Ziro, a small town located 115 km North of Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh. Ziro is the District Headquarter of Lower Subansiri District and is one of the oldest towns in Arunachal Pradesh. It was the Headquarters of the undivided Subansiri District comprising the present Districts of Upper Subsansiri, Kurung Kumey, Lower Subansiri and Papum Pare. It is famous for its pine-clad gentle hills around it and rice fields all around.
This beautiful hill station is full of lush green forest, rivulets and is famous for its paddy cum pisciculture cultivation. Ziro is home to the Apatani Tribe. Apatanis have few unique special characteristic features which differs from other tribes in Arunachal Pradesh and India. They do know how to live life… and believe you me, they live it King Size.
“The Ziro Festival of Music (popularly known as ZFM) is generally conducted for 4 days in the 3rd or 4th week of September every year. By that time, the heavenly showers cede giving the area a lush green look. The air is pure, magical and divine. If you just add awesome music, great venue and greater people…… you can imagine the heavenly ambience and lifetime memories it will create. As the organizers say and believe you me, it’s true in every sense “four days of music, art, culture and happiness”.
Our Royal Enfield bike ride commenced from Diphu in Central Assam. I was part of the ‘Bulls of Assam’ Royal Enfield riding group. There were 14 enthusiastic and experienced riders who were part of the ride. The route was Diphu - Nagaon - Tezpur - Gohpur (night halt) - Itanagar - Ziro covering a total distance of 465 km one way.
The night halt at Gohpur was planned earlier and we covered approx 300 km on Day 1. The road for most of the length was good however, we did take around 8 hours to complete the Day 1 ride (mostly owing to the longer breaks).
Next day the group rode in early morning as clearances had to be done (I stayed put for the day as had some work) and an Inner Line Permit was to be acquired to enter Arunachal Pradesh. We would have saved time and effort if we had taken these permits earlier. These are available at State Tourist Offices in all major Indian cities. There are also some Government entry permits required to visit Ziro Valley. These permits can be obtained from State offices in Delhi, Guwahati and Tezpur. I recommend to obtain these beforehand to avoid any delays and hassles.
Notwithstanding these minor avoidable issues, I commenced the Day 2 ride at day break, all enthusiastic and roaring to arrive at the destination. I covered the 165 km in approx 8 hours. The road upto Itanagar is new and in very good condition. The hilly roads take you into other world and the beauty forces you to take frequent halts. Road for approx. last 50 odd kilometers does not exist, literally. For biker, it’s the perfect place for Off Roading. The complete alignment of supposedly the road, has numerous pot holes (the size of these holes seems like small hillocks…), water running on the road, and one needs courage and skill to navigate the various muddy patches. The best place to gain hands on off roading experience.
“ Ziro Festival is noted to be one the eco-friendliest festivals in India employing locally sourced material for the infrastructure. The festival has two stages, Danyi (Sun) and Piilo (Moon), constructed by local artisans and made almost completely of bamboo.
Ziro offers great camping opportunities in the lap of nature to the guests barring one small resort (which existed in the proximity of the venue at that time). The operators are plenty and details can be searched on the net. If you love to live wild, free and happy, then these camps are for you. They offer two systems - one is ‘Bring Your Own Tent’ - in this system one carries own tent and space is provided for pitching; in the second system they give you already pitched tents.
So, you can carry tent or otherwise as per your requirement. We stayed at Camp Kite Manja.
It was heaven, would be an understatement. Try to imagine you staying within the thick grove of tall Pine trees, lush greenery around you, cool wind in your hair for 24 x 7, star gazing at night (as you will not be able to sleep), listening to people singing, telling stories, making friends and making merry. The place has something special and magical that turns everyone happy. What else one could ask for in life.
We walked upto the site in afternoon, that is the time when the music starts flowing out of the huge speakers. The venue itself is out of the world. I would not be able to explain the calmness and happiness one feels, infact one feels Content.
The ride back to Diphu for me was solo as I wanted to go vis another route i.e. night halt at Majuli, cross Brahmaputra on ferry to get down at Jorhat and then head back to Diphu.
The hilly road of 160 kms took me approx. 7 hours to reach my place of stay. This journey was different as I rode on ‘no road’, ‘good road’ and ‘on ferry’ (this was unexpected…. The road was submerged in water and either one had to take detour of 75 kms or cross on ferry… Google maps can be funny at times). Next day I rode to the Brahmaputra river crossing point, took the ticket for Rudra (my bike and self). The ferry was bang on time, and in no time we boarded and the water journey commenced. To wherever the eyes could see, it was only water, the ferry was slow but steady. It took us almost 2 hours to reach land then the road journey began to Diphu.
“Majuli or Majoli is a river island in the Brahmaputra River, Assam and in 2016 it became the first island to be made a district in India. It had an area of 880 square kilometres at the beginning of the 20th century, but having lost significantly to erosion it covers 352 square kilometres as at 2014.
The weather, ride, music festival venue, music, food, beverages, people, fun, challenges ...…. oh, what amazing, unforgettable four days of my life. ZFM is imprinted for ever and ever after.