Maruti 800 diaries: A road trip to Arunachal Pradesh

24th Dec 2015
Photo of Maruti 800 diaries: A road trip to Arunachal Pradesh 1/10 by Debabrat Das
Lohit River near Parasuram Kunda
Photo of Maruti 800 diaries: A road trip to Arunachal Pradesh 2/10 by Debabrat Das
Golden Pagoda in Namsai
Photo of Maruti 800 diaries: A road trip to Arunachal Pradesh 3/10 by Debabrat Das
Dibang River
Photo of Maruti 800 diaries: A road trip to Arunachal Pradesh 4/10 by Debabrat Das
Photo of Maruti 800 diaries: A road trip to Arunachal Pradesh 5/10 by Debabrat Das
Photo of Maruti 800 diaries: A road trip to Arunachal Pradesh 6/10 by Debabrat Das
Photo of Maruti 800 diaries: A road trip to Arunachal Pradesh 7/10 by Debabrat Das
Photo of Maruti 800 diaries: A road trip to Arunachal Pradesh 8/10 by Debabrat Das
Photo of Maruti 800 diaries: A road trip to Arunachal Pradesh 9/10 by Debabrat Das
Photo of Maruti 800 diaries: A road trip to Arunachal Pradesh 10/10 by Debabrat Das

A beautiful road trip driving through some serene landscape on a swanky convertible with the best buddies is everyone’s dream. After watching the movies like Dil Chahta Hai and Zindegi Milegi Na Dubara, I also fancied about taking such a road trip in the beautiful country side of Europe on a convertible. Although that’s a long shot, we recently went for an unplanned but memorable road trip of the colorful countryside of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Only difference was that instead of a fancy convertible we had a Maruti 800 to take us through. In a span of two days we covered four districts, crossed three major rivers and witnessed the wilderness of this beautiful land.

Two of my friends and I started from Guwahati to Tinsukia, where we were joined by Jeet, the fourth member of our group. Since Jeet lives in Tinsukia, he offered to guide us through the trip. Initially the plan was to cover the area in public transport but Jeet suggested that we take his Maruti 800 car as public transport in those areas is irregular. The idea of the road trip with three good friends made me even more excited.

After having our breakfast at Jeet’s place we started around 9.30 AM. Soon after we crossed the Tinsukia town, we found ourselves welcomed by the lush green tea gardens on both the sides of road, followed by yellow rice fields and golden mustard gardens. We got so lost in conversation that we didn’t realize when we reached the Assam Arunachal Pradesh border. At Dirak gate we took our Inner Line Permits for entering into Arunachal Pradesh and within next half an hour we reached Namsai town, the land of golden Pagodas. Located on the bank of Dihing River, Namsai is the youngest district of Arunachal Pradesh. Although Namsai has many Pagodas but the most recent and beautiful one is located at the bank of Tengapani River. The Pagoda houses a golden Buddha statue, which was donated from Thailand. The well maintained garden in the Pagoda complex highlighted the beauty of the place even more. I was told that every November Tai Khamti festival is organized here and the place becomes livelier with the festivities all around. The Pagoda complex also has a guest house for tourists.

For almost an hour we enjoyed the mesmerizing beauty of this golden Pagoda and its surroundings. Leaving Namsai behind, we drove towards Wakro. The condition of the road gets bad on this part, but the view of the hills at distance kept our ride exciting. Wakro, the orange valley of Arunachal is a small town but the whole area is filled orange gardens. One after another we crossed many orange gardens with trees full of big and juicy oranges, which reminded me of the apple gardens of Kashmir. Locals were selling oranges on roadside at very cheap price. We also bought some oranges from the road side stalls. No need to mention that those were some of the best oranges I have ever had. Away from the civilization, Wakro is one of the places to get close with the nature and spend some time on solitude.

Around 3 PM we were just 1 Km away from the Parasuram Kunda, where we stopped at a road side Dhaba for our lunch. At the Dhaba we met a young, educated local guy who told us about his Cardamom garden and the life in that part of the world. Listening to his stories I felt that in such places a local has more information and stories to share than even the internet.

Located on the bank of Lohit River, Parasuram Kunda is more than just a pilgrimage place. It offers a breath taking view of the curvy Lohit River and the hills. Walking through the temple complex we reached near the Kunda, which is in the middle of the river. The view of the wild Lohit raging ahead with the majestic hills at the background was so beautiful that we kept enjoying the view till the Sun painted the sky red. We also met the priest of the temple, who told us about the mythological importance of the place and the mysterious source of water near the Brahma Kunda. The Sun was ready to settle behind the hills and suddenly the sky also started turning gloomy, so we had to run back to our car, but climbing up those long stream of stairs appeared as a big hurdle on our way.

While taking our road to Tezu we saw the panoramic view of the Lohit River spreading its branches on the plains. I wished we had more light and to enjoy the majestic view of the Lohit valley from the top. The stretch of road from Parasuram Kunda to Tezu goes through the hills and we had to cover it complete darkness. Crossing an unknown hilly road at night was full of risk yet very adventurous; thank God, Jeet navigated us safely to the Tezu town.

After reaching Tezu at 7.00 PM our first task was to find a decent place to spend the night. After failing to get accommodation at the circuit house and the guest house of District Urban Development Authority, finally we got two rooms at Oshin Hotel, which is perhaps the best hotel in the town. At a budget price it was a good deal. After a long day we were all very tired and only thing we were craving for was some good sleep.

Next morning we woke up with a view of snow capped mountains of Anini from our Hotel. Although it was a distant view but we were all cheered up to see those White Mountains. Tezu is also the gateway to Kibithu, the eastern most point of India, where one can witness the first sunrise of the nation. Although Kibithu has always been on my list of places to visit but on this trip we had little time for it. After a simple breakfast at Tezu we took the road towards Roing. This stretch of road was very adventurous; one part of NH 52 was smooth and silky with jungles and farm lands on both sides, whereas on some other parts construction of the bridges were still going on, so we had to cross over the streams. Our car suffered a lot on those crossings over the river bed and boulders but that too had its own thrill.

Upon reaching Roing we went to see the Dibang River. Where we sat beside the river and put our foot on the water to feel the chilled water. Taking the winter Sun on our back we made plans for our next visit while relishing the taste of local oranges. On a sunny winter morning I was sitting next to a beautiful river with layers of hills at the background, feeling the cold air on my face while having some tasty oranges; it was nothing less than a dream come true for me. What more could I could ask for. I also tried to cross the hanging bridge over Dibang, which turned out to be a very scary ride for me.

After meeting three major tributaries of Brahmaputra, Lohit, Dihing and Dibang River we headed towards Sadiya to meet the mighty Brahmaputra, the life line of Assam. After driving through the broken road for almost two hours we finally reached Sadiya around 1 PM. The view of the river made us feel very refreshed. For crossing the river the private boats charges around Rs.1500/- while Govt. ones charge Rs.600/- per car. Thankfully we got a place on the Govt. ferry which leaves Sadiya around 2.30 PM. So we had enough time for lunch before boarding on the boat. We had our lunch at a small river side hotel. The meal was simple, with rice, dal, fried baby potatoes, fried fish and pork curry. The fish was fresh and seeing the fish being fried in front of our eyes while we waited for our meal was a pure delight. There can be nothing more satisfying than such a flavorful meal for a hungry stomach.

Crossing Brahmaputra River on a boat along with our car was an unforgettable experience. We could see the Dhola Sadiya Bridge at the distance, which is about to be completed. It appeared to me as if the bridge is bullying the poor boatmen about their pitiful future. Once the construction of the bridge is complete the transportation from other parts of Assam to Sadiya will be very easy but this adventure of crossing the Brahmaputra RIver on boat will be gone forever. I felt lucky for being able to get this experience of crossing Brahmaputra on boat. The boat dropped us at Dhola, the other side of the river. Sun was rushing fast towards the horizon and we also drove fast towards Tinsukia, as if it’s a race to find out who gets to reach home first. Finally the Sun vanished behind the tea gardens and we too reached Tinisukia before it is dark.

Although the duration of the trip was small but we enjoyed every moment of it. We took the advantage of the road trip with every opportunity we got, we stopped wherever we liked, took photographs, talked to the locals and more importantly, lived those beautiful moments without being hurry.

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