This was a conversation which I was having with my sister in law who stays in Assam and had been long trying to lure me into a trip to Tawang. For me, only one check at Google was enough to start making the arrangements for Tawang. The trip was to begin from Tezpur- Mission Chariali. For those who have never visited the North East, Tezpur is a quaint little town in Assam; which is the District Headquarter of Sonitpur District in Assam and has many tourists’ spots worth at least two visits. But my story is about Tawang and not Tezpur. So I shall continue. Yes, where was I? I was on a….
Road Trip to Tawang – Arunachal.
Now for a road trip, we need to take some preparations and they are as follows:
- Check on Google about the weather, temperature, accommodation
- Carry proper gear if you plan to enter a freezing zone of -6 degrees.
- Check on your medical requirements. The altitude matters.
- Clothes, clothes, clothes; most important of all. Face masks, woolen gloves and woolen head covers.
- Flasks for hot water, light snacks for you might not reach a ‘lunch’ point at 1:30pm IST. Mountains are most unpredictable.
So with all these thoughts and worries and bubbles of excitement in the stomach, we started the journey. We were a group of 12 members and thus needed 2 cars. With everything packed in we began our journey.
Warning: Not taking Google seriously or not realizing the extent of extreme conditions that can prevail in mountains is a grievous mistake. Wearing jeans in Kolkata, Delhi, and Kanpur is fine, but freezing days in Himalayas are a different story.
On the roads:Geared with everything that we thought we might need, we travelled from Tezpur to Haleswar Siva Temple. The group consisted of pious, religious and ‘nice’ people hence a stopover at this ancient temple was mandatory. This temple was built by Mlechha king Rudra Singha of Ahom Kingdom; he had established the capital of Kamrupa at Harupeswar. The temple is dedicated to Siva as a linga was found by a cultivator known as Hallowa. Rudra Singha constructed this temple on the initial structure in 1705 AD. Like any other temple in India, this too has the same strong fragrance of incense a dark interior and loads of incense sticks and candles stuck on a mound near the Linga. Every time I enter a temple, I end up wishing our God were treated with more cleanliness. The lesser known ancient premises are most of the time dark and wet and very ill maintained places.
We continued on our way: Balipara→Charduari →Bhalukpong.-52 kms. 2 hours.
At Bhalukpong we stopped for a brief look around the market place; typically a busy small town which is situated near the river Kameng. The river is a must visit. During monsoons the river gushes down the valley in its full galore.We, however stopped by at a place called Tipi for a lunch break. The entire route is strewn with these shanties where you have a wide choice of platters- ‘Veg ya Non-Veg’ .The veg platters have rice, dal, mixed vegetables (a chocchori) and a mixed vegetable. The non veg platters have one portion of chicken/fish/pork/egg added to it. All the dishes taste more or less same and are made for all species ,without any discrimination. A survivor’s suggestion- eat small portion, the dal is safe and egg is dependable, rest is in high risk zone. Risk-takers enjoy such meals, rest need to survive on the awesome mix of fruits that is sold in the roadside stalls.So ,on we went via Tenga market, touching corners of Tenga Valley and with glimpses of Tenga river and on to ……
Bomdilla: Height – 8,500ft. above the sea level. The headquarters of West Kameng district of Arunachal; the town has a fantastic view of the Himalayan range and a beautiful hilly topography surrounding it. The places to visit in Bomdilla are, the monastery and the beautiful orchid park at Tipi. Then there is the stadium and just a stroll down the mountains during sunset, is worth many a wait. The best and the worst part was the temperature. As the evening wore on the mountains the chill dipped to a bone chilling -5 degrees. The rooms in the hotel (Hotel La) were freezing cold and the room heaters barely worked. The only way we could stay partially warm was to get 5 to 6 blankets and not peep out. Come morning, the water was frozen and of course that created a problem in our morning activities. Anyways with shivering body and chattering teeth and after a hearty breakfast we started for Tawang. We were going to cross Sela. So the journey onward began.
Bomdilla→ Munna Camp→ Dirang- 42 kms and takes 2 hours.
Dirang:Imagine yourself in a place where you are sipping a cup of coffee at small shop cum restaurant, say at 6 in the morning; whenever you look around you, you see luscious green mountains and small streams and then again ranges. The small serpentine roads to the other side just peeps in out throughout these ranges. It’s only the small vehicles going up the mountain to Sela that reminds you that this is actually a town. That’s Dirang for you. A small valley by the river right in the middle of the mountains.While passing through if you are interested in doing a bit of sightseeing then these are the places you can just peep in and add to the notes of what all you have seen in Arunachal:
Dirang Dzong:By the Dirang river which flows without restrain, this tribal colony is spectacular for its homes which was constructed to battle with the severe natural conditions. The houses are unique with stone walls and wooden roof and represents the Buddhist architectural design.
Hot Water Spring – Flowing from nearby hills, the Hot Water Spring falls into River Dirang. Rich in sulphur content and praised for its curative powers. The bath is particularly refreshing when you visit this place in winter.
Sangti Valley- 7kms away from Dirang,The Eastern Himalayan ranges surround this valley and is rich in dense forest and the free flowing rivers. This place is famous for the black necked cranes and migrates from China during the winter months. The birds have a musical name- Tung Tung ka uk.