Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh

Tripoto
15th Apr 2019
Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Being someone who lives to hike, is in constant love with the mountains and loves to explore on two wheels; A road trip to Arunachal was long due for me.

Visiting family in Guwahati, an overnight decision to ride out to Arunachal was taken.
Johnson ( my Thunderbird ) was parked about 3000 kms away in my garage in Bangalore, which meant I had to arrange a bike quickly. Fortunately I found a spare motorcycle- a fairly new white Himalayan and took off the very next morning ( A Monday, what a way to start the week )

Perfectly named The Himalayan!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Arunachal Pradesh is a fairly large state with many many places to see. Considering this was a impulsive plan and I did not have a lot of time on my hand, decided to ride up to Dirang Valley and If possible all the way up to Tawang.
The weather forecast was not promising with a lot of rain lurking by. But braving all that it was time to move on.

DAY 1 - Took us to Tezpur ( for a brief stop over to meet some friends) and then stay the night at a colonial tea estate - Wild Mahaseer. This was my second visit to the property in 5 years.
The journey was that of about 300 kms which took about 6 hours with some stops .
The highway ( AH 1 ) from Guwahati until Nagaon is in good state and pretty much cemented all the way through.
From there to Tezpur the road is in poor condition. Only a two lane highway and ridden with potholes and traffic.
We also had to cross the mighty Brahmaputra just before entering Tezpur.
The first day of the journey was pretty interesting. The rains kept us company and the countryside is the greenest I have seen.

Asian Highway 1

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Great Roads, Green Countryside!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Wild Mahaseer

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Tea Estate - Wild Mahaseer!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Day 2 - This is when the excitement levels reached a new high. This was the day we were going to cross into Arunachal..

Even though Arunachal is an integral part of India, all visitors need an inner line permit to enter its borders. Thankfully the government has made the process very easy, you can apply for it online and the permit is sanctioned the same moment electronically. Make sure to carry the print outs just in case.

Some members of the family also joined me on the journey in a 4WD SuV - Rexton. Having someone on this journey is always a bonus as the mountains can throw surprises on every bend of the road. Moreover not carrying any of my usual tools ( just in case of a breakdown ) any mishap could spell trouble.

We started out early in the morning from Wild Mahaseer, The Arunachal border was only about 45 kms away

The route we took- Tezpur - Bhalukpong ( Arunachal ) - Bomdila - Tenga Valley - Dirang Valleg

The total distance of about 180 kms takes us through the National Highway 13 also called the Trans Arunachal Highway. Even though the distance was short it tooks us almost 8 hours.. The road in most place after Bhalukpong is in very bad shape. Thanks to all the landslides and rains, you can barely call it a road.

Bhalukpong is where you need to make your entries with the authorities and start the long but spectacular journey to Bomdila.
We were further delayed by road blocks and ofcourse the scenic beauty of the place.

The Himalayan is the perfect bike for The Himalayas, this journey could be back breaking on most two wheelers but we were fortunate to have a beast of a 4WD and the super smooth Himalayan.

The landscape enroute is stunning and breathtaking. The view will leave you speechless and there is no adjective in the vocabulary that can describe how beautiful Arunachal Pradesh is. The eastern Himalayas are very different from their western counterparts. Green and Easy going yet daunting and dangerous if not careful.

We crossed many bridges and small villages to finally reach our destination of the day - Dirang Valley. Tourism in this part of the country is still under developed ( which is good ) hence the options are limited. We stayed at the Norphel Retreat which is the only Hotel in town ( but pretty good ). We called Dirang Valley home for the next two days with plans to make day trips to more places.

It all started with rain, but we kept going!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Entering Bhalukpong

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Landslides and Roadblocks!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Barely a road!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Crossed Bridges

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Stunning landscape!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Taking a break!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Norphel Retreat - Dirang

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

View from the room!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer


After a tiring but a spectacular ride we crashed for the night. The hotel served us some great food.

Day 3 - We woke up fresh pretty early ( 5 AM ), the sun rises very early in this part of the country.

Many plans were discussed- do we ride to Tawang, or ride until Sela Pass ( 14500 ft ) or stay in the valley and explore more places nearby. Considering that we still had some aching bones from the journey we finally decided to stay in the valley and go places nearby. We also made a promise to ourselves to come back to Arunachal some day for Sela Pass and go all the way to Tawang.

After a decentish breakfast we stepped out to visit the very scenic Sangti Valley which was about 10 kms from Dirang.

The ride to Sangti took us through small meandering mountainous roads and through some stunning countryside

As usual rains kept us company and the weather made our romance with the place even more memorable.

Sangti valley is surreal. Heaven on earth. The clouds get trapped in the valley most of the time and the mist in the air is perfect. We stopped at a small road side shop and they served us some chai and maggi ( doesn't get any better than this )

Stunning - Sangti Valley!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

When you can't stop smiling !

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Rains rains everywhere!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Sweet little homes!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Sangti Valley - View from the bridge!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Burning wood the old fashioned way - Hot Chai !

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Peace !

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

The only shop !

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

After getting our hearts full of Sangti Valley, we went up to the Monastery at Dirang. The architecture of these buildings has always amazed me. The simplicity of it. It was also a special day as many young locals had just completed their reading of their holy books and were parading the monastery and town - celebrating.
From up in the mountains we could also see a game of cricket being played by the army jawans on the ground in the camp.
With one view you could absorb the complete valley. It was truly magical.

The Monastery

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer
Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Celebrations

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Parading - Graduation Ceremony

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

View to the valley - norphel retreat in the distance

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer


Once again the hotel staff filled us with some stupendous lunch. We hogged like hungry wolves 😀... we spent the entire evening laying in the balcony, gazing at the nothingness of the valley. It was like filling up our souls with the view of the valley.

Day 4 - With an event back home in Guwahati we decided to leave on this day and make the long journey back to Guwahati on a single day. It was a clear morning with no signs of rain.
The distance to cover was 350 kms but mountain roads can throw major surprises hence we knew it could be a long ride.
Only this time we decided to take the National Higway 15 from Bomdila
The route - Dirang Valley - Bomdila - Rupa Valley - Shergaon - Kalaktang - Bhairabkund - Mazbat - Orang - Guwahati

This route also called the Trans Himalayan Highway takes us through some of the most scenic roads in India. We were grinning almost constantly until we hit the plains. The roads were perfect ( almost ) and the landscape was simply from out of this world.

We found ourselves riding in thick clouds for almost 30 mins with almost no visibility, dangerous but it was an adventure

Shergaon is the mid way town in the mountains. It's a lovely little town. The place is simply unbelievable.

Knowing this was going to be a long journey ( almost 10 hours ) we pretty much were on the road nonstop but we did stop to take pictures and cross foot bridges. It was just too tempting to miss.
I now know that I need to go back to Shergaon once again and experience this part of Arunachal.
We reached Guwahati at about 6 in the evening. We rediscovered ourselves in the mountains of Arunachal and I know for sure I am going to back and relive every single moment soon !

5 AM - View from the room! Clear Skies!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Rupa Valley !

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Green Flags are a tribute to Water !

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Shergaon!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Shaky but Strong!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Shergaon View !

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Caught taking a helmie ????

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Just before we rode into thick clouds!

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Another view of Shergaon

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Barren yet green !

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer

Guwahati only 200 kms away !

Photo of Heaven is on Earth - Arunachal Pradesh by Highway Wanderer


Inner line permit - https://arunachalilp.com/onlineApp.do

Hotel we stayed at - Dirang - http://www.norphelretreat.in

Tezpur - https://wildmahseer.com

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