Last Updated on January 23, 2021 by asoulwindow
Dirang Dzong – tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh
Dirang is surely one of the best places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh. Tourist places in Dirang are many and varied. Many people make Dirang a mere stop while going to Tawang from Bhalukpong in Assam. However, having spent quality time in Dirang, I recommend all to spend at least 2 -3 days in Dirang or even 4-5 days if time is not a constraint for you.
Dirang which is situated in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh is after all a destination in itself. There are many places to visit in Dirang which will stay with you for a long time. I have been to many places in Arunachal Pradesh, which is also my new favourite state in India.
However, Dirang continues to enjoy the top position. I just love Dirang! My 15 days long road trip to North East India with Holiday Scout turned out to be memorable. Dirang was one of my stops during this once in a lifetime trip.
The verdant valleys, picturesque hills, ubiquitous Dirang Chu river, crisp fresh air, snow capped peaks, visually delightful landscapes, availability of good vegetarian/vegan food, availability of wi fi, good cellular internet reception, traditional architecture, modern facilities and the perfect weather makes it one of the best hill stations I have been to.
The scattered religious places, displayed pots and pans outside most homes, napping dogs and cats, boundless prayer flags and a perfect mélange of old and new makes Dirang Dzong a must see place in Dirang. Dirang is one of the top tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh and yet an offbeat destination. That is the beauty of this beautiful state access by the chicken neck in North East India. Let’s have a quick look at some of the top 24 offbeat things to do in Dirang:
- DIRANG DZONG
What is a dzong? The best thing about Dirang is the centuries old Dirang Dzong aka Dirang Fort. This 17th century village is a living breathing testimony to the rich culture and heritage of Dirang. Located on the banks of the serpentine Dirang Chu river, Dirang Dzong offers a window to the ancient past of this part of Arunachal Pradesh. We visited many houses, many of which were more than 500 years old. The entire fort area was built to protect its inhabitants from attacks from the nearby places.
The architectural brilliance of the ancient buildings here are to be seen to be believed. One such house belonged to the forefathers of Sange Tsering, the very bright young man behind the Dirang Boutique Cottages and Holiday Scout, the pioneers in customized trips to anywhere in North East India. In fact Sange’s grandmother used to live in the home we visited. (Please see attached picture). Dirang Dzong, no doubt is the best place to see during Dirang sightseeing.
Built in the traditional local architectures, the houses at this walled town sustained and flourished through the years. We even visited a massive ancient fort which now lies in ruins. Most of the old buildings we visited were made with a combination of wood and stone. The architecture style is typically Buddhist. We also visited a small monastery right opposite the Dzong. The Dirang Gompa are a must visit place.
Located in the heart of the heritage village, the fort aka Dzong even had a jail which we could see from the outside as it was locked. The prison dated back to 9th century. The massive fort dwarfed the old lady who was sunbathing and lived nearby. The Dirang Dzong reminded me of Paro Dzong and Thimphu Dzong which I explored during my visit to Bhutan.
I am not sure if she even had a modicum of idea about the historical importance of the fort. I tried to peep in through an ancient window of the fort jail and was cold shouldered by pitch black darkness. It was quite a huge prison. People from Dirang as well as other nearby town were imprisoned here. Isn’t Dirang the best of offbeat places in Arunachal Pradesh?
- MANE TANGPU MONASTERY, DIRANG DZONG
When we visited this monastery, little idea did we have that we will be rewarded with an immersive local experience. We happened to visit the monastery during Tongchen, a ritual which happens every month during the full moon. It was one of the unique Dirang monastery.
On this occasion, ladies from Dirang town congregate and pray together at the monastery over some hot tea and snacks. They light butter lamps, pray, meditate, chant and swirl the individual prayer wheels for hours. It is like a monthly day out for local women. We visited on 24th January. Do visit this Dirang Gompa.
- WATERMILL – tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh
There is an impressive watermill near the Monastery in Dirang Dzong. Do not forget to pay it a visit. It is huge and looks impressive. The flowing river near the watermill adds to its beauty. Do not forget to take some nice pictures here. Selfies are OK, proper pictures are better. Just saying! But do not miss this unique place during your Dirang sightseeing trip.
- THUPSUNG DHARGYE LING MONASTERY DIRANG
Do not miss this massive Dirang monastery. Inaugurated by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the sprawling Thupsung Dhargye Ling Monastery Dirang is a must visit place in Dirang. Built on a huge area, if offers stupendous 360 degree views of Dirang valley. I got amazing views of the small villages, far away stupas and Dirang valley from here. We visited the monastery early morning. The calming quietude at the monastery engulfed us as we found ourselves to be the only visitors here when we visited.
The well maintained and manicured gardens of the premises of monastery make for a pleasant stroll. Also known as TDL Monastery by the locals, do not forget to pay a visit to the impressive bhāvacakra on the back wall on the ground floor. It is located on the back wall of the Mahayana Buddhist Monastery to aid the local people in understanding the Buddhist teaching easily. The graphic depictions and Buddhist concepts are explain in a beautiful and aesthetical way. It is one of the best tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh.
Built recently in April, 2017, the Thupsung Dhargye Ling Monastery Dirang is both a learning institute and a practicing temple. Monks and other Buddhists spend time here improving their knowledge of Buddhism. The literal meaning of Thupsung Dhargye Ling Monastery, which was christened so by His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama is ‘Place of Flourishing of the Speech of Buddha’. No wonder, the Dirang monastery is a very important place for Buddhists.
Thupsung Dhargye Ling monastery was built with the aim of preserving and nurturing the ancient Tibetan Culture and Buddhist teaching which are under constant threat. We missed the morning prayers. You must wake up early to catch the monks praying early morning at around 6 a.m. This unique spiritual experience will stay with you for a long time. Do not miss any of the Dirang Gompa.
Contact of Thupsung Dhargye Ling Monastery Dirang: 8414998557, 7640 869686.
- DIRANG CHU RIVER – GREAT FOR A DIP OR STROLL
During my many trips to North East India, I realized that people from different states of North East India love to picnic around a water body, preferably a lake or river. The swift running Dirang Chu River was omnipresent. Its origin can be traced back to Tawang which is located nearby. Dirang valley, indeed is one of the best offbeat places in Arunachal Pradesh.
Since Dirang valley is warmer than Bomdilla and other nearby places, you may want to take a quick dip here. I am not into dips in cold water, so I settled with a walk near the clear winding river. Isn’t Dirang sightseeing so refreshing!
- KHASTUNG GOMPA: OLDEST MONASTERY
The 500 year old Gompa or monastery is no wonder a pilgrimage site for many Buddhists in this region. The entrance gate and the ancient leather prayer wheels impressed me. Very rarely have I seen something so precious casually existing and integrating with modern life. We have all (OK, most!) seen the metallic Buddhist prayer wheels in monasteries across the world.
It was for the first time that I had seen a leather Buddhist prayer wheel. The umpteen layers of leather were peeling off the Buddhist Prayer Wheel. I had goosebumps seeing ancient Buddhist scriptures which were still visible. It is one of the best tourist places in Dirang.
No prizes for guessing that Khastung Gompa is also the oldest Buddhist monastery in Arunachal Pradesh. There are many beautiful monasteries across all the poplar and offbeat tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh.
- KALACHAKRA GOMPA- tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh.
The native people of Dirang revere this Buddhist monastery located in the Kalachakra Village. Dirang valley is predominantly Buddhist, which explains the presence of so many gompas or monastries in Dirang and the nearby Bomdilla. These are some of the best places to visit in Dirang. Have you been to these places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh?
Ensconced in purity and tranquility, Kalachakra Gompa will awaken your spiritual side. Don’t forget to admire the details: stucco sculptures and gorgeous murals. As they said, the beauty lies in the details. Dirang sightseeing is rewarding at every step! Do not miss this best of tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh.
- SANGTI VALLEY
Located just 15 kilometers away from Dirang, Sangti Valley is a hidden gem very few know about. Dense jungles, voluptuous rivers and a looming presence of the Eastern Himalayas make it a picture postcard perfect destination. Punctuated with wildflowers and pine trees, Sangti Valley is a hidden paradise few know about. Hang out with the sheep, meditate in the midst of nature or pose for ridiculous pictures here, the choice is yours. Make sure you visit Sangti valley, which is one of the top places to visit in Dirang.
Sangti valley is visually stunning, so keep those batteries charged and SD cards empty before you head to Sangti Valley. It is a good idea to stay at Dirang Boutique Cottages and make a day trip to Sangti valley due to the lack of good places to stay at in Sangti valley. It is a beautiful Dirang homestay with acess to all the best places to see in Dirang. It takes around 30 minutes to cover the distance between Dirang valley and Sangti valley by car. Sangti valley and Tenga valley are some of the most picturesque tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh.
- BIRD WATCHING
Dirang India is a heaven for serious bird watchers and bird photographers. I did see a fleeting glimpse of many colorful birds. The deep red colored (unidentified) bird I saw in Dirang Boutique Cottages remains one of my best memories from Dirang India.
In case Birdwatching gets your mojo back, then do head to Sangti valley near Dirang during winters, especially November and December. Migratory birds like Black Necked Cranes come all the way from China to Dirang every year. The local people call it tung tung ka uk.
- GO FARM HOPPING IN DIRANG
You can also pay a visit to the Kiwi Farms, Regional Apple Nursery, Progeny Orchards or one of the many Oranges orchards. Fruits are grown in abundance in this region, thanks to a fertile soil and favorable weather conditions. In fact, we plucked fresh oranges right from the trees planted in the picturesque Dirang Boutique Cottages. Our gracious host Sange encouraged us to eat fresh, after all! It is one of the most offbeat places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh.
- GO TREKKING IN DIRANG ARUNACHAL
There are many virgin trekking trails in and around Dirang. If you have some spare time you must embark upon a picturesque trek in and around Dirang valley. I am sure trekking in this part of India must be very different from any other trek you must have done till date. You can book a trek with Holiday Scout. They offer many exciting packages if you are looking for unique and offbeat places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh and other states of North East India. Dirang and Bomdila, both are some of the best offbeat places in Arunachal Pradesh.
- VISIT A WEAVER’S HOME IN DIRANG DZONG
India is a land of rich textiles. Predictably, you will see huge difference in the different textile styles in different parts of India. Dirang is no exception. We visited the home of a local weaver in Dirang Dzong. Not only did we learn about the textiles common in this part of Arunachal Pradesh but we also got to see a local home from inside. The fact that the home was in the midst of a centuries old village just added to its charm. You can even buy traditional shirts, scarves, bags etc from the local weavers.
- HOT WATER SPRING
Most locals and tourists enjoy a refreshing bath in the hot water spring located in Dirang, especially during winter season. The hot waters spring is known to contain medicinal properties and is rich in sulphur, which adds to its benefits. These hot water springs are some of the little known offbeat tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh.
- NATIONAL RESEARCH CENTRE ON YAK
Sange told me that the first test tube Yak in Dirang was born in National Research Centre on Yak which was founded by Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Thus this centre plays an instrumental role in the conservation of the Indian Yaks, found in this part of India.
The centre also aims to develop and improve the quality of Yak products. You can visit National Research Centre on Yak with prior permission. Holiday Scout can help you get the permissions. Research and development (R & D) on issues related to Yak breeding and genetic resources are also done here. You can also get a good view of the National Research Centre on Yak from Thupsung Dhargye Ling Monastery Dirang. It is one of the top tourist places in Dirang.
- HIMALAYAN CULTURE AND TRADITION PRESERVATION SOCIETY
Not only is it the newest monastery in Dirang but is also a learning centre for Buddhist monks. Tibetan and Buddhist teachings is taught here. Even foreigners and locals can enroll for a course here. It was established by Buddhist Culture Preservation Society in the year 2003. You can learn more about it on their website. Do visit this and other tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh.
- VISIT THE EXOTIC DIRANG MARKET
You must visit the vibrant Dirang market for a feel of the traditional local lifestyle. Keep your eyes peeled for the local fruits, vegetables and herbs which you must have never seen before. You can also get many shared taxis to different places in Arunachal and Assam from here.
I was however busy devouring a hearty breakfast at a typical North Indian style restaurant, which was probably owned by someone from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. It is also a good place to pick some souvenirs. Shared cab or Tata Sumo from Dirang to Guwahati, Tawang, Tezpur etc are available from here. I love visiting such tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh.
- MANDALA TOP
The breathtaking 108 Mani or Mandala Top is a lesser known cousin of the popular Dochu La Pass of Bhutan. The pious Mandala Top premises will include a house for keeping butter lamps, a fountain, a small museum and even a coffee house. A Buddha statue is also proposed in the centre. It is a plastic free and eco friendly zone.
The work here is undertaken by Shri. Phurpa Tsering, an MLA of Dirang. You can even camp here overnight. The drive to the Mandala Top becomes even more scenic during snowfall. Needless to say, Mandala Top is a popular picnic spot for both locals and tourists alike. I am sure no one told you about these secret places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh.
- TAKE LONG WALKS
I love walking alone for hours on stretch. The simple yet soul satisfying walking trails are not only rejuvenating but also provide a glimpse into the local lifestyle. Greet a local, share a bread as you walk in different small villages in and around Dirang. In fact, the place near my hotel Dirang Boutique Cottages was apt for long walks. This is why it is the best of Dirang hotels!
Expect to walk next to gushing rivers, Buddhist stupas, ruins, ancient houses, lazy dogs, slow moving cows, suspension bridges, locals doing their chores, Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the air.
Walking amidst nature in fresh clean air is therapeutic, denied no one ever. You should spend some time walking near the sprawling Thupsung Dhargye Ling Monastery Dirang. The views from here are just too good.
- EAT ORGANIC VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN FOOD
Most places grow organic food here. My meals at Dirang Boutique Cottages were very satisfying. Not only did I manage to find local dishes, North Indian food, vegan and vegetarian meals here but the fact that all the ingredients were organic made it all the more special.
The lack of pollution and low density of people eradicates the need of using pesticides in Dirang. Folks at Dirang Boutique Cottage grow their own food in their farm area. It was 100% organic. We could taste the difference. Enjoy great food as your get used to the pace of one of the best offbeat places in Arunachal Pradesh. I am sure they didn’t tell you about it!
- READ OR WRITE: TAKE YOUR OWN SWEET TIME!
The balmy weather of Dirang makes you want to write that pending poem or article, or even better, a book! It is also apt for reading on soft grass under the sun. Sleeping while reading is optional though! Many places to see in Arunachal Pradesh come with this benefit of good weather and clean air. As you see the best of places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh, take some time for yourself and enjoy reading as it gets dark early in North East India.
- SPEND TIME WITH LOCAL PEOPLE
The main population of Dirang comprises of the very friendly and simple Monpa people. Monpa people follow Buddhism and are easy to talk to. Many Monpa people in Dirang understand and speak good Hindi followed by English, of course after their native language. Also, always take permission before taking pictures of the local people. Most local people do not mind getting their pictures clicked. In fact, they might even approach you for the same.
And you never know, a local might just call you inside their home for a tea or a local alcoholic drink, eh! And in case you are an introvert, then you can indulge in some people watching, especially in the Dirang Dzong area. Generally most places in Arunachal Pradesh are inhabited by genuine, warm local people.
People sunbathing, mischievous kids painting the town red, women cooking the lunch, locals doing chores are some of the scenes you will enjoy observing here. It was a great advantage to explore Dirang with Sange Tsering from Holiday Scout. The local people know him well. Not only did he take us to a lot of secret places in North East India but also gave a very immersive travel experience.
You must visit Bomdila from Dirang. Bomdilla is surely one of the best places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh. Bomdila is little colder than Dirang. Bomdila sightseeing is rewarding. You can visit the lovely monasteries of Bomdilla. I particularly enjoyed spending time in the vibrant Bomdila market and the trek to a secret monastery early morning. We even visited an oracle who told me good things about my future. It is one of those hidden places in Arunachal Pradesh. What’s not to love? Arunachal Pradesh tour is just too rewarding!
Distance between Bomdila to Tawang via Sela Pass:
Most people stop for few days at Dirang and Bomdila while going to Tawang. Distance between Bomdila to Tawang via Sela Pass is 177 kilometres and it takes around 6 hours to cover this distance via NH13. It is a good idea to enjoy exploring the various places to visit in Bomdila. Please read my detailed guide on Bomdila to make your holiday memorable. Also read my travel blog on best places to visit in Tawang.Dirang tourism is always high due to this circuit.
- EAGLE’S NEST WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
It is a protected wildlife sanctuary located in the West Kameng region of Arunachal Pradesh. Apart from the many species of birds such as pheasants, cranes, finches etc, the mammals found here include the elusive red panda, Arunachal macaque, Asiatic black bear, gaur, clouded leopard, endangered capped langur, Asian golden cat and the marbled cat. Make sure Eagle’s Nest Wildlife Sanctuary is a part of your Arunachal Pradesh tour itinerary. It is one of the most loved tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh.
- SELA PASS AND TAWANG
Most people stay in Dirang before heading out to Buddhist pilgrimage town Tawang via the high altitude Se La, popularly called as Sela Pass. Technically, La means pass, so Se La means Se Pass. Sela pass and Tawang are undoubtedly the top Arunachal Pradesh tourist spot. Miss it at your own risk! I have written in detail about the top places to visit in Tawang. Please see box. Dirang tourism is booming and how!
HOW TO BOOK A TRIP TO DIRANG
So, who is the best tour operator for the North East India. Well, for a hassle free and well organized trip, I suggest Holiday Scout. Run by a talented local man Sange Tsering, Holiday Scout can arrange a customized trip to anywhere in North East India. He also runs the best of Dirang hotels. He takes packaged tours and customized tours to many places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh.
They have a very good network, various tailor made tour packages and the advantage of being a local. He can take you to unheard of amazing travel destinations in North East India. There are many weekend getaways from here as well. I loved my Arunachal Pradesh tour with Holiday Scout!
I always prefer traveling with locals in a new place. After all, locals know the best. Rest assured, Holiday Scout will organize a trip to remember. The unknown hidden secrets and access to the homes of local people is an added bonus of travelling with them. They can take you to many Arunachal Pradesh famous places. There are many such hidden places in Arunachal Pradesh.
Permits for Dirang Arunachal
Inner line permit or ILP
Do we need any kind of Permit to visit Arunachal Pradesh? Yes, very much.
My inner lie permit was arranged by Sange Tsering from Holiday Scout. It is a hassle free way to procure ILP even before you reach Arunachal Pradesh. They will help you see the best places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh with comfort.
Protected Area Permit or PAP
If foreigners want to visit Arunachal Pradesh, they need to obtain a Protected Area Permit or PAP. Sange can help in arranging the same as well. This permit grants you access to several places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh.
WHERE TO STAY IN DIRANG – DIRANG BOUTIQUE COTTAGES
I stayed at the lovely dirang homestay called Dirang Boutique Cottages, easily the best place to stay at in Dirang. Whether it is the organic food, the picturesque location, impressive architecture, low prices, modern facilities or huge open spaces, this property won my heart. You can read a detailed review of Dirang Boutique Cottage on my blog. It is undoubtedly the best of all Dirang hotels. The presence of the family of Sange makes it a memorable Dirang homestay.
HOW TO REACH DIRANG
Here is a detailed account of how to reach Dirang Arunachal Pradesh. I arrived at Dirang from Kaziranga National Park in Assam via Bhalukpong, also in Assam. Use this guide to travel to the best of the tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh.
By Air: Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati is the closest airport. It is a well connected airport. Distance between Guwahati to Dirang is 350 kilometers and it take around 8 hrs 30 minutes to cover the distance.
By Rail: The dusty small town of Tezpur in Assam has the nearest railway station from Dirang. Distance between Tezpur and Dirang is 190 kilometers and it takes around 6 hours to cover the distance.
By Road: You can enjoy a road trip from Assam. My most reliable recommendation is Holiday Scout who will plan a customized hassle free road trip anywhere in North East India for you which you will cherish for a long time.
By Public Transport: Although not very convenient but backpackers can book buses from Dirang Bus Stand to other places in Assam and Arunachal. Shared Sumo Taxis are also available. However, frequency of public transport is very low here. This is one of the way how to reach Dirang Arunachal Pradesh.
Distances and time taken from Dirang Arunachal
Dirang to Bomdila distance is 42 kilometres apart and it takes 1 hour 11 minutes on NH13
Dirang to Bhalukpong distance is 140 kilometres apart and it takes 5 hours on Chariduar – Tawang road
Dirang to Guwahati distance is 312 kilometres apart and it takes 9 hours on NH15 and around 9 hr 39 min (377.8 kilo meters) through NH27 and Chariduar – Tawang Road.
Dirang to Tezpur distance is 197 kilometres apart and it takes 6 hours on Chariduar Tawang Road.
Dirang to Kaziranga National Park distance is 246 kilometres and it takes 9 hours on Chariduar Tawang Road. We went via this route.
Dirang to Sela Pass distance is 62 kilometres apart and it takes only 2 hours on NH13. It makes for a fab weekend getaway.
Sela pass to Tawang distance is 72 kilometres and it takes around 3 hours on NH13. The time taken between Sela pass and Tawang may be less or more depending upon snowfall.
Dirang to Tawang distance is 134 kilometres apart and it takes 5 hours on NH13
BEST TIME TO VISIT DIRANG ARUNACHAL
Dirang is a year round destination. The weather in Dirang is great throughout the year. I visited Dirang during January. The nights were only slightly cold and the days were balmy and pleasantly sunny. Since Dirang is located than a lower altitude from Bomdila , Sela Pass and Tawang so it is pleasantly warmer and sunny than the other destinations in this region.
November to February is the best time of the year when the temperature hovers between a comfortable 5°C to 12°C. Dirang tourism is best enjoyed in these months.
Is Arunachal Pradesh safe to travel?
How safe is Arunachal Pradesh for female travelers? Well, Arunachal Pradesh is one of the safest states I have been to. I know many females who had traveled to Dirang, Bomdila and Tawang solo and enjoyed the trip. Most of the places to visit in Arunachal Pradesh have great infrastructure, good road connectivity and ease of communication.
The Monpa people are very friendly and you will not face any issue in traveling solo in Arunachal Pradesh. You just need to take precautions which you take while traveling elsewhere. Arunachal Pradesh is very safe for female solo travelers. Most of thetourist places in Arunachal Pradesh are very safe.
CONCLUSION: LAST WORDS ON DIRANG
Dirang is not your typical touristy Hill Station like Shimla, Manali or even offbeat places like Chakrata and Harsil in North India. That is what makes Dirang worth a visit. Having traveled to both neighboring Tibet and Bhutan, I can vouch about the similarity between these two and Dirang. And yet, it is different. Arunachal Pradesh sightseeing is just so rewarding! Many people also wonder if Dirang Tawang is a nice place for a honeymoon. I feel it is just perfect. The weather, lack of crowd, altitude and friendly atmosphere is apt for a honeymoon in Arunachal Pradesh.
The ease with which Hindi language is spoken and understood here by many along with easy availability of modern amenities, North Indian style vegan / vegetarian food etc makes Dirang a perfect stop for Indians.
That said, foreigners love Dirang too as it offers them an intimate introduction into Tibetan way of living which more popular destinations often fail to. Do visit Dirang with Holiday Scout and stay at the dream cottage like Dirang Boutique Cottages for a soul satisfying experience. Thank me later! Hope you have a great time exploring Dirang valley and other tourist places in Arunachal Pradesh.
The view from my Soul Window is rejuvenating!
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