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Old 10th August 2019, 17:16   #1
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Default Ground Ziro - The 2019 Dree Festival (Arunachal Pradesh)

Of the ever-increasing number of states in India, three states top the chart for me. My native state Kerala, Maharashtra, my home for a long long time, and the mystical Arunachal Pradesh. This love for the state dates back to the University days when the Professor asked the class ‘Why is the state called Arunachal Pradesh?”. And he went on to explain that it was because sun rises there, first in India.

Well, whether it is true or not, that elicited an interest, which only grew to a fascination in the coming years. What was taught in the lab faded to oblivion; but the place remained unforgettable.

So when PhotoWalk Connect Dubai and mentor Subodh Shetty announced their latest photography trip, it was time, to mark the silver year of that fascination. Although far from Dong valley, Ziro was still near in a scale of the Universe for the first rays of the Sun.

Ground Ziro – Dree Festival 2019
Dree festival is an annual agricultural festival celebrated and observed by the Apatani Tribe to get healthy crops and a bumper harvest. Apatanis are known for their systematic land use practices, scientific agriculture and sustainable management of natural resources. They are also known for intricate handloom designs, skills in cane and bamboo crafts and colorful festivals.

The most distinguishing character of Apatanis is the tradition of wearing facial tattoos (Tiipe) and large nose rings (Yaping hullo) by women. Once considered to be a coming of age tradition for girls, it’s now a non-existent tradition due to a Government ban and cultural influences. Only women of old age can be seen now, with nose rings and facial tattoos. Apatani male decorates the middle of the chin by tattooing a “T”. The males also wear big pieces of bamboo called Yaru Hukho as an earplug. The hair is combed and tied on forehead called Piiding, which is perceived to enhance their handsomeness.

It was a long travel. We had grouped together at Delhi and flew into Guwahati.

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Flying above the clouds

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Nearing Guwahati.

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Ariel view

A bus took us to Guwahati Railway Station from where we rode the Donyi Polo Express to Naharlagun. A late lunch on the way to railway station entertained with a taste of Assamese cuisine.

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A rather hot and humid Guwahati Railway Station

Eager to get a glimpse of how the sun rises in the land of the rising sun, I woke up early, had my cameras ready and took my place at the door, against all security norms.

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First glimpse of the Mystical Arunachal Pradesh

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But the clouds ensured that the sun remains elusive.

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Itanagar / Naharlagun railway station

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From Naharlagun another bus and a Sumo took us to Ziro.

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A small dam enroute

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At Potin

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At Potin, a midway break.

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Paddy fields somewhere near Yachuli

The 100 odd kilometers was done in 6 hours with several check posts in between, where we were required to show the ILP.

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At Hapoli

Checked into Ziro Palace Inn and got treated to local cuisine of boiled vegetables and chicken for lunch. Satiated and rested, we made our way to one of the Dree festival grounds. There were no cultural activities happening but all the stalls were set up with all merchandise from food to clothes to ornaments and games.

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Ever-smiling and very helpful lady at the Kasturba Centre.

After a stroll at the festival grounds, we left for Hari Village.

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A typical Ziro landscape.

Although a strange place, it never felt unsecure. People were friendly and amused to know that we had traveled thus far to see their pooja or the Dree festival.

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Determination challenged. A painful sight in a rather quaint village.

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Typical architecture of Ziro. This one looked like a new house constructed of bamboos.

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Paddy fields

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Anne was returning from her field while I met her. Although initially she turned down my request for a picture of her, a couple of locals convinced her to make this photo. Later we both walked together to her house. She would often stop, straighten herself with the help of her stick and then walk hunched. In a mix of sign language and Hindi, I understood that she has 4 children and 10 grandchildren. All of them were living, possibly in other villages or even in Itanagar, which I was not able to decipher.

Aba was at their home with his brother when we reached.

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One of the happiest couple I've ever seen.

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A kind neighbour did the honors of translation.

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Aba lit his pipe from the fireplace and an old TV beamed some programs.

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The house was a typical Apatani house with veranda, and living room with fireplace.

Bidding farewell, I moved on wandering along the lonely gullies of village.

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One of the totems of religious importance.

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Bamboos are grown in protected and fenced areas; mainly cultivated for constructing traditional houses or crafts. Down south, it would have been a field day for a wild elephant.

It was already dark and I walked back to the parking area where others were waiting in the bus. Returned to the hotel to find that it has been put under heavy security as the minister who would be the chief guest for Dree Festival was camping in the same hotel.

Last edited by Dhar's : 11th August 2019 at 09:42.
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Old 10th August 2019, 21:59   #2
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Default Re: Ground Ziro - Dree Festival 2019

A lazy morning welcomed day two, partly due to the long travel fatigue. After a decent breakfast, we left for the Dree Festival ground. Festivities had begun by the time we reached the Dree Festival ground.

Chief Guest and dignitaries were on the stage. The Priest and Chiefs of Clans were seated on a separate dais at the entrance of the ground. Behind the stage was the food court where all the visitors were provided with lunch. Rice, curry made of mithun meat and chilies. And it tasted good.

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Daminda dance at the festival

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Faces at the festival

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An Apatani elderly gentleman in traditional attire adorning a bear's jaw with a mirror in it.

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Monochrome portrait of the same gentleman.

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One of the chief of clans seated at the dais at the entrance.

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Another gentle man seated at the dais

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The Priest

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Another chief of clan seated at the dais

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Faces at the festival

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A Gypsy woman selling custom made wrist bands of beads.

By afternoon, I returned to our hotel to a much more main land type of lunch, took rest and later joined others for a walk through the Hong Village with our guide Mr. Rubiya. A rather knowledgeable person, we had quite a long chat about customs and cultures of the region.

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Perks of living with the nature.

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An Apatani woman with jewellery of beads.

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A man in front of his house. The totem pole is of religious and social significance.

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Faces from the village

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Cuteness overloaded

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Grain storage bins and ponds for fish cultivation.

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Beautiful paddy fields of Hong Village

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Beautiful paddy fields of Hong Village

As per Mr. Rubya skill shortage in technical occupations like masonry, carpentry etc are fulfilled by migrant labors. This was evident, as most of the construction workers were outsiders.
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Old 10th August 2019, 22:21   #3
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Default Re: Ground Ziro - Dree Festival 2019

My earnest efforts to the catch the sunrise on day three went futile despite being out of the bed at 4am. The weather remained cloudy and foggy. Nevertheless I went for a landscape shoot.

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Beautiful fields of paddy

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How I wish for a simple life in that hut.

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Can't have a better childhood than this!!

A weekly Saturday market at Ziro.

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Almost all of the merchants hailed from the plains and I was told that only a couple of stalls belonged to locals. Most of the vegetables were transported from the plains too.

Back in the hotel, joined others for a breakfast and left to Silang Ditting Dree Festival at Hija School Ground. We walked around a nearby village and later returned to the festival ground.

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Fields of solitude

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Air must be so clean to have a serene view

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Faces from the festival

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A competition of recital of traditional hymns was being conducted. As per the translator, its more or less like Gita chanting competition of main land. However, only a bunch of octogenarians were participating.

The festival committee was announcing tug-of-war and we also got enrolled. The rope broke in the first pull throwing both sides to ground. Back to feet amidst roaring laughter from the crowd, we were pulled back to the ground again by the hosts in the first game. The second and third games seemed like the hosts letting go for the guests to win. Head upright from the proud win and lighter with ‘Apong’, we got back to the hotel for lunch and a deep sleep.

Later in the evening I hopped on the bus hastily, regretting the delay I caused to others being late for the evening walk. This time it was Hari Village, again.

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Young lad

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Cuteness overloaded

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The paddy fields in all the villages were immaculately maintained with zero weeds. Evening sun shining on the paddy with hues of green was an amazing sight to be immersed in.

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But, I didn’t have all the time in the world to be lost in the beauty of nature and hence, harnessing my senses, returned to the hotel. We ended the day with sharing our experiences around a bon fire until it rained.

Last edited by Dhar's : 10th August 2019 at 23:20.
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Old 10th August 2019, 23:05   #4
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Default Re: Ground Ziro - Dree Festival 2019

We had to catch the Donyi Polo express back to Guwahati in the evening of the fourth day and that meant we had all of the morning at our leisure. It was drizzling and what better time to wander in the village! So grabbed the opportunity and we visited the Hong village.

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An Apatani woman at the fireplace cooking

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The fireplace in the center of the living room is called ‘Oogu’. Wooden logs can be seen kept as a border around the fireplace. Firewood and meat is stored above the fireplace in two levels called ‘Darake’ hanging from the ceiling.

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Portrait of the lady of the house

We were later welcomed to the home of Mr. Amad and Mrs. Yadein (the names could be wrong as I was not able to understand them properly or verify that by writing in English).

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The gentleman proudly posing in front of skulls of mithun he had sacrificed before. There were about 30 and according to him, he has kept only the bigger ones out of some 40 odd mithuns he has sacrificed.

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He was proud to claim that he has made his living by his own toil and has not depended on any benefits.

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Proud to wear the badge as well.

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The happy couple, parents of seven children living in other villages and in Itanagar celebrates their 50th wedding anniversary this year.

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Sharing a lighter moment.

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Wrinkles shows the hardships.

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The lady of the house.

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From Donyi Polo to Son of God

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Anne at Michi Village. She runs a grocery shop which was opened as early as 7am. Since India does not have different timezones, 7 am at Ziro could be translated as 8:30am of Delhi.

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Elegant and beautiful Anne

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Grain storage bins

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Gran storage bins.

The return journey in the Sumo was arduous. Since the Sumo guys turned up a bit late, they had to hurry and the roads were less forgiving.

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Enroute Naharlagun

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An young Mithun.

Nevertheless we reached Naharlagun two hours well in advance.

The train seemed to stop at every station for long durations and it seemed like stretching the journey till it pulled up to Guwahati station in the wee hours of next day. There we split as few members had other destinations and rest of us left for the airport to catch our flight to Delhi and for the connection flight from thereon.

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Art work at Guwahati Airport.

That elusive first sunrise of the country beckons me. Dong valley……….
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Old 11th August 2019, 12:40   #5
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Default re: Ground Ziro - The 2019 Dree Festival (Arunachal Pradesh)

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th August 2019, 12:50   #6
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Default re: Ground Ziro - The 2019 Dree Festival (Arunachal Pradesh)

Thanks for introducing us to the Apatani culture. The photos of the Apatanis and the scenaries speak about their uniqueness. Very well described.
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Old 11th August 2019, 12:54   #7
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Default re: Ground Ziro - The 2019 Dree Festival (Arunachal Pradesh)

Nice and crisp travelogue

Seeing the pictures of older ladies, I could not help myself but googling about the strange noses. Apparently, it’s an old tradition where girls will get their nose plugs when they turn up 10. It appears this practice is now stopped.

https://www.google.ca/amp/www.barcro...plug-india-amp

Last edited by Turbanator : 11th August 2019 at 12:58.
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Old 11th August 2019, 14:52   #8
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Default re: Ground Ziro - The 2019 Dree Festival (Arunachal Pradesh)

Fantastic write up, Stunning photography

The way you introduced the culture and described the events, it was a journey to read. Thanks for writing, rated well deserved 5 stars, will be looking forward for your logs.

In some of the posts you mentioned "lady of the house", is this because the society is Matriarch ?
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Old 11th August 2019, 17:43   #9
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Default re: Ground Ziro - The 2019 Dree Festival (Arunachal Pradesh)

Quote:
Originally Posted by skchettry View Post
Thanks for introducing us to the Apatani culture. The photos of the Apatanis and the scenaries speak about their uniqueness. Very well described.
Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbanator View Post
Nice and crisp travelogue

It appears this practice is now stopped.

https://www.google.ca/amp/www.barcro...plug-india-amp
Thank you.
Yes. The tradition is now nonexistent. When the last of these women pass away, the ancient tradition will be history and can be seen only in photographs and museums.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thermodynamics View Post
Fantastic write up, Stunning photography

The way you introduced the culture and described the events, it was a journey to read. Thanks for writing, rated well deserved 5 stars, will be looking forward for your logs.
Thank you for he kind words and glad you liked it.

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Originally Posted by Thermodynamics View Post
In some of the posts you mentioned "lady of the house", is this because the society is Matriarch ?
Those were mere captions and nothing to do with societal system.

I do not have any information whether they were Matriarchal or not neither did I inquire about it.
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Old 11th August 2019, 18:45   #10
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Default re: Ground Ziro - The 2019 Dree Festival (Arunachal Pradesh)

Wow, Thanks a lot for the travelogue. Great photographs.
Keep traveling and keep writing for us fellow bhpians
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Old 12th August 2019, 22:10   #11
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Wow, Thanks a lot for the travelogue. Great photographs.
Keep traveling and keep writing for us fellow bhpians

Thank you Sir!
It means a lot especially from a great traveler!
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Old 12th August 2019, 22:16   #12
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Default Re: Ground Ziro - The 2019 Dree Festival (Arunachal Pradesh)

Wow - Beautiful travelogue with equally stunning photographs !!!

Thanks for taking us through your lens to Arunachal Pradesh. Keep that fire of capturing the sunrise running so that we may get more pictures of this place when you return the next time.
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Old 13th August 2019, 12:29   #13
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Default Re: Ground Ziro - The 2019 Dree Festival (Arunachal Pradesh)

Thanking those posts were not enough! Absolutely brilliant pictures, Dhar’s!

I’ve been itching to attend the Ziro Music festival for the last couple of years. Your photo blog about Arunachal Pradesh has only worsened the situation.

Looks like we have two things in common. Connection to the Gods Own Country as well as the Fascination for Arunachal (the entire NE for that matter).
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Old 13th August 2019, 12:44   #14
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Default Re: Ground Ziro - Dree Festival 2019

Wow, i need to add this to my to do list.

One clarification. Since Arunachal is earlier to sunrise than Delhi, 7am at Ziro should be like 6:30am in Delhi.

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Since India does not have different timezones, 7 am at Ziro could be translated as 8:30am of Delhi.

Last edited by vennarbank : 13th August 2019 at 12:44. Reason: spelling error corrected.
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Old 13th August 2019, 21:59   #15
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Default Re: Ground Ziro - Dree Festival 2019

Quote:
Originally Posted by pugram View Post
Wow - Beautiful travelogue with equally stunning photographs !!!

Thanks for taking us through your lens to Arunachal Pradesh. Keep that fire of capturing the sunrise running so that we may get more pictures of this place when you return the next time.
Thank you @pugram!
Of course Dong valley suddenly stands on top of my list. I hope I'd able to do that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R-Six View Post
Thanking those posts were not enough! Absolutely brilliant pictures, Dhar’s!

I’ve been itching to attend the Ziro Music festival for the last couple of years. Your photo blog about Arunachal Pradesh has only worsened the situation.

Looks like we have two things in common. Connection to the Gods Own Country as well as the Fascination for Arunachal (the entire NE for that matter).
Thank you @R-Six.
You have a month more for this year's Music Festival. From what I gather from the hotel guys and some youngsters there, its an event to remember.

Glad to hear about the common interests.
NE is enchanting. I've planned for another one already!

Quote:
Originally Posted by vennarbank View Post
Wow, i need to add this to my to do list.

One clarification. Since Arunachal is earlier to sunrise than Delhi, 7am at Ziro should be like 6:30am in Delhi.
True.
If time zone is equated, it must be at least 1/2hr to 1hour behind.
My reference was to the activities. Sorry for not being clear on that. Since sun rises earlier, day to day activities begins much earlier.
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