Virginal Arunachal Pradesh appears as a giant patch of green on the country’s map. India’s wildest and least explored state, Arunachal (literally the ‘land of dawn-lit mountains’) rises abruptly from the Assam plains as a mass of densely forested and impossibly steep hills, culminating in snowcapped peaks along the Tibetan border. Home to 26 indigenous tribes, Arunachal is perhaps the last sanctuary for India’s natural and anthropological heritage. Much of the state remains beyond tourism’s reach, but new areas are slowly being opened to visitors.
China has never formally recognised Indian sovereignty here, and it took the surprise Chinese invasion of 1962 for Delhi to begin funding significant infrastructure (the Chinese voluntarily withdrew after a few days). Border passes are heavily guarded by the Indian military, but the atmosphere is generally calm. Arunachal has been relatively untouched by political violence, though Naga rebels are active in the state's far-eastern corner.