Community Based Ecotourism in Thembang Responsible Tourism in Arunachal Pradesh
Thembang is a beautiful village situated at an altitude of 2300m near Dirang in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. It is a historical village within a fortified Dzong which was built long ago by Tibetans and still has numerous traditional stone houses and an old Buddhist shrine with well preserved traditional wood carving, wall paintings and manuscripts.
The Monpa tribe of this village felt the impact of global warming and climatic changes and felt the need to act immediately to conserve their surroundings. They formed the Thembang Bapu Community Conserved Area (TBCCA) management committee with the help of WWF-India. At the same time, they also started Community based tourism and livelihood program through village homestays. The village community began participating in the programme with various roles, some offered homestays, traditional food in eateries, while others acted as trekking guides, porters or even performing in cultural programmes.
The villagers have benefited greatly from the tourism initiative and could then provide themselves with more resources for their forest conservation project. They started with a small project of protecting their 30 sq km of forests and soon succeeded in conserving 312 sq km of forest cover and have declared as Community Conserved Area (CCA) with rules and regulation to maintain a sustainable usage of their natural resource. The villagers have also inspired the Monpas of Zemithang village in Tawang district to adopt similar community based projects to protect nature and also promote tourism.
Thembang village is also the starting point and the base camp of the Bailey Trail trek in the Himalayas. Short treks can be also done through the meadows and coniferous forests to beautiful viewpoints and campsites. There are also birding spots around the village, migratory birds from Eaglenest Sanctuary nearby can be seen sometimes. Cultural programmes such as Aji Lhamu operas, Yak dance and traditional welcome songs are also performed by the villagers for the visitors. Thembang is a part of our itinerary while travelling in Tawang circuit in which our guests spend an entire day exploring the village, learning about the forest conservation initiatives and also enjoy the cultural performances.