Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh: Ziro is located in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh. The geographical coordinates of Ziro are 27°33′59″N and 93°49′53″E. It is at an elevation of 1,688 meters (5,538 feet). The town being located on a hilly area it has beautiful peaks. The popular Salin peak is on the old Apatani trade route to North Lakhimpur, Assam. The valley of Ziro is referred to as the Apatani valley and the Kele River flows through it and merges into the Panior River near Yazali.
Ziro is 150 km from the state capital Itanagar.
The Lower Subansiri district is bounded on the north by the Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal, on the south by Papum Pare District of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, on the east by West Siang and some part of Upper Subansiri, and on the west by East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. The Kamala and Subansiri River flow through the district.
Hapoli has derived its name from "Hao-Polyang". In the local language, "hao" means high or above and "polyang" means plain or plateau.
Ziro is a census town in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh and is the district headquarters. It is one of the oldest towns of the state. The town and its nearby areas are covered with amazing hills of the Patkai ranges of the eastern Himalayas, beautiful valleys and dense forests. The rich forest areas have vegetation extending from bamboo to medicinal plants to eye treating flora and orchids. The wild life is also extensive around Ziro.
The Apatani Rice fields, the hills around the valley, the wild berries and fruits orchards are a splendid sight to the eye. It appears as though the entire landscape has been painted by an unmatched painter.
The single stem bamboo grown with blue coloured pine is a world famous skill of farm forestry that is practiced in Ziro. These bamboo grooves show the expertise of the cultivating practice and leaves an amazing impression with the visitor. The grooves are also an ideal site for an unforgettable picnic.
Ziro is the educational hub of Arunachal Pradesh with the highest numbers of Schools in the state numbering to more than a hundred private and Government Schools with a number of colleges. There is a missionary college also run by Claretian Missionaries.
The District Industries Centre (D.I.C) is the ideal place to shop for traditional handlooms & handicrafts including other traditional items at a very competitive rate.
Ziro is basically made of old Ziro, Hapoli and Manii Polyang. These are the three divisions of Ziro. Old Ziro is an Army cantonment area, Hapoli is mainly a British built area and Manii Polyang is the extension of the town that was built to shift some offices.
Ziro is a great place for Hiking and Trekking. Trekking is fun upto the Pepu Cumyu peak which is about 7200 feetand is also one of the highest points at Ziro. The dense forests also have some amazing trekking trails.
People at Ziro:
Ziro is mainly inhabited by the Apatani tribe and the main languages spoken here are Apatani, Nyishi, Assamese, Hindi and English.Their houses are made of bamboo and timber. They are followers of Danyi Piilo religion and pray to the Sun and Moon God called Ayo Danyi and Atoh Piilo respectively. A number of tribes have got converted into Christians. Agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing and hunting are the main occupation of the tribes. Paddy is the main crop grown by them. The Apatani tribes are different from the other tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. A few of their distinct features are:
1. They are settled in one place unlike the other tribes who keep moving from one place to another for livelihood.
2. The Apatani tribes cultivate permanent wet land unlike the other tribes who cultivate dry land (they burn forests and clear the trees to get the land).
3. The Apatani women are believed to be the most attractive of all tribes in Arunachal. This tribe had the custom of facial tattoos and huge nose pins earlier. The tattoos and the nose pins were practiced to so that they do not look attractive to foreign men. However, they don't practice it anymore.
4. The Apatanis practice the Paddy cum fish culture unlike the traditional Jhum cultivation. In this practice fishes are reared in the paddy fields and it is a distinct attraction of Ziro. The system starts with the plantation of paddy in the wet rice cultivation field (W.R.C.) and then the fish fingerlings are put in the water drainage channels in the paddy field that are called Pakho / Hetey. The water is about 2-3 feet high and the fishes are kept here for about 2-3 months and then they are harvested. The sowing of paddy and fishes are from February and May respectively with the harvesting done in October and July to September respectively.
Festivals at Ziro:
Myoko Festival - This festival is celebrated during the month of March every year in the Diibo-Hija, Hari-Bulla and Hong villages of Apatani plateau. The festival is celebrated turn by turn in the village in a completely traditional manner with great grandeur and devotion. It is basically celebrated for the prosperity and welfare of the village. Traditional songs, cuisine, drinks etc mark the festival. Pig sacrifice is the customary practice followed during the festival.
Murung Festival - This festival is celebrated during the month of January by all the villagers. It is celebrated for the prosperity and health of the people and their descendants. Mithuns and cows are sacrificed by people and are distributed to each other. The locals go around visiting each other by chanting "Ho-Ho" in a queue.
Dree Festival - This is an Agricultural festival celebrated from 4th to 7th July. The festival is celebrated to please the local deity, Dree to seek the blessings and to protect the crops from pests and diseases. Traditional songs and dances are performed. Ziro has a big ground called the Dree Ground in the heart of the town where this festival is celebrated and people from other areas are also invited for a community feast here.The deities of the festival are known as 'Dree or Dri Wuhi' (Gods). A wooden platform is erected in every village which is known as Lapang. This is socially and religiously important as the locals get into social and religious discussions on it during the festival. The Dree Flag song is sung on the commencement of the festival.
Nearest Big town:
The nearest big town is Itanagar which is about 150 km away. Itanagar is the state capital and a major tourist destination. It is also a major hub in Arunachal Pradesh as it has a helipad that has helicopter services from Guwahati.