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What is Dong Valley?
Isn’t that such an interesting name? Reminds me of the wicked Dr. Dang from the Bollywood movie Karma. Well with such a cool name the place has to be pretty amazing as well, right? And that’s why we are writing about this place that is lost in obscurity and shadowed by more popular places in the region. Dong Valley is a remote location, unknown to many people, even in the North-Eastern states and seldom sees tourist footfalls.
The Dong valley which houses Dong is one of the easternmost villages in India sandwiched between India, China, and Myanmmar. This is the very place where the sun first spreads its rays in India when the rest of the nation is still deep in sleep!
A remote place in the farthest corner of the country, untouched by our modern lives, pristine, and maintaining its natural beauty, Dong is a small slice of heaven. Nicknamed a “photographer’s paradise” the village is enshrouded in a blanket of clouds over the towering mountains that surround the area.
Where is Dong Valley?
Located in the Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh, the Dong village sits near the Indo-China border at an elevation of 4,070 feet. In 1999, it was first discovered that Dong experiences India’s first sunrays and since then it has grown in popularity due to this phenomenon. The confluence of the Lohit and Sati rivers creates a stunning spectacle – two pristine rivers merging with each other with a backdrop of the gorgeous mountains and meandering clouds!
The original Dong village is now a deserted place, lack of water has driven the villagers to other parts. But you can still visit the place for panoramic views of the rivers and meadows and a peek into Myanmmar as well. It is advisable to hire a guide when exploring the region, otherwise, you will it difficult to find the right locations.
Places to visit in Dong Valley
If you want to catch a glimpse of the first rays of the sun falling on Indian territory, then you will have a trek to a place called the Dong Krong, up in the mountains.
Trekking is the only way to get there from the village but the hike is truly worth it as the spectacle is nothing short of the best views you would have even seen in your life! Travelers make their way to the lush green, misty grasslands in Dong Krong as early as 3 am to witness the sunrise that comes in around 4:30 am every single day!
Dong Handing Bridge
The village is located close to the east bank of the Lohit river and is accessible by a lone suspension footbridge from the west bank of the river. The bridge is a perfect vantage point to see the gushing waters of the Lohit river and to meet the locals who constantly cross the bridge every day.
Natural Hot Springs
Located just below the West bank of the Lohit River, under the foot suspension bridge, you will find a hot spring that is heated by subterranean volcanic activity. Once you walk down to the bank of the river, you will find small pools of crystal-clear water sitting absolutely still. These are the hot springs that aren’t quite big enough to take a bath in but you can enjoy dipping your feet in it for some time!
This is the easternmost motorable point of India, where the curvy road seems to disappear into the cloudy mountains dotted with tall pine trees. 18 kms further from Dong, towards the China border, Kibithu is a secluded, underdeveloped village that is blessed with natural beauty.
From the top of the village, you should be able to see the Chinese Army bunkers on the other side of the border! The quaint hamlet has a mountainous landscape that is dotted with lush green pine forests and sprawling agricultural green lands. Kibithu is a landslide area and is open only 2-3 days a week for vehicle movement.
Best time to visit Dong Valley
There seem to be contrasting views about the best time to visit Dong Valley. Maybe because the valley presents a varied landscape and environment that is as beautiful as it can be in each season! But I can confidently say that you should definitely avoid going there during monsoons, from June till September. The region around Walong, especially Kibithu is prone to landslides so vehicular movement is restricted during that time.
If you want to enjoy the sunrise with clear skies and good weather then the best time to be there would be from March till early June. Otherwise, you can also travel during the months of December, January, and February.
How to reach Dong Valley
The tri-village area of Dong, Walong, and Kibithu are highly remote, and getting there is quite challenging. Lack of proper infrastructures like roads, hotels, electricity, and water has kept away tourists and you will mostly see day-trippers in the region.
By air – The closest airport can be found in Dibrugarh which is 400 kms from Dong village. From there you will have to travel to Tezu by bus or taxi and then the same for your onward journey to Dong.
By Roads – Roads are by far ok in the region except for when you cross Tezu. From there onwards, you will mostly find broken tarmac, gravel roads, or off-road stretches. The journey can be a backbreaker so make ensure you travel in a vehicle with a good suspension. From Tezu, you can hire shared Sumo’s that take at least 10 hours to reach Dong.