Mechuka or Menchukha, located in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India is a breathtakingly beautiful destination that is often referred to as the “Little Known Paradise on Earth.” This hidden gem is nestled in the lush green hills of the Eastern Himalayas, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and a pristine landscape that is untouched by modernization. If you are looking for a place to unwind and connect with nature, Mechuka is the perfect destination for you.
Location and Geography of Mechuka
Mechuka is a small town located in the Shi-Yomi district of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India. It is situated in the northeastern part of the country, close to the border with China. The town is nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, at an altitude of 6,000 feet above sea level.
The town is surrounded by lush green forests, rolling hills, and snow-capped mountains, making it a paradise for nature lovers. The Siyom River flows through the town, adding to its scenic beauty.
The climate in Mechuka is predominantly cold and dry, with temperatures ranging from 5 to 20 degrees Celsius. The winter months, from November to February, are particularly chilly, with temperatures dropping to below freezing point. The monsoon season, from June to September, brings heavy rainfall and landslides.
Tourism in Mechuka
is gaining popularity as a tourist destination due to its breathtaking natural beauty. It is home to exotic tribes and boasts gentle hills, snow-capped mountains, and the Siyom River, also known as Yargyap Chu, which flows through the valley.
One of the main attractions in Mechukha is a 400-year-old Buddhist monastery situated atop a hill in the westernmost part of the town. This monastery houses numerous ancient statues and artifacts, making it a must-visit for history and culture enthusiasts.
Accommodation options in Mechukha include tourist lodges, inspection bungalows, and a few hotels that cater to the increasing influx of tourists from both within the country and abroad.
The Adi tribe, who have resided in the Menchukha valley for generations, can be found living in the villages of Gapo, Pauk, Padusa, Lipusi, Hiri, Purying, Rapum, Charung, Rego, Kart gumjipang, Barang gang, and Shorang dhem.
In addition to its cultural significance, Mechukha is also a biodiversity hotspot. Dr. Anwaruddin Choudhury, a renowned naturalist of North East India, discovered a new species of giant flying squirrel, the Petaurista mechukaensis, in the area. The IUCN Red List has classified this species as Data Deficient.
Things to do in Mechuka
Mechuka is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Here are some of the best things to do in Mechuka:
Visit Samten Yongcha Monastery
The Samten Yongcha monastery is a popular attraction in Mechuka and a must-visit for travelers. The monastery, located atop a hill in the western part of Mechuka, was built 400 years ago in honor of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism.
Visitors to the monastery can view a collection of ancient figurines, murals, and artworks created by the Buddhist Guru Padmasambhava, as well as a striking Golden Buddha statue. These artifacts are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Mechuka.
In addition to its cultural significance, the Samten Yongcha monastery is also known for its association with the discovery of the Mechuka giant flying squirrel.
Visit the Dorjeeling Village
No trip to Mechuka is complete without a visit to the charming and picturesque Dorjeeling Village. This stunning little hamlet can be reached by crossing the River Yargepchu, adding to the adventure of the journey.
The village is surrounded by a collection of beautiful wooden houses and a tranquil hermitage, all of which add to the natural beauty of the area. The village is also home to several wooden hanging bridges, which the local villagers use to cross the river. These bridges add to the rustic charm of the village, and visitors are sure to be captivated by their unique design.
Visit the Hanging Bridge
If you’re looking for an exciting adventure, a visit to the Hanging Bridge in Mechuka is a must. This iconic bamboo and cane bridge spans the Siyom River, providing a stunning view of the surrounding valley.
As you walk across the bridge, you’ll feel the exhilaration of the wind blowing through your hair, and the bridge swaying and creaking beneath your feet. It’s a thrilling experience that’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s one that’s sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.
While the Hanging Bridge is an incredible experience for visitors, it’s also an essential part of the local community. Many locals rely on the bridge to cross the river and access essential services in the town, and it’s a vital part of daily life in Mechuka.
Visit the Yarlung Army Camp
When in Mechuka, a visit to the Yarlung Army Camp is an absolute must. Situated at an elevation of 7,394 feet above sea level, the camp offers a unique opportunity to experience the area’s military heritage.
While civilians are permitted to visit the camp gate, special permissions may be required for those wishing to venture further toward the Indo-China border. However, visitors can still meet with some of the brave soldiers stationed at the camp and gain insight into their daily lives.
If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of an IAF plane during your visit. The Yarlung Army Camp is a fascinating destination that provides a unique perspective on the military history and culture of the region.
Visit the Guru Nanak Taposthan
When visiting Mechuka, make sure to check out the Guru Nanak Taposthan, an important spiritual site that’s steeped in history and tradition. At the heart of this sacred location is a cave that’s dedicated to Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
The cave is over 400 years old and holds special significance for followers of the religion. It’s said that Guru Nanak himself once stayed in a cave and practiced meditation as he journeyed to Tibet. As a result, the cave has become an essential pilgrimage site for those seeking spiritual enlightenment.
One of the most fascinating features of the Guru Nanak Taposthan is a large rock that’s said to bear the impressions of the Guru’s turban. This rock is a testament to the profound impact that Guru Nanak had on the region, and it serves as a powerful symbol of his teachings.
Best Time to Visit Mechuka
A visit to Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh is best planned from October to March when the monsoons are over and the winter season is in full swing. The winter months in Mechuka are characterized by chilly weather and occasional snowfall, which adds to the charm of the already picturesque town. The summer season, on the other hand, is mild and pleasant, making it an ideal time for tourists looking for a comfortable climate to explore the town.
How to get to Mechuka
The nearest airports are Lilabari and Mohanbari (Dibrugarh) in Assam, as well as the Guwahati International Airport. In addition, there’s a convenient helicopter service twice a week under the UDAAN scheme that flies to Mechuka on Saturdays and Mondays.
The railway connectivity to Mechuka is limited. The nearest railway stations to Mechuka are Silapathar in Assam and Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh. From there, one can take a taxi or a bus to reach Mechuka.
Mechuka can be accessed by road through the West Siang District and Aalo, which is the district headquarters and the main entry point to Mechuka. It is also connected to the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar. Private sumo taxi services, buses, and private car hires can take you to Aalo. From Itanagar, there are two routes to reach Aalo – one through Pasighat and another through Silapathar. However, it is best to travel via the Pasighat route. If you are traveling from Guwahati, the road distance is approximately 817km, and you can find bus services from both Guwahati and Itanagar to Aalo. From Aalo, it is easy to hire a Sumo Cab to Mechuka.
An Inner Line Permit (ILP). It can be obtained through the official website of the Arunachal Pradesh Inner Line Permit Management System. More details about the ILP have been in one of our previous posts.