Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh‘s hidden wonderland, is still largely unknown to tourists. Mechuka is considered one of the most beautiful valleys in India’s easternmost state and can give you severe wanderlust. Mechuka, nestled between snow-capped mountains, is a lesser-known and known as the forgotten valley. The valley is the picture-perfect postcard destination in Arunachal Pradesh for discerning travelers, surrounded by giant mountains, virgin forests, vast meadows, quaint villages, fluttering prayer flags, rhythmic Yargyap Chhu (Siyom River), hanging bridges, grazing horses, and sacred Buddhist monasteries. The scattered multicolored wooden cottages, flanked by mountains, give the impression of an Italian town.
Where is Mechuka Valley?
Mechuka is a small attractive valley in the Shi-Yomi region of Arunachal Pradesh, located over 6000 feet above sea level and just 29 kilometres from the famed McMahon line separating India and China. During the 1962 Indo-China War, it was used as a strategic military landing strip. The valley’s actual name is Menchhukha, although it’s more often known as Mechuka. In the local language, the name literally translates to “medicinal snow water.” Memba, Ramo, Bokar, and Lingbo are the four primary tribes that live in the valley. The panoramic sight of magnificent landscapes can leave you astonished.
The surreal beauty paints nature’s most visually spectacular painting in front of your eyes, with grazing wild horses in the grassland on the river’s bank, wooden bridges with colorful Buddhist prayer flags, fresh air, blue sky, and fluffy cotton ball-like clouds, and dotted scattered dwellings.
How to reach Mechuka?
The true reason why this place is exclusive is due to the connectivity which was not at all good before a few years. Mechuka is not really known even by some people from the Northeast itself but it is gradually becoming visible on the tourist map. Mechuka is a great destination to visit if you enjoy slow travel and don’t mind driving a few additional kilometers on a bumpy road to see something unusual in a faraway land. Mechuka is a remote valley in Arunachal Pradesh that requires a long journey split into several places to reach. For those traveling down to Assam via Dibrugarh or Guwahati, the gateway to Northeast India, there are two main routes.
Route: Guwahati- Silapathar/Murkongselek-Aalo-Mechuka
- If you are flying into Dibrugarh from Guwahati or another region of the country, you will need to take a cab from Dibrugarh covering Silapathar, Jonai, and Pasighat, crossing the newly opened Bogibeel Bridge to reach Aalo. Spend the night in Aalo and take another shared cab the next day from Aalo to Mechuka.
2. If you fly into Guwahati and wish to travel to Mechuka, take the Lachit Express to Silapathar or Murkongselek. Silapatha is 9.5 to 10 hours away, from where you can take a shared cab to Aalo. In about 6 hours, you’ll arrive in Aalo (also known as Along). Spend the night in Aalo before continuing on to Mechuka in a shared cab the next day. To get to Mechuka, you’ll have to drive for another 8 hours.
3. From Guwahati, board the Donyi Polo Express to Naharlagun. From Naharlagun to Itanagar, shared taxis are available. It will take about 40 minutes to complete. After that, take a shared cab from Itanagar to Along. The travel will take approximately 8 hours. Stay the night at Along. Early in the morning, take another shared cab to Mechuka. On hilly terrain, it will take roughly 8 hours.
Places to see in Mechuka
On your route to Mechuka, don’t miss the beautiful Siko Dido Waterfalls. This is a sight to behold, located in Irgo village, a few kilometres before Mechuka. The magnificent vertical waterfalls, which cascade water from a height of 200 feet, are a spectacular marvel and should not be missed. A stop in Siko Dido is worthwhile due to its location on a major road.
The 400-year-old monastery of Samtenyangchag Monastery is one of Mechuka’s must-see attractions. The monastery is situated on a hilltop 14 kilometres from Mechuka town. Small vehicles can drive up to the top, but if you don’t have a vehicle, you’ll have to hike up. The sloping path leading up to the monastery is pretty lovely. Along with the route, one may enjoy the tranquility of the landscapes, hills, and villages below.
The Samtenyangchag Monastery has a unique structure compared to other monasteries. The two-story wooden structure houses Guru Padmasambhava statues, ancient inscriptions, traditional masks, musical instruments, and other items. There are no monks living in the area.
During festivals, monks come to this monastery. The monastery is looked after by a single keeper on the site. The monastery is said to predate the well-known Tawang Monastery.
The monastery’s flying prayer flags provide a rainbow of colors to the scene. From the mountaintop, the panoramic view of the Mechuka valley looks extremely breathtaking.
The cherry on top, it feels absolutely amazing to sit over there, sipping butter tea offered by the caretaker, giggling with your travel companions, and overlooking the gorgeous Mechuka valley.
Gurudwara and Guru Nanak Taposthan
One of the features is the Gurudwara’s serene location. You will also be astounded by the Indian Army’s generosity, which includes offering tea and inviting you to join them for Langar (free food) served to visitors to the Gurudwara during lunchtime. The drive from Mechuka town to this location is dreamlike, passing through wildflowers, beautiful landscapes, and brooks.
Guru Nanak Taposthan, created by soldiers from the Sikh military in the 1980s, is another must-see in Mechuka. The Gurudwara is perched on a hill overlooking the river. Guru Nanak is said to have paused here and meditated on his route to Tibet, according to folklore. The taposthan is a sacred cave devoted to Guru Nanak, featuring impressions of his turban and his two disciples reported to be carved into a large rock. However, locals claim that rumours of an unspoken rivalry between the villagers and the Indian Army’s Sikhs have been circulating for some time. “Those are genuinely the impressions of our Guru Rinpoche when he meditated within the cave,” the locals explain, “but the Sikhs appear to believe otherwise, so we have let them believe it since we don’t want any problems. “The Indian Army maintains the Gurudwara that was established in his honor.
Walking down from the cave through an extremely narrow mountain cleft will lead you to a most charming forest beside the river. “If you have sinned, you will not be able to pass through the gap in the mountain,” every local or guide warns when you question the place. A river flows beside it, coming from a nearby small waterfall, and folklore has it that these waters determine one’s fate. What you choose from a collection of white, black, and grey stones determines your future luck. White represents happiness and success, grey represents a period of hardship before happiness, and black represents bad luck and darkness.
Dorjeeling village is like a hidden gem in a faraway region of North East India. The village is dotted with scattered cottages, huge grassland with grazing horses, and swaying tall grasses, and the Siyom River flows gently through it. On the road, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone. Mountains that tower over you appear to be a protective barrier. The mesmerizing tranquil vistas of the village will have you torn between truth and fantasy. The hillock’s scattered wooden homes can tempt you to leave everything behind and spend a calm life in the hills. The best way to see the village is on foot. The river Siyom is crossed by hanging bridges.
Another prominent attraction in Mechuka is the “Hanuman rock face,” a natural rock structure in the hills that resembles Hanuman (Hindu God). There is also a Hanuman Temple. Nearby is also a permanent Indian Army camp there, which is the final camp before the Indo-Tibetan border and is only 29 kilometres from the town.
Mechuka is the place to go if you’re interested in hanging suspension bridges. Over the river Siyom, you’ll come across a number of ancient hanging bridges. The villages on both sides of the river are connected by these shaky bridges. Locals have no concerns about using it for their daily journey. Walking across the swollen river on those wooden plank bridges is quite a challenge since they cling together with the help of two iron rods on both sides that can be utilized for support.
Dzogchen Samtan Choeling monstery
This is a freshly built monastery atop a hillside in Mechuka that is easily accessible. It doesn’t have the same allure as the old monastery. The panoramic view of Mechuka town from the top is the sole thing the monastery has to offer. The view of the town, as well as the surrounding hills and massive mountain range, from the white enormous chortens is simply breathtaking.
Meet the local tribes when in Mechuka
Memba, Ramo, Bokar, and Lingbo, are the four primary tribes of Arunachal Pradesh that live in the valley. The Memba make up the majority and live in Mechuka’s main town, whilst the Adi, who live on the outskirts of town, practice Donyi-Poloism (sun and moon) and adore nature. Outside every house are flags that signify the members’ faith or belief system, such as Buddhist prayer flags for Buddhist families or the white with red dot flag for Donyi-Polo believers.
Where to stay in Mechuka?
Many families have opened up their homes as homestays with modest facilities in response to the increasing inflow of tourists in the valley and therefore, it is not difficult to find a homestay upon reaching there.
The best part is that the hosts of almost all homestays are very welcoming and it is very obvious that you will be invited to their fireplace to warm up yourself by having a cup of butter tea, red tea, chang (millet beer), Sen chang(rice beer) or Ara(local beer) sitting beside the Bukhari. A Bukhari is a traditional space heater, which is usually a wood-burning fireplace. Bukharis are made up of a wide cylindrical fire chamber at the bottom that burns wood, charcoal, or other fuel, and a narrower cylinder on top that serves to heat the room and works as a chimney.
Adventure in Mechuka
All regions of the Northeast are filled with one or adventure and so is Mechuka. Adventure@Mechuka is an annual festival held in Mechuka with the goal of promoting the area as a destination for adventure tourism. Despite the fact that the event is largely arranged as an adventure festival, culture, and music are also a big component of the festivities. Paragliding, Kayaking, rafting, and other sorts of adventure are enjoyed during the festival as well as at the other time of the year.
Food in Mechuka
In Mechuka, the major dishes are thukpa, chowmein, rice with dal, meat, and veggies, and momos. Your best chance is to dine at your homestay; the food is freshly prepared in the kitchen area, and it’s a terrific way to communicate with your hosts. Around the main market area, there are also a few cafes and restaurants.
Other things to know
1. It is recommended to withdraw money from Aalo for your stay in Mechuka. The main market in Mechuka has one State Bank ATM; however it frequently runs out of cash. It goes without saying that it is a little village where card payments are not accepted.
2. In Mechuka, there are no buses or shared vehicles. Obtain a vehicle through your homestay or by walking/hiking. Once you reach the valley, these are your only alternatives.
3. There are numerous wine shops at the market. For frigid nights, stock up on Ara, Chang, and Rice Beer. Some of this will be available to you back at your homestay from your host.
4. After Aalo, there is no cell phone network. In Mechuka, BSNL is the only service provider with a poor network. There are no internet cafes or hotspots in the area. Carry a ready-to-explore heart.
How To Reach Mechuka?
Dibrugarh has the closest airport. Hire a car/cab from Dibrugarh to Mechuka.
From Guwahati, you can travel to Murkongselek Railway Station. Murkongselek Railway Station is 36 kilometres away from Pasighat. It is the closest railway station; from Pasighat take a cab or public transport to Mechuka. Also, instead of Murkongselek, you can get down on Silpathar as well and the rest will be the same as the previous option.
Because Mechuka is so near to the Indo-China border, if you start in Guwahati, you’ll be in for a magnificent road adventure that will take you to other gorgeous places along the way. Mechuka is 180 kilometres from Along and 450 kilometres from the Dibrugarh Airport. To go to Mechuka, you can hire a car or take public transportation to Pasighat, from where a daily sharing sumo service to Mechuka is available.
Is It Safe To Travel to Arunachal Pradesh?
It is absolutely safe to travel to Arunachal both for men and women. The people of this northeastern state are most welcoming and kind. Women take the lead in all activities and therefore it is safest for women. If you are going to explore any part of this huge state, it is suggested to take a local guide who can show you the path to your destination as they know how to tackle any kind of inconvenience.
Best Time To Visit Mechuka
The weather from October to February experiences winters in Mechuka and is considered one of the best times to visit and enjoy Mechuka. From lush greenery to snow-capped mountains to bright skies, even though the temperature may dip quite a bit, the weather’s still beautiful enough to make the most of it!
Which district is Mechuka?
Shi-Yomi district- Mechuka/Mechukha/Menchukha
State- Arunachal Pradesh
District– Shi-Yomi district
Elevation- 1,900 m (6,200 ft)
Is there Internet in Mechuka?
BSNL is the only service provider with a feeble network in Mechuka. There are no internet cafes or data hotspots