Tawang: Happiness far far away from civilisation

17th Oct 2015
Photo of Tawang: Happiness far far away from civilisation 1/9 by Rea
Photo of Tawang: Happiness far far away from civilisation 2/9 by Rea
Photo of Tawang: Happiness far far away from civilisation 3/9 by Rea
Photo of Tawang: Happiness far far away from civilisation 4/9 by Rea
Photo of Tawang: Happiness far far away from civilisation 5/9 by Rea
Photo of Tawang: Happiness far far away from civilisation 6/9 by Rea
Photo of Tawang: Happiness far far away from civilisation 7/9 by Rea
Photo of Tawang: Happiness far far away from civilisation 8/9 by Rea
Photo of Tawang: Happiness far far away from civilisation 9/9 by Rea
The road less travelled

Fall was here and the city was gearing up for the much awaited festive season. The smell of warm jalebis and sandalwood incense sticks filled the city with joy. Few days left for vacations to kick start and we did not have much idea what it's gonna be like this time. The earlier ones were merrier and the sky looked more clear then as the three of us looked into each other dazed and confused.

This time was no less than our earlier unusual ones as it went totally unplanned and the way things took new turns and twists, every event unfolded with its own charm and surprise. Thanks to my two friends for making me live through it. A regular Thursday it was as I tried to make it through the first lecture of my day. 20 metres away from my lecture hall I was stopped by my roommates and a sumptuous breakfast was promised as the day was planned accordingly by both of them. As we kept hogging on extra half fried eggs the events for the rest of the vacation period began to unfold.

Things were narrowed down to Tawang each time but a lot of issues arose relating to permits, time and most importantly money. Disheartened and still craving for more food we continued to hog on the unlimited food in front of us. Our only motive was to save money and spend less but who cares, we still went ahead and booked a cab for the rest of the day (we will never improve and I can vouch for it). Steadily we managed to head towards the local taxi stand and like a boss we searched for taxis that will take us to our destination (by that time we honestly had no clue about our destination).

Our hearts kept longing for Arunachal so keeping everything aside we decided to head towards this quiet hill called Tawang crossing an Orchid sanctuary and the Nameri forest and get as far as possible from civilisation. It was a day where we had to avail our permits from their state government. Like always it proved to be a disappointment as they denied it the same day and said it will be issued after five days. I have never seen my friends this disappointed. Never! We were left with only one option and that was 'tatkal' but we failed to figure out the office and it was sunset by then. Still we went ahead with a major risk. Trusted a local man at the bus stand who promised us to issue permits before entering Arunachal and then early morning on a faithful Friday we set out with three backpacks without an ILP. Sitting on a local bus made it even funnier when buffaloes also overtook us and an extremely loyal bus driver who will gently stop the bus whenever someone wants to board or de-board.

Halfway through the journey we had no idea if we will actually get a permit but things were in our favour. As I got down in the sun kissed valley we were welcomed by two men and three of us just went with the flow. We gave them all the documents they asked for and then one of them asked one of us to accompany him. Trust me when I got into his omni van I felt no less than a mafia as he drove it at a speed not less than 100km/hr on those winding roads. In no time I was standing infront of The assistant commissioner's office. I was asked to plead him for the permit.

As I entered, a gentleman was seated in one of those high raised vintage chairs. He put a lot of questions on me (where I was studying, why three girls travelling alone, our bookings, purpose and lastly some major warnings about the hilly terrains). Fifteen minutes into the process and three stamps, three signatures, three hundred rupees and a little flirting with the army men the gates opened for us at bhalukpong (not to forget how I almost missed my bus running after paperwork and like a boss my friends tried to stop it).

Voila! The phone welcomed us with Arunachal's roaming and one of us (she enjoyed the trip the most) who had reliance entered the no-network zone for the next few days (yes they do not have reliance but you will find 4G Airtel network). This place is untouched by commercialisation and little promotion of tourism. Some of you maybe disappointed but for people like us this was exactly what we were looking for. If you travel in big troops to this place you may end up saving money but honestly speaking, this will defeat the very purpose of visiting this place.

Try to be as quiet and absorb the beauty as much as you can. The valleys we crossed looked like paintings with the Kameng river flowing right adjacent to us. Thirteen hours later we reached Bomdilla after crossing 'n' number of cantt areas. Yes this place is full of friendly faujis. We booked a hotel for the night and a taxi for Tawang the next day. Next day early morning we set out for Tawang.

Five hours into the winding roads we reached Sela pass. We were lucky enough to get the season's first snowfall. The snowflakes landed right on our faces and we enjoyed it so much that we forgot about the thin oxygen that prevailed there.

Trust me we did not face any such breathing problems and as the mercury level went much down at Paradise lake we went crazy to see the snow clad mountains right in front of us. Another car broke down that made us click photographs of barren roads because all the drivers tried to restore the Tyre (very friendly drivers everywhere I must say) and few hours later we reached Tawang.

The Tawang Monastery is located at an exotic location. It can be seen from every corner of the town and it is breathtakingly beautiful. The Monastery is considered to be the second largest in the world after the Potala Palace. It is home to one of those gold plated scriptures that holds this Palace to be the richest in terms of tradition, culture and history. Heading towards the monastery will uplift you immensely.

It was a sunny day but the air was spine chilling. Our guest house was just a kilometre away and we decided to walk clicking a couple of pictures here and there. It is a big institute with all young lamas running here and there. The Gompa inside is rich and it will make you feel at peace all of a sudden. I decided to sit out in one of the stone-edged walls listening to some music and let good memories unfold. We were a little hungry and it is a little difficult to have easy access to food joints. We met a guy who took us to one of the good restaurants and the food was amazing. It was worth the half an hour wait there.

The war memorial is a stone throw away and the light and sound show is nice out there. We walked through the narrow streets and enjoyed the view. There is no such thing called cafeteria there. Just keep absorbing the beauty and keep walking and if possible buy a cup of local caffeine and the winding road is your cafeteria for the rest of the day. All three of us enjoyed the road and wherever it took us. The people are uber friendly. They will give you a free ride whenever you want and also give their number for further help. I recommend it for hitchhiking, very safe for travellers. There are not many places to eat. In fact very few. The town shuts down by 5:30, yes yes 5:30! So we are usually back to our room by 6 and sometimes sit in the balcony and enjoy the gushing sound of the nearby waterfall in the dark with a glass of holy wine.

The winds are freezing cold and during our vacation the temperature dropped to -1 degree. Next day morning we headed towards the China border, Ptso lake, tshengtsar lake, another quiet and isolated Gompa and a junction higher than the Sela pass at 15000 ft. The lakes are beautiful and there are plenty of them there.

It is estimated that there are 108 lakes in Tawang itself and only some of them are famous but every lake is worth stopping by as they are equally beautiful. They were half frozen because of the early snowfall and some of them were newly formed after the 1971 earthquake. The valleys and roads are challenging. I remember only our car in the hilly terrains as there were barely any tourists and we owned the lakes. Oh yes, the faithful army is everywhere and it was beautiful to see the olive green huts covered with snow. If you are lucky enough, you see those tanks practising the peaceful firing and we witnessed a couple of them. They are mighty and gives a different feeling altogether. Photography strictly prohibited otherwise I would have definitely posed in front of one of them, but yes it was super fun. It is so untouched by tourists that we felt blessed to have reached that place and it was totally worth it. Our craze for more walk didn't stop.

We continued to walk that day and then we took another taxi the next day to Assam. This was a trip I will cherish and honestly the dumplings I had in Bomdilla is still on my mind. Few local schoolgirls took us to a basement shop late at night, the shop did not have a name, but the momos - they were out of this world!

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Good read..
Wed 12 09 15, 00:02 · Reply · Report