Prior to January 1972, Arunachal Pradesh was called the Northeast Frontier Agency or NEFA. And sometime during former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s tenure, she visited NEFA.
Her travels took her to a remote but prosperous village called Sunpura. At the time, it was a bustling timber outpost. However, when one turns off from the highway towards this village, it feels as though one is enroute to some jungle camp or game reserve. Dense forests flank either side of the narrow dirt road that winds its way through the thicket.
Long time residents, and ones who continue to call Sunpura home, point to the three-way intersection in the middle of the village.
“This is where the trucks would park,” an old gentleman said. “And over there was one of the many timber mills,” he added, pointing to a dilapidated structure. It now seems like a rusty old barn leaning precariously to one side.
Its celebrity visitor
Sunpura’s claim to fame is a tiny shop that appears abruptly as one travels along the dirt road from the highway to the village. It is a blink-and-you-miss kind of place but its pedas (an Indian sweetmeat made primarily from flour and sugar) won Mrs. Gandhi’s praise. She, and her entourage, indulged at this wayside place that continues to leverage the story of its celebrity visitor.
For an increasing number of travellers currently, it is stories that add to the charm of slow travel. Much as they revel in the sights and sounds that greet them, they are as much inclined to conversations with locals. If one is in Arunachal Pradesh and is looking to explore this haven, a drive towards Sunpura will not disappoint.