The North-East of India is a hidden gem that is yet to see the crazy influx of tourists. The landscapes of Arunachal Pradesh are proof enough that the beauty here is virgin. This trip is designed to offer you the best of the West Kameng and Tawang Districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Starting from the adventure town of Bhalukpong, which is also the gateway to the state, the entire journey is a thrill ride on winding roads that takes you from the foothills to the higher reaches of the Himalaya. High altitude passes, lakes, waterfalls, fertile valleys and ancient monasteries greet you all along the way. Enjoy the views of mighty peaks from Tawang and stroll through the one of the largest monasteries in India before heading out for a tour of some high-altitude lakes.
Arrive at the economic capital of the North-East of India. Green paddy fields surround you and the distant hillocks complete the scenery. The mighty Bramhaputra rives flows right across this city. The 240 kilometre ride to Bhalukpong is pleasant to say the least. The inner-line permits to enter the state of Arunachal Pradesh is made here. You can take a walk down to the river bed of the Kameng River. During the right season, Bhalukpong is a hub for rafting, angling and other adventure activities. From here on the mountains lie ahead and you will leave the valley behind.
If the evening dawns before you reach Bhalukpong, the night halt will be at Tezpur.
Drive to Dirang
You leave early after breakfast and make way for the Dirang Valley. The route is around 180 odd kilometres long and it will take around 8 hours to reach as you would visit the orchid sanctuaries.
Sessa Orchid Sanctuary and Tipi Orchid Centre
The Sessa Orchid Sanctuary holds more than 200 species of orchids and have around 5 species which are endemic to the region over a protected area of 100 square kilometres. Hills, gorges and deep forest make it a trekker’s delight. There’s also a trail with signage describing different species of orchids. The orchids bloom from March to May and hence is the best time to visit Sessa Orchid Sanctuary. Also visit the Tipi Orchid Centre to understand the research carried out on the orchids for their conservation and proliferation.
Dirang Dzong and Monpa Village
Built in the 17th century to keep enemies at bay, the Dirang Dzong was also used as a prison during the Vietnam War. Now many of the houses have locals staying in them. The fort is located on a hill-top and is a four-storied structure. During the monastic rule, the administrators used to work from here.Visit the Monpa Village here which houses the Monpa Tribe. The Monpas constitute 77 percent of the population of this district. These tribesmen are claimed to be one of the only nomadic tribes of North-Eastern India.If you have time on your hands, you can also visit the hot sulphur springs and take a relaxing dip.
Drive to Tawang
Post breakfast, the 160 kilometre drive to Tawang begins and it takes around 8 hours to reach. The roads in patches are in pretty bad shape so be wary of some nasty bumps. The waterfalls, a high pass, a lake and stunning vistas make up for the bad roads. You’ll reach Tawang by evening.
Sela Pass and Sela Lake
Sela Pass at 4170 metres above msl connects the districts of West Kameng and Tawang. You’ll find snow almost all year round at this pass. There also a beautiful lake known as the Sela Lake at the pass. It is located near the summit of the pass.
Nuranang Falls or Jung Falls
A gushing waterfall that plunges nearly a 100 metres, the Nuranang Falls is a quintessential waterfall. It is located a few kilometres out of Tawang. There is also a small hydroelectric power station. To get you a little interested, Shahrukh Khan has shot a song sequence at this very spot
Founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in the late 17th century, the Gaden Namgyal Lhatse, popularly known as the Tawang Monastery is a majestic one. Surrounded by ravines and ridges, one gets a lovely view of the valley and the snow-clad peaks. It is said to be the largest monastery in India and one among the largest in Asia. The monastery houses close to 500 monks.
Penga Teng Lake
Around 22 kilometres from the Tawang, on the way to Bum La lies the Penga Teng Tso. A little walk down from the main road, leads you to this beautiful lake. There is a walkway around the edge of the lake for you to stroll and enjoy the lake. You can also visit the Shungester lake, popularly known as the Madhuri Lake owing to the filming of a song sequence here. An earthquake diverted the strem here and hence the lake was formed. You can still see dead trees in the middle of the lake.
Tawang War Memorial
Built like a chorten, this 40-foot tall structure is built to commemorate the bravery of the Indian soldiers who lost their lives during the Indo-China War of 1962. Pay homage to the fallen here. You can then visit the Urgelling Monastery, which is the birth place of the Sixth Dalai Lama. Also, the Buddhist nunnery at Ani Gompa should make it to your list.
Note - Our vehicle is not allowed to do sightseeing due to the rules laid down by the local taxi unions. You have to hire a separate vehicle for this.
Drive to Bomdila
An early morning set-off after breakfast over the Sela Pass will take you to Bomdila. The drive takes around 8 hours.
The Gentse Gaden Rabgyel Ling Monastery is one of the highlights of Bomdila. A fairly large monastery, it is said to be an exact replica of the Tsona Gonste Monastery in the south of Tibet. Lovely views of the town can be seen from here.
Bomdila – Tezpur
Wake up to the freshness of Bomdila and prepare for your journey to Tezpur. The downhill drive is quite pleasant with rivers and waterfalls along the way.
Tezpur - Guwahati airport drop
Time to get back to base. The surreal landscapes of Arunachal will never let you forget it and you shall forever be bound to this Himalayan Kingdom.