Dirang is located on the way to Tawang from Guwahati or Tezpur in Assam. Like Bomdila, this place also generally serves as a night halt. It is either Bomdila or Dirang. We feel, Dirang Valley, a beautiful and offbeat tourist destination in India, itself offers the travelers breathtaking views of the Himalayas. With its lush green landscape, diverse culture and array of adventure activities, Dirang is an ideal spot for those looking to enjoy some peace and quiet or rush of adrenalin, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Read on for exploring 10 most enjoyable places to visit and things to do in Dirang Valley, Arunachal Pradesh.
We stayed 3 nights here as part of our West Kameng and Tawang itinerary by The Holiday Scout.
Places to Visit and Things to do in Dirang Valley
Let us now explore the gems of Dirang valley and discover its beauty and tranquility.
Meditate at Thupsung Dhargye Ling Monastery Dirang (Dirang Gompa)
The first of the things to do in Dirang, has ot be a visit to the TDL Gompa. Thupsung Dhargye Ling Gompa (TDL monastery, as it is also called by tourists) is quite new when compared with other gompas in this area. Thupsung Dhargye Ling is a temple and learning institute for the study of Tibetan Buddhism for monks and others who are interested.
TDL Gompa is also the biggest Gompa in Dirang region. Take some time out to unwind and relax with a visit to Dirang Monastery. Located atop a hill overlooking the picturesque Dirang town, this ancient monastery is home to many calming prayer sessions for devotees and visitors.
The colorful Thupsung Dhargye Ling Monastery, was consecrated in the year 2017 by none other than the current 14th Dalai Lama. This monastery was named so by the Dalai Lama which is said to mean “place of the flourish of the Buddha’s speech”. Thanks to Holiday Scouts, we even got to see the private chambers of the Dalai Lama, who stayed there during the inauguration and uses them as and when he visits Dirang.
The ambience is peaceful and most conducive for meditation. There are a few well-appointed rooms for anyone who wishes to stay at the monastery.
Visit Khastung Monastery
Khastung monastery, also known as Khastong Monastery or Khasto Monastery, is a Buddhist monastery in Dirang Valley, and is one of the oldest Monastery of Arunachal Pradesh. Probably only Urgelling Monastery is older. It is in Dirang Basti (Dirang Village) and perched atop a hill. It is said to be even older than Tawang Monastery. Dirang Basti is about 4 KM from Dirang Town.
Khastung Monastery is one of the very few Gompas dedicated to Jetsun Dölma or Tara, worshipped for peace, love and compassion (the female Bodhisattva in Tibetan Buddhism, perhaps equivalent to Shakti or Lakshmi depending on how she is depicted).
You can get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountains, settlements along Dirang River and the silvery winding river itself.
Learn to Cook and Savour Monpa Style Momos
There are a few households where one can learn to cook and eat awesome momos or other Monpa dishes. Momos are similar to dumplings. The experience, I am told, increases multifold, if you are a non-vegetarian. My own experience, I felt, was nothing less, even as a vegetarian. The chef, the lady of the house, knew exactly what to mix in the filling to make the momos finger licking good. The ones I made looked like a cross between a duck and a turtle! 😀 Once steamed it tasted awesome.
Later you may wash it down with a warm ara (a local alcohol brewed from millets or corn) or with butter tea or both!
This lady was also an expert weaver and showed us some of her creations. She also demonstrated how to wear a Shingka, Monpas women’s traditional dress, in a minute!
Take a trip to Dirang Dzong
A visit to Dirang Dzong, a fort-like structure built in the traditional Tibetan style is a must. It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and is adjacent to Dirang Basti which is on the other side of the highway.
In the Tibetan language, Dzong means a fort and Dirang Dzong is believed to have been built about 300 to 400 years back depending on who you talk to. It is also believed that this village has been inhabited for the last 900 years or so. There does not seem to be many authentic historical sources on this.
However, that does not take away the charm of this fortified village. The entrance is via a stone staircase, with two bastion-like structures on either side.
Many houses are made of stone and look very old. There is even a Gompa inside this settlement. We were greeted by a bunch of kids who were enacting some scene or the other from Bollywood movies. 😊
It is said that the dzong was also used as barracks and later as a prison too. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to explore Dirang Dzong and as such, is not to be missed.
Destress on the banks of Dirang River (Dirang Chu)
Things to do in Dirang cannot be complete without wetting your feet at the river. If you are like me then this would be your most important activity to kickstart the day! 😊
My days here started very early. At the crack of dawn, I would saunter down to the banks of Dirang Chu river with my camera and spend an hour or so. The perpetual sounds of water flowing has an unbelievable therapeutic effect! If I did not have other things to do, I would have spent hours walking along the river or sitting on the rocks.
I loved to do the same in the evening too, to unwind and let the tiredness be blown away.
Places to Visit and Things to do around Dirang Valley
There are more places to visit within a short distance from Dirang town.
Mandala Top Dirang
Exploring the picturesque Dirang region, Arunachal Pradesh, is an enchanting experience by itself, and no trip to this region is complete without a visit to the magical Mandala Top. This elevated summit at an altitude of over 3000 Meters, is home to 108 Buddhist stupas or manes, funded and built by Monpa families from this region.
It is situated about 30 km away from the town of Dirang. Referred also as Mane, the cuboidal structures have a significant spiritual importance in Buddhism. The people of Dirang believe that the Mane installations at Mandala Hill protect them from evil. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the top. Unfortunately for us, the place was covered in fog and the weather was quite cold.
Mandala Top is a new attraction for tourists. However, this has been a haven for bird watchers for years. Some of the rare birds have been sighted here.
Every year, in November, this place bustles with musicians and music lovers during the 108 Mane Mandala Music Festival.
The drive to Mandala Top is even more mesmerizing after the monsoons and when there is no snowfall.
Have a Riverside Picnic at Sangti Valley
If ‘spectacularest’ was a word, then I would have used it to describe Sangti Valley. It is about 13 KM from Dirang Town along Sangti River, one of the tributaries of Dirang River. This also is one of the highlights of the things to do in Dirang.
The beauty of the valley must be seen to be believed. Here is our detailed article on Sangti Valley Riverside Picnic.
Visit the Sheep Research Center at Sangti
The Sheep research centre is on the way to Sangti Valley Picnic Spot and one can have real ice-breaking sessions with hundreds of sheep when you mingle with them. Don’t forget! The best view of Sangti valley is from the Sheep Farm. Here is our article on the Sangti Valley Sheep Farm.
Chug valley is about 12 KM from Dirang Town and is parallel to Sangti Valley on the other side of a high mountain. I was told that during flowering season, (October – November), the whole valley gets converted into a carpet of rhododendrons and cosmos flowers (also knowns as I love you flowers) of various hues.
The Chug village is inhabited by the people of Monpa tribe. We got invited to one of the households to try their Ara, butter tea and snacks. The people, though friendly, are quite shy of cameras, especially the women folk. It is always best to ask before taking photos.
More Places to visit and things to do in and around Dirang Valley
There are a lot more things to do and places to see in and around Dirang valley which we could not experience for want of time. They are,
- Hot Springs close to the Dirang town.
- National research center on Yak, which does research on the Yaks, for their wellbeing and breeding.
- Adventure sports and river rafting by National Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (NIMAS).
- Go for a hike in the nearby mountains. Dirang is surrounded by beautiful hills and forests, which offer several trails for hikers and trekkers, including one to Sangti Valley from Dirang Basti.
- There are many fruit orchards around Dirang Valley growing apples, persimmons, kiwis etc.
- Shopping in Dirang. Explore the local markets, which are known for their colorful handicrafts and textiles made by the local Monpa tribe.
Useful Information about Dirang Valley
Simple words in Monpa Language
Hello – Tashi Delek
Thanks – Kadinchi
Elder sister – Ana
Mother – Ama
Father – Atshi or Apa
Places to stay in Dirang
There are a few hotels, guest houses and cottages in Dirang town as well as along the Dirang Chu River.
However we strongly recommend you to stay at a homestay. The reason is that you can interact with the Monpa people, learn about their culture and traditions and savor their delicacies.
Other articles on Arunachal Pradesh
Now that you have read this article Places to visit and Things to do in Dirang, you may read our other articles on Arunachal Pradesh
- Remarkable Things to do in Bhalukpong, Arunachal Pradesh
- Complete Guide to the Charming Urgelling Monastery, Tawang
- The Magic of Sangti Valley, Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh
- 8 Interesting Things to do in Bomdila, in a Day
- Things to do in Tawang (work in progress)
FAQ on Things to do in Dirang Valley
What is the distance between Bomdila and Dirang?
Bomdila to Dirang is about 40 KM by road and takes about an hour by car.
How far is Tawang from Dirang?
Dirang to Tawang is about 150 KM and takes 4 to 5 hours by car.
What is Ara or Arag?
Ara is an alcoholic drink made from rice, maize or millets and is brewed in almost every household in Arunachal Pradesh. It is normally consumed hot and neat to counter the cold weather.
NOTE: Alcohol content maybe from 5% to a lethal 20%
What are Momos?
Momos are made with vegetarian or non-vegetarian stuffing wrapped in rolled dough and then steamed. They are often served with chutneys or spicy sauces. For more information on momos, read here.
How is the weather in Dirang?
Dirang is at an altitude of about 1450 M to 1650 M (4700 feet to 5500 feet) which is quite low compared to Bomdila and Tawang. So is comparatively warmer and more pleasant.
What is the best time to visit Dirang?
October to May is the best time to visit Dirang. June to August is the rainy season. Although the mountains look beautiful, it may be difficult to use the roads which may have landslides and potholes.
We went in September and some high-altitude places (like Mandala top) were totally foggy.
Winters, although cold, have very clear blue skies and are great for photography and traveling around. It does not snow in Dirang.
Places to eat in Dirang?
There are some excellent restaurants and cafes in Dirang, serving both Monpa , North Indian cuisine as also pizzas and such! If you want to try the local cuisine , then the best way is to get your tour guide to arrange food at a local residence or better still , stay at a homestay, where you will eat with the family. You may also learn how to make them from these people.
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