellers with a special interest on how wars have affected the region, the historic Ledo Road is well known as the overland India-Burma-China highway constructed during WWII. The Hump WW2 Museum in Pasighat by the state government aims to push more awareness on the region’s involvement in global historical events. War cemeteries such as the grounds in Kohima and Imphal are also crucial sites of regional history that has received due importance in recent years.
B. Nature-based and Eco-Tourism: Travellers are now more conscious about how travelling can affect the environment and many choose sustainable forms of travel, while supporting local community endeavours like community reserves. Community-led initiatives play a crucial role in conservation, as demonstrated by Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve, where local Buguns donated 17 sq kms of their land towards the protection of the critically endangered endemic Bugun Liocichla with only 14 individual birds spotted since its discovery in 2006. The state currently sees a large influx of ornithologists, environmentalists and wildlife experts who come to conduct years long research in the thick forests on its unique biodiversity. For nature lovers, there are unique experiences such as witnessing high-altitude alpine flowers blooming in the Himalayan range, rare endemic butterflies in the forests (with new discoveries every year), bird watching, fly fishing and angling in freshwater lakes and rivers.

C. Adventure Tourism: For those who love the outdoors and the wilderness, Arunachal Pradesh presents an array of thrilling activities. The state’s rugged terrain is ideal for trekking for every level, with popular routes such as the Tawang to Bumla Pass and the Siang Valley trek to the more challenging treks such as the Gorichen Peak trek. For cultural enthusiasts, the Thembang Trek weaves through ancient monasteries. The Seven Lake Trek in Dibang Valley is a test of skill, offering breathtaking views of alpine lakes.

Arunachal Pradesh’s snow fed river systems provide excellent opportunities for river rafting, attracting adventure seekers from around the globe. The five major rivers viz Kameng, Subansiri, Siang, Lohit and Tirap divide the State into five major valleys with stunning sceneries to witness from the river’s perspective. White water river rafting on the Siang and Subansiri river promises an adrenaline rush with its Grade III and IV rapids. For gentler water based activities, the Lohit River, with its clear waters and moderate rapids, offers an exciting kayaking experience. These rivers are also a haven for anglers with its variety of fish species and pesca-tourism has its own special place in the state.

The state’s diverse topography also makes it an ideal location for other adventure activities like mountaineering, paragliding, and mountain biking, catering to the growing demand for adventure tourism. As the state continues to develop its tourism infrastructure, it promises to be a premier destination for those seeking adventure in its purest form.

D. Border tourism: Sharing over 1800 kilometres with Bhutan, Tibet, China and Myanmar, border regions often suffer from economic underdevelopment due to their peripheral location. There has been a reopening of border haats to support local traders. Under the Vibrant Villages Programme, India and the Arunachal Pradesh government has prioritised the development of villages bordering the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as tourism hubs to uplift border economies and curb rural-urban youth migrations. This is also a strategic intervention, made possible through civil-military partnerships, to make remote border villages accessible not only to military but also to tourists. This will not only ensure increased tourist spending and revitalization of economies, but also promote cross-cultural exchange.


Tourism stakeholders in Arunachal Pradesh, from state governments to local authorities and representatives, see the tremendous potential of their region across all seasons. Collaborative efforts have helped develop the state into a year-round hub for tourist activities. Whether it’s the cool summers ideal for trekking or the festive winters, there’s always a perfect time to visit. Each season in Arunachal has its own beauty, from lush green mountains with gushing rivers in the mountains to the white peaks in the cold months of winter. Our personal favourite is spring and summer when the altitude brings with it a coolness in the air and the warmth of the sun touches our soul as we picnic by the rivers that cool our beers.
A. Infrastructural Development: Recent efforts to improve accessibility and infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh are key to its tourism potential. The construction of new roads, airports, and accommodations has made the state more accessible to tourists. Apart from the existing 12 tourist circuits, new ones have been added : the tourist circuit in Tirap District and Longding District. Projects like the Nechiphu tunnel, Sela tunnel, and the ambitious 2,500-km highway construction are revolutionising connectivity. The expanded Trans-Arunachal Highway, traversing 16 districts, is set to shorten travel times and open up more areas for exploration in the border regions of the state.

To develop tourism specifically, considerable funding has been allocated towards tourism infrastructure such as wayside amenities, food areas, public bathrooms. Development projects have begun to establish new region-specific tourist hotspots such as the ‘Mechukha Adventure Park’ project and the development of Parashuram Kund in Lohit District.
B. Human Resource Development: A cornerstone of Arunachal Pradesh’s sustainable tourism growth lies in its focus on human resource development initiatives, such as adventure sports training. The National Institute of Mountaineering & Allied Sports (NIMAS) in Dirang offers courses from mountaineering to scuba diving and stands at the forefront of skill enhancement for adventure enthusiasts in the region. This institution is the first of its kind to allow civilians to engage in and pursue careers in diverse adventure sports.

In addition to adventure sports training to upskill local youth, Arunachal Pradesh places great emphasis on preserving and promoting its rich cultural heritage. A key component of this effort is cultural guide training programmes, which aims to empower individuals from within the communities to encourage people to become proud spokespersons of their culture and traditions. By nurturing local talents to serve as cultural guides, Arunachal Pradesh not only ensures authentic and immersive experiences for tourists but also fosters a sense of pride and ownership among community members.
C. Accommodation Options: Development: Arunachal Pradesh caters to a range of tourists, from luxury seekers to budget travellers. The recent launch of an 80-room Taj hotel in Tawang’s Famla village exemplifies the high-end options available. Additionally, numerous homestays and budget hotels offer a more local and affordable experience.Mechuka homestays-focus on homestays more. and add the taj hotel as the last fact for extra luxury and comfort.
Vivanta by Taj in Tawang. Source: Booking.com
Vivanta by Taj in Tawang. Source: Booking.com
D. Digital Connectivity: Arunachal Pradesh has leaped forward in digital connectivity, especially in remote areas like Kibithoo on the Indo-Tibetan border. The growth of digital infrastructure has helped local enterprises in the largely rural state to run their services and operations smoothly. The state has seen the installation of 2,605 4G mobile towers, enhancing telecommunications infrastructure. This advancement not only bridges the digital divide but also makes travel in Arunachal Pradesh more accessible and enjoyable, offering tourists easy access to online maps, local information, and emergency services. The quick access to safety information including alerts such as weather warnings and communication with local authorities is a big stride in guaranteeing timely assistance for travellers in this expansive and geographically varied state.


“There are … specialised niches in our tribal heritage that may be erased forever if change is not assessed and negotiated carefully”

As travellers, we must accept responsibility that comes with the different kinds and styles of travelling we engage in today. With tourism growing in the region, the state is witnessing a surge in tourist arrivals. Here are some ways we believe you can contribute while travelling to Arunachal Pradesh:
A. Leave it as you find it: Refrain from disturbing or collecting endemic flora and fauna as keepsakes.
Flowers in the hilld of Arunachal
B. Recreate and share your experiences responsibly: All around the globe, we see how tourism can negatively affect local cultures and their norms and traditions, from the closing of Japan’s Gion District due to misbehaving tourists to Venice’s introduction of tourist entry fee to manage overtourism.
C. Opt for low-impact activities: While some adventure pursuits like motorised sports, wildlife interactions, or extreme sports may inadvertently lead to noise, pollution, waste, or disruption to natural habitats and wildlife. Opting for low-impact alternatives is crucial. Choose activities such as hiking, cycling, kayaking, or rock climbing, which rely on human power and leave a lighter footprint on the environment.
Cycling in Dri Valley
D. Support local: This may be simple but we must think bigger and deeper! By being aware of regional dynamics, including disparities in funding, infrastructural development, tourism circuit pressures during peak seasons, we can make careful informed decisions while planning our travels and in turn, deciding how our money flows directly to the local communities involved in tourism. This includes choosing local guides, food joints and transport systems for sustained employment of local communities.
ChaloHoppo guest with local Idu-Mishmi guide


Arunachal Pradesh is rapidly establishing itself as an unmissable chapter in Indian tourism. Its unique blend of breathtaking natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, adventurous pursuits and burgeoning infrastructure makes it a destination that caters to a wide array of interests and preferences. From the technologically-connected remote areas to the diverse adventure sports opportunities, and from the luxurious stays to the all-season appeal, Arunachal Pradesh offers a distinct and immersive experience.

Whether it’s for the thrill of adventure, the pursuit of tranquillity amidst nature, or the desire to experience a melting pot of cultures, we believe that Arunachal Pradesh is not just a chapter but a whole new story in the narrative of Indian tourism, waiting to be discovered and cherished by travellers from around the world.

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