Arunachal PradeshBlog

Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh – Of glaciers,lakes,snow clad mountains and a valley of clouds



Driving to the remote part of Arunachal Pradesh in the north east corner of India was an exhilarating experience . Colours change with every curve in the mountains and so does the scenery. bright yellow mustard fields merge ith some brilliant orchids that suddenly morph into dense forests with rivers gliding past them to snow clad mountains and conifers kissed by snow flakes to frozen lakes to a valley of clouds that wrapped mountains…




CHENNAI TO DIRANG
Chennai:4 am . what a way to start a holiday . I would have ideally liked to start the day late and sleep it off, but airlines have a way of making you work hard even on a holiday.So here we are packed and ready , travelling from south of India to the north east corner . 4 cities,3airports and one long drive…thats what day one was all about
We flew from Chennai to Kolkatta ,waited at the airport to get our connecting flight to Gauwhati We crossed Bangladesh border and snow capped mountains, wrapped with clouds and reached Gauwhati , the capital of Assam. Our holiday had begun as we started our drive to Tezpur ,our transit point before driving 400 kms uphill to Tawang located at 10,000 feet .


We had heard that there was a bit of unrest in Assam and Arunachal and there was heavy security . We crossed the Brahmaputra and were given instructions that we cannot take a photograph of this majestic river or the bridge . The sun had already set – it was just 5pm and we had reached our destination. The town was shut – we were told that there was a bandh .A dull beginning to a holiday .


Jan 3 : Day two seemed more promising.We were to cross into Arunachal Pradesh from Assam .Our jouney was to take us from tezpur to Dirang, another transit point enroute to Tawang . Tezpur , as a town has a mythological connection with the Hindu epic mahabharataha . A beautiful garden overlooking the brahmaputra was once the prison of a princess, a few ruins scattered here and there and a serene temple located uphill were our sightseeing experiences . Nothing much to right home about, we continued and the scenery changed dramatically. Beautiful golden mustard fields, lush dense forests with rivers gushing past and beautiful orchids filled our landscape as we reached Dirang,a petite hill station. We stayed in a lovely resort,with some courteous boys , who did everything to make our trip great and comfortable. The cold had just set in…we had no idea that this was just the beginning …but I had begun to enjoy my holiday.

A VALLEY OF CLOUDS
If there is heaven on earth, this is it . A valley of clouds that hid everything from mountain peaks to grasslands , flowers and birds and touched our cheeks gently as we got down to capture it on our lens .




Jan 4 : We were driving from Dirang,a small hill station in Arunachal Pradesh towards Tawang set high in the Eastern Himalayas The mountains curved as River Kameng flowed along with us . It had just snowed. All of a sudden, it was white all around. Snow,ice and clouds – all around. A glacier , snow clad mountains wrapped in a valley of clouds was all we could see till we came to a gate guarded by dragons with bright coloured flags fluttering all around.

We were at Sella Pass , where history and romance meet at 13700 feet. At the height of Indo-China war in 1960s, Sella was a local maiden who had fallen in love with Jaswant Singh , an Indian soldier . She died a martyr and the pass was named after her and was marked as a boundary between India and China. Jaswant Garh,a memorial for the soldier is also close by.


We had none for company except for a couple of dogs and a small tea shop that served us some hot tea and noodles . The cold breeze tickled the bones as we stopped and stared hard at the placid clouds , tugging at the mountains . A bright shaft of sunshine pierced through our skin as we let the heat in and rubbed our frozen fingers in glee . It was just us, the dogs and nature at its silent best .


BEYOND TAWANG
JAN 5 : It is an understatement to say that Tawang was freezing cold. This is a town which sees the first rays of sun in India, but ironically the sun never shines . The temperature was many numbers below zero. We stuffed ourselves with as many layers of clothing as possible and decided tomove out of our room in Tawang Inn . Tawang is famous for its monasteries,gompas on one end, a war memorial on the other .Its a town ravaged by war and was once in possession of the Chinese. The home of the Mompas, Tawang is known for the lakes and waterfalls.And we set out looking for them.


A thick layer of mist hung over the roads as we drove up hill . This is the road that takes us to Tibet and China, but as we did not have the requisite permits to get there .Our driver told us that there were more than 100 lakes up hill and if the army gives us permission, we would get there . A little cajoling with the army got us trudging uphill in our jeep .


The mist descended even thicker and many times we stopped dead in our tracks wondering if there was a curve ahead or if we were at a cliff . Visibility was at zero.And suddenly the veil was lifted . And we saw the blue sky . And a sea of clouds . The sun shone brightly out of a clear and spotless sky . Small peaks jutted out of the clouds which had spread themselves . We stared right into the clouds and could not see anything below.


We kept climbing uphill till we came to the first lake – the Patang Teng Tso or the PT Tso lake It was just 20kms from tawang and it seemed like a long journey . There was not a soul around,not even the occassional yak or the mountain goat. Even the army was not there .


Snow was snow scattered all over , carpeting a mountain here and there , while the lake was frozen. There were several lakes , a mix of water and ice ;some with coloured flags fluttering high,some dotted with a small temple . The colours were stark,blue and white ,black and brown . I had not seen anything so majestic, ,peaceful and beautiful. I wanted to capture every image in to the lens , but a lot is still in my mind’s eye .


We saw several bunkers used by the Indian army way back in the 1960s . It is a scary thought that this peaceful place was once a battle field
Getting there Tawang is in Arunachal Pradesh and you need a permit to visit AP. You can get one at Gauhati which is my first port of halt…a long journey by road via Tezpur and a stop over at Bomdila or Dirang is a must .Ideally break the jouney into two days . And believe me, the drive is worth it !

41 comments

  1. Anonymous 19 January, 2007 at 09:22 Reply

    Made for wonderful reading and urges me to visit all those places (hopefully in this lifetime!!). Why don’t you write about all the other places you have been – abroad?
    Keep travelling!
    Bhuvana

  2. SGC 22 January, 2007 at 17:14 Reply

    Hi,
    Beautiful decription and looks like you have found the ultimate place to visit and journey to peace… The photograhs makes me compell to travel and visit the place!

  3. backpakker 22 January, 2007 at 19:50 Reply

    Thanks…You must visit .Peace often comes in extreme conditions .Its one of the many ultimate destinations I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time . More to go.

  4. Anonymous 24 January, 2007 at 11:52 Reply

    WOW! You must have earned some frequent flier miles while u were up there. The pics are amazing. Im glad that places like this are remote and inaccessible…else your view of the clouds would have been obstructed by shacks selling chaineas food and dhabas blaring music loud enough to wake up the dead.

    Bharat

  5. backpakker 24 January, 2007 at 20:02 Reply

    Hi,
    I used up all my frequent flyer points to get there , anyways, there are no flights – you can travel only by road .
    Yes,its peaceful and remote and completely unspoilt by tourism

  6. Anonymous 25 January, 2007 at 15:43 Reply

    Hi
    Great way to start the year,thanks for taking one there without having do 4cities,3 airport and offcourse the long drive.Its a lovely feeling to look at the pics and soak in your experience.wishing you more such good times.cheers,kamalee

  7. backpakker 27 January, 2007 at 21:06 Reply

    Hi vathsan ,
    Great to find a travel buff like you..your pics are out of this world . My personal favourites are kerala , hampi … As destinations as well…keep travelling

  8. final_transit 31 May, 2007 at 23:12 Reply

    Awesome collection of pictures and narration. Such treasures are hidden in our country and most of the people are oblivious. Another sad part is the requirement of permit to visit Arunachal…

  9. backpakker 2 June, 2007 at 01:01 Reply

    Hi There ..

    Thanks for the vist . Yes ,I always believe that there are so many treasures and they are like desert roses- which bloom unnoticed
    It isnt difficult to get a permit at all …I got one after going to guwahati myself..
    However its remote and unlike sikkim which I planned the iteniery myself, here I needed help

  10. kalyan 3 June, 2007 at 23:14 Reply

    Some lovely pics and a nice documentary. Personally I have also been to Tawang and I beleive its one of the beautiful places in India.

  11. Balaji S Rajan 4 June, 2007 at 18:19 Reply

    Good narration combined with beautiful pictures,gives us a feeling as though we were with you guys. Nature is great. It is awesome and makes us to wonder and make us believe that there is something else behind these creations. I like all pictures especially of those lovely kids. It is so natural. I could imagine how you would have felt to see a tea shop at such places.

  12. backpakker 4 June, 2007 at 19:17 Reply

    Thanks Balaji for travelling with us … its a great feeling to be on top …nature is a great force . and you feel extremely small when compared to the mighty force

  13. Cuckoo 21 June, 2007 at 00:17 Reply

    Hmmmm I remember coming to your blog earlier also. One request-In the comment section you’re displaying only the time. Why not full date too?

    Now the post- The pictures are wonderful and took me to the place. I long to go to eastern part of India. Will definitely contact you when I plan it.

    Thanks again.

  14. Anonymous 10 August, 2007 at 13:44 Reply

    BackPakker:

    I iwsh to drive to AP – during oct 20th . Drive around AP . how and whom do I contact for obtaining a permit. since We dont want to go along with a group . Please will you help ?.

    CPN.

  15. backpakker 10 August, 2007 at 14:15 Reply

    Hi CPN , I got my permit from Guwahati . You can get it from Delhi, Assam, Kolkatta and AP as well..where are you travelling from ? We were just the two of us who went to AP and we didnt go with a group.We booked our travel ourselves .You can also check the following sites
    http://www.arunachaltourism.com/entry.htm
    http://roing.nic.in/permit.htm
    Keep all documents like ID proof, address proof ,passport or driving licence or pan card and photographs ..keep originals on hand . also buffer a couple of days . I’ve got some travel agents contacts if you need help,but honestly they were of no use . If its your own car, pls ensure that you have all papers pertaining to the same as they check .Let me know if you need any more help

  16. Rachit Chandra 6 February, 2008 at 23:44 Reply

    Hey,

    Nice blog. Very few travel blogs exist in India, and this definitely is by far the best.

    Why don’t you try changing the layout a bit to make the body more wide? We could be able to feast on bigger pictures and give you more bloggable space!

    A small correction: I have spent 18 years in Arunachal and the first town to see sunrise is Khonsa. Tawang is almost the last on in whole of Arunachal to see the sunrise.

  17. WindTalker 8 February, 2010 at 00:42 Reply

    Hi there.. great pics and a well written blog. I’m planning to visit Arunachal Pradesh with my wife and I need your valuable and generous advice. And will March be the right time to visit? Thanks.

  18. Ganesh 12 December, 2013 at 17:37 Reply

    Read this a bit too late..but really amazing the description is…surely will feature in my future travels…cheers ­čÖé

  19. Micky Douglas 8 January, 2014 at 16:46 Reply

    Beautifully put together. Sorry it took me soooo long to get to your post. Truth is, I’ve just started blogging, about two months back, so thought of following! Appreciate your feedback/comment on my posts.
    Thanks and all the best.

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