Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ziro Putu and Apatani Settlement Story

Ziro Putu today occupies the center of the Ziro valley. This is sometimes called the Army Putu as it became the cantonment area of the Indian Army in the sixties. It is said that the whole troop was killed in the war for liberation of present Bangladesh in 1972. For a long time after the soldiers left, it remained an empty hill covered with gentle green grass and fetching ferns. Some government establishments are being set up these days on the hillock.

Ziro Putu was once the village of the Ziro clan of the Apatanis. The first batch of the Apatanis to have settled down in the present habitat were the clans of Ziro, Tabyu and Dusu. Ziro people established their village in the north-west of the valley at Ziro Putu. Likewise, Tabyu clan settled down in the north-east at Tabyu Putu and Dusu clan in the southern end of the valley at Hula Putu.
The next batch of the Apatanis to have come to the valley were the people of Hong, Hari, Kalung, Reru, Tajang and Hija. They initially settled down at Bwrw but dispersed to different directions at their present habitats. The last batch to have reached the valley were the people of Dutta, Mudang-Tage and Michi-Bamin.

It is one of the ironies of history that the first settlers – Ziro, Tabyu and Dusu, who remained most influential and powerful for a long time – are today being reduced to minorities. Ziro clan left the valley and their whereabouts is uncertain at present. Almost all the people of Dusu clan were killed in a conspiracy by the rest of the Apatanis, but the descendants of a few who escaped to other villages survive today. Tabyu clan is survived by few families and we hope that the numbers will increase in the coming days. These are the materials for more stories, though.

In the meantime, welcome to visit the Hula Putu by the Hong village, the Tabyu Putu in Tajang village and the iconic Ziro Putu to relive the history of Apatani settlement in the Ziro valley.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ziro - Cyclists' Paradise

In the seventies and eighties, bicycles were the most prestigious mode of local transport at Ziro. Groups of young boys could be seen on their bicycles in colorful dresses, often carrying their girlfriends in front of them. Students would paddle their way to their schools at Hapoli from far away villages like Bulla or Hija. School compounds were full of bicycles. So were the office complexes. Bicycles shops were doing good business in the twin towns of Old Ziro and Hapoli.

Popularity of bicycles started waning in the nineties with the advent of two wheelers - first the scooters and later motor bikes. Shops too disappeared one by one. When two wheelers were replaced by motor cars, Ziro was looking like a sinking town.
When a group of concerned citizens, under the banner of NgunuZiro, organized a bicycle expedition around the villages of Ziro last August, it elicited enthusiastic response from within Ziro as well as from outside the valley. More than fifty cyclists participated in the expedition and HE the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh sent a special emissary to participate and to convey a message of good will. 

Ziro looks a happy town again with increasing number of bicyclists and addition of more bicycle shops at Hapoli. One can see people happily paddling around even in the chill of this winter. NgunuZiro has mountain bikes for rent for interested visitors to Ziro.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Peci Putu

Making a round of the seven original Apatani villages used to be tantamount to making a round of the world. That was the impression during Penw ceremony of Muruñ festival. When such arduous tasks were undertaken, there had to be resting places. One such place was the Peci Putu at Bwrw.
It was here that the participants in the Penw took rest for some minutes and young men organized high jump competition among themselves. The place is a part of the Supuñ Bwrw where all the Apatanis are said to have settled down upon migration before scattering to their respective villages. Today, the place remains one of the few open spaces owned by the communities. 
Except for litters of plastic bottles and wrappers at places discarded by irresponsible picnickers, Peci Putu still presents what one imagines of Ziro, the place. It serves as the grazing ground for cattles and flock of birds can be seen flying around. Colorful butterflies are in their playful best around the groves of trees and by the nearby yorlus.
Peci Putu is, truly the centre of the Apatani valley. At a short distance can be seen the Hong village (above) and the Hapoli town (below). A little more than a kilometer to the north will take you to Hari via the legendary Dobi where a school has come up.
The play of sun and shade can be enjoyed in all its glory in the paddy fields surrounding it in three sides. Look across towards the main road, and one can have the magnificent view of the Pequ.
This September, a festival of music is planned at Ziro. Appropriately, Peci Putu is the selected venue for the festival. There will be music, food, culture and many things more to enjoy. This, then, is an occasion to visit this beautiful place.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How Bwhañ Tabu lost its Poison

Abotani was returning home. On the way, he saw the deadly Bwhañ Tabu jumping in joy.
"What is the occasion, my friend?" Abotani asked.

"I have done it!" the reptile shouted. "I have killed him with my poison!"

"Whom did you kill?"

"Someone with black hair on his head," Bwhañ Tabu told.

Abotani recalled all the creatures who have black hair on their heads. Suddenly, it dawned on him that it is the humans who have such features. He became worried. If this goes on, the future of mankind was bleak. He had to do something.
"Oh, I am sorry but you are celebrating in vain," Abotani told the tabu. "The one you bit is sitting in the sun with beautiful cloths and his hair neatly combed. I have come that way and saw him myself."

Bwhañ Tabu was shocked. He was disappointed with himself.

"What use is my poison," he thought, "if it cannot kill a creature!"

So saying, he spat out all of the poison he had at Supuñ Lañta. It was from that day onwards that the once-poisonous Bwhañ is harmless today.

Other small creatures like the bee, ants, etc. helped themselves with the poison that the tabu had spat out. That is how they got the poisons they have!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Towards a Zero-Waste Ziro

In the last one year or two, lots of activities to promote tourism are being carried out at Ziro. There has been summer festivals since three years now, initially to coincide with the Independence Day celebration, but this year with the Dree festival of the Apatanis. A number of resorts and home stays have come up. Then there has been a series of workshop exploring the tourism potential in the area. A notable issue in all these discussions has been the growing menace of garbage in the town. As a response to this concern, the District Administration organized a workshop on integrated solid waste management in collaboration with Ngunu Ziro, a non-governmental organization. A proposal to introduce the concept of zero-waste was mooted and is being carried forward now.

The District Administration has acquired a plot of land in the south-eastern corner of the town, measuring 20,000 sq. m for Burial-cum-Cremation Ground and 1,000 sq. m for Resource Recovery Park. 
The 2 km approach road to the Burial-cum-Cremation Ground has already been completed. The Resource Recovery Park (RRP) is proposed midway to the site at 1.1 km from the Swro-Manwpolyañ road. It will initially have facilities for secondary segregation of non-biodegradable discards and recycling of paper wastes. Basic recycling of plastic waste also is proposed as far as feasible locally, but most bulk will be shredded and sent to bigger recycling centers for further processing.
It is hoped that this project will have the desired effect and help maintain Ziro as it is till now. Look out for further update on the project as it develops.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Establishment of Hapoli

Some years are more eventful than others. The year 1960 was such a year. The most important event of the year was shifting of the headquarters from present Old Ziro to Hapoli. We saw in a previous post that the headquarters of Subansiri Division was shifted from Kimin to Ziro eight years back when it was inaugurated by Shri R.G. Menzies on 24th March, 1952. It was B. S. Duggal, Political Officer, who established the Hapoli township which became the official headquarters. However, the name Ziro was retained. Hence, Ziro today is understood to comprise of Old Ziro and Hapoli.
The year also saw the most devastating fire accidents ever recorded in the Apatani villages – not one but three villages were almost completely burnt down. Three hundred houses and forty granaries in Hija village on May 1, 1960 were burnt down immediately followed by another one in Dutta village on May 12. A little more than two months later, fifty seven houses in Tajang village was burnt down on August 3, 1960. As an offshoot of such frequent accidents, a number of new villages sprung up – Lempia out of Tajang village, Diko Pwta (Swro) out of Hong, Swbe out of Bamin-Michi.
On a positive note, B. S. Duggal led team to Talley Valley for the first time in May, 1960. The team identified more than half a dozen species of rhododendron in the valley. They also noted that orchids and medicinal plants are plentiful. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shades of Silver

Twice in a year, the Apatanis don't have time to breathe. One is during harvesting of paddy in September-October when the crops have to be safely in the granaries in the narrow window after they have ripen but before they fall off. The other occasion is now when the paddy saplings have to be transplanted in the fields from the nurseries before they grow too big.

Much water has flowed down the Kle river in the last fifty years, but little has changed as far as agricultural practices of the Apatanis is concerned. The two pictures below, taken more than fifty years back, could have been shot today!
This time of the year is one of the best times to visit Ziro. Not only is the weather excellent - after the chill of the winter and before warmth of the summer months, but lots of activities can be observed. The hills around the valley are replete with varieties of wild berries and fruits. Irrigated paddy fields present various shades of silver. 
It won't be very long these shades of silver give way to carpets of green and then to shades of gold. Welcome to Ziro again! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Nago Putu

Beyond the Bwrw leñba lies a vast expanse of land in a sylvan setting. Pine plantations line both sides of the fair-weather road leading right up to the jungle beyond. This, I am tempted to guess, must have been the Supuñ Bwrw, said to be the original settlement of the Apatanis.

As if to lend credence to my guess lies a beautiful open space in the midst of the pine forest. This space is called the Nago Putu. I wonder if this was the site of the Supuñ Nago, but am not able to establish the fact.

Whatever the significance of this place, it is the perfect getaway from the crowded town. In addition, this is a favorite spot for shooting video films and video song albums.

(This post can be read here in Apatani).

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hapoli Bazar - Then and Now

Hapoli - Then:
Hapoli - Now:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Trekking to Pepu

As the meadows of Supyu slowly recedes from our sight, our excitement increases. The hill of ferns give way to thicker forest with varieties of trees. The rustling of dry leaves under our feet is punctuated with occasional call of birds. The forest is less noisy than we expected, though. We are on an exploratory trek to Pepu Cumyu, considered to be one of the highest points at Ziro.

As we tread up slowly, taking in the grandeur of virgin forest, a clear view of Nyime Peñbu range presents itself in all glory. 

Though it is sunny today, the weather was gloomy the previous day. We see the resultant snow at several places on our track. It is said that snowfall in this part of the hills is said to be sometimes as thick as a foot. It is not so heavy today.
As it gets dark, we decide to call it a day and settle down. We are at 6500 ft now. We pitch our tents and start looking for some water to cook. It is not easy to find water at such altitude. However, we somehow manage to locate a small stream nearby, though it was a steep descent to the precipitous valley.

Early next morning, we climb further to Pepu Cumyu (Cyume Nyatu) with great anticipation. It is at 7200 ft. It looks almost dark even at 6.00 AM. But even at 8.00 AM, the forest is covered with mist. We look towards Ziro, but cannot see anything but white mist engulfing the valley. We cannot wait any longer. Disappointed we start our descent to the camp half an hour later.

Descent back to Ziro valley is faster than we expected. As we come out of the thick forest to the hills of ferns, we are greeted with the view of Ziro - as placid as ever.

We are disappointed that we could not take any photograph from Cyume Nyatu, but the trek itself is extremely invigorating. This, we decided, could be one of the better trekking routes at Ziro.