Itanagar is one of the far eastern cities in India and is located in the Papum Pare district in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Itanagar is a very beautiful hill station and is also the capital of Arunachal Pradesh also as known as 'the Land of the Dawn Lit Mountains'.
Itanagar is incredible and incomparable in natural beauty. The virginal beauty of the state capital, Itanagar attracts several tourists from all over the world. Wildlife, natural splendour, breathtaking locations, rich culture, historical significance and lots more make Itanagar worth visiting. One can see that there are the mighty eastern Himalayas that border Itanagar from one side and the plains of the Brahmaputra River lie on the southern end of Itanagar.
Itanagar, the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh is situated in the remote parts of the north-east corners of India. There are no railways or any domestic airport that can be found in Itanagar. Although there is a helicopter service available between Guwahati and Itanagar on 3 days a week run by Pawan Hans. The nearest airport is Tezpur, Salonibari Airport, which is 67 km from Itanagar. The nearest railhead is at Harmuti in Assam, which is nearly 33 km away from Itanagar. NH 52A is connected with major towns in the region such as Agartala, Aizawl, Kohima, Guwahati, Imphal, and Shillong. It is around 12 hour drive from Guwahati, the capital of Assam (The Gateway of North East India).
Itanagar is situated in the southwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh. It is the centre of economic, political and administrative activity of the state.
Itanagar is situated 390 km away from Guwahati, the capital of Assam. Itanagar is spread well over an area of 2,500 acres & it lies at an elevation of 440 meters above sea level. Itanagar is bounded by China (Tibet) on the north, east & south bounded by Assam and Bhutan on the western side. Nestled on top of low flat hills, the city offers a lovely climate. The climate of Itanagar is very pleasant. Although there is a lot of humidity and considerable heat during summer during winter, it witnesses snowfall between December and January. The best time to visit the hill resort of Itanagar is between the months of October and April.
Itanagar is the first place in India to witness the glowing rays of the sun and is fondly known as the 'Land of Dawn-Lit Mountains'. Rich culture, tribal heritage and values dating back several centuries are some of the most distinguished things to witness. Itanagar happens to be a round-the-year destination for tourists. Apart from spotting tribal communities, one can also find enchanting tea gardens, apple orchards and magnificent monuments in Itanagar.
Itanagar's culture is very much influenced by Tibetan traditions which can be seen in its people's costumes, food and even rituals. The people of Itanagar are very gentle and cultured, Monpas of West Kameng received Buddhism from Guru Padma Sambhava. The Nishi or Nishings is the major tribe in the Itanagar area. Other tribal groups in the area include the Adis, Galos, Apatanis and Miri.
Itanagar has become home to numerous people from numerous cultures, coming from all over India, living with peace and harmony with each other, it is often referred to as “Mini India”. Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh offers a lovely and lively atmosphere for tourists to Arunachal Pradesh. English, Apatani, Hindi, Assamese, Nishi, and Adi are languages that are widely spoken in Itanagar.
The most prominent factors of the economy of Itanagar are farming and agriculture. Agriculture is one of the main occupations of the people of Itanagar. Jhum, the local word for shifting cultivation is widely practised among the tribal groups. Although tourism is taking a speedy move in that context as well.
Like some of the other northeastern cities of India, Itanagar also has a rich history which dates back to the 11th century BC when it was the capital of Mayapur during the reign of the Jitari Dynasty. Later, during the 14th and 15th centuries, a historical fort namely Ita-Fort was built. It is believed that Ita-Fort have been built by King Ramachandra. The city has been named after this fort. Post-independence, on April 20, 1974, Itanagar was made the capital of Arunachal Pradesh. Itanagar today is divided into two parts, each 10 km apart from the other, with the older one named Naharlagun.
The people of Itanagar celebrate a number of festivals during the year. Losar is the New Year celebration of the Monpas. It is celebrated for a period of five days. The festival is marked by prayers, hoisting of religious flags atop the homes, reading of Buddhist scriptures, and lighting butter lamps in the houses. Another important festival is Reh, which is mainly associated with the Idu Mishimis. The special attraction of the six-day celebrations is the priest dance. During Tamladu, the Digaru Mishimis offer prayers to the God of the Earth and the God of the Water. The supreme God Jebmalu is also worshipped.
As of the 2011 India census, Itanagar had a population of 48,970. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Itanagar has an average literacy rate of 82.14%, higher than the national average of 74.04%: male literacy is 87.33%, and female literacy is 76.05%. In Itanagar, 13.42% of the population is under 6 years of age.
One can reach Itanagar by taking a flight to Lilabari in Assam. From Lilabari it takes around 2.5 hours to reach Itanagar which is about 69 kilometres. A Greenfield airport named Itanagar airport is expected to be constructed in future for which the foundation stone has been laid in 2019.
Harmuti is the nearest railway station which is about 48 kilometres and takes around 2 hours to reach.
Things To See
Ita Fort – The Ita Fort or ‘The Fort Of Bricks’ was built around the 14th century by the Chutiya dynasty. This place is a historical masterpiece and a must-visit for tourists. It is situated at the heart of the capital city in the Papum Pare district. It is a historical fort of an irregular shape, built mainly with bricks, dating back to the 14th -15th centuries. The total brickwork done on the fort comprises 16,200 cubic meters. The name Itanagar is believed to be derived from the name of this fort.
Ganga Lake – Ganga Lake, also known as Geker Sinying, is located about 6 kilometres from the town. This pristine lake attracts tourists as well as locals due to its surroundings of green mountains. It is also a perfect place for photographers. It provides a drive-through jungle with bamboo, tree ferns and orchids growing on tall trees. When the road reaches the foot of the hill, you walk across a bamboo bridge, up steps cut on the red clay of the hill to reach a ridge which looks down on the forested lake which you can row across on a boat.
Buddhist Temple / Gompa – This Tibetan-style temple is very famous in Arunachal Pradesh. It has its own uniqueness due to its stupa and yellow roof. It is one of the main sacred places in the town as the Dalai Lama himself inaugurated it was established in the year 1986. The Buddhist Temple is located in the heart of Itanagar. The new yellow-roofed Buddhist Temple stands in well-kept gardens on top of the hill. The shrine is behind a stupa and on one side has a tree planted by the Dalai Lama.
Jawaharlal Nehru Museum – This is a well-known tourist spot that gives an idea about the tribal culture of the state. It was established in the 1980s. You can get a fair idea about the history of the state by visiting this museum. You can witness different collections of musical instruments, handicrafts, weapons and many more. It has a wide collection of tribal art, instruments, and religious objects that depict the socio-cultural heritage and lifestyle of the people of Arunachal Pradesh. There is also a rich section on archaeology.
Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary – Just 4.3 kilometres from town, this is a great place to see different species of birds and wild animals and is also a major tourist attraction. Situated 7 km away from Itanagar. It was established in 1978 on 140 sq. km of land. It’s a semi-evergreen forest, the sanctuary has a small tiger population and visiting herds of elephants.
Craft centre and Emporium – It is famous for its paintings, bamboo and cane work, traditional costumes and many more. Tourists get the opportunity to understand the rich culture of the state.
Polo Park – Situated 10 km away from Itanagar. Polo Park is located in Naharlagun. It is situated on the top of a ridge with interesting botanical specimens including the cane thicket which looks like a palm as well as a small zoo.
Local People and Culture
The town of Itanagar occupies by many tribes such as Tagin, Adi and Nyishi. The majority are the Nyishi residing here. The town is historically rich and has its own culture. Religion followed over here is a mixture of Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and Doyni Polism and they majorly speak the Tani language. Rice is the main staple food along with vegetables, fish, meat and maize. Thupkas and Momos are also very famous in this region. Agriculture is the main source of income along with tourism, handicraft, handloom and weaving. The agricultural festival which is held over here is known as Dree. The festival of harvest is called Solung. Monpas is another festival celebrated as New Year and Nyokum is celebrated by the Nyishi tribe. All these festival defines the culture of this region.
Flora and Fauna
This region is quite rich in its flora. Different species of bamboo and trees are found here. Mushrooms, ginger and medicinal plants are also a part of the flora.
As far as the fauna is concerned wild animals such as Panthers, Tigers, Elephants, Sambar and Barking Deer are found here. Birds mainly consist of Hornbills.
Places around Itanagar
From Itanagar to
Guwahati – 390 km
North Lakhimpur – 80 km
Tezpur – 102 km
Bomdila – 375 km
Tawang – 190 km.
It is noteworthy that one needs to carry a restricted area permit (RAP) to enter the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Thus in case one planning to visit the hill station of Itanagar, one must collect the restricted area permit too. One may obtain the permits from the Indian embassies abroad, all the Foreign Regional Registration Offices in India, the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi or the Home Commissioner, Government of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar.