Have you ever been on a journey that you never want to end? You wish that the road keeps going on and on and still you want to reach your destination. This feeling goes high when one is travelling in North East. Endless meadows, farms covered with green paddy and rice fields, random waterfalls and mountains covered in fog are your fellow travellers.
I was done with Ziro festival of music 2014 and I had to decide my next destination. At the festival itself I met two enthusiastic documentary filmmakers who were travelling in NE looking for something incredible and after the festival they offered me to visit Tawang with them and asked me to contact them in Guwahati after I reach there.
Tawang is one of the 16 administrative districts of Arunachal Pradesh. It is historically Tibetan territory and as a result, is claimed by China as a part of South Tibet. The people of Tawang are the Monpas who are adherents of a sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The Buddhist monastery in Tawang is the largest in India and plays an important role in the everyday lives of the people.
Here is a quick info that you’ll need while travelling to Tawang
Arunachal Pradesh borders China and therefore, there is considerable military presence in the State. All travellers require special ‘Innerline Permits’ to travel to the State. These permits can be obtained in New Delhi, Guwahati or Tezpur. The innerline permits are issued the day after the application is submitted and have the following requirements (as of June 2014):
– 2 passport sized photographs
– an attested copy of any one of the following: driving license, pan card, PRO, election card
– This is kind of funny but I have heard that along with ILP an Indian woman is supposed to get NOC from her parents or spouse when she is travelling in Arunachal Pradesh. So much effort by Indian government for Women Empowerment is simply commendable.
We started from Guwahati in Early morning at 4, unlike my last journey thankfully it was not raining this time. Our first stop was Tezpur that took us 6 hours to reach. We had a simple lunch of Rice and Potato Curry along with fried fish that is a part of Assamese lifestyle and we started our onwards journey.
Tezpur is even beautiful than the capital city Guwahati, the place has well maintained parks and lakes. We decided to explore a little bit of the city and after asking Suresh the dhaba’s owner we shortlisted to a couple of places for a quick visit. Tezpur is known for its beautiful sandy Brahmaputra Banks that boasts for its beautiful sunset views, although we didn’t have time to wait for 5 hours to see that but we ended up exploring Padun Phukhuri Lake and Chitralekha Udyan before starting our journey.
As we started from Tezpur and started towards Tawang we could see the high snow-capped mountains, Akhilesh one of the filmmakers was busy filming everything and would ask to stop the car after every 10 minutes to capture something in his huge camera. I would just choose to stand and admire the beauty, calm and serenity around me. My phones were out of charge, I forgot to buy new batteries for camera or charge the old ones. I think that clicking pictures was useless because no pictures can describe what one has seen through their eyes.
I don’t understand how come two of the drivers I have travelled with from Assam to Arunachal, I have always met assholes and they have been irritating at the highest level one can imagine. The driver to Ziro was an ass but this one crossed all limits. He offered us stay at a hotel in Bomdilla and said that he’ll arrange prostitutes for us. I mean what the fuck. He also kept lecturing about how western culture has affected Assamese culture and that is the reason of rapes and molestation cases everywhere. I felt that Akhilesh and Sanjay would have punched him if they have met this guy somewhere else at some other time.
From Tezpur we entered Balipara and reached the famed ‘Nameri National Park’, home to white-winged wood duck (Deo Hanh ) apart from the black bear, deer and elephants. The road was beautiful and we were moving towards the final location of the day where we were supposed to rest, at Bhalukpong.
Bhalukpong is located on the banks of Jia Bhareli river that was in its full flow on our route. We reached the place in the evening where we finished all the formalities and decided to stay there for the night. If you love spicy food then this place is a heaven for you. The Maggie soup that is one of its kind and is only made in Arunachal in this style is delicious like anything. We also had pork curry and momos before hitting the bed. The most amazing part was that the momos were unlimited and so was the soup. They were so delicious that a mere mention is bringing water in my mouth.
Next morning we started for Tawang, the road is one of the most dangerous routes I have seen in my life. ‘Last time when I was here, I was stuck in a landslide,’ our driver said. He was stuck there with number of other vehicles for 5 hours and only moved when the road was cleared. I don’t know why he was talking negative; please just shut up and drive I wanted to scream.
This road is amazing, I keep talking about nature’s beauty at its best and I always come across something that is better than what I witnessed last time. This route is a wild landscape, filled with spectacular waterfalls. Rivers flow swiftly in the valley along with us sometimes they even reached on the same level with the road. We moved slowly, making me wonder about this untouched territory while clouds dance at a distance.
We reached Tenga, an establishment of the Indian Army. It was a beautiful village surrounded hills on all sides. We crossed the village and finally reached Bomdila.The Arunachali town is filled with apple orchards and pine forests. We visited a local market, everyone I saw had a smile on their face, they didn’t say anything but their eyes were welcoming. Sanjay clicked some pictures, women smiled and laughed on seeing the camera pointing towards them.
There was a Gompa at a distance, we reached there at the time of the prayers. The surrounding was filled with Buddhist chants, entire experience seemed mystifying.
We went to a restaurant for lunch, I feel so happy to meet these people. They are so friendly and welcoming that you almost feel like home. We decided to go for Maggi and unlimited Momos and then decided to continue our journey for Tawang.
As we moved up, the river got lower and the clouds because our travel partners travelling side by side with us. An advantage of travelling without knowing the destination or the route is that you come across wonders in unexpected ways. Same happened with us when we reached Dirang. The place has music filled in it, birds chirping and the sound of the river flowing by makes this place heaven. We decided to stay here for a day and then move to Tawang the next day.
Next morning we started and left for Tawang, the clouds got replaced by fog and the route became unclear. We crossed a lake while it rained outside, the fog became so dense that it was almost impossible to see outside.
I couldn’t believe that I was on a height of 13700 feet.