Why Basar in Arunachal Pradesh Should Be On Your Bucket List ?

It was drizzling and cold. The cloud covered hills and yellow rice fields were refreshing treat to the eyes. The fresh raindrops on the grass, muddy pathways, stilted houses and children running around were a usual scene in the Padi Village. Instead of opting for trekking to Bat Cave on the rainy day, I decided to wander around the picturesque village. As I began to walk around, the locals started greeting me in Galo language by saying ‘Aldurey‘ (How are you). While exchanging smiles, I nodded my head in reciprocation. Though I failed to communicate in their language, but the feeling of warmth was felt strongly. Sometimes you don’t need any language to communicate. The unpretentious smile on their face and the welcoming nature of Galo people can ensure that you feel at home. That was my first introduction to this unexplored paradise in Arunachal Pradesh named Basar.

I visited Basar on an invitation to attend the famous Basar Confluence, one unique cultural festival, which showcases the myriad of rich cultural heritage of Galo community. Ever since I came back from this surreal land in the heart of Arunachal Pradesh in North East India , I can’t stop raving about this place. I call it my “Second Home” and you will get to know why.

Also Read: Basar Confluence in Arunachal Pradesh: A Unique Cultural Festival in North East India

Located at the center of Arunachal Pradesh, Basar is the headquarters of the new Lepa Rada district. Around 150 kilometres from Dibrugarh in Assam, it takes more than five hours to reach Basar on a hilly terrain. Due to the newly inaugurated Bogibeel Bridge, reaching Basar has become quite easy.

Basar is a small place, mainly inhabited by the Galo tribe. Tucked far away from the quintessential popular places of Arunachal Pradesh, Basar has still not come under the tourist’s radar and it makes this destination a land of unheard stories, fascinating facts, and authentic cultural practices and age-old traditions, deeply rooted in its ancient forms.

Who are the Galo People?

The Galo tribe is one of the major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. Located mainly in West Siang, Lepa Rada, and Lower Siang district, Galo people are believed to be descendants of Abotani, the primal ancestor of Tani tribes. They mostly speak their native language, which is Galo, but the younger generation is well versed in Hindi and English. Most of the Galo people can also speak in Assamese language. This ancient tribe believes in community living, so you will find a cluster of houses together in separate villages.

The stilted thatched roof houses comprise of one common room with a central fireplace. The bamboo huts are completely eco-friendly. You will find Mithun’s horns, skulls, bones ,warfare attires, and claws on their wall. There is no concept of separate rooms in a traditional Galo household. The family members mostly hurdle around the fire where the food is being cooked. Whether it is spending time with the family, sipping Poka (local drink), having dinner, discussions or sleeping, everything revolves around the central fireplace. They also dry meat, fish and sometimes even vegetables, hung above the fire. The Galo community is polygamous and patriarchal in nature.

They practice Donyi Polo, though Christianity has been catching up in the community slowly. The Galo people are very much ingrained in their ancient traditions and they take pride in practicing the age-old rituals in today’s modern era.

Let’s find out why you should put Basar on your bucket list whenever you plan to visit Arunachal Pradesh next.

Enjoy Galo Hospitality

The Galo people are one of the most hospitable and friendly tribes in Arunachal Pradesh. The sense of hospitality will stun you once you visit a Galo household. The warmth in their behavior and the smiles on their faces make all the difference to their guests. They are very welcoming in nature. I cherish my very first Galo hospitality in Padi village where the lunch was prepared in their community center by the men of that village. I got a taste of Galo delicacies and also sipped Poka (local drink) for the very first time on the same day. After that I don’t remember how many rounds of Poka I had, sitting next to the fire.

I felt a strong sense of belonging in Basar. During the week-long stay there, I met locals, laughed, interacted and even indulged in long conversations over food and drinks on various occasions. One of the most heart-felt hospitality was at Bam village when we were invited for a storytelling session with Mr. Marjum Bam at his house.

What a night it was. We spent the entire evening listening to the fascinating tales of the past, origin of Galo tribe, religion, food habits, and culture. The narrative was so intriguing that we were engrossed into it completely. It was followed by mouth-watering starters, a round of Poka and super delicious Galo food. It was an enriching experience.

Live like a local by opting for Home-Stays

When in Basar, don’t miss the opportunity to live a few days with the locals in their homes. You will be welcomed to their traditional houses where they show you the Galo way of life, proudly presenting their cultural heritage and unfathomable faith in their traditions. It is very important to respect their culture when you live with them. In Galo household, there are separate entries for men and women. So, it is advisable to follow the rules when you opt for a home-stay there. The home-stays are the perfect choice if you would like to know a community up-close.

Basar offers a few home stays for guests in different villages. I had the best day in Basar when I landed in Sago village in the late evening on a freezing cold day. As soon as we stepped out of the car, a few locals were there to welcome us. As we entered the Galo household, almost everyone from that village was sitting around the fireplace. We were greeted with big smiles and offered Laal chai, followed by Poka. It was overwhelming listening to the elders, meeting the young generation and interacting with the women. Soon we introduced ourselves and the strings got loosened for conversations. We laughed, talked and drank. They also performed folk songs for us. We lost count on hours till we all retired for the night and slept on the floor around the fireplace. It was an exceptional experience for me.

The incessant rain on previous night made the forest look refreshing green, while making the village roads muddy and slippery. As planned, a few of us opted for a trek to Odhi Puthu. I decided to join Mirik, one jovial gentleman of Sago village, who took us around the village and also showed us the warfare attires, which they use in dance performance these days. The drenched forest, pregnant overcast, and the scattered thatched roof stilt houses made it one of the prettiest villages in the remote corner of Arunachal Pradesh.

Relish Galo food

When in Basar, sampling the authentic Galo food is mandatory. I tasted it on the very first day when I went to explore Padi village. The Galo food is simple. Since they are into rice cultivation, the staple food is rice. The most authentic way of cooking their food is in the bamboo hallows over the fire, without much spices and oil. Though it tastes bland sometimes, it consists of chicken (cooked in bamboo hallows on fire), boiled rice, and boiled vegetables on the platter.

When it comes to breakfast, the pitha (rice cake) and laal chai (black tea) is a common item in each household. But with passing time and effect of modernization, the food habits are also changing, especially amongst the youth. You might find basic Daal and Rice in a few home stays, but it is always advisable to try their local food whenever you are in Basar. If you are a non-vegetarian, Basar can give you a great gastronomically satisfying experience.

Enjoy Forest Picnic

If you are an explorer and open to new experiences, you would love the idea of having a meal in the forest. I had the most beautiful picnic experience in the rustic set-up in Sago village when the whole village came together to prepare a meal for us in the forest.

The food was getting cooked in freshly cut bamboo hallows on fire. No oil, no spice and everything was organic. Whether it was rice or chicken, everything was slowly cooked on fire in those bamboo hollows. The world should learn how to live an Eco-friendly lifestyle from the Galo tribe. And, also how they celebrate minimalism beautifully.

The fermented local drink Poka was served in bamboo tumblers; lunch was served on Ekkum leaves. The bamboo chicken, boiled rice, vegetables and tomato chutney, everything tasted delicious. As I was holding the oik leaf where the lunch was served, I was wondering how a simple meal by the villagers in the forest is much more worthy than those multi-course meal in posh restaurants or hotels in the city. It was not just the meal, but the outpouring love and hospitality of the villagers which made the picnic one of the most memorable takeaways from Basar.

Explore offbeat places

Basar is gifted with an abundance of nature. There are no dearths of offbeat terrains. If you love to tap into unexplored places, Basar will surprise you with its treasures. Whether you are a trekker, landscape lover, culture enthusiast or a lazy traveler, Basar has a lot to offer.

Apart from attending the fantastic cultural festival likes Basar Confluence, I had some of the best unique experiences in Basar. One of them is the trek to JOLLI- a haunted place. This is quite an offbeat place which you will not find mentioned in Google. Jolli is near Gori village, a deep gorge forest through which the HIE river passes.

We trekked down a hillock to reach the gorge covered with tall huge trees and creeping vines. It is believed that YAPOM are some kind of spirits which dwell in deep forests like this and any human interference in their territory is strictly prohibited and violation of that causes severe punishment by them. There are stories of atrocities by these spirits on humans who dared to venture into their dark gorge forest. It is also said that the YAPOMS of JOLLI would throw wet pebbles at people passing through this gorge which indicates that something bad will happen to that particular family. But Jolli is no more the sacred abode of YAPOMS.

I must confess that walking barefoot in the freezing cold water to reach the haunted place through the gorge was one exceptional experience for sure. Apart from this offbeat destination, there are a few places you must explore whenever you visit Basar next.

Places to see

  1. Bumchi waterfall
  2. Bat Cave in Padi Village
  3. Nguda Pokcho – This is a sacred mountain.
  4. You can trek to Hiido- Hiidi waterfall, located at the confluence of Hingen and Hipo rivers.
  5. Diime-Diite waterfall at Pagi Village.
  6. Trek to the scenic Odii Putu. You can see bird’s eye view of Basar from the top. It is in Sago village.
  7. Dite waterfall– Another scenic waterfall.

Do you need more reasons ?


How to reach

Nearest airport is in Dibrugarh , Assam. From there, you can take a road trip to Basar via Bogibeel Bridge, which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Sri Narendra Modi on 25th December. It has made life easy for travelers to reach Arunachal Pradesh from Assam.The distance between Dibrugarh to Basar is around 150 km and it takes more than five hours to reach your destination.

Accommodation

Don’t expect luxury hotels or hotels for that matter in Basar. It’s a remote land. But you can expect warm hospitality of Galo people in their homes as they have opened their homes to the guests. There are a couple of home-stays, all equipped to host visitors. Contact GRK for that.


Disclaimer :

The  reproduction of any of the content, including the photographs without prior consent/permission of the writer, is strictly prohibited and a violation of the same will attract legal action.

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16 Comments

  1. James

    What a fantastic post!
    Thanks for this article, so much information

    Reply
  2. Titan Chanel

    It is a very advantageous post for me. I’ve enjoyed reading the post. It is a very supportive and useful post. I would like to visit the post once more of its valuable content. Thanks for sharing this so interesting post! I really want to be thankful for the way you have put it here.

    Reply
  3. Amara Cyrus

    Amazing shots.love to be there. thanks a lot for sharing.

    Reply
  4. Medha Verma

    Confession, I’m Indian yet I haven’t made it yet to the east of the country and Arunachal Pradesh is definitely one of the states I’d like to explore. Basar looks like a beautiful quaint village and opting for a home stay would mean a really immersive experience, getting to know and interact with the locals. So lovely to read about their lifestyles, and the fact that they’re very hospitable. If you felt at home in your one week stay there, it says a lot about the people there!

    Reply
  5. amar singh

    I was born and brought up in India but never had the chance to visit some of these beautiful places that were never as well promoted and the lack of internet and post like these made them unreachable to people. Having read about the natural beauty of the region and the unique tribe and their hospitality I would love to visit it. Being a foodie I would want to try out their cuisine and seems like you did enjoy it . Overal it does look like the centre of Arunachal Pradesh, Basar is a beautiful destination and its people most welcoming.

    Reply
  6. Shreya Saha

    I haven’t been to Arunachal Pradesh yet, but I loved the detailed information you have given about the Basar village. Would love to go for cultural walks and also try out local food and spend time with the Galo people. I am a nature-enthusiast, so I surely need no more reason to visit this beautiful offbeat place in the north-east. Thanks for the share.

    Reply
  7. Kristy Bullard

    I would love to travel here one day! I think visiting the people in the local villages and trying all of the delicious food would be the highlight of the trip.This is definitely going on my travel bucket list.

    Reply
  8. Susanna

    This post made me so happy and compelled to go visit Basar in Arunachal Pradesh. The people look so lovely and welcoming. I’ve always wanted to do a cultural homestay to experience a completely different way of life and this would be such a great chance to do that. I can see why you call Basar your second home away from home. Your photos are captivating and reflect great visual story telling.
    Susanna recently posted…Hipster & Geek Alternative Guide to Tallinn, Estonia + Sustainable TipsMy Profile

    Reply
  9. Bianca

    Looks like you had an amazing time. This place is so up my alley I love exploring places with beautiful nature landscapes as well as a great opportunity to mingle with local people and learn about their culture.

    Reply
  10. Angela

    I love it when I come across an article on a place that I’ve never heard of before and when I read about it I know I just have to go there. This looks like the most beautiful place. You seem to have found a wonderful way of visiting somewhere remote and enjoying the local experience in a non-touristy way.
    Angela recently posted…Our Dubai Trip [A Photo Tour]My Profile

    Reply
  11. Lisa

    Now this is what you call a truly off the beaten track destination! I’ve not yet traveled to India, but I can see why Basar is worth adding to the list. The thatched huts are so authentic and the people seem so welcoming too. I really enjoyed learning about this tribe and their cultures too.

    Reply
  12. Trisha

    Great and interesting article about blogging.

    Reply
    • Kate

      This sounds like one of the most authentic travel experiences I’ve ever heard of. How incredible to have a home stay in Basar with the Galo people so that you could learn more about their culture and lifestyle. Especially eating your forest picnic off a giant leaf!
      Kate recently posted…St. Valentin Chapel – A Hilltop Jewel in the DolomitesMy Profile

      Reply
  13. Sharada

    Beautiful pictures! Arunachal is a state which has been on my bucket list and I hope to visit someday soon.

    Reply
  14. Sherab Tenzin

    Hi Parnashree,

    Can’t agree more on your descriptions of Basar. And photos say a lot regarding the beauty and authenticity of the village and its people. Indeed Arunachal Pradesh is an Indian state of good no of tribes and offbeat destinations like this. Looking forward to traveling across it once. Thanks.

    Reply

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