Mystical Arunachal Pradesh

15th Jun 2015
Photo of Mystical Arunachal Pradesh 1/2 by Soumya Sen
Photo of Mystical Arunachal Pradesh 2/2 by Soumya Sen

I just had a mind-blowing trip to the beautiful state of Arunachal Pradesh last month. This state situated at the easternmost tip of India is vastly unexplored and untapped.The tourist inflow is lesser than any other tourist destination in India but with the recent promotions and word of mouth publicity this state is surely coming up on the tourist map. Arunachal Pradesh provides the most splendid landscapes which will marvel you and awestruck you,just it had done to me. After coming back from this trip,I have been getting a lot of requests for sharing the trip itinerary and details.So here is the whole trip plan for you:-

Day 1

The first thing you have remember for going to Arunachal Pradesh is to get yourself an inner line permit issued from the government of Arunachal Pradesh. You can either directly apply for it from their offices at Kolkata or Guwahati or take help from some travel agent. In my case, all the hotel bookings,the car booking and the inner line permit issuance was done by a travel agent based out of Kolkata. The name and details of this travel agent are mentioned below:

So coming back to the trip, we reached Guwahati by air and boarded the car which was waiting for us and started the journey. Driving across the towns of Guwahati,Tezpur we reached Bhalukpong at around 8pm. This whole stretch is 241kms and is a smooth drive. We checked into the Prashanti Cottage at Bhalukpong. It is a Assam tourism property situated across the banks of Jia Bharali river. Bhalukpong is the border town between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. While the lower part of the town lies in the Assam side, the upper part lies in the Arunachal Pradesh side. The cottage is just so beautiful and served really nice home like food. The resort also arranged adventure activities like river rafting and angling etc for the boarders on request.

Day 2

We woke up early and got ready for starting our journey towards Dirang. We went to the banks of Jia Bharali river just before the journey and it was a splendid sight. However keeping the journey in mind we steadfastly packed our bags and got into the car. The permit and our identity cards were checked at the the entry point of Arunachal Pradesh and then we started the lovely road journey.

With the river Kameng on one side and huge lush green mountains on the other side,it was a treat to the eyes. Soon this scenery changed and we started going through the lush green forests of Sessa Orchid Sanctuary and Eaglenest Sanctuary. Never had I seen this kind of a national highway. Old and huge trees with orchids in their trunks,wild banana trees and thick vegetation in the hills,where else would you get to see this. No habitations,no people,just you and nature talking.Just splendid and serene. The distance from Bhalukpong to Dirang was 135 kilometres.

There is a certain 19-20kms mysterious stretch here which is completely covered with clouds and fog and is very difficult to drive. However driving through this we finally reached the town of Bomdila. We went to the Bomdila Monastery and we were lucky to find Egg and rice being served as special “prasad” being served that day. Buddhism is seriously one of the coolest religions on earth or else where would you find Egg and rice and as offering. We finally reached Dirang in the evening and checked into Hotel Pemaling.

Dirang offers nothing but only beautiful views comprising rivers and valleys. Our hotel overlooked the beautiful Dirang Valley. Dirang Monastery and a hot spring nearby are the other places to see.

Day 3

We started our journey towards Tawang in the morning. Tawang is situated at a height of around 10000 feet above sea level and is around 135kms from Dirang.

The road travels through places like Tenga and Senge and finally starts ascending towards the Sela Pass which is one of the highest motor-able roads in India. There is a famous Nag Temple on the way also.There is a story behind it,apparently a few constructors had killed a male nag while building this road in the sixties and soon after this,there was inclement weather and catastrophe and work had to be stopped.

Finally Army built this temple and things came back to normal.The road as you go up has rhododendron bushes comprising flowers of different colours on both sides. Finally we reached Sela Pass which is 13700 feet above sea level. It was completely covered with clouds and fog and we could hardly see each other in it and it was very cold.

The beautiful Sela Lake is situated here and is considered sacred. The army has big presence here as it near to the border with Tibet. As soon as you go past the Sela Lake,the snow clad mountains can be seen. The vegetation changes. Alpine forests can be seen comprising pine and spruce trees and yaks roam freely. Small rivulets from the mountains just flow beside the road. The sight is just heavenly.

After some distance is Jaswantgarh where Army has built the Jaswant Singh Memorial in memory of the brave soldier Jaswant Singh who had sacrificed his life for the country in the Indo-Chinese war of 1962.

Rifleman (RFN) Jaswant Singh, number 4039009, was serving with the 4th Battalion of the Garhwal Rifles. On 17 November the battalion was subjected to repeated Chinese assaults. A Chinese medium machine gun (MMG) located at a vantage point close to the A company lines was proving to be a dangerous menace. Jaswant, Lance Naik Trilok Singh Negi and RFN Gopal Singh Gusain went after the Chinese MMG and after approaching within 12 metres threw grenades at the bunker and charged it, killing a number of Chinese and capturing the MMG. Jaswant took the MMG and began crawling back towards the Indian lines but he and Trilok were fatally hit by Chinese automatic fire when nearing safety. Gopal Gusain was wounded but managed to drag the MMG into the Indian post. This turned the course of the battle and the Chinese retreated, leaving some 300 dead behind. Jaswant was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (posthumous) and Trilok and Gopal the Vir Chakra.

A popular and widely-disseminated local story goes as follows : It was the final phase of the Sino-Indian War in November 1962. Even as his company was asked to fall back, Jaswant Singh remained at his post at an altitude of 10,000 feet and held back Chinese soldiers for three days assisted by two local Monpa girls named Sela and Nura (in some versions one or the other girl is mentioned). They set up weapons at separated spots and maintained a volume of fire that made the Chinese think they were opposed by a body of troops. Finally the Chinese captured the man who was supplying rations to Jaswant and he revealed to them that they were opposed by only one man.They attacked in force, Sela died in a grenade burst, Nura was captured and Jaswant supposedly shot himself with his last cartridge when he realized that he was about to be captured. It is alleged that the Chinese cut off Jaswant Singh’s head and took it back to China. However, after the ceasefire, the Chinese commander, impressed by the soldier’s bravery, returned the head along with a brass bust of Jaswant Singh. The bust, created in China to honor the brave Indian soldier, is now installed at the site of the battle.

Jaswant Singh’s saga of valor and sacrifice continues to serve as an inspiration to all army personnel posted in this sector. He has become a ‘Baba’, a saint. At the spot where he fought,a small temple has come up with a bust of his and many of his personal effects. A marble plaque commemorates him and 161 other men of his battalion who died in the battle of Nuranang, which was awarded to Garhwal Rifles as a battle honour. (Source: Wikipedia)

The army serves tea and some snacks here to anyone who visits this place.Finally we reached Tawang in the evening and were fast asleep as we were tired after the long journey. We stayed at the hotel Gakyi Khang Zhang which the best hotel property here.

Day 4

We dedicated this day for local sightseeing. In the morning we walked to the nearby market. The roads of Tawang are very deserted as there is very less population in this area. There are wild flowers on both sides of the road. We visited the Tawang Monastery which is 400 years old and is the second largest monastery in Asia.It was founded near the small town of the same name in the northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh, by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1680-1681 in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso.Situated at the top of a mountain,this is a very important place of worship for the Buddhists.According to the legend, a white horse of the Prince of Lhasa had wandered into Monpa region. People, who went in search of the horse, found the horse grazing at the present location of the monastery. The people of the area then worshiped the horse and the location where it was found and venerated it every year. Eventually to honour the sacred site the Tawang Monastery was built at the site. The Monastery also has a huge library and museum.

China had invaded India on 20 October 1962 from the northeastern border forcing the Indian army to retreat. They had occupied Tawang, including the monastery, for six months; they did not desecrate the monastery. China claimed that Tawang belonged to be their territory.In 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama had fled from Tibet, and after a tough journey, crossed into India on 30 March 1959, and had reached Tawang and taken shelter in the monastery for a few days before moving to Tezpur on 18 April 1959 seeking asylum in India.(Source:Wikipedia)

For more trivia about this place,look here:

We then visited the Urgelling Monastery which happens to be the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama. Next we went to the Tawang War Memorial. It was built to pay homage to the soldiers who had sacrified their lives in the Indo-Sino war in 1962. It has blessing of the Dalai Lama.It also has to memorial halls having artifacts and information of these brave men.A light and sound show is also organised here every evening which depicts the story behind Tawang and the Chinese war.In the evening you can go for shopping,however the shops mostly close by 7pm and being remote the things are bit overpriced.

Day 5

We were supposed to see the three destinations namely Shungester Lake,PTSO Lake and Y Junction. Amongst these the Y Junction is 13937 feet high. Shungester Lake is situated 33kms off Tawang at a height of about 12000 feet. It was actually a village but in 1950s an earthquake followed by a flash flood destroyed the village and it was were the lake got formed. The place is heavenly and has rhododendrons everywhere with the snow capped mountains in the background. Migratory birds like the Ruddy Shell duck can also be spotted. This place gained prominence when a song from the movie Koyla having Madhuri Dixit and Shah Rukh Khan in the lead was shot here.That is why it is also fondly called Madhuri Lake.

The Y Junction is mostly covered with snow and has many lakes. The PTSO lake is beautiful too. The Tawang Visit is never be complete without visiting these places. Another place Bum La Pass can be visited too situated at a height of 16500 feet but needs another permit. These three points can be visited only by local cars from Tawang. There are specific cars available at the starting point for visiting these three points. The road is bit bumpy. You should carry some camphor with you,just incase you suffer from breathlessness at such heights as oxygen levels are low here. You should also carry some amount of light food and water along with you.

Day 6

We had to leave Tawang with a heavy heart and started our journey towards Bomdila where we would stay for the night. On our way we stopped at the Nuranang or Jang Falls which is mighty and huge. Never had I seen such a beautiful waterfalls ever in my life. The water falls on the river Tawang Chu which flows downstream.

We reached Bomdila in the evening. Since we had already seen the Bomdila Monastery on the way,we didnt have any other things to see there and therefore rested for the day.We stayed at the hotel Siphiyang Phong which was just okay.

Day 7

Our final destination was the Nameri Tiger Reserve which is around 120 kilometres from Bomdila.On our way we stopped at the Tippi Orchidarium which was a visual treat. Never had a seen so many orchids growing wildly and also in greenhouses at the same place.This place should not be missed. We reached the Nameri Tiger Reserve and checked into the Nameri Eco Camp which was simply the best accommodation in this entire trip.We stayed at the tent cottages. The feeling living inside a jungle has always excited me and that is why forests are my first love.We also went for river rafting in the Jia Bharali river and it was by far the best adventure I had done.It was thrilling! The forest is closed during this time of the year that is why unfortunately we could not avail a safari trip.However he saw many birds like Hornbills etc. The forest arranges a walk inside the main forest when the forest is open which is something you dont find anywhere else. This place is a must visit. You can also try activities like Angling here.The Eco Camp has every cuisine in its menu and it is amazing how they get you everything inside a forest too. The best place was seriously reserved for the last.

Day 8

We reached Guwahati and stayed there for the night,did some shopping. We took the flight next day early morning.however you can start early and take the flight the day you reach Guwahati itself. Guwahati is 220 kilometres from Nameri.

P.S- You should carry mineral water and light food with you all the time.The journeys are time taking and strenuous.Be prepared for it. Take some breaks in between the journey. Try reaching the places before the sunset as roads are situated at high altitudes. This trip will surely be one of your best trips till date I can guarantee.

It is serene and awesome