This was my second time in the North East and I couldn’t be happier that it was Arunachal Pradesh!
Bordering Bhutan on the west and Tibet on the northern, this Land of Rising Sun is one of our beautiful kept secret of the North East
Arunachal Pradesh boasts of heroic wars of our Indian Soldiers with the Chinese.
Why should you travel to Arunachal Pradesh?
- To visit the Land of Rising Sun – Arunachal Pradesh receives the first sunlight in India!
- To pay an ode to the Indian army – I got goosebumps while listening to the documentaries at Indo-China Border.
- Learn about our Army heroes – It is because of them we have Arunachal Pradesh with us today- A 30-minute light show in Tawang’s War memorial will make you feel proud about our Indian army’s war with the Chinese in 1962.
- To travel on World’s second highest motorable road (Read: My travel on World’s highest motorable road – Khardung La?)
- To be a part of the luxuriant forests in the mountains!
- To see Birth Place of 6th Dalai Lama
- To visit the world’s second-largest monastery- Tawang Monastery
- To visit the historic Indo Sino site that China claims its territory, till date
- Last and the most important – to get snuggles from our furry mountain dogs!
Best time to visit
September, October, March, April and May – These months have a temperature around 15-25-degree Celsius. I made this trip in September 2019 and it was drizzling at most of the places.
I was happy to travel in September since I got to see colourful mountains beacuse of loads of colours flowers on them, luxuriant trees playing hide and seek with the fog and running rivers where I could enjoy the nature without shivering a lot!
It snows from mid-October till February. During winters, steel chains are wrapped on the tires to ensure more friction and reduce the chances of skidding while driving on the treacherous roads.
I didn’t want to see snow, frozen lakes for straight 6 days and really happy to have taken this decision to visit Tawang in its more colourful time.
You got to pick your adventure.
Ensure to get your Inner Line Permit (ILP) before the trip. ILPs are required in some of the states for safety reasons for the traveler and the country. These are generally issued and required for states bordering disputed countries viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Jammu and Kashmir etc.
How to reach Bomdilla?
By flight: Tezpur in Assam is the nearest airport to Bomdilla. Since the flights to Tezpur are more expensive compared to Guwahati, we decided to take the road from Guwhati after landing.
By train: The closest railway station is in Rangapara, which is at the distance of about 145 km away from Bomdila. Renting a cab from here to reach Bomdila is pretty easy. Alternatively, you can also book a seat on the buses that run regularly from Rangapara to Bomdila.
You can book railway tickets on IRCTC.
By road: Bomdila is well linked by road to the cities of Tezpur, Guwahati and Rangapura. There are several buses, cabs and taxis running frequently between these towns.
A six-day itinerary entailed:
Day 1 – Guwahati to Bomdila
We met Mr. Partha, the owner of Undiscovered Northeast at Guwahati airport. Today was reserved only for a 12-hour road journey from Guwahati (Assam) to Bomdila (Arunachal Pradesh). Five of us (+driver) headed to Bomdila in an SUV for our night stay.
Day 2 – Bomdila & UNESCO site – Thembang
Our day started at 8 am and left for Bomdilla Monaestry after breakfast
Bomdila Monastery: There were examinations going on when we reached the monastery and hence couldn’t venture inside. We met a monk outside who told us about the history of this monastery. There is a school right beside the monastery and they get fundings via donations.
We headed straight to Thembang after the monastery due to time crunch. But if you have some more hours, you can visit- Apple Orchards, Upper and Lower Gompa and Bomdilla viewpoint.
A village that is not found on maps and is listed under the UNESCO world heritage list because of the fortified village in Thembang.
We stayed here for two days and crashed at a local homestay which is supported by Arunachal Pradesh Tourism Board.
Day 3- En route Tawang
This morning we left for Tawang with two pit stops.
At a height of 13000 feet, this pass is extremely beautiful! We relaxed on boulders beside the Sela Lake and enjoyed the shivery winds between the mountains.
Jung or Nuranang Falls
As the folklore goes, Nuranang falls are named after a local Monpa girl named Nura who had helped a soldier, Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat, Maha Vir Chakra (posthumous) in the 1962 Sino-Indian War and was later captured by the Chinese forces.
These falls came into limelight after a song from the movie Koyla was shot here.
We crashed at a homestay in Tawang and called in a night with a delicious home-cooked meal of dal, rice, potatoes and chicken.
Our day in Tawang began with breakfast followed by venturing to these locations.
We took a bumpy ride of an hour or two from Tawang, en route a zillion lakes and postcard views to reach Bumla. It literally translates into Bum meaning ‘High’ and La meaning ‘ a Pass’, meaning a High Pass since it is located at an altitude of 15000 feet
We were welcomed by the Indian Army with warm water to drink to avoid AMS.
We saw a 15-minute video on the 1962 Indo-Sino War where my pride for my Indian Army grew multifold!
We learned that the war had begun due to border disputes (McMohan Line), India helping Dalai Lama, etc. While Nehruji met the Chinese Prime Minister in India for a peaceful future (“Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai”), the Chinese troops attacked our not so ready army at this border. Rifleman Jaswant Singh with two others who killed 300 Chinese to save Arunachal Pradesh!
Foreigners are not allowed on BumLa because of privacy and safety reasons for the travelers and the country, they are, however, allowed to stay in Tawang.
Sangestar Tso aka Madhuri Lake
This space was earlier a grassland that was destroyed due to an earthquake. Water filled in these cracks and spaces making a beautiful lake amidst the mountains!
This breathtaking lake also has a house RIGHT BESIDE the river in which some military personnel are allowed to stay!
It is also called Madhuri Lake because a song from the movie Koyla starring Shahrukh Khan and Madhuri was shot here.
It is the world’s second-largest monastery and was founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1680-1681 in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso.
The folklore goes by Merak Lama was searching for a place to build a monastery. One evening, tired because of all the roaming, he parked his house and called in a night. When he woke up the next day, the horse was missing! He searched for hours and finally found the horse which was standing where this monastery is today!
Ta – means “to choose” and Wang means “horse”, and hence the name Tawang!
You have the option of staying inside this 400-year-old monastery too! Tawang Monastery is known in Tibetan as Gaden Namgyal Lhatse, which translates to “celestial paradise in a clear night.”
We visited a War Memorial in the evening and learned more about our other brave soldiers. Thanks to them we have our beautiful Arunachla with us!
The memorial plays a 20 minute documentary on Arunachal and soldiers at 6:30 for mere INR 30. I would highly recommend attending this event so you’re even more proud of our nation!
Day 5 – Sangti Valley
Our first half of the way was occupied in traveling to Sangti. We were extremely excited to be staying here because we had seen the photos of the tents right beside the river, in between the mountains and the sky!
These tents were provided to us by Letro Homestay. All the tents have a bathroom and portable toilets.
Please communicate to them beforehand to get the toilets cleaned after every 2 to 3 uses. We had a tough time here because it was not cleaned at this interval.
The ducks were roaming around everywhere and I have never seen them up so close in a natural habitat. There were fishermen fishing in the evening while we were relaxing and playing in the river. We were served homecooked food of dal, rice, potatoes, chicken and rotis. (Please order some more food to feed the starving local dogs)
We were extremely happy about the climate and not needing any layers despite coming from Tawang where we were freezing in 15C!
Day 6 – Leave for and from Guwahati
You will need at least 10-12 hours to reach Guwahati airport from Sangti Valley. We left at 8 am and reached Guwahati around 7 pm. You can have a late-night flight back or stay over at Hotel Airport Nest (1 km away from the airport!) like we did and caught an early morning flight back home.
You can contact Undiscovered Northeast for a pocket fitting budget. The cost of this package is around INR 15,000/- plus flights and lunch.
We were extremely happy with the services of the driver – Mr Jagat.
Please ensure you get an experienced driver for the roads of Arunachal Pradesh since your life is no joke. There was a lot of mist and no visibility on the hairpin bends at most of the places. Mr Jagat maneuvers the roads smoothly and more importantly safely! I wouldn’t recommend self-drive.
This post is in collaboration with Undiscovered Northeast, however, all the views, comments and photos are mine.
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