Experience Arunachal's Culture At Tikhak Homestay In Miao

Nestled in the serene hills of Miao, Bella Tikhak Namshums homestay is a delightful experience
Tikhak Homestay, Miao
Tikhak Homestay, Miao Karan Kaushik

Nestled in northeastern India, Arunachal Pradesh beckons adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers with its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cultural tapestry. This beautiful state, known as the "Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains," offers many possibilities for an unforgettable long weekend getaway. The region is home to several communities, their isolation having given them a uniqueness in their way of life, and a hitherto unexplored cultural and natural wealth. Staying with families in their homesteads is an experience a traveller is unlikely to forget in a lifetime. One such place is the Tikhak homestay in Miao. The place serves as a gateway to the popular Namdapha National Park and also houses the Namdapha Zoo and Wildlife Museum. Here is an account of my memorable stay at Tikhak.

The Warmth Of Home

The first one to greet us as we arrived was the young and vivacious Shareen Tikhak, Bella's daughter. She led us inside her palatial home where Bella was waiting to welcome us with some delicious apple pie that her son Sinnong had made. That was all we needed after a long drive from Namsai. For a twelve year old, Sinnong's culinary talent could give leading bakers a run for their money.

We enjoyed the pie and I didn't hesitate to request them for another serving. After demolishing my second pie and some hot masala tea, we went off to our room. Bella was kind enough to accompany us to the room and make sure we felt at home. Being from Rajasthan, I chose the bed which had a Rajasthani mirror work bedspread. This was also the right time for our formal introduction. The room was a beautiful blend of modern and traditional and there was enough space for me and Sandipan. In fact, we could have easily accommodated one more person in there.

The table laid out for dinner
The table laid out for dinnerKaran Kaushik
The local foods on offer
The local foods on offerKaran Kaushik
Bonfires at night
Bonfires at nightKaran Kaushik
Inside the kitchen
Inside the kitchenKaran Kaushik
The family behind Tikhak
The family behind TikhakKaran Kaushik

By the time we had freshened up, dusk had already set in and there was a sudden nip in the air. I was actually happy about it as the chilly weather called for a bonfire. Bella's homestay has a well-manicured lawn surrounded by massive trees. We sat there with our guide and companion Sukiyo to chalk out our plan for the journey ahead.

Of Bonfires And Beer

Shareen joined us with her house help, who set up a bonfire for us. Interestingly, she is doing her Masters in entomology since insects have always fascinated her. She has even discovered some rare ones around her house.

Soon Bella came with wine and homemade rice beer. An array of vegetarian and non-vegetarian snacks was served. The night was only going to get better from here on. We were joined by Shareen's friends Chocha, Ronong and Ongche, who live next door. A masters in agriculture, Chocha found her true calling in baking and runs a popular bakery startup in Miao.

Chocha added zing to the party, playing some hip Arunachali hits on Shareen's speakers. We enjoyed Chorum Mugli's kala kala song and had some amazing cross cultural conversations in between bites of roasted chicken and fried fish. Mugli is a huge fad in Arunachal and I'd say every music lover who feels that music knows no language, must check out his work on YouTube. Next up in the playlist were a few songs by Tan Mansai and Taba Chake's Shayad, which I absolutely loved. Shareen even showed me its video, which gave me major videography goals.

Shareen was telling me that they had recently hosted actress Radhika Madan, when Phupla Singpho, who runs the Namdapha Jungle Camp, joined the party. As I chatted with him, I realised that I had read about him in Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent's Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains.

The Next Day Dawns

We woke up to the loud sound of swaying trees and a gorgeously clear blue sky the next morning. At the dining table, Bella's sister-in-law Pinna Kitnal joined us for breakfast. We had omelette, sausages, and fresh fruits. And as if, this wasn't enough, Bella also served piping hot puris with the evergreen alu-tamatar ki sabzi. I asked if we could have it packed for our journey ahead, and Bella happily obliged. She even packed a bunch of fresh bananas from her farm and home-made chilly pickle and garlic chutney for us.

Apart from running a successful travel company and homestay, Bella also manufactures pickles, jams and a lot more. Bella has inspired a lot of women in not only Miao but across Arunachal to start their own little businesses and homestays. Even Pinna has registered for a homestay.

Travel is not only about ticking off touristy spots from your long list of things to do and sharing an annoying number of Insta stories. It's about meeting fantastic people like Bella and her kids. I am sure there will be many more wonderful trips to Miao in my life and I hope Bella and her amazing family is a part of each of them.

The Information

Getting There: To reach Miao, Dibrugarh airport and Tinsukia rail station are the nearest points. Assam State Transport Corporation and Arunachal Pradesh State Transport buses ply daily from Dibrugarh to Miao via Tinsukia, Margherita, Ledo, Jagun and Kharsang.

Facilities: They have great internet, well-sanitised air conditioned rooms, hot running water, and excellent meals.

For reservations, email bellatikhak@gmail.com

Address: Tikhak Homestay, Woorang Colony, Miao, Arunachal Pradesh 792122

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