September brings alive the happiest and hippest outdoor music fest in the country, regarded as “a template for outdoor music fest in India” by Condé Nast Traveller, Ziro Festival of Music is scheduled to be held from 26th to 29th of September this year. As Nat Geo Traveller would aptly put, “it’s the break you’ve been hankering for”. The stage is set in the picturesque Ziro valley, home of the Apatani tribe.

About Ziro

This is how a local would describe, “Tucked inside the eastern Himalaya, Ziro is a picturesque valley characterized by vast expansion of paddy fields, dotted with wooded hillocks and surrounded by pine covered gentle rolling hills. It is the headquarters of Lower Subansiri District of Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India and situated at an elevation of 5538 ft to 8000 ft above sea level. It was the place where the name Arunachal Pradesh was given to the erstwhile North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) in 1972.” –Dr. Tage Kanno. The name Ziro is derived from an Apatani clan which was one of the first settlers in the valley, it is believed that the Apatanis (the indigenous people of Ziro) must have settled here for more than 500 years. Ethnicity: Apatani Population: 42,000 Area: 1058 sq. km Languages spoken: Tanii, Hindi, English.

Sounds fun, tell me more about the Music Fest

These 4 Days of music fest is a perfect getaway for music aficionados, one who loves to travel or explore local food, art & culture. The main stage is set in a meadow with knolls of endless prairies to sit on. Come September, the vast expanse of paddy fields stretching across the whole valley would turn golden, ready to be harvested- it surely is a treat for sore eyes. Whilst you sit on the grass and enjoy the show with your friends, you can quench on locally brewed rice beer in a bamboo mug. You may also get a little adventurous & put your taste bud to test by savoring on to some local food in one of the dozen food stalls. Yes, the sun will eventually set, but the festival & the celebration would go on and on. Cut yourself off from the world, come and relax.

What other things can I do in Ziro? Apart from the hip music fest that already is, there is a lot more to Ziro. The music fest typically starts in the afternoon, so you have the whole morning to yourself to explore. Ziro- the Apatani Cultural Landscape is in the tentative list of UNESCO’s world heritage site. This in itself has a lot to offer. To name a few you can:

  • Explore & understand their indigenous ways of cultivation that remain unchanged for centuries
  • Take a walk in the villages, interact with them and understand their ways of life
  • Go fishing in the paddy field & savor your catch
  • Trek to Hakhe Tari a 90 minutes trek or perhaps ride to Tarin and visit the high altitude fish farm. If you want to do a mini hiking of 30 mins, this is the place.
  • Get a bicycle, and ride around the valley, its pure bliss
  • Wine tasting- recently launched organic kiwi wine by Naara Abba, the brewery is right there in Hong Village, which is also known to be one of the largest village in Asia
  • You can also visit Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary which is 30 kms away from Ziro. The endangered Clouded Leopard is found here.

Is Ziro safe?

That’s not even a question to ask. Ziro is incredibly safe, the Apatanis are very warm and welcoming. You will be surprised by their hospitability. However, take care that the local cultures are respected. That goes for every other place you visit too.

Essentials to pack in?

The temperature will be in the early 20 degree Celsius. However, mornings and evenings may get a little colder, hence pack in some warm clothes. Rains can be expected, hence raincoats and gumboots (you can get in Hapoli in Ziro too) are recommended. Pack in your personal toiletries. What else, umm yes a camera, it has many instagramable places. If you are a musician, don’t forget your instrument/s, its jam time. All kinds of music enthusiasts will be there, perhaps you will get a chance to meet your future band mates. And lastly come with an open mind, don’t pack that in ;)

Do I need any special permit to enter Arunachal?

Yes, you need an ILP pass. Inner Line Permit (ILP) is mandatory for Indian citizens to enter Arunachal Pradesh, so you need to get one for yourself. You can easily apply online or get one upon reaching Naharlagun if you come by train. But it is better if you get it ready in advance to avoid last minute hassle.

Okay I am on my way, where should I put up?

Logistics is a challenge in Ziro during this time of the year. Although there are few hotels and resorts, it can’t hold all the inflow of people during the fest. And all these places are usually booked well in advance by fest attendees. Few camps are set up by locals and also some travel operators during the fest. If you are looking for one, come and join us at the Camp NorthEast guide, which will be hosted by NorthEast Guide and camping partner Experience Destination. Join us for Camping Expedition

Article by - Victor