My celebrity friend Siddhartha Joshi is the inspiration behind my visit to Tawang in West Arunachal Pradesh. He had visited Tawang some years back and shared his pictures; and instantly I was like, if one place I want to go before I die; it has to be Tawang.
Finally after procrastinating and contemplating all these years, day finally arrived when I embarked on my journey with a friend to the much talked and heard about destination. Another incentive was the Tawang Festival.
Tawang is approximately a drive of around 16-18 hours or more from Guwahati. But it is not suggested. One can drive from Guwahati till Bomdila, around 10-11 hours drive. Bomdila is almost midway between Tezpur and Tawang. Tezpur can actually be called the gateway to western Arunachal Pradesh. Tezpur is located around 3-4 hours drive from Guwahati. But before travelling to Arunachal Pradesh one needs to make sure to have Inner Line Permit (ILP for Indian Citizens) and foreigners too need to have their permits.
We started from Tezpur around 5.30 am in a shared Sumo. And as soon as we crossed the boundaries of Tezpur town, the surroundings started to turn greener and fresher. We reached a small town called Bhalukpong, around 1-1.30 hrs drive from Tezpur. Bhalukpong is the place where all the shared taxis hault for morning snacks. We bought some chips, water bottles, gums for the journey ahead.
|On the way to Bomdila|
|On the way to Bomdila|
|A passing Army Convoy|
After a drive of approximately 6-7 hours we reached Bomdila. Bomdila is a small town, and it mostly acts as a transit point for people travelling to Tawang and beyond. We decided to stay over in Bomdila at Lungta Residency. It's a family run hotel and with very good service; though it's priced on a little higher side. After we dumped our luggage in the room, we decided to take a stroll in the town. We couldn't do much, as it was raining and getting dark.
|Monastery at Bomdila|
|Fresh mint tea at Lungta Residency|
|Evening in Bomdila|
We got up next morning to a brilliant BLUE SKY.
|BRILLIANT BLUE SKY|
We had booked a cab for 5.30 AM, but as usual it was late. If you are travelling to Tawang for the first time I would say don't take a share cab. It only stops at its regular places and for a very short time. Thus, you won't get an opportunity to stop at some of the great spots on the way and click some breathtaking pictures. We hired a cab; being festival time in Tawang it was damn expensive. We had to spend Rs. 5500 for a Maruti Alto. But generally the taxi prices are very high in hill stations here in north-east as roads are mostly pathetic and therefore it calls for quite a high maintenance cost.
We were pretty excited about the journey ahead. I was very very excited as I heard from some of the locals that it had snowed in areas near Tawang last night. In anticipation of heavy snow, our driver stopped in Dirang to pick up stuff that could get us through if we were stuck. While the driver was shopping I decided to take a walk and was able to get some nice pictures. Dirang is a cute little town.
|A street in Dirang|
|A general store in Dirang|
After a drive of almost five hours (don't remember it exactly) my excitement knew no boundaries. I could see some snow at a distance and higher we went it was getting whiter and suddenly snowflakes. It was snowing. WOW! WOW! WOW! that's what I screamed. Literally. I was super duper thrilled, it was my first ever tryst with SNOW. I was over the top and my friend couldn't stop laughing looking at me. But I least cared. Had waited whole my life for this moment. I couldn't control, asked the driver to stop the car, got down and went crazy. It was end of April, which made it even more awesome.
|Wannabe SRK :P|
We started again after some 20-30 minutes of playing with snow, posing for some self obsessed pictures. After driving for 30 minutes approximately we reached SELA PASS, one of the highest motor able passes in the World. SELA Pass is located at an elevation of 13,700 feet, 78 kms from Tawang and is the main road connecting Tawang with rest of India. We got down from the cab, and first thing I saw was the SELA LAKE and my instant reaction was "if there is heaven, this is it, this is it, THIS IS IT".
|STUNNING SELA LAKE|
I think the post is getting too long, more about the trip in the next one. VERY SOON.