Come November, the usually sleepy Mechukha valley in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Siang district will come alive for three days to a sea of adventure sports and cultural activities.
Located in the shadow of the mighty Himalayas, the snow-capped mountains that surround the valley are not as imposing as they are awe-inspiring. Home to the Buddhist Memba and the animist Bokar, Ramo, Pai-Libo and Tagin tribes, Mechukha is one of the lesser-explored places of not just India or the Northeast but even within Arunachal Pradesh.
With cascading waterfalls and crystal clear water running on stony riverbeds, Mechukha is quite possibly the last Shangri-La on earth. The undulating grassland slopes surrounding the valley along with the high snow covered peaks almost in touching distance hide within them deep religious and historical significance, one of the key attractions being the Samtem Yongcham monastery situated atop a hill overlooking the valley, said to be more than 400 years old. Other sites, including the Siyom river itself that runs through the valley, come together and blend to make Mechukha a place in perfect sync with nature, spirituality and history.
Since 2014, efforts have been on to bring attention to Mechukha and its virgin beauty and all that it has to offer to tourists and travellers alike with the commencement of the Adventure@Mechukha Festival.
Spearheaded by Festival Chair Pasang Dorjee Sona, who is also the Parliamentary secretary Tourism, the three-day festival is held annually from November 7 to 9 and is organized jointly by the Government of India’s Ministry of Tourism and the Government of Arunachal Pradesh’s Department of Tourism along with event partners- the West Siang District Administration, the Mechukha sub-division Administration and the Centre for Cultural Research & Documentation (CCRD), Naharlagun.
Invoking the elements, the 2016 edition onwards the adventure activities have been tagged as Air (Microlight Aviation, PPG, Parasailing, Para-motoring), Water (Rafting, Water Zorbing, River Crossing, Angling), Earth (Quad Biking, Zorbing, Rappelling, Horse Riding) and Fire (Trap Shooting, Air Rifle, Air Pistol, Archery).
While the focus of the festival is definitely on adventure, for three days visitors will also be able to indulge their senses in a host of other activities including the Adventure@Mechukha Film Festival showcasing adventure movies, feature films.
from Arunachal and films for children and the karaoke arena apart from food stalls serving local delicacies to tempt the taste buds of travellers.
Evening performances by celebrated artistes including The Voice-India winner Pawandeep, Indian Idol (Junior) Runner Up Naheed Afrin and internationally acclaimed Tibetan musician-performer Phurbu T. Namgyal will ensure that visitors and locals alike get a chance to experience the best of the arts. Apart from celebrated artistes from across the world descending to the valley for the festival, resident artistes who have represented Arunachal Pradesh nationally and regionally like Nangbia Chanda, Tanning and Lobsang, Soul of Phoenix, K4Keko will also be part of this year’s festival talent. An additional treat for visitors and residents will be performances of traditional folk dances and songs by the indigenous tribes of the valley.
To add versatility to the fare available to the tourist, the festival has taken on the theme adventure@mechukha 4×4 and has created a blend of adventure, fashion, food and music, all with a view to promote Mechukha as a chosen destination for tourists.
This year’s event will also host the curtain raiser for the North East India Fashion Week 2017 (NEIFW 2017), a platform for designers, weavers and artisans from the region to showcase the unique ethnic designs and handicrafts that the indigenous traditions have to offer. NEIFW is promoted by Yana Ngoba Chakpu, one of Arunachal’s leading designers whose work was shown at last year’s London Fashion Week where she presented her collection in the show “Fashion’s Finest”. The designer will curate presentations from across the northeast region that aims to popularize heritage handlooms, woven fabrics and homemade jewellery and accessories at the festival. The 5th edition of adventure@mechukha in 2017 will play the perfect complement to the NEIFW.