May 12, 2009

Itanagar is located in the Arunachal Pradesh district of Papum Pare. It also happens to be the Indian state’s capital. It is situated at the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range, sitting at an altitude of 350 meters above sea level. It is known as the “Land of Dawn-lit Mountains,” referencing the fact that it is near the Himalayas, which takes in the dawn as the sun rises. Itanagar is the most populated city in the state, and it is also a major tourist base. It is also historic, as it was the capital of the Jltri dynasty which flourished in the 11th century, when it was still going under the name of Mayapur. Itanagar finally got its present name from a historical fort that was constructed during the 14th or 15th century, named Ita Fort. As of the 2001 census, the city has a total population of 34,970, with males constituting 53% of the population. The city has a literacy rate that is higher than the national average: 69% compared to 59.5%. The major tribe living in the Itanagar area is the Nishis or Nishings.

The city has been Arunachal Pradesh’s capital since it was declared as such on April 20, 1974. As the state’s capital, it is well-connected with the rest of the country by air and road communications. In fact, it was Itanagar’s convenient location placed near the state’s roads and rail arteries, and its location alongside the Brahmaputra River that made the city as the choice for Arunachal Pradesh’s capital. Although there is no airport in the city itself (the nearest ones are at Lilabari and Tezpur in Assam, some 71 kilometers away), there is a helicopter supplied by Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited that services between Itanagar and Guwahati three times a week. The nearest railway station is located in Assam, which is the Harmuti Railway Station, 32 kilometers away. The National Highway 52A passes through the city, though, and is usually the route most take for a direct connection to Itanagar.

Tourists who want to visit Itanagar (or anywhere in Arunachal Pradesh) need to obtain a clearance from the Home Ministry of New Delhi, as well as a Restricted Area Permit. Tourists must have a minimum number of four and a maximum of 14 in their group on a tour arranged through an approved travel agent in order to visit the city’s attractions. For Indian tourists, it is easier; they just need an Inner Line Permit issued by the Liaison Officer of the state government.

Itanagar showcases several wonderful and interesting tourist attractions. First of these is the Ita Fort, situated at the heart of the city. It has an irregular shape, built mainly with bricks, which comprises about 16,200 cubic meters in length. It is estimated that no less than 46,300 days were required to build it. There is also the Buddhist Temple, a beautiful, yellow-roofed shrine that overlooks the whole of the city. It stands behind a stupo tree planted by the Dalai Lama himself. Finally, the Ganga Lake is a forest lake surrounded by primeval vegetation, tall trees and orchids which make it the perfect spot for outings, boating and picnics.


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