The picturesque town of Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh’s capital, is located in the southern foothills of the Himalayas. Pleasant weather, rich biodiversity, and vast stretches of breathtaking landscapes make Itanagar a superb destination for long holidays, throughout the year. Home to a large number of Nyishi tribes who speak a language of Sino-Tibetian origin, the city is known for its unique culture and friendly people.

A visit to the city’s Craft Centre and Emporium is the best way to acquaint yourself with the impressive collection of handicrafts that Itanagar has to offer. From thangkas (paintings) and traditional textiles and costumes to wood and cane products, this place has something for everyone to take home. Itanagar also has a bustling market, where visitors can browse through a range of handicrafts from across the state.

Courtesy Eastern Frontier Tours & Travels
The serene waters of the Ganga Lake
The serene waters of the Ganga Lake

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Itanagar was declared the capital of Arunachal Pradesh in 1974. Situated at an elevation of 350m, the quaint town is renowned for its fine Tibetan architecture and varied tribal culture.

Ita Fort

Constructed in 15th century CE by the Ahom dynasty, Ita Fort lends its name to this town. The fort is in the centre of the Capital Complex and has three magnificent entrance gates. It was an imperial structure, and is said to have been constructed using 80 lakh bricks. Now, only the ruins remain, standing amidst sprawling gardens and offering splendid views of the city.

Ganga Lake

Also known as Gyakar Sinyi, this popular picnic spot is 7km from the city. The charming lake is surrounded by thick forests. The lake is frequented by locals and visitors alike, but still manages to remain serene, enabling one to enjoy solitude. You can carry some food and feed the fish in the lake, and even enjoy a boat ride.

Scattered ruins of the centuries-old Ita Fort
Scattered ruins of the centuries-old Ita Fort

Jawaharlal Nehru State Museum

Located on the State Museum Road, this museum speaks volumes about the vibrant culture of the tribes of the state. It has an impressive collection of textiles, wood carvings, weaponry and household articles. A gift shop sells handicrafts made by tribals.

Buddha Temple

Perched atop a hill, this striking yellow-roofed temple was recently consecrated by the Dalai Lama. There is a stupa of a Buddhist monk in front of the temple. A small garden encircles the structure.

Adventure Activities

The city and its outskirts offer plenty of outdoor activities such as rafting, trekking and angling. Trekking is a popular activity here, with Itanagar- Pashighat being a famous trail. It passes through Ziro and Daporijo. Other trails are the Jong-Tawang and the Jorhat-Tawang trails.

Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary. It is home to antelopes, Himalayan black bears and over 400 bird species.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Hotel Donyi Polo Ashok (Tel: 0360- 2212626-27; Tariff: ₹4,650–7,500) is the best choice here. Hotel Todo (Tel: 2290347, Cell: 09774282545; Tariff: ₹2,000–4,950) and Hotel Blue Pine (Tel: 2212042; Tariff: ₹1,200–2,500) offer well-furnished rooms and dorms. The restaurant onsite serves Indian and Continental dishes. Hotel Kameng (Tel: 2212869; Tariff: ₹1,200– 2,000) is also an option.

Inputs by Shreya Sarkar

FAST FACTS

When to Go May–June, October–March

Tourist Offices

Directorate of Tourism, Government of Arunachal Pradesh, Papum District, Itanagar, Tel: 0360-2214450/ 2214745

Permits

Deputy Resident Commissioner, GS Road, Rukiminigaon, Dispur, Guwahati, Tel: 0361-2412859/ 2416720/ 2412859

Deputy Resident Commissioner, Parvati Nagar, Tezpur, Assam, Tel: 03712-260173

Resident Commissioner, Government of Arunachal Pradesh, Kautilya Marg, Chanakyapuri New Delhi. Tel: 011-23013915, STD code 0360

Scattered ruins of the centuries-old Ita Fort

GETTING THERE

State Arunachal Pradesh

Location In the Papum Pare District, at an elevation of 750m above sea level

Distance 317km NE of Guwahati

Route from Guwahati NH37

Air Nearest airport: Lilabari in North Lakhimpur (60km). Taxi costs ₹4,000– 6,000 per day (seasonal), which includes fuel, vehicle and driver

Rail Nearest railhead: Harmuty (33km) in Assam, served by Arunachal Express from Guwahati. This train also connects North Lakhimpur. Buses, taxis connect Harmuty to Itanagar

Road From Guwahati (430km) catch NH37 to Kaliabor, then NH37A to Tezpur and NH52 to North Lakhimpur Bus State and private buses operate (11–12hrs) daily between Guwahati and Itanagar from ISBT. Shared taxis or private Sumos are another option