Dirang – Where Dreams Live
It was a cool afternoon and the sky above the valley was lined with lacy clouds. Through the open window I watched as we drove by green hillsides plump with orange and kiwi groves. Curiosity and anticipation were tangled inside me, like I already knew something big was coming.
Our car turned up a rough road and stopped at the edge of a meadow. A flock of tawny sheep was being led out to graze and a brook fringed with ferns gurgled softly by. We got out and the air was thick with the scent of earth and pine from a nearby forest. The mossy ground was so springy, it made one feel like doing cartwheels across it rather than merely walk.
We padded over a knoll and down toward a small shrine. Inside a beautifully decorated encasement, two prayer wheels faced the valley below. I stood and admired the idyllic view for a very long time. ‘Down there, all that glitters is gold’, I thought to myself.
But finally, I had no choice but to slide out of that visual embrace and we turned to go. The road meandered down toward the village, past swaying fields of grain and it did not take long before the first picturesque houses came into view, with their neat stacks of firewood and crimson rhododendrons blooming in front.
Like three beads on a chain, Dirang lies between Bomdia and Tawang. Settled over a millennium ago, Dirang’s fortified old town is still intact and inhabited. The architecture reflects the building style typical of Monpa houses to this day.
I had not been in Arunachal Pradesh long but had already come to appreciate the genuine hospitality of the local people. Still I was quite surprised to be invited inside a ceremonial house where a group of senior village ladies was holding quite a jovial function.
In high spirits after several cups of locally brewed rice beer, the ladies even fancied having their photo taken with me. So without any ado, one of them linked her elbow in mine and coaxed me into line with them, nodding as if to say, ‘Now you are a Monpa too’.