North East Chronicles: One of the most beautiful and lush states in the North East, Arunachal Pradesh is one of those unforgettable places that you need to visit at least once. After visiting the island of Majuli we continued to Jorhat, Tezpur and then started on our trip to Arunachal. We broke journey in a tiny town called Dirang and then went on to Tawang. On the way, we also visited Jung, and spent a night there on our return journey. March 2007.
We had passed this little town called Jung (also written as Jang) on the way to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and all of us were quite taken in by this quaint and charming little place. We made a decision to revisit it on our return journey.
Jung was really not on our schedule at all. It’s usually not on anyone’s schedule. At the most, a few vehicles stop for a short break : a cup of chai perhaps : and then continue on to Tawang a couple of hours away.
Earlier, when embarking on the North East trip, my dad had given me detailed instructions with a list of State Bank branches I had to visit at every location. No place was really complete till we had paid a visit to the local SBI! My dad being an ex-SBI employee still maintains rather close ties with the organization. Having worked there for most of his life : it’s in his blood!
So there we were at the Jung branch, which wasn’t difficult to find at all. There is one main road and pretty much everything is on that road. We said hello to the branch manager at the bank there who then took us to his house where his wife offered us a most delicious meal of fish curry and rice. We gobbled it down hungrily : it was probably the fresh air that was doing these wonderful things to our appetite!
The branch manager and his wife took us to see a hydel project plant and a waterfall nearby after which we proceeded to Tawang where we spent around 3 days. However, the memories of Jung kept haunting us. From Tawang, I made a phone call to the branch manager and requested him to organize an overnight stay for us on the way back. He got us booked into the only accommodation available : a rather musty and basic Inspection bungalow and we were all set.
There is not much to do in Jung in terms of activity. But you can spend a whole day just walking up and down the town, taking these little mountain paths and roaming around the surrounding hills. There are pretty white and pink cherry blossom trees which make for very pretty pictures. And the steep hillside roads will ensure your food’s well digested. All the locals are friendly and curious but never intrusive. And they all spare you a smile, however busy they are, going about their daily work.
The kids are cute, red cheeked and wear the cutest multi-colour caps : some watch you curiously from a distance. Some of them come up to you and smile shyly. And then say something in their language and run away laughing. Somewhere along the road we meet a group of Apang (one of the tribes of Arunachal) women, all dressed in their traditional attire who pose for pictures when we request them to stop for a while. They oblige with a smile and then continue about their work.
Later, the branch manager’s son, Naina, who had become our unofficial guide in Jung, bounded up an adjoining hill and took us for a nice long walk. As we walked up, we got to see of the town of Jung from a vantage point : a bird’s eye view. As evening was approaching the sky changed colour to a deep blue and a hint of the crescent moon appeared in the sky, leaving us mesmerized.
There were plans to go around exploring the roads and pathways we could see on the hills in the distance. But we were informed that these road trails are further away than apparent to the human eye and take days to traverse. Residents use these paths to access their remote village where they only way you can travel is by foot. Whenever they run out of supplies, they travel day and night sometimes to make a journey to the nearest town for reinforcements. It’s no wonder that these people are so agile and move around like nimble mountain goats!
It was indeed a day well spent and a very relaxed one too. We were coming to the end of our Arunachal trip and it had been quite a memorable one but the day we spent in Jung totally relaxed us before we were to head back to the hotter and muggier plains of Assam. We savoured our last few moments in these colder climes and then it was finally time to say goodbye to Jung, to the branch manager, to his lovely wife and son and the friendly residents of the town.
As we took leave, looking out of the vehicle into the green valley below, the little houses dotting the two sides of the road and the surrounding mountains, I was glad that we had decided to spend a little more time here.
More than a year has passed since our journey and images of the town come flitting into my mind : in crowded moments, in the midst of heavy traffic, when I’m going about my everyday work. At times like these, I feel happy and at peace for I know that there exists such a place where I can go for respite and peace of mind : and it’s not just in my dreams.
— The Arunachal Album