They came, they rode, they conquered: Adventure in Arunachal Pradesh on Ducati

Four women bikers traversing the untouched terrain of Eastern Arunachal on their Ducati Multistrada bikes. The 'Explore Beyond' biking expedition was an initiative of Arunachal Tourism to showcase the state as a safe destination for solo women travellers. The ride was flagged off by CM Prema Khandu from the banks of the Siang at Pasighat and wound up at the Orange Festival of Adventure and Music, Dambuk, where the bikers let their hair down and partied like there's no tomorrow. Yup, girls just wanna have fun, and in Arunachal they can -- safely

arunachal tourism group ducati riders

The Wild East

The ‘Explore Beyond’ expedition was all about exploring the eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh, which is not as frequented by tourists as big-ticket attractions in the west like Tawang and Bomdila. Here the four bikers can be seen riding together in a remote section of the route. They are heading towards Namdapha National Park, after having checked out the Golden Pagoda at Namsai the previous day and explored the quaint village of Rima

arunachal tourism solo rider
arunachal tourism solo ducati rider
arunachal tourism ducati riders

Ride like a girl

Being highly experienced riders, the women bikers take Arunachal’s terrain in their stride on this offbeat expedition. Roads are by and large excellent across the state, even in the remoter reaches, but there are some off-road sections which need to be tackled with finesse. The easy-to-ride bikes with their amazing pick-up and excellent ergonomics are a joy to ride on these roads which have next to no traffic at all

arunachal tourism riders with villagers

Meet the locals

A big part of exploring any destination is interacting with the locals. Arunachal Pradesh is no different — there is curiosity on both sides and numerous opportunities for interesting interactions and cultural exchange. Wherever the women bikers went, they were met with a lot of love by the local residents. Here, the bikers pose with some gorgeous handloom fabrics which they borrowed from their new friends to add some welcome pops of colour to the photo shoot

arunachal tourism dance

An auspicious start

The ‘Explore Beyond’ expedition kicked off to a flying start with a gorgeous Ponung dance performance by women from the local Adi tribe. The tribe is known for its many fine traditional dances. The location for the flag-off was the scenic banks of the Siang — as the mighty Brahmaputra is called in Arunachal Pradesh — in Pasighat, the oldest town in the state (and now on its way to becoming a ‘smart city’!)

arunachal tourism riders in jungle with puppy

Every dog has his day

What is the four-legged fellow thinking as he interacts with some of the leading women bikers in India? The bikers made this pit stop as they were approaching Namdapha National Park. Unlike parks in the rest of India, there are no safaris available here. Private vehicles are allowed — in fact, there is a functional road running through the park which connects Miao with Vijoynagar, 115 km away. Before the road was built, the only way to reach Vijoynagar was on foot or by helicopter

arunachal tourism riders at scenic spot

A river runs through it

Everywhere the four bikers rode, they encountered drop-dead gorgeous views. That’s Arunachal Pradesh for you. Here, the riders have stopped at a lofty vantage point to admire the wide valley below and the mighty Dibang River flowing through it. This is none other than the famed Mayodia Pass. Lying at an altitude of 2,655 m, the Pass is a popular local attraction for the snowfall it receives at the height of winter. Of course, it was too early in the season for that

arunachal tourism riders taking break

Bonding over bikes

The biking community in India is a close-knit affair. Despite living in different parts of the country, the four bikers on the expedition hit it off from the word go. Every two-three hours, they took a well-deserved break. This pit stop is on their ride from Jairampur (which lies on the storied Stilwell Road of World War II fame) to Miao, the gateway to the ethereal Namdapha National Park

arunachal tourism riders playing volleyball

Games people play

The bikers take a break from riding and play a round of volleyball with the good chaps from the Indian Army. This is at the scenic Deban Forest Rest House, deep inside the Namdapha National Park, which overlooks the sprawling expanse of the Noa-Dihing River, and where the army also has a camp. Tourist Huts are available for those intrepid travellers who want to experience spending the night inside a forest

arunachal tourism ducati riders in jungle

One more shot, please

Arunachal Pradesh provides countless opportunities for the trigger-happy (er, those armed with a camera, we mean). Scenic backdrops and sweeping vistas are just about everywhere in the state, so one can’t resist stopping for a click or two, or more. Here are our favourite bikers, in yet another spectacular setting, making memories which they will cherish for their entire lives

arunachal tourism candida louis

Candida Louis 

Candida Louis is an Indian adventure tourer who recently went on an incredible solo journey from Bengaluru to Sydney by bike. “This was my second time in Arunachal,” says Candida, “It’s a shorter ride but it’s a new part, quite different from what I did before. I really liked the trails that we did in the tiger reserve; and I loved staying by the river and waking up to the scenic mountains,” she adds

arunachal tourism tenzin metoh

Tenzin Metoh 

A native of the state, Tenzin Metoh is an adventure junkie known locally for her amazing biking skills and social work. Speaking about the ride, Tenzin says, “I thought we were going to have fun but it was more like a learning experience for me with the girls. What I learnt with them in four days might have taken me a year without them.” She especially loved the Pasighat section of the ride

arunachal tourism kalyani potekar

Kalyani Potekar

Known to be India’s fastest female motorbike racer, Kalyani Potekar loved the performance of her bike on the Arunachal ride. “We went through some offroad patches and I was literally amazed to ride the bike on those stretches,” she says, “Even on the straights, the roads were super-smooth, like butter.” She also loved visiting the Orange Festival. “It was a different vibe,” she says, “We experienced a lot of local things, including apong, the local beer” 

arunchal tourism maral yazarloo

Maral Yazarloo

Iranian-Indian fashion designer, Dr Maral Yazarloo holds the world record for the highest mileage on a super bike for ladies and is the founder of Lady Riders of India. In Arunachal, Maral loved the kind and simple people she encountered on the way, something she misses in the bigger cities. “Arunachal is still untouched, because I can see that technology still hasn’t attacked this place,” she says, “Anywhere you ride there is an amazing amount of greenery; and it’s pretty much clean”

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