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Roads? What Roads? – Ziro To Itanagar By Road

Itanagar to ziro valley

The definition of words like good, bad and terrible change when you are in North East India. More so when we are talking about roads. To give you an example, let me tell you a little about of the most beautiful states of North East India, Arunachal Pradesh. Of all the northeastern states, Arunachal Pradesh has the most terrible roads. In fact, except one highway which connects Assam with the state, the roads, for the most part, are nonexistent. But if I speak from a local’s perspective, save for few particular sections, the roads are OK.

Clouds over the Ziro-Itanagar Road, Ranganadi
Clouds over the Ziro-Itanagar Road, Ranganadi

During my many road trips to Arunachal Pradesh from Guwahati, I have traveled to different regions of the state, taking different roads. This post talks about one such road I took, the road from Ziro valley to Itanagar/Naharlagun Railway Station.

Road Conditions In Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh, being a very diverse state, has offered me something new every time. Different tribes, different cultures, different religions a, d different terrain to name a few. But if there’s one thing that has remained sathe me irrespective of wherever I have traveled to, inside Arunachal Pradesh, it has been the road conditions within the state. They have been, almost always, bad. And if it is the monsoons, they also become very unpredictable and somewhat risky. Landslides become frequent in the hill sections and delays, unavoidable.

Ziro Valley To Itanagar/Naharlagun Road

The roads out of Itanagar are great. In fact, it is a mix of two-lane and four-lane highway for quite a bit. Of course, there are the occasional landslides but the road otherwise is in great shape. Add to that, the very small number of vehicles plying on it which makes it great fun to be on. The fun sadly comes to an abrupt end at a non-descript town called Potin.

Floating Clouds Near Potin, Arunachal Pradesh
Floating Clouds Near Potin, Arunachal Pradesh

Here, the smooth highway gives way to a narrow meandering road to the Ziro valley, Daporizo and beyond. The smooth highway ends and a muddy, unmarked road filled with potholes start. The only good thing that happens from here is the change in the terrain and the views. The hills suddenly become higher, the forests deeper and virgin, full of life if I may say. You see wild mithuns strolling on the road, indifferent to the occassional vehicle crossing them.

The Views Around

You are literally traveling through clouds. The visibility is down to less than 50 meters and the rains pierce your face if you try to peep out of the window. This was by far one of the most breathtaking drives I have ever been to. The bumpy ride, however, didn’t let me enjoy the surroundings. That is also the reason why all the photos in this post are of low quality. Because I was never able to use the camera. I hope the videos make for the low-quality photos.

Can you spot the Yak train on the road
Can you spot the Yak train on the road

While I have enjoyed all my road trips to the interiors of Arunachal Pradesh, all these journeys would have been so much more enjoyable had the road-conditions been a little better. I still remember my journey from Silapathar to Basar. The less than 100-kilometer stretch had taken more than 5 and a half hours. In comparison, the Ziro – Itanagar stretch was much better.

Places to eat in Potin
Tea-break at Potin, on the way to Ziro valley from Naharlagun

And while I agree that connectivity (read: bad roads) is one of the main reason most of Arunachal Pradesh has still managed to remain virgin and away from the touristy crowd, this one good thing in no can outweigh the many cons that come with bad connectivity.

I hope things change for the better, soon.

What do you think?

10 thoughts on “Roads? What Roads? – Ziro To Itanagar By Road”

    1. Thank you Upendra ji.

      No problem in bringing your own bike here. Many of my friends do and have done it. Just the one thing about riding your bike in North East that you have to keep in mind is the time taken. Because it is a vast area, the time taken will be longer. So, pick your destination wisely. For anything else, I am there 🙂


  1. Your blog provided us with valuable information to work with. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging. Thanks for providing this informative and comprehensive blog. This is very interesting article.

  2. Hi Rajiv,

    Thank you for this great post! A lot of good information! I planning a motorbike tour through Arunachal in October! When did your trip take place?

    1. Hi Tom,

      Glad to know that you found it useful.

      I think I made this trip around June.

      Which part of Arunachal do you plan to travel?


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