To the land of the Rising Sun !

20th Dec 2014
Photo of To the land of the Rising Sun ! 1/9 by Sabyasachi Mukherjee
Dirang Valley
Photo of To the land of the Rising Sun ! 2/9 by Sabyasachi Mukherjee
Sela Lake
Photo of To the land of the Rising Sun ! 3/9 by Sabyasachi Mukherjee
PT Tso !!!
Photo of To the land of the Rising Sun ! 4/9 by Sabyasachi Mukherjee
Vanilla Ice cream and Chocolate sauce !!
Photo of To the land of the Rising Sun ! 5/9 by Sabyasachi Mukherjee
Tawang Gompa.
Photo of To the land of the Rising Sun ! 6/9 by Sabyasachi Mukherjee
Sela Gate
Photo of To the land of the Rising Sun ! 7/9 by Sabyasachi Mukherjee
Shillong Lake.
Photo of To the land of the Rising Sun ! 8/9 by Sabyasachi Mukherjee
A little friend !!
Photo of To the land of the Rising Sun ! 9/9 by Sabyasachi Mukherjee
Dude at work !!

Whenever I think of travelling, the first thing that comes to my mind are mountains. Arunachal Pradesh had always been in my bucket list, and this time I didn’t hesitate. I convinced four of my friends to join me for this trip. The time was fixed to be the last week of December, 2014. We planned to go to Tawang, a historically significant area rich in natural beauty.

We started our journey from Guwahati and reached Tezpur on the first day. The next day we entered Arunachal by crossing the border at Bhalukpong. An Inner Line Permit was required to enter Arunachal. The road from Bhalukpong was beautiful. Lush green mountains, blue skies and the Kameng river combined together to give an awe-inspiring view. 

Our plan was to reach Dirang Valley, which we reached by afternoon. The valley was amazing. The Kameng flows through the valley. Small houses dot both sides of the river. There is a small market in Dirang where one can get food and other basics from. We visited the Kalachakra Gompa, where we spent time with several locals.

The next day we left for Tawang. As we gradually travelled along, we could see the texture of the mountains changing from green to brown and gradually to white. On the way to Tawang we came across the Sela Pass. The place was almost snow covered. The wind was chilly and the view was mesmerising. 

At Sela Pass we came across the Sela Lake which was frozen and some of the visitors were walking on the lake and taking pictures. From Sela we continued on to Tawang. The road was covered with snow in some places. We finally reached at around 4 p.m. We had to rush to the Office of the Deputy Commissioner to get permits for Bum La. Once we got the permits we had to get it signed by the Brigadier of the army. 

The Brigadier’s post is situated near the Tawang War Memorial which was built in memory of the brave soldiers who gave their life in the Indo-Sino war in 1962. The jawans at the memorial were very hospitable and welcoming. One of them gave us a tour of the place, narrating details of the war and how the war had affected the locals and others. It felt good talking to the jawans and hearing about their experience of being in the army.

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.

One of the soldiers told us about how the post operates and how the army has been safe guarding the place even in the most adverse conditions. His words gave us goose bumps. We then spent some time around and then rested for a while. After having spent nearly an hour, we trekked down to our car. We then headed for Sangetsar Lake. Sangetsar Lake was formed after an earthquake and is located at around 12,500 ft. The most amazing thing about this lake was the tree trunks that stood out of the water in the middle of it. The lake was semi-frozen and the view was very soothing. 

The driver asked us to not linger for too long as he wanted to avoid snow fall on the way back. We also stopped at the PT TSO Lake, one of the many other lakes which dotted Bum La. We came across some other tourists there, who were playing in snow and joined them. We then took some snaps and then finally headed back to Tawang.

The following day we woke up early, as we wanted to visit the Tawang Gompa at the time when the monks offer their prayers. Tawang Gompa is the place where the 14th Dalai Lama hid himself after he fled from Tibet. A sense of peace and serenity prevailed at the Gompa . One can see the entire village of Tawang from there. There is a school attached with the Gompa , and we could see several Monpa (local) kids playing near the school.

From the monastery we headed straight for Bomdila. On the way to Bomdila we stopped at the beautiful Nuranang falls. We also stopped at Jaswant Garh and Sela. It was December 24, Christmas Eve and so we tried to do something festive.

While returning from Bomdila we spent a day in Shillong and then left for Guwahati, where our journey had started.

I have always loved travelling to the mountains, and have been to places like Himachal and Ladakh previously. Every place was beautiful in its own way, and so was Arunachal. The history and the culture of the place was something I have never come across previously. Thankfully the place is still not crowded like other popular tourist destinations which made Arunachal even more beautiful. It has indeed had a lasting impact on me.

Before signing off I would love to thank my fellow travelers Bedvit, Annyesha, Budhaditya and Arijit, without whom the trip would not have been such a success.