The Apatani are a friendly non-nomadic, agrarian tribe living in connection with the land around them. They practice permanent wet land cultivation, using a unique combination of sowing paddy and rearing fish together on their lands. Keeping them company are the shy, and mostly harmless Indian Bison, known as Mithun in these parts. They are both considered special and eaten. The custom of tattooing one’s face, if you’re an Apatani woman is no more practiced but, you will see older women in the villages with tattoos and nose plugs.

They have no written history and what they learn about their culture is spoken and passed on.

It is day three, and the previous evening I rode into ziro just before dark, the 115 kms from Itanagar to ziro had taken me 6 hours to complete and I was done for the day. The cold up there is something to reckon with. I checked into a hotel dorm for a neat price and ended up getting the entire thing to myself as no was around. At a local eatery near the taxi stand in Ziro I helped myself to a large bowl of chicken chowmein and momos. After finishing up, I buy stuff to munch on and something to drink for later on. In a few hours it was lights out for me.

By the morning I was freezing. To my luck the geyser in the common bath worked perfectly well.It was 7 am as I made my way to a village called Hong in the Ziro circle. The village entrance is a huge archaway with no gates, it’s decorated with drawings of mithun heads and apatani tribal signs for prosperity. The first houses lead down to a thin straight road that runs through paddy fields on either side and disappears between large collections of bamboo trees, shaded by blue pine trees, which are grown together by the Apatani. They end up using both for a number of purposes and grow it for the community. Hong’s residents were getting ready for the day and I chanced on two men working on the bamboo and Pine

The cane and bamboo houses sit on stilts in neat rows intersecting at right angles to form mini squares that house the villages shops and display points for totems.

After exploring Hong I rode further down to Old Ziro , but it was not as beautiful as the Hong. It was a single large road cutting through the village houses. Following this road will take you further to Taley wildlife sanctuary (home to the beautiful clouded leopard) , the remote town of Darporijo and further north – west all the way to the Indo- Tibetian border.

As much as I wanted to explore up to Daporijio, the previous days trouble with the chain had me thinking twice about getting stranded even further north of the middle of nowhere, so I decided to take the road back down to the mainland of Assam this time through a different route , tracking the road from Lakhimpur near the subansiri river and onto a ferry over it further south. It would eventually lead me to one of the largest riverine islands of the world – Majuli. Here are some of the views from the journey back down into Assam and away from the land of the rising sun…