MANDALA TOP 108 MANE: A NEW TOURIST ATTRACTION IN DIRANG

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Mandala Top is a new tourist attraction in Dirang valley. The 108 Buddhist stupas constructed on the mountain top in a circular manner make it one of the most enchanting sites in Dirang. With the spectacular scenic surroundings, the mountain top is a sight to behold in Arunachal Pradesh.

Mandala Top seen from a Vantage Point
Mandala Top seen from a Vantage Point

Also Read: ANINI: THE MOST UNEXPLORED DESTINATION OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH (2021)

Adding to the list of must-visit places in the pristine Dirang valley, Mandala Top has been attracting not just the discerning tourists, but the bird watchers as well. The area around Mandala Top is one of the favorite spots where you get to see some of the rare species of birds along with the migratory ones.

WHAT IS MANDALA TOP?

Aerial view of Mandala Top. Photo Courtesy: Sange Tsering

Also Read: DIRANG VALLEY TREK IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH: EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW

Perched at 10,000 feet above sea level, the Mandala Top is a new tourist spot in the captivating Dirang valley of Arunachal Pradesh. The newly constructed “108 mane” on the top of the hill is quite an enticing destination for travelers.

Buddhist Stupas at Mandala Top
Buddhist Stupas

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The number 108 is considered sacred in Buddhism and so these stupas have supreme importance in the spiritual world of Buddhism. The Buddhist mantra, ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ is inscribed in 108 pillars here.

Buddhist Prayer Flag with stupas at Mandala Top
Buddhist Prayer Flag with stupas
Buddha Statue with prayer flags at Mandala Top

Manda La is basically a mountain pass like Sela. It is not frequented by tourists as it doesn’t come on the popular route in Arunachal Pradesh. The shepherds in earlier days used to take this route to travel miles with the herd. One can still find the humble huts around the Mandala Top.

Mandala Top from a vantage point
Mandala Top from a vantage point

While visiting Mandala Top, we had stopped for tea at one of the shepherd’s hut. The best thing about the visit was that we were welcomed by the lady of the hut who served us butter tea. The humble people of Arunachal Pradesh never fail to impress me with their hospitality and humility.

WHERE IS MANDALA TOP?

Me at Mandala Top in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh
Me at Mandala Top in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh

Around 25 km from Dirang, Mandala Top is located in the most picturesque location. Encircled by the mountains and forested area, the place is like a picture-perfect postcard from Arunachal Pradesh. The cloud-laden landscape made it look quite theatrical at times.

The Himalayan range and the dense forest make a captivating frame
The Himalayan range and the dense forest make a captivating frame

I still remember the drastic weather change the moment we reached there. In no time, the sunny and breezy weather turned into a cloudy day where hovering clouds were over the forest making it quite hazy. The very next moment, the peeking sunrays on the colorful fluttering prayer flags and blowing of the strong wind made the whole area look quite dramatic.

Layers of hills at Mandala Top
Layers of hills
Aerial view of Mandala Top
Aerial view of Mandala Top. Photo Courtesy: Sange Tsering

The aerial view of the “108 mane” at the Mandala Top is a sight to behold. The colorful Buddhist prayer flags with stupas placed in a circle command your undivided attention. This place is certainly is a photographer’s delight as you get numerous vantage points to capture the serenity of the place into your lens.

WHY IS MANADALA TOP A BIRDER’S PARADISE?

Beautiful Sibia at Mandala
Beautiful Sibia at Mandala. Photo Courtesy: Lobsung Tsering

The Mandala Top has become one of the preferred destinations for birders recently. Due to its geographical location and dense forest, the surrounding area of the Mandala Top is frequented by migratory birds and rare species of birds. This makes the area a birding hotspot for birdwatchers.

Cloud-laden forested area around Mandala Top
Cloud-laden forested area

The lush greens in lower areas & the coniferous forest in higher areas provide the kind of biodiversity suitable for various species of birds. The best part is that the photographers get the best vantage points for bird spotting in the surrounding areas of the Mandala Top.

Hoary throated Barwing
Hoary throated Barwing. Photo Courtesy: Lobsung Tsering

Birds like White-browed Bush Robin, Fire-Breasted Flowerpecker, Pygmy Blue flycatcher, Rusty Flanked Treecreeper, Dark Sided Flycatcher, etc., are spotted here. I was informed that more than 300 bird species are found there.

Early morning view of the forest in Dirang Valley
Early morning view of the forest in Dirang Valley

Due to its diverse ark, Mandala is considered a great destination for bird watching in Northeast India. In other words, the Mandala Top has become a paradise for birders and bird photographers. This is an ideal place for bird photography for both the experts and armatures. 

WHERE TO STAY AT MANDALA TOP?

Lonely Mandala Birding Lodge in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh

There is no accommodation available at the Mandala Top. You can opt to stay at the Dirang Boutique Cottages in Dirang valley or if you wish to explore the Sangti Valley, you can choose to stay in the Homestays there.

Also Read: WHY DIRANG BOUTIQUE COTTAGES IS THE PERFECT STOP ON YOUR WAY TO TAWANG?

Dirang Boutique Cottages
Dirang Boutique Cottages, Arunachal Pradesh

Though, there is a birding lodge reserved only for the birders, guides, and bird photographers. Surrounded by the densely forested area, overlooking the Himalayas, makes it one of the most picturesque locations in Northeast India. The untouched forested area makes it an ideal place for birders to spend days spotting and capturing the rare species of birds.

Imagine waking up with the chirping of birds in drop-dead silence where the bird experts can even identify the birds just by their calls in the forest. The excitement of spotting birds and able to capture them into your lens, give you a higher euphoria. That’s why the Mandala top is the perfect destination for bird watchers for a reason.

HOW TO REACH THERE?

108 Mane seen at the entrance of Mandala Top
Buddhist Stupas

There is no public transport available to reach the Mandala Top. The only way to reach this fantastic spot is to hire a local cab. It takes around an hour from Dirang Dzong to reach. The best way to reach is to ask your local tour operator to include this tourist spot in your itinerary. I would recommend planning your trip with the Holiday Scout as they are the best in the travel world, especially when it comes to Northeast India.

Road to Mandala Top
Road to Mandala Top

The twisted road towards the Mandala Top is one of the scenic roads in Arunachal Pradesh. The early morning drive from Dirang town to Mandala Top was blissful. The melodious chorus of the birds broke the monotony of silence, the golden sunrays traveled through the mountain top, and with the cold breeze running through your body.

Dense forest in Dirang Valley
Dense forest in Dirang Valley

The changing landscape on my way was quite refreshing. The one-hour drive from the valley to the Mandala Top is quite meditative in nature, especially if you are traveling early in the morning.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

You can visit the Mandala Top throughout the year. The best time to visit would be from the month of October to March.

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2 Comments

  1. Millie Smith

    I am really happy to say it’s an interesting post to read. I learn new information from your article, you are doing a great job. Keep it up

    Reply
  2. Anindya Sundar Basu

    This is a very well planned and documented post. We have something like this in Bhutan too. Loved reading this and will look forward to more posts from you as always

    Reply

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