Bumla is your chance to get a peek into the life of our armed forces men under such treacherous and extreme geographical conditions, at an elevation of 15,200 feet where oxygen level depletes. Standing at the post you can gaze into the Chinese territory as the soldiers explain you the geography of the Line of Control. This is truly a lifetime experience.
Day 5: March 4th Tawang to Bumla PassStarted our journey to Bumla by around 7.30 am in Tata Sumo, which we got it arranged on the previous day. It was freezing out there and on top of it started drizzling a bit and a very cloudy atmosphere it was. The driver kept telling us we have to leave and be on time as rain is catching up fast. The path through we went made it very clear to us that it’s no way possible to ride bikes in here. Snow Mountains on both sides, frozen lakes in between, few construction workers in this chilling conditions are the all scenes you will see.
People connect and you need to trust the goodness in them. All of a sudden, the officer got up and offered me to take to Bum-la in an army jeep. He stared at my camera and I got the sign. I left it at the checkpost with the jawan I had met. As we were leaving, the jawan offered me his Ray-Ban and said “Sir, barf zyaada hai, kuch nahi dikhega. Ghoomne ke baad mujhe waapis de dena (Sir, you wouldn’t be able to see with so much snow. Hand them to me after you are done sight-seeing)”. Humbled!
Having spent a couple of days in Tawang, we decided to get on the last leg of this journey, the ride up to the Bumla, one of the four India-China border posts open for public visits. The pass has a history of its own, it witnessed the Chinese forces invading Arunachal in the 1962 war. Dalai Lama took the same pass to escape Tibet and enter India. It hosts flag meetings between the officials of both the sides. Although, being rainy, we were advised not to go, as visibility would be limited and we would end up spoiling the day. Going against the odds, we asked a sumo driver to arrange the pass and start next day morning at 6am.Tawang - P T Tso - Bumla - Sangetsar Tso: Reserved SUV or Sumo, costs around 4500-5000 INR. To get there, you would need a permit issued by the DC office and signed by brigade commander. The driver will get that for you, keep few Identity card and ILP copies handy with you. It is best to get it done a day prior to your travel as it takes sometime to get it issued and hand it over to the brigade office. They sign it in the night and you are good to pick it up in the morning, on your way to Bumla.Well, as we gained altitude, to our surprise, the sun was peeking through a small window in the clouds and the bluish mountains were welcoming this streak of pale yellow sun rays.
After acclimatizing for a day, which is not enough, we head towards the epic Bumla pass. They say Tawang is the land of 101 lakes. I don’t know if 101 exists today but we crossed at least 4- 5 lakes, of varied sizes and in various states of freeze. The road to Bumla is considered significant since it is from here that the Chinese marched into India during the 1962 Indo- Sino conflict. Bumla pass, situated at the Indo-China border is situated at 16,500 ft above sea level is covered with heavy snow for most part of the year. This pass is also of great historic importance since it is through this pass Dalai Lama entered India while escaping from Tibet.
My driver cum guide John told at night that we would be starting for Bumla (China Border at 7:00 AM sharp). To get ready I woke up at around 5:30AM. It was too cold even after stuffing myself with winter wears I was freezing. I somehow managed to take bath and at sharp 7:00 AM we started for China border.Bumla Pass is located 37 kms away from Tawang. It is one of the most off-beat passes in the world and is also known as the pass from where Dalai Lama entered India escaping from Tibet.The road to Bum-la is also historical route in the sense that it is from here that the Chinese marched into India during the 1962 Sino-Indian war.On my journey I met one Solider, he told us that Tawang is Asia's largest base camp for any army.
Small and slow, Tawang is one of those places in India which is technically a town but has the feel of an old village. Though it does boast of having branches of three of the countries largest banks. It is essentially the place you go to on the way to Bumla, which is a border between India and China, or to visit Asia’s second largest monastery and take in the chilly mountain air. The average Indian traveller hasn’t yet been to Tawang, getting here is an ordeal, and the average foreigner who might know about the place comes in the deep winter for the hot springs.
One of the “must do” things in Tawang is a visit to Bumla, which is the Indo-China border. You need to get a special pass from the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, which takes about a day, as there are five army check points you pass through to get to the border. While getting the pass is not difficult, you simply need to fill a form and provide government id, like many things in India it takes time and is rather tedious.
The air pressure is quite low and people with low haemoglobin are advised to skip as I, even after having haemoglobin of 13 unit, faced difficulty in breathing. The day temperature ranges between -7 deg C to -20 Deg C and heavy breeze can make you sick. You can get a certificate too that you visited Bum La.
On the fourth day we headed for Bum La and Sangetsar Lake. In order to reach either of these places, first we had to reach a place called the Y-Junction, from where one road leads to Bum La and the other to Sangetsar Lake. There are no proper roads for reaching Bum La. Most of the roads are covered with snow and the cars heading for Bum La follow the trail that has been left by the army trucks. The texture of the mountains there was one of a kind: blackish texture dotted with the snow and red grass. Our driver said that the car could not be taken to Bum La because of heavy snow fall the previous night, so we had to trek the final two kilometres. It was really difficult to trek because Bum La is situated at an altitude of around 16,500 ft. above sea level, so we were often running out of breath and to make matters worse the sun was shining too bright above our heads.On reaching Bum La, the army officials checked our permits and then took us to a bunker, which was sort of a rest room. They offered us tea and samosas and were very hospitable. The area was covered in snow and we could see several white bunkers around the place. We were then taken to the Line of Actual Control. There we saw two soldiers monitoring truck movements on the Chinese side of the LAC. Photography was strictly not permitted.
If you don't have your own vehicle then it could be little difficult as both the offices are located 5-6 Km far and in opposite sides of Tawang. Also, its better to have carry enough copies because in Tawang Xerox per copy is INR 5 and double side INR 10 and the power cut is frequent. Also, if you plan to hire taxi for Bumla pass and Shungester/Madhuri lake then the permit needs to have taxi number and driver name. The general charges for taxi to Bumla pass n Shungester lake are INR 5000. You can try shared taxi if you can find people to share. #Stay at Tawang Hotel Mount view for INR 800. #Food Ama yangis good food Chapti n egg curry was nice.#Info Sunday mechanics are closed in Tawang and Bomdila so if there are any issues in your bike, you will not be able to get it fixed and this could alter your plan. This trip was originally published on Joey- my travels for your ease.