It’s ironic that we are writing our first ever SLIP travel diaries during one of the most strict national and international travel bans to have existed. We might as well use the opportunity to reminisce about our last trip to the remote and mystical North East of India.
This year we had the opportunity to design a museum in Sangti Valley, Arunachal Pradesh. We were invited by the Monyul Gathering to curate and design a pop-up museum for the Losar Festival that happens once a year. While I won’t get into the details of the Museum (we are still editing the pictures), we did want to give you all the deets so here goes!
Sangti is in the Dirang region known as a stop over for travelers on their way to Tawang (home to the largest Buddhist monastery in Indian and second largest in the world after Potala Palace in Tibet). It’s tiny, quaint and untouched by the rest of the world but getting there is the biggest adventure of all.
We flew into Guwahati but depending on where you are, you can take a bus, Sumo or Train to get to Assam’s capital. After a fabulous Assamese Thali, we visited the Kamakhya Temple in the hills (tbh very trippy experience), roamed along Brahmaputra river and stopped by the Sumo stand to book our tickets. Pro Tip: Always better to book in advance and try as hard as you can to get the front row seats or you’ll regret everything just like we did! You also need a special Inner Line Permit to enter Arunachal, you can do it online in advance or just rock up to the Deputy Residence Commissioner Office with your ID and it’ll be done in minutes. Fun Fact: It was Arunachal Day and all permit offices were closed so we managed to sneak across the border without anyone noticing. Wait, should I not be admitting this here on the internet? Too late now!
Sangit Valley is stunning! We were there in the dead of winter, freezing our bums off. Our 12 days were spent exploring the village, meeting village elders to borrow their prized possessions. This was the best thing for an interior designer because it meant we could snoop into many homes without being weirdo’s. After getting to know the locals we stumbled our way around the village stopping every now and again for a glass of Ara, the local (and very strong) wine. At the end of the day we barely had our wits about us but somehow managed to absorb valuable information about the Mahayana Buddhist Monpas.
The morning of the Losar festival, our local friends invited us to their home and garnished us with flour (a new years tradition). The menu for the day was Ara with more Ara and just in case you felt a bit peckish there was Ara with chicken in it. As you can imagine, we got no work done but we did dance under the stars, along the river through the night!