Enchanting aroma of water soil and grass welcomed me to our land of rising sun, the land of Monpas, Arunachal Pradesh. Arunachal Pradesh is a treasure trove of nature. It has the maximum forest cover amongst all the states of India and perhaps many parts of the world! Sixty one percent of its geographical area comprises forests.
My journey started from the gateway of North East, Guwahati. As I was travelling solo, I took a share SUV from Tezpur, I stayed one night at Tezpur and left for Tawang early in the morning. The morning was quite chilly and slithering, as I boarded the SUV, the semi chilly winds through one of the slightly opened windows was softly touching a part of my face. After an hour of drive I reached Bhalukpong, the starting of Arunachal Pradesh, and the ending of Assam. After a good and heavy breakfast, I left for Tawang along with my friends which I made along the journey. The smell of bamboos, and fresh grass delighted me internally.
After 8 hours of journey, at 4pm I reached, Sela Pass. Sela Pass does get heavy snow during winters, there is no stopping to experiencing that either. I got off from the car and clicked the first frame of my solo journey.
The sun was setting off far in the west and the slight golden touch to the snowy mountain, made me extremely gratified. But the extreme chilly winds made my hands rock hard and started blackening. After having a cup of tea at a nearby shop, we went through snowy roads of Jang. At approximately 7:30pm I reached Tawang. I booked a cheap and good hotel at Tawang's old market. I slept and charged my batteries after having a bowl full of egg maggi.
The next day I woke up and enjoyed the sunrise, also watched the Tawang Monastery from the balcony of my hotel getting its first light of the day.
The Tawang monastery is the largest monastery in India and second largest in the world after the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It is the major attraction of Tawang, and also the pearl in the queens necklace.
I took a cab for exploring Tawang that day, with Nuranang waterfall and Ani Gompa in my bucket.
First I visited the Nuranang falls. There are many local myths associated with the name of the waterfall. Nuranang river and Nuranang falls are named after a local Monpa girl named Nura who helped the Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat, a Maha Vir Chakra awardee soldier during the 1962 Sino-Indian War but was later captured by Chinese forces. Not only it's a spectacular attraction of Arunachal Pradesh, but also it is used to generate electricity for the local use. There is a small hydel plant located near the base that generates electricity.
After clicking several pictures, I went to the top of Tawang where, I could get a full view of the city, the Buddha Statue. I clicked several pictures of the Buddha statue, also by going at a higher altitude, so that I could get a better view of it.
On my way, I found a Monpa women chanting her buddhist prayers.The Monpa or Mönpa are a major ethnic group of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India. They are also one of the 56 officially recognized ethnic groups in China. The origin of the Monpa people is unclear.
Then I visited Urgelling Gompa/Monastery which has a great historical importance attached to it. It is said to be the birthplace of the 6th Dalai lama.
For a normal traveler, it is not as attractive as other gompas of the region. It is just a small room having rocks which has imprints of the foot and head of the 6th dalai lama. Additionally all 14 Dalai lama's paintings are there which is not commonly available in other monasteries.
Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa
Then, I explored a lesser explored monastery known as Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa, the most important fact about this monastery is, it is only maintained by female monks.
As my day ended, I could see the golden evening rays striking the snow capped mountains.
On my way back to hotel, I entered the Tawang Monastery, and found small monks roaming here and there.
Bum La Pass
The next day, I was set to see the Indo - China border, Bum La Pass. The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. Any barriers along the edge afford little more than token protection. Driver of the vehicle must be expert to drive on mountain terrain.
At an elevation of 5,000 m above the sea level, the Bum La Pass marks the Indo-China border. A prominent attraction of Arunachal Pradesh, the place is a must visit but only when you have the special permit from Office of the Deputy Commissioner in Tawang District, and then Indian army cantonment of Tawang. The place instantly evokes a feeling of patriotism, especially after watching soldiers protecting the border that too in such nerve-wracking weather condition. Also, it was through this pass, Dalai Lama entered India.
After Bum La Pass, I visited Madhuri Lake.With Led Zeppelin in my earbuds, as the car slowly went up the mountains and I could hear and feel "The stairway to heaven".
The lake was formed by a flash flood after an earthquake in the year 1950, Madhuri Lake is originally known as Shonga-tser Lake, which is one of the most popular lakes in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. The lake was renamed so after the shooting of Bollywood movie Koyla, starring Madhuri Dixit, the beautiful actress. The lake has been surrounded by wonderfully lush valleys, and snow-capped mountains. A leisure walk is the best way to explore the picturesque surroundings of the lake.
Pankang Teng Tso Lake
Then I visited, Pankang Teng Tso Lake, also called as Ptso Lake is situated 17 km from Tawang. The lake remains frozen during winter and area around the lake supports skiing. To enjoy the calm waters moving about slowly in an atmosphere where you could not miss even the smallest whispers of nature.
Shying away in the North eastern corner of India, Arunachal Pradesh though may be an introvert when it comes to tourism, but it is a land of abundant travel opportunities. Adorned with unspoilt landscape, this Northeast state of India is a place that every nature lover and explorer should visit. A treasure trove of culture, nature's beauty, rich history and warm people, Arunachal is truly a land that you cannot afford to miss.