Arunachal Pradesh is one of the 29 states of India and holds the distinction of being the northeastern-most state of the country. Arunachal Pradesh borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south, and shares international borders with Bhutan in the west, Myanmar in the east and is separated from China in the north by the disputed McMahon Line.Itanagar is the capital of the state.
A major part of the state is claimed by the Republic of China, and the People’s Republic of China as the region of South Tibet. The major part of the state which is claimed by China, was temporarily occupied by Chinese forces during the 1962 war.
Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains is the sobriquet for the state in Sanskrit; it is also known as the Orchid State of India or the Paradise of the Botanists. Geographically, it is the largest of the North-eastern states known as the Seven Sister States. As in other parts of Northeast India, the people native to the state trace their origins to the Tibeto-Burman people.
The history of pre-modern Arunachal Pradesh is unclear. According to the Arunachal Pradesh government, the Hindu texts Kalika Purana and Mahabharata mention the region as the Prabhu Mountains of the Puranas, and where sage Parshuram washed away sins, the sage Vyasa meditated, King Bhishmaka founded his kingdom, and Lord Krishna married his consort Rukmini.
Recorded history from an outside perspective only became available in the Ahom and Sutiya chronicles. The Monpa and Sherdukpen do keep historical records of the existence of local chiefdoms in the northwest as well. Northwestern parts of this area came under the control of the Monpa kingdom of Monyul, which flourished between 500 B.C. and 600 A.D. This region then came under the loose control of Tibet and Bhutan, especially in the Northern areas. The remaining parts of the state, especially those bordering Myanmar, were under the control of the Sutiya Kings until the Ahom-Sutiya battle in the 16th century. The Ahom held the areas until the annexation of India by the British in 1858. However, most Arunachali tribes remained in practice largely autonomous up until Indian independence and the formalization of indigenous administration in 1947.
Recent excavations of ruins of Hindu temples, such as the 14th century Malinithan at the foot of the Siang hills in West Siang, indicate they were built during the Sutiya reign. Another notable heritage site, Bhismaknagar, has led to suggestions that the Idu (Mishmi) had an advanced culture and administration in prehistoric times. Again, however, no evidence directly associates Bhismaknagar with this or any other known culture but the Sutiya rulers held the areas around Bhismaknagar from the 12th to 16th century. The third heritage site, the 400-year-old Tawang Monastery in the extreme north-west of the state, provides some historical evidence of the Buddhist tribal people. The sixth Dalai Lama Tsangyan Gyatso was born in Tawang.
In 1913–1914 representatives of China, Tibet and Britain met in India ending with the Simla Accord with Tibetian and British representatives agreeing on the McMahon Line. However, the Chinese representatives refused the territory negotiation. This treaty’s objective was to define the borders between Inner and Outer Tibet as well as between Outer Tibet and British India. British administrator, Sir Henry McMahon, drew up the 550 miles (890 km) McMahon Line as the border between British India and Outer Tibet during the Simla Conference. The Tibetan and British representatives at the conference agreed to the line, and Tawang and other areas ceded to the British Empire, since the British were not able to get an acceptance from China, Chinese considered the MacMahon line invalid. The Chinese representative refused to accept the agreement and walked out.
The Tibetan and British governments went ahead with the Simla Agreement and declared that the benefits of other articles of this treaty would not be bestowed on China as long as it stays out of the purview. Tibet administered its territory until 1950. The Chinese position was that Tibet was not independent from China: Tibet could not have independently signed treaties, and per the Anglo-Chinese (1906) and Anglo-Russian (1907) conventions, any such agreement was invalid without Chinese assent.
However, with the collapse of Chinese power in Tibet, the line had no serious challenges as Tibet had signed the convention. In 1935, a Deputy Secretary in the Foreign Department Olaf Caroe “discovered” that McMahon Line was not drawn on official maps. The Survey of India published a map showing the McMahon Line as the official boundary in 1937.
In 1938, the British finally published the Simla Convention as a bilateral accord two decades after the Simla Conference; in 1938 the Survey of India published a detailed map showing Tawang as part of North-East Frontier Agency. In 1944 Britain established administrations in the area from Dirang Dzong in the west to Walong in the east.
The situation developed further as India became independent in 1947 and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established in 1949. In November 1950, with the PRC poised to take over Tibet by force, India showed support for the Tibetan government to some extent irking the Chinese government. The McMahon Line was considered invalid by the Chinese government. Journalist Sudha Ramachandran argued that China claims Tawang on behalf of Tibetans and Tibetans are not claiming Tawang to be Tibetan territory.
The Dalai Lama was upset over Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” which affected Tibet seriously. In January 2007, he said that in 1914 both the Tibetan government and Britain recognized the McMahon Line. In 2008, he said that “Arunchal Pradesh was a part of India under the agreement signed by Tibetan and British representatives”. According to the Dalai Lama, “In 1962 during the India-China war, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) occupied all these areas (Arunachal Pradesh) but they announced a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew, accepting the current international boundary”.
The NEFA (North-East Frontier Agency) was created in 1954. The issue was quiet for nearly a decade, with a period of cordial Sino-Indian relations, but its resurgence in 1960 was a factor leading to the Sino-Indian border conflict of 1962. During the war in 1962, China captured most of the area of Arunachal Pradesh. However, China soon declared victory, withdrew back to the McMahon Line and returned Indian prisoners of war in 1963. It is believed by some commentators that Mao wanted to intimidate India for its continued support of the Dalai Lama, and for its stance on Tibet being an independent state and not a Chinese territory. There was a significant influx of Tibetan refugees into India, primarily to Dharamsala in North India.
The war resulted in the termination of barter trade with Tibet, although since 2007 the Indian government has shown signs of wanting to resume barter trade.
In the year 2000 Arunachal Pradesh was covered with 63,093 km2 of tree cover (77% of its land area). Arunachal’s forests account for one-third of habitat area within the Himalayan biodiversity hot-spot. In 2013, 31,273 km2 of Arunachal’s forests were identified as part of a vast area of continuous forests (65,730 km2, including forests in Myanmar, China and Bhutan) known as Intact Forest Landscapes. It harbors over 5000 plants, about 85 terrestrial mammals, over 500 birds and a large number of butterflies, insects and reptiles. At the lowest elevations, essentially at Arunachal Pradesh’s border with Assam, are Brahmaputra Valley semi-evergreen forests. Much of the state, including the Himalayan foothills and the Patkai hills, are home to Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests. Toward the northern border with Tibet, with increasing elevation, come a mixture of Eastern and Northeastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests followed by Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows and ultimately rock and ice on the highest peaks. It supports a large number of medicinal plants and within Ziro valley of Lower Subansiri district 158 medicinal plants are being used by its inhabitants. The mountain slopes and hills are covered with alpine, temperate, and subtropical forests of dwarf rhododendron, oak, pine, maple and fir.
Places of Interests –
Bomdilla , Tawang , Zero , Bhalukpong , Itanagar , Passighat etc.
Itanagar Airport, a Greenfield project serving Itanagar is being planned at Holongi at a cost of Rs. 6.50 billion. The existing state owned Daporijo Airport, Ziro Airport, Along Airport, Tezu Airport and Pasighat Airport are small and are not in operation. The government has proposed to operationalise these airports. Before the state was connected by roads, these airstrips were originally used for the transportation of food.
Arunachal Pradesh has two highways: the 336 km National Highway 52, completed in 1998, which connects Jonai with Dirak, and another highway, which connects Tezpur in Assam with Tawang. Arunachal Pradesh State Transport Services (or APSTS) is the state-owned road transport corporation. APSTS is running daily bus services from Itanagar to most district headquarters including Tezpur, Guwahati in Assam and Shillong in Meghalaya as well as Dimapur in Nagaland. Every small town has its own bus station and daily bus services are available. All places are connected to Assam, which has increased trading activity. An additional National Highway is being constructed following the Stillwell Ledo Road, which connects Ledo in Assam to Jairampur in Arunachal. Work on the ambitious 2,400 km two-lane Trans-Arunachal Highway Project announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 31 January 2008 on his maiden visit to the state, was scheduled to be completed by 2015–16 but now due to political and social reasons it may take another decade. New longest India bridge is already constructed because of prime minister Narendra modi on 28 May 2017.
In 2014, two major highways were proposed to be built in the state: East-West Industrial Corridor Highway, Arunachal Pradesh in the lower foot hills of the state and 2,000-kilometre-long (1,200 mi) Mago-Thingbu to Vijaynagar Arunachal Pradesh Frontier Highway along the McMahon Line, alignment map of which can be seen here and here.
Arunachal Pradesh got its first railway line in late 2013 with the opening of the new link line from Harmuti on the main Rangpara North-Murkongselak railway line to Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh. The construction of the 33 kilometre 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge railway line was completed in 2012, and the link became operational after the gauge conversion of the main line from Assam. The state capital Itanagar was added to the Indian railway map on 12 April 2014 via the newly built 20 kilometre Harmuti-Naharlagun railway line, when a train from Dekargaon in Assam reached Naharlagun railway station, 10 kilometres from the centre of Itanagar, a total distance of 181 kilometres.
On 20 February 2015 the first through train was run from New Delhi to Naharlagun, flagged off from the capital by the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi. India plans to eventually extend the railway to Tawang, near the border with China.
As of 2001 India census, Bomdila had a population of 6685. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Bomdila has an average literacy rate of 69%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; with male literacy of 75% and female literacy of 63%. 13% of the population is under 6 years of age. It is inhabited by the Monpa, Sherdukpen, Miji, Bugun (Khowa) and Aka tribes.
The Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary is near Bomdila. Tourism is new to Bomdila because of lack of infrastructure of roads in Northeast India. There are hotels Much of the food here is Tibetan. The Bomdila pass offers views of Kangto and Gorichen Peaks, the highest in the state. Visit GRL Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. Visit apple orchards and orchid farms.
There are three monasteries in and around Bomdila. Locals call them Gompa. It is always best to ask directions to Gompa than saying monastery.
Lower Gompa: This Gompa is situated just beyond the main market. The taxi stand and the Lower Gompa are situated on opposite ends of the main market. It is a very simple monastery. One can give it a miss if time is of the essence.
Middle Gompa: This Gompa is situated about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) from the main market.
Upper Gompa: This Gompa is the most majestic of the three. It is situated about 5 km (3 mi) from the Market. One can hire a taxi from the taxi stand to go this Gompa.
Crafts Centre: Crafts centre is situated just opposite the Lower Gompa. Local handicrafts are showcased here.
Bomdila can be reached from Tezpur (180 km/112 mi) by road. The road is very bad in patches, therefore the travel takes about 5-6 hours if you are not held up by untimely landslides.
If returning from Tawang (160 km/99 mi), the travel takes about 4-5 hours depending on the prevalent condition of the road.
By shared taxi
Shared Tata Sumo taxis ply on this route. from Tezpur to Bomdila. The official counter is located inside Tezpur’s Assam State Transport Corporation bus stand (A.S.T.C or locally called as S.T.C). It is advisable to make the booking and get a seat number a day in advance as the service is not very reliable due to bad weather.
From Tezpur, Bomdila can also be reached by bus. One needs to first go to Balipara which is about 20 km (12 mi) from Tezpur A.S.T.C. Shared Tata Ace Magics ply on Tezpur-Balipara. There is a daily Itanagar- Bomdila bus that passes through Balipara at around 11AM. The bus is generally crowded.
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