Bari’s Motorbike Diary
Circumnavigating India by Motorbike, Sept-Nov 2005


navigating on the brahmaputra bridge
in bamboo land
picking tea leaves
rock breakers
in Arunachal Pradesh
happy Diwali
Tuesday, November 1
Today is the big Hindu festival of lights, Diwali. I couldn’t be more excited about being far far away from the cities and observe it from an area of India which I never imagined.
We had already tanked up the night before and we were all set to get going to Arunachal Pradesh. We were soon on the Brahmaputra river bridge (the same one we crossed the night before) and realised that although everyone said to go that way towards Tezpur (a town on the way to Itanagar), we should be going on a different route. After some navigation on the bridge (see photo), we got going towards the east on NH 37. The initial part was a nice wide 4 lane highway and soon ended in to a double lane road which was still very good. The road wounded through the hills which were quite lush with dense vegetation. There was a very strong army presence everywhere. An armed soldier was visible at every bend of the road.
Once we got past the mountains, the road was on the plains again. We stopped at a dhaba for brunch at around 11am and got going again. Maybe it was the easy road or the food or the warm sun on us, but we felt sleepy soon. We pulled over by another bridge and the trees that lined the road were swaying gently like a fan. We took a break there, where I was ready to continue to sleep on longer. It was so peaceful. But we wanted to make it to our final stop before it was too dark and so we got going again.
The road was very good as the Commander Pandey had mentioned. After 200 km or so, we tanked up again and had chai at the local shack and moved on to complete the 65 km. There were a lot of trucks and cycle wagons carrying bamboo and banana trees. These were in preparation for the Diwali festival. Soon, we came across a short cut to Itanagar which was going through some villages towards the mountains and would cut short the distance by about 30 km or so. The road was being worked on. It was very ridable however. There were men breaking down heaps of rocks by hand in to small rocks which are laid down for the roads (see photo). Each man works on a mound for 4 days and is paid Rs 80 per day (less than US$2). What a life! What do we have to complain about?
A we got to the foothills of mountains, we were at the border of Arunachal Pradesh, This state requires special permit for visitors. We had a written document from the BRO which gave us access. As soon as we went past the gate, we felt like we were entering an amazingly beautiful place that has been untarnished by any commercial exploitation. (see photo). The hills were so very dense with wild banana, palm, ferns and teak. I was so taken by it, visually. Every turn was more beautiful and gratifying than the previous. Tiny villages by the road side with kids walking around freely on the road by the mountains. The women were very immaculately dressed in gorgeous traditional outfits and were all walking toeards the bigger village/towns, in celebration of the festival. Besides the Diwali holiday, they celebrate Kali puja in those areas.
We reached Itanagar by 4 pm when it was already getting dark. The BRO camp was actually in the next town about
15 km further from Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh.
So glad that we got to see and enjoy the beauty of the land and the people before it had gotten dark.
We were cordially received by Commander Pandey at the camp and offered very comfortable accomdation. He and his staff were extremely helpful and hospitable to us. Getting correct information on the road conditions and routes were priceless and gave us a sense of mental comfort.
A few of us went down in to the town to check out the local festivities. (see photo). I thought their use of the banana trees and split bamboo to set the oil lamps was quite remarkable. There was a lot of fireworks and the celebration was in full swing. The people were very friendly and made me feel very happy to spend Diwali wit them.

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