Sela Pass in Tawang Arunachal Pradesh
It is cold and there is snow scattered all around me. I look around and think that if there is heaven on earth, then this should be it. Surrounding me are cotton candy clouds that have descended from the sky to earth covering everything from mountain peaks to grasslands, flowers and birds . As I get down to take in the view, they touch my cheeks gently . Small mountain peaks thrust their heads out of these clouds presenting a pretty picture. I am wrapped in a world of white.
We are driving from Dirang, a small hill station in Arunachal Pradesh towards Tawang set high in the Eastern Himalayas . The mountains curve as River Kameng flows along with us.
As we continue on our way snow-clad mountains give us company until we reach a glacier which opens to a gate guarded by dragons with bright colored flags fluttering all around. A frozen lake greets me. A small tea shop stands around the corner .
We are at Sela Pass, where war and romance meet at 13,700 feet above sea level. The cold breeze blows in my face as I look around. There are no tourists except us on the road.A couple of dogs frolic in the snow.And a tale of tragedy unfolds amidst the scattered snow.
Sela was a local girl who loved Jaswant, an Indian soldier against her father’s wishes. During the Indo-China war, Jaswant Singh single-handedly fought the Chinese for three days by fooling them while Sela brought him ammunition and food from the camp.
The story goes that Jaswant positioned himself on a hill top in a long trench and placed rifles to give an impression that the entire army was behind him. Finally he was betrayed by Sela’s father and was captured and beheaded by the Chinese. Sela in agony committed suicide by jumping from a hillock. A brass bust of Jaswant is kept in Jaswant Garh, also the site of the battle. Sela has a pass at 13,700 feet named after her.
We walk up to the small shop to have some tea. We drink in silence. It is biting cold. We stop and stare hard at the placid clouds, tugging at the mountains.It is just us, the dogs and nature at its silent best. Sitting there, for what feels like eternity, I realize that almost every destination tells a story – of love, of betrayal, of patriotism, like the tale of Sela and Jaswant.
There is more to Tawang than just Sela and Jaswant’s love story and here is a post that is a guide to backpacking in Arunachal Pradesh.