Arunachal: The Meyors of the first Indian village ‘Kaho’ – Sentinels of the country

  • Kaho is the first village in India, where China is only a stone’s throw away. It is 240 KM from Tezu in the district of Lohit.

By Denhang Bosai from Kaho- Located 40 km from Walong and nestled in a picturesque valley amidst tall pine-covered mountains and an enchanting ambience, is India’s first village; Kaho hence China is only a stone’s throw away. It is 240 KM from Tezu in the district of Lohit. The sleepy and indescribable village of Kaho is located on the left bank of the mighty Lohit River which flows in its crystalline greenish color in the Kibithu Circle of the Anjaw District of Arunachal Pradesh. The literary meaning of Kaho is “abode of many priests”.

The total population of the village is only 78. The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry. They practice both the jhum culture and the WRC. The villagers are Buddhists. Chor, a variety of large cow is their main domestic animal which fetch milk and is also used to plow their fields. The village boasts of a primary school and a health sub-center. There is a strong presence of security forces on the outskirts of the village for obvious reasons, and civilians are strictly prohibited from venturing beyond the village of Kaho.

A Meyor woman

The tribe residing in the village of Kaho is called Meyor whose costumes and culture are similar to those of the Monpas, Membas and Tibetans. The Meyors are distributed in the administrative circles of Kibithu and Walong. Villages like Kaho, Musai, Danbari, Chhota Khundun, Khawroti, Bara Khundun, Yaikung, Kunchhu etc. fall under the Kibithu circle. Interestingly, Meyors and Miju Mishmis live together in the villages of Yaikung and Kunchhu. Important Meyor villages in Walong circle are Wulong, Tinai, Dong, Saphung, Teryap, Namti etc. The villages are small and their population is sparse. The Meyors celebrate a number of festivals and rituals each year. However, Lanchhut is their main holiday and it is celebrated in the month of January. They also celebrate the Losar New Year festival in December and February. Almost all Meyors can speak the Miju Mishmi dialect due to their proximity to their neighboring tribe.

The Meyors are gentle and hospitable by nature and are patriotic at heart. The story is obvious that they aided the Indian army during the Chinese aggression in 1962. In the past, the villagers of Kaho used to build their dwelling houses out of pine wood. Even the roof was made of wood. But now tin roofing has replaced the traditional practice.

There are Meyors in China that also border the village of Kaho. Some of the Meyor villages in China are Rungtut, Rungmat, Rungjit, Sangu, Samar Latam, Rimathong etc. The Meyors of India and China residing at the borders used to practice border trades in the past which have greatly benefited the villagers of both countries economically. However, this practice was completely stopped after the 1962 war.

Arunachal: The Meyors of the first Indian village 'Kaho' - Sentinels of the country

The life of the Meyors living in the Borders is harsh and ruthless. With steep mountains and harsh weather conditions, there are little to no possibilities for cultivation. Villagers are now starting to engage in horticultural activities to increase their source of income. The KIWI passion fruit grows there very well. The villagers of Kaho have also started to explore the opportunities and possibilities for growth in the tourism sector and have built a few host families to welcome tourists.

Thanks to the importance of Kaho as India’s first village and the breathtaking scenic beauty, many tourists visit Kibithu and Walong Circles every year. This will undoubtedly benefit the growth of the population economy to a large extent. There are inspection bungalows and homestays in Walong and Kibithu that tourists can take advantage of. Dong Hot Spring is worth a visit, so the first sunrise in Dong is also very popular among tourists.

The village of Kaho being strategically located and the Meyor tribe being one of the smallest in terms of population, government intervention is the sine qua non to facilitate the village of Kaho with more remunerative government programs and also to help and assist the Meyors to develop in all walks of life. Tourism holds great promise for the people of Kaho and the neighboring villages of Kibithu and Walong circles.

Arunachal: The Meyors of the first Indian village 'Kaho' - Sentinels of the country

Therefore, the government can take appropriate measures to boost tourism there in order to engage the local people profitably and also improve their fragile economy. While interacting with the DIPR team during the AKAM program in Kaho village on November 7, 2021, Meyor Welfare Society spokesperson TT Meyor and Khrowti GB and Bara Khundun Unchan Meyor expressed their difficulties due to the ‘remoteness from the village and passionately pleaded with the DIPR team to pressure the state government to tackle the plethora of issues people face as a priority.

The two Meyor leaders lamented that there are only a few teachers and government employees of the Meyor tribe without a single officer, mainly due to remoteness and lack of opportunity. With the indescribable Mother Nature in all her glory, Kaho invites tourists to feast on nature’s bountiful gifts and momentarily forget the trials and tribulations of life.

(The writer is Deputy Director of DIPR, Arunachal Pradesh)

Christina A. Kroll