We welcome you on an adventurous Journey like none other to Sela Pass and Tawang across the following circuit
Guwahati ~ Kaziranga National Park ~ Tezpur ~ Nameri ~ Dirang ~ Bomdila ~ Sela Pass ~ Jaswantgarh ~ Tawang ~ Guwahati
Keeping into consideration the various adventure journeys across India and the World, the travel from Guwahati to Tawang (covering the Kaziranga National Park and the Sela Pass) is one of the most breathtaking! From capturing your moments with the Endangered Indian One Horned Rhinoceros at Kaziranga, the Greenery of the Lush Tea Gardens of Assam, the Unadulterated natural landscapes of Arunachal Pradesh at Dirang, the Snow Covered mountains of the Sela Pass, the Holiness of the Lord at the Tawang Monastery and the exquisite Handicrafts and Handlooms of North East India at Bomdila you feel your time standing still for a moment and get to relive a moment entirely different from the hustle and bustle of the fast paced city life. Amazing Arunachal Pradesh Tourism assures to take you on a journey that allow you to rediscover yourself in the lap of Mother Nature perfectly in tune with one of the famous quotes of Lord Buddha ~ It is better to Travel well than to arrive!
Sela Pass is a high altitude mountain Pass that connects the Buddhist City of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh with the plains of Assam. This Pass is situated at 13,700 feet above MSL and is located between Bomdila and Jung in Western Arunachal Pradesh. The only way one can reach Tawang by road is through Sela Pass. The Sela Pass is covered with snow most of the year and offers excellent heavenly views all year round. Very close to the Pass is beautiful Sela Lake, which could be fully or partially frozen in winter. Overall the Sela Pass is one magnificent place to visit an unparalleled view of the mighty Himalayas. In addition to being a place Tourist Attraction, the Sela Pass is special to the Buddhists. The Buddhists of Arunachal Pradesh believe that there are about 101 lakes in and around the Sela pass that are revered by them.
Sela Pass also has a unique legend attached to it that states, a Sepoy of the Indian Army named Jaswant Singh Rawat fought alone against the Chinese soldiers near the pass during the 1962 Sino-Indian War fought in Arunachal Pradesh. A tribal woman who had brought food and water to him (named Sela) is said to have killed herself upon seeing the dead body of Jaswant Singh Rawat. Singh was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his courage and devotion to duty. Local people around Tawang area believe that he has become a saint and his spirit protects the area. A Shrine (Memorial) has been made at the place where he fought and the place is fondly called as Jaswant Garh. All Indian Army personnel passing by this route from General to a Jawan pay their respects here. Jaswant is treated as if he is alive, his boots shined, linen washed, towels changed. Soldiers who polish his shoes claim that they are often found covered with mud, a sign that he has been walking around at night. The Legend goes that convoys in blizzards have seen Jaswant directing the vehicles through the serpentine bends. He continues to receive his promotions on time even after his death.He even gets letters from people seeking his blessings and help in all types of problems.
Tawang is a beautiful hill town located in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. The name ‘Tawang’ is believed to have been derived from the ‘Tawang Monastery’ which is located in the midst of Tawang town and is the Largest Buddhist Monastery in India. Tawang town is inhabited primarily by the Monpa Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh who practice Buddhism as their faith. In addition to varied Flora, Tawang, is also home to a wide species of Fauna and Avifauna of the likes of high altitude birds, mammals, reptile species, snow leopard, musk deer, barking deer, bear, etc.
A town of Festivals and Fairs, the major festivals celebrated in Tawang are the Losar, Torgya, Dungyor, Drukpa and Zhapa Saka Dawa. Most important is the Losar Festival which is celebrated every year in February at the Tawang Monastery and marks the beginning of the Tibetan New Year.
The beautiful town of Tawang is at a distance of approximately 70 kilometers from the Sela Pass driving across the Snow Clad mountains of the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. Inhabited by the Monpa Tribes who are primarily Buddhists by religion, Tawang is a town of a wide variety of tree species, blue pines and Orchids grow in natural splendor in the friendly company of precious herbal and medicinal plants. Tawang has a varied Fauna and Avi-Fauna of the likes of high altitude birds, mammals, reptiles, snow leopard, musk deer, barking deer, bear and other animals.
The name Tawang is believed to have derived its name from the grandiose of Tawang Monastery. The popular interpretation is that the name Tawang was given by his holiness the Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso. TA means Horse and WANG means Chosen. As legend goes the site of the present Monastery is believed to have chosen by a Horse owned by Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso. Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso was on search for an appropriate place to establish a Monastery and was unable to locate any appropriate site. Finally he decided to sit on prayer for a guidance of a divine power. As he opened his eyes after prayer, he found his horse missing. So wearily he went out for searching his horse and found it on top of hill calm and quite. Believed it a good omen, Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso decided to initiate a work for building up of Monastery with the help of people living across the land of Monpa in the later part of 17th century according to the wishes of 5th Dalai Lama.
The Tawang Monastery is the Largest Buddhist Monastery in India and the Second Largest Buddhist Monastery in the World after the Potala Palace in Tibet. The Tawang Monastery stands atop a hill at around 1000 feet above the mean sea level and is surrounded by the green mountains of West Kameng. Appearing like a fort, the Tawang Monastery offers a majestic view of the Tawang-Chu valley. This Monastery is the fountain-head of the spiritual life of the Monpa people of Tawang.
How to reach Tawang:
Tawang can be reached via roadways connecting it from Tezpur in Assam. The town of Tezpur is located at a distance of 312 km from Tawang and the total drive time is around 12-14 hours dependant on weather conditions. It is always recommended to take a halt at either Bomdila or Dirang instead of taking a continuous drive from Tezpur to Tawang. The nearest accessible Airport and Railway Station are at Tezpur itself. But flight connectivity from Tezpur to other parts of India are not regular. It is always advised (if you are travelling by air) to arrive at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati and then plan you drive to Tawang by making a halt at either Bmdila or Dirang for a night before continuing on your journey to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
During your stay at Tawang:
- Sight the Tawang Monastery
- Sight the majestic snow Clad peaks of Tawang
- Visit the Jung Fall and the Madhuri Lake near Tawang
- Visit the India and China Border at the Bumla Pass
- Visit the local Monpa settlement a Tawang
- Taste local savories of the Monpa people of Tawang
- Be a part of the religious festivities at Tawang
Tawang is a Land of Festival and Fairs as these have always been an integral part of the Monpa Tribes of Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The festivals of Monpas are mostly associated with agriculture and religion. Monpas of Tawang district celebrates numbers of festivals every year. Some of the important festivals are Losar, Torgya, Dungyur, Choekor, Ganden Ggamchoe, Drukpa, Tse-ze and Zhepa Saka Dawa.
Two major festivals namely DUNGYUR and TORGYA festival are celebrated in the premises of the Tawang Monastery. The people from all parts of the district come on these auspicious occasions and enjoy with cheer and joy. Dungyur festival is celebrated once in three years. The Torgya festival is a Monastic festival being celebrated in the month of January every year. At the occasion of this festival a monastic dances are performed in the courtyard of the Tawang Monastery.
Losar festival is also one of the major festivals of Monpa people, which is celebrated in the last part of February and early part of March every year to commemorate the “New Year”.
To Plan your visit to Tawang with Kaziranga National Park please fill the form below:
Sample Itinerary for your visit to Tawang, Sela Pass and Jaswantgarh ~
Day 1 ~ Guwahati and Cherrapunji
Arrive at Guwahati Airport. On arrival you will be received by our representative at the airport offering a warm welcome in traditional Assamese style. From the Airport drive to Cherrapunji. Enroute visit the Umiam Lake at Barapani. At Cherrapunji, visit the Nohkalkai Falls and Mawsmai Caves and Seven Sister Falls. (if time doesn’t permit visit next day depending upon flight arrival time at Guwahati)
Night Stay: Sohra Plaza at Cherrapunji or Similar
Meals Included: NA
Day 2 ~ Cherrapunji, Mawlynnong and Dawki
Early morning, depart to the Border of India and Bangladesh at Dawki. Click pictures at no man’s Land at the pillar 1275 at Dawki. Later visit the Asia’s Cleanest Village at Mawlynnong. At Mawlynnong visit the Living Root Bridge of Riwai. Back to Cherrapunji for night halt.
Night Stay: Sohra Plaza at Cherrapunji or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 3 ~ Cherrapunji and Kaziranga National Park
After Breakfast, enroute to the Kaziranga National Park. On the way visit the Don Bosco Museum at Shillong which showcases the rich culture of North East India. Arrive at Kaziranga National Park. Evening free to visit the nearby Tea Gardens of Kaziranga.
Night Stay: Nature Hunt Eco Camp at Kaziranga or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 4 ~ Kaziranga National Park and Kaziranga Orchid Park
Early morning go for an adventurous Jeep Safari into the interiors of the Kaziranga National Park to spot the endangered Indian One Horned Rhinoceros species. Afternoon, visit the Largest Orchid Park in India at the Kaziranga Orchid and Bio-diversity Park.
Night Stay: Nature Hunt Eco Camp at Kaziranga or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 5 ~ Kaziranga and Dirang
After Breakfast, proceed to Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh. On the way visit the Tippi Orchard famous for its orange cultivation. Arrive at Dirang.
Night Stay: Hotel Sundupkhan at Dhirang or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 6 ~ Dirang and Tawang
After Breakfast, proceed to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. On the way visit the snow covered Sela Pass and Jastwatgarh. Enjoy the scenic drive to Tawang with snow covered mountains all around.
Night Stay: Hotel Bumla Inn at Tawang or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 7 ~ Tawang Monastery and Madhuri Lake
Today you will visit the Largest Buddhist Monastery in India at the Tawang Monastery. Also visit the Madhuri Lake named after Bolywood actress Madhuri during the shooting of movie Koyla. Afternoon visit the Local Market at Tawang famous for exclusive handicrafts and handlooms.
Night Stay: Hotel Bumla Inn at Tawang or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 8 ~ Tawang and Bomdila
Depart to Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh. At Bomdila, visit the Bomdila Monastery.
Night Stay: Gompa Monastery Guest House at Bomdila
Meals Included: Breakfast a
Day 9 ~ Bomdila and Chandubi Lake
Depart to Chandubi Lake near Guwahati. One of the best Eco-tourism destinations of North East Chandubi Lake is famous for the variety of migratory Bird species.
Night Stay: Chandubi Jungle Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 10 ~ Chandubi Lake and Guwahati Airport
Early morning enjoy the sunrise, boat riding and Jungle hike near the Chandubi Lake. After breakfast you will depart to Guwahati Airport for your onward destination. Trip Ends. Bid Adieu!
Meals Included: Breakfast
Places of Interest in and around Tawang ~
1| Tawang Monastery Tawang
The Tawang Monastery is the largest Buddhist Monastery in India and the second largest in the World after the Potala Palace in Tibet. The Tawang Monastery is the most popular tourist destination in Tawang and it offers majestic panoramic views of the the tawng valley and the towering Eastern Himalayas. The Tawang Monastery is located at an altitude of 10,000 feet above the sea level. This monastery was built in the year 1860 AD by Marak Lama Lodge Gyantso. The entire Tawang Monastery area appears like a grand fort and has huge doors which measure 925 feet in length and 20 feet high. Once you enter the premises of the Tawang Monastery you are filled with an immense sense of calm and inner peace. The large prayer hall is filled with various artwork depicting the sketches of various Buddhist monks and Saints. Inside the prayer hall there is a large statue of Lord Buddha. A visit to Tawanf Monastery is a must for any traveller to Arunachal Pradesh.
2| Sangestar Tso (Madhuri Lake) Tawang
The Sangestar Lake was formed by the earthquake of 1950 and is now a very popular tourist attraction near Tawang. This lake came to be known as the Madhuri Lake after the successful shooting completion of the Bollywood Movie “Koyla” here and the lake came to be known as Madhuri Lake after the renowned actress Madhuri Dixit. The Madhuri lake is surrounded by snow covered mountain peaks and beautiful valleys. This is the most popular lake in Tawang district and a leisure walk is the best way to explore the area around the lake.
3| Bumla Pass Tawang
The Bumla Pass is the India-China border that is located at an elevation of 5,000 meters above the mean sea level. The Bumla Pass i famous as this place marked the entry point of Dalai Lama into India. This place instills a spirit of patriotism towards the country in the minds of the travellers as you can see the Indian soldier patrolling the borders under the harshest temperature conditions. However, prior permission is needed to visit the Bumla Pass from the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Tawang district. The best way to reach Bumla Pass is to hire a local SUV at Tawang and then travel to the Pass from Tawang on a clear day as the route is not an a plain. Visit the madhuri lake on your way to the Bumla Pass at Tawang.
4| Nuranang Falls/Jung Falls Tawang
One of the most popular waterfalls in North East India, the Nuranang Falls of the Jung Falls on the approach from Bomdila to Tawang falls down from a height of 100m. The water source for the Jung falls originates from the Sela Pass with the Nuranang river forming the waterfall and finally plunging into the Tawang river as the Nuranang falls. As per legends, this waterfall is named after a local monpa girl “Nura” who is believed to have helped Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat who had put up a brave resistance against the Chinese troops during the war of 1962. The waterfall offers majestic views and this is a popular tourist attraction. In addition to being a popular tourist spot, the waters of the Jung falls is used to generate electricity as well and there is a small hydel power plant located at the base of the Jung falls near Tawang.
5| Gorichen Peak Tawang
Situated at a height of 6858 m, the Gorichen Peak is the highest mountain peak of the State of Arunachal Pradesh located in the Tawang district. The Monpa people of Tawang consider the Gorichen Peak to be sacred and they also believe that it protects the community from any evil. A popular tourist spot in Tawang district, the Gorichen Peak offers various activities around its area like camping, trekking and mountain climbing, etc. It is advisable to be a certified mountain climbing professional before you decide to conquer the gorichen peak. This mountain peak is visible on a clear day on your journey from Bomdila to Tawang by road. The best time to visit the Gorichen Peak in Tawang is in the months of April, May and post October.
6| Gorsam Chorten Zemithang Tawang
Another popular tourist destination near Tawang is the Gorsam Chorten at Zemithang. This is a high stupa that was constructed in the 13th century by Lama Pratha who hailed from the Zemithang village. Zemithang is located around 92 km from Tawang. The stupa is 93 feet high and has a base width of 186 feet. This stupa is similar to the Boudhanath stupa in Nepal. Every year during the Gorzam Kora festival, thousands of devotees come to the Gorsam Chorten Stupa to offer their prayers and take part in the festivities that falls on the first month of the lunar calendar every year.
7| The Chagzam Bridge Tawang
The Chagzam bridge is another popular tourist destination near Tawang. The architectural marvel of this iron bridge speaks of fine craftsmanship in metallurgy. The Chagzam bridge is located at a distance of 25 km from Tawang and was built by the disciple of Dalai Lama – Lama Chag-Zam Wangpo (Tangton Gyalpo). Tyangton Gyalpo was accredited with the building of more than 100 iron bridges across the Himalayan region. The Chagzam bridge was built around 1420-1430 and was to be used as a passage between Kitpi and Mukto areas.
8| Tawang War Memorial Tawang
The Tawang War Memorial is dedicated to the brave Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the Sino-India war of 1962. A beautiful stupa stands stop paying tribute to the brave souls. The Tawang War Memorial is located at a distance of 1 km from the main town of Tawang and sends a strong message that the brave soldiers of the Indian army always would protect their motherland and keep fighting for the security of their land until their last breath.
9| Hot Springs Tawang
The two hot springs of Tsachu and Thingbu are located nearby Tawang town and are a popular tourist spot for providing unique and pristine views. These springs are drawing tourists as a place for unique health rejuvenation at Tawang.
10| Urgelling Monastery Tawang
The Urgelling Monastery has gained prominence as being the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama Tsangyang Tashi. This monastery is located at a distance of 3 km from the Tawang township. The Urgelling Monastery was built in the year 1487 and the Dalai Lama was born in 1683 here. This is a small Monastery as compared the to Tawang Monastery however it holds a great religious significance among the Buddhist people of Tawang and in the World as well. The Urgelling village where this Monastery is located is a very serene place where one can spend their day walking around the village admiring the culture and heritage of the Monpa people of Tawang.
11| Taktsang Gompa Tawang
Located on the way to the Bumla Pass, the Taktsang Gompa near Tawang offers a unique divine and spiritual retreat to any traveller. This Gompa is located at a distance of 40 km from Tawang on a hilly terrain. This stretch takes a drive time of almost 2 hours and a hike of about 30 minutes to reach. The Taktsang Gompa is located at an elevation of almost 13,000 feet atop a cliff. One of the finest religious places to visit near Tawang, the sight and surroundings of this Gompa fills your mind and soul with peace and tranquility. The Taktsang Gompa was visited by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century where he meditated in the cave here. This Gompa is visited by thousands of devotees every year.
12| Regyaling Gompa Tawang
Another Gompa within the premises of Tawang city is the Regyaling Gompa. The Regyaling Gompa at Tawang came into existence as talks of hardships faced by Rigya Rinpoche came into narration across the people of Tawang. It is a very beautiful Gompa structure, the Reggyaling Gompa is located a kilometer away from Tawang township. The Gompa has been under the care of Chang Sey after the death of the founder of the Gompa.
13| Brahma Dung Chang Ani Gompa
This Gompa is located 8 km from Tawang township and the place offers stay options for tourists and pilgrims. This Gompa near Tawang was built in 1595 by Lama Karchen Yashi Galek and since then this place has offered refuge to visitors. This Gompa also shelters Buddhist nuns from various age groups as well.
14| Banga Jang Lake Tawang
Yet another spot near Tawang that offers majestic views is the Banga Jang lake. Local Monpas of Tawang area believe that this lake is possessed by deities and therefore many pilgrims to Tawang visit this lake and try their luck to catch a glimpse of these deities here. Once you are here you feel very spiritual and would love to spend some quiet time in meditation here.
15| Panganag Teng Tso Lake Tawang
Popularly known as the P.T. Tso Lake, this is a very popular tourist attraction of Tawang. The entire backdrop of the P.T. Tso lake is magnificent as one can see the towering Himalayan Mountain range and the beautiful valleys and rivers, quaint clouds, wet snow covered forests and sweet chirping of birds in the sky. To reach the P.T. Tso lake it is a 17 km drive from Tawang across the Himalayan mountain ranges. Driving further takes you to the beautiful Shong-Tser lake that also offers various picturesque views.
16| Sela Pass Tawang
The Sela Pass is a high altitude mountain pass in the Tawang district that remains covered with snow across the year. The Sela Pass is located at an altitude of 13,700 feet and falls along the way from Bomdila to Tawang. It is an army base as well at the Jaswantgarh base. This popular tourist destination near Tawang is always filled with tourists who halt here to admire the beautiful snow clad mountains view. An interesting feature of the Sela Pass is that the area houses around 101 lakes around the Pass which are revered by the Monpa people of Tawang. Therefore it is also called as the Paradise Lake because of its appeal and beauty. The best time to visit the Sela Pass is during the winters to experience the snowfall here.
Welcome to Tawang at Sela Pass ~ Tawang ~ Arunachal Pradesh ~ India
Additional details about Tawang District ~
The Tawang district that was carved out from the subdivision of West Kameng on October 6, 1984 and is located in the westernmost part of Arunachal bordering the country of China to its north, Bhutan to its south and the Sela Mountain range to it west. The entire district of Tawang is filled with mountains and valleys with average altitudes varying from 3500 feet to 22,500 feet. Several prominent mountain peaks are present in Tawang district with the most renowned ones being the “Gourichen” at an altitude of 22,500 feet and the “Chongchong Ma” at 14,000 feet respectively. These mountains remain snow capped across the year and look beautiful onlooking the Tawang district. The main rivers flowing across Tawang district are Tawang Chu and Nymjag Chu that are fed with numerous tributaries flowing down from the mountains.
A beautiful land filled with high mountains, deep valleys and gorges, gushing rivers, snow clad mountain peaks, etc. Tawang is a prominent tourist destination in the North east of India today. Tawang is gradually gaining importance as a prime tourist destination of India and visitors from across the World visit Tawang. This has made tourism an important source of revenue for the local people of Tawang along with other occupations of cultivation. Other occupation of the Monpa people of Tawang are carving on wood and bamboo woven handicrafts, painting, carpet weaving, etc. The monpas of Tawang follow Buddhism and this is evident from the presence of various monasteries across the district of Tawang that have a very soulful and pacifying ambience. Festivals are an integral part of the monpas of Tawang characterized with ritualistic songs and dances. The prominents festivals of Tawang are Losar, Torgya and Choekhor.
The staple diet of the monpa people of Tawang is Zam which is a flat bread served with vegetables or meat. Other popular dishes of the people of Tawang are momos, thukpa and gyapa khazi speaking of the characteristic tibetan influence on the food habits of the people of Tawang.
Tawang was earlier ruled by the Kings of the Monyul kingdom until the 6th century across a period of over a thousand years. After the Monastery was built here as per the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, the people of Tawang gradually adopted Buddhism as their faith. This has further led to abundance in prosperity in the region of Tawang as Buddhism has an innate ability to absorb and integrate nature’s faith to create prosperity and unity. Tawang today is a town of both cultural and commercial importance to Arunachal Pradesh. Tawang is a major town connecting the border of India and China at Bumla Pass and hence is a town of strategic National security interest.
Many Monasteries and Gompas surround the area of Tawang town. The famous Gaden Namgyal Lhatse Monastery or the Tawang Monastery is the largest in the Tawang district as well as in India. The Urgelling Monastery at Tawang was built in the 15th century and is also the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama. The Ami Gompa in Tawang is a 500 year old Nunnery in Tawang area that houses many Buddhist nuns. The Khinmey Monastery in Tawang is the shrine of the Nyingmapa sect of Tawang region. Around Tawang town area there are many artistic landscapes to be enjoyed as a tourist. The Bumla Pass is a beautiful place to sight the breathtaking frozen lakes. The Zemithang village is a perfect place to witness the heritage and culture of the local people here. The Gorsam Stupa is a sacred site that resembles the Boudhanath statue of Nepal.
Around Tawang town one can find many community development projects being undertaken. These projects help in social upliftment of the local people. Two such initiatives are the Manjushree Vidyapeeth and the Jhamtse Gatsal. At both these programmes visitors can volunteer to assist the children in their field of interests.
Popular Hotels in Tawang
1| Hotel Bumla Inn Tawang
2| Tawang Guest House Tawang
3| Monyul Lodge Tawang
4| Hotel Tawang Holiday Tawang
5| Siddhartha Hotel Tawang
6| Hotel Ugyenling Tawang
7| Tawang View Hotel Tawang
8| Gayki Khang Zhang Hotel Tawang
9| Tashi Ga Tsel Motel Tawang
10| Hotel Mon Paradise Tawang
11| Hotel Taktsang Tawang
12| North Hill Homestay Tawang
13| Dolma Cottage Tawang
14| Jambey Villa Homestay Tawang
15| Arunachal Pradesh Tourist Lodge Tawang
Popular Restaurants in Tawang
1| Woodland Restaurant Tawang
2| Dragon Restaurant Tawang
3| Orange Restaurant and Lounge Bar Tawang
4| Dharma Coffee House and Library Tawang
5| Hotel Mon Valley and Restaurant Tawang
6| Hotel Mandela Fooding and Lodging Tawang
7| Sno yak Restaurant Tawang
8| Cafe Suburb Tawang
9| Greenwood Restaurant Tawang
10| Tawang Food Court Tawang
11| Cafe Nirvana Tawang
12| Blue Pine restaurant Tawang
Exploring Tawang on a Road Trip from Kaziranga National Park ~
In the month of April 2017, after the tourist season at Kaziranga National Park was almost over for the year, my friend and I decided to go on a road trip to Tawang from Kaziranga National Park. We finished organizing most of our tours, Jeep Safaris and Elephant Safari across Kaziranga National Park and we wanted a break. As it was almost summers approaching across Assam we decided to go towards a colder place and we didn’t have much time in hand so we decided to explore Tawang since my last journey here was ten years back in 2007. I had been to Tawang with my family that time and the infrastructure to travel was not very good and no proper accommodation options were available. I still remember that my father had planned our visit in the month of December when the temperature was extremely cold and we had a tough time covering the area in the smaller car that we had hired. We had to get stuck at many places due to snowfall and therefore we chose to travel in the month of April this time when even though it would be cold but unlike December. We had planned the following route for our journey.
Kaziranga National Park – Bomdila – Tawang – Zemithang – Thembang – Kaziranga National Park – Guwahati
On April 20th, my friend and I started our car a Tata Sumo vehicle to go on our way to Bomdila from Kaziranga National Park. We packed in all essentials needed for our trip to Tawang from Kaziranga National Park. Bomdila is located at a distance of 200 km from Kaziranga National Park and we were scheduled to make a stop at Bhalukpong to enjoy the view of the river Kameng here as well and to try our luck at fishing here. As the roads are across mountains we planned to leave early to Bhalukpong so that we could reach Bomdila much ahead of sundown. We started at around 7.30 AM on our journey from Kaziranga to Tawang via our scheduled stop at Bomdila today. After driving for 1 hour we reached the town of Tezpur in Assam. Known to be the knowledge city of Assam, Tezpur has a rich history that dates back to the mythological era. Since we visited Tezpur a couple of times earlier, we did not make an additional stop here in the interest of time and headed towards Balipara area near Tezpur. After reaching Balipara we headed straight towards Bhalukpong in Arunachal Pradesh driving further close to our final destination of Tawang. We reached Bhalukpong at around 10 AM and we had to stop at the State border to validate our Inner Line Permits (ILP). ILPs are a mandate for Indian Nationals residing out of Arunachal Pradesh to make a visit to Arunachal. We both had our ILPs ready and showed them to the security officials who let us through the checkpoint after verifying our documents. Next up we reached the Bhalukpong local market.
It is a beautiful local market here at Bhalukpong that draws a huge number of vendors and buyers everyday. Various traditional handicrafts, handlooms, local products, vegetables, meat and fruits are sold at Bhalukpong market. Being home to the Aka tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, Bhalukpong market showcases the possessions of the people of this tribe like their unique collection of silver ornaments. The Bhalukpong market also has on sale the various colorful dress patterns of the Aka tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh. This market is a must visit if you like collecting rare things from the indigenous people of India.
After exploring the local market for a while we went to the banks of the Kameng river near Bhalukpong where we would try our hand at fishing. Bhalukpong was earlier a favorite destination of visitors interested in fishing the prized golden mahseer. This fishing practice has gradually declined now but the traditional fishing is still practiced here. We went to the area of the picnic spot where various adventure tourism sports are conducted here in Bhalukpong. The picnic spot is a favorite destination for travellers coming for a picnic to Bhalukpong especially during the winter season. But as the rainy season had almost started now this crowd had reduced and so we among the few visitors here today. We contacted a local person by the name Namchi who assisted us to arrange for a fishing trip here in Bhalukpong. But when we reached here Namchi told us that the weather was not favorable and therefore fishing was not being allowed at present in the interest of safety of the visitors here at Kameng river near Bhalukpong. We tried to persuade him to do something but he informed us that it was for our own safety as there were reports earlier of visitors drowning in the river due to the fierce current of the Kameng during rains. So we had to change our plans and instead we decided to visit the Bhalukpong fort.
We reached the Bhalukpong fort at around 11.30 AM and it was a ruin from the 10th century. This fort is an ancient structure with certain remnants of brick structures. The Bhalukpong fort was the seat of King Bhalukpa who was the ruler of the Salasthambha kingdom. Later on this fort was under the control of the Palas of Assam. We explored the ruins admiring the architecture of an ancient time. In sometime we headed to the Tipi Orchard garden cum Research Center on our way to Bomdila from Bhalukpong.
The Tipi orchard center is a one of a kind garden that houses around 1000 species of orchids here in Arunachal Pradesh. The Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park is however the largest orchid park in India. The Tipi orchard center gives visitors a unique opportunity to sight various indigenous orchid species of North East India. This place is located across a huge area spread over 10 hectares and the place also houses a museum, tissue culture lab, gardens and offices. The orchids are well displayed in a glass house along with a fountain. It was really interesting to see these many orchids here. We admired the area around the Tipi orchid garden and at 12.30 we bid goodbye to the place near Bhalukpong to continue to Bomdila.
We wanted to visit the Pakke Tiger Reserve near to Bhalukpong but as the season had ended we had to skip this part along with the Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary near to Bhalukpong. So we started on the drive to Bomdila along the Chariduar-Tawang road. We had our lunch at a small shop after the Tipi Orchard Center. The meal had rice and chicken curry and a leafy vegetable along with tomato chutney. It was a simple yet delicious meal. The drive from Bhalukpong to Bomdila is an uphill drive and the distance to be covered is 97 km but the drive is almost around three and a half hours. We planned to reach Bomdila before 4 PM but the unplanned stops made it seem difficult. We continued on the drive along the Chariduar-Tawang road continuously without making any further stops. The entire journey is across the majestic mountains of the Eastern Himalayas of Arunachal Pradesh. The beautiful valleys are a real treat to any visitor’s eyes. We gradually crossed Dedza and continued on our drive. The Tenga river gradually approached as it flowed along the road towards Bomdila. After about 2 hours we approached Nag Mandir Jamiri where we made a quick stop at the Nyezino resort here for a cup of coffee.
We knew the owner here who had come to Kaziranga National Park once and stayed with us and had invited us over to to his place at Nag Mandir Jamiri. A beautifully constructed resort, it offers accommodation as well as fine dining experiences to the visitors here. The resort has an amazing view overlooking the rivers and valleys. The owner welcomed us here and we spoke about the location and the place as well and after the coffee we bid goodbye to continue to Bomdila. Next up we crossed Dahung, Tenga market and Dakhupamir to reach Pedung and finally arrive at Bomdila at 5.30 PM. It was already pitch dark as the sunset happens early in this part of the country. Our stay at Bomdila was booked at Hotel Seagull. The manager was a friend as we keep sending many tourists here at Bomdila from Kaziranga National Park and arrange for their accomodations at Hotel Seagull. It is a nice place located near the market area of Bhalukpong. The manager had booked a deluxe room for us and arranged for a wonderful evening tea along with snacks as a way of saying thank you for our business with him.
Bomdila is a beautiful town located in the west Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh that acts as a perfect stopover on your long journey to Tawang. Tourism is gradually catching up in Bomdila with the place attracting many bird lovers at the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary located here. Bomdila also offers magnificent views of the Kangto and Gorichen peaks of Arunachal Pradesh. The popular spots to visit are the apple orchards and the orchid farms here. The Bomdila Monastery is also a soulful attraction here which we planned to visit tomorrow on our way to Tawang. It was getting very cold in the evening and there was nothing much to do. There were another four guests at the place and the manager had lit a small bonfire behind the campus of the Hotel. The guests were all present there. We too went near the place to get little warmth from the cold weather. The guests had bought along two bottles of rum with them and they offered us a glass to help keep ourselves warm. The guests had ordered onion pakoras and chilli chicken as starters that came along shortly. The guests were from Dirang and they were on their way to Guwahati. As it got dark along their journey they made a halt at Bomdila to start early next morning to Guwahati. They spoke to us about their place Dirang which is another tourist spot on the way to Tawang from Bomdila.
Dirang is a tinsel town midway between Bomdila and Tawang. A paradise of a place that had a confluence of towering mountains, lush valleys, river flowing across and a beautiful countryside as well. Dirang also acts as a stopover on your long journey to Tawang with a few hotels and guesthouses that accommodates travelers. Located close to Dirang is the Sangti valley which is home to the Monpa tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and is a fast gaining popularity in the tourist circuit of Arunachal Pradesh as an offbeat destination perfect for ecotourism. Sangti valley offers its visitors a chance to witness how man lives in harmony with nature keeping a perfect balance in the ecology. People in Sangti Valley use the produce of Mother Nature to do all sorts of activities like building homes, use for cooking, making handicrafts and in turn give back by planting more trees not disturbing the parts of forests in a severe manner. There are many apple orchards and kiwi orchards here in Sangti Valley owing to the pleasant weather and climatic conditions. Sangti Valley can be best explored on foot around. However, the most renowned this about Sangti is the arrival of highly revered black necked crane here during the winter months from November. The Monpas of Sangti valley revere this bird species and pray to it for a good fortune the year ahead. This is what attracts many visitors to Sangti Valley from around the World. Sangti is also home to the various other migratory birds as well as resident species. This was a gist of what the visitors had told us about Dirang and Sangti valley during the course of our conversation by the fire. Dinner was served shortly and it had offerings of rice, dal, mixed veg sabji, chicken curry, salad, papad and pickle. A simple yet delicious meal. We retired to our rooms after thanking everyone and went to bed in sometime.
The next morning we were up early to continue on our drive to Tawang crossing Dirang, Sela Pass, Jaswantgarh and Jung. We were scheduled to depart by 7.30 AM as the weather conditions along the road from Bomdila to Tawang is never predictable so its better to start early. Although the road distance to Tawang from Bomdila is around 180 km, the drive takes around 6 hours keeping in mind the mountainous terrain and the narrow roads. Army convoy trucks keep plying on the road and when the convoy passes cars along the journey have to wait and allow them to pass through. We were also scheduled to make a stop at the Bomdila Monastery as well. We ordered a quick breakfast of bread toast, omelette and tea and after bidding goodbye to the manager of the Hotel Seagull we headed to the Bomdila Monastery along the Tawang route. We reached the Monastery at around 8 AM and we decided to quickly explore the Monastery as we did want to cross Sela Pass before 1 PM as Sela Pass being a high altitude mountain pass loses light by afternoon itself. We also had to make stops at Jaswantgarh and Jung before reaching Tawang.
The Bomdila Monastery was built in the year 1965 by the 12th incarnation of Tsona Gontse Rinpoche. It is a beautiful and artistically constructed Monastery that looks very attractive from the outside and inside it has a large prayer hall and along the Monastery there are residential quarters of the Monks. The Bomdila Monastery follows one of the most prominent centers of Lamaistic faith of Mahayana Buddhism. The Bomdila Monastery was blessed by his holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in 1997. A beautiful campus we could see various young monks here at the Bomdila Monastery. As per Buddhist customs, the young monks enter the Monastery from a very early age are taught about the various traditions and practices of leading a monastic and religious life. We visited the altar at the Bomdila Monastery where there is a huge statue of Lord Buddha along with the backdrop of other Buddhist Gods as well. There were prayer offerings at the Altar with candles on bronze cups. We admired the Bomdila Monastery for a while and at 8.45 continued on our drive to Tawang.
We crossed the small town of Munna and reached Dirang at 10.30 AM. We did not make a stop at Dirang and only saw the beautiful Hotels from the road and crossed the Dirang market. A beautiful valley greeted us after Dirang and we continued on our drive to Sapper and Baisakhi. Finally at around 12.30 PM we reached the magnificent Sela Pass. A beautiful sight greeted us once we arrived at Sela Pass. There was snowfall to be seen along the Sela Pass and we halted to admire the majestic view of the Sela Lake that is present near the Sela Pass. The lake was partially frozen and offered wonderful view of the backdrop scenery. As per beliefs of Buddhism, there are around 101 lakes around the Sela Pass and these are considered to be sacred. Temperature at the Sela Pass was quite cold. We admired the area for a while and then continued to head on our journey to the next stop at Jaswantgarh. When we were approaching Jaswantgarh we could see the various army outposts heavily guarded by the brave men of the Indian Army. A sense of patriotism dawns inside any traveller once they see the soldiers of the Indian Army patrolling our borders in the harshest conditions possible. We made a stop at Jaswantgarh to admire the bravery of a brave soldier who single handedly protected the area from the Chinese invasion of 1962 and fought till he was captured by the Chinese soldiers. A war memorial has been constructed here to pay tribute to the bravery of this soldier.
We did not go inside the war memorial but made a stop to have tea and snacks at the canteen run by the Indian Army Personnel. They serve hot momos, samosas and other bakery items here. Hot water and tea is served complimentary to all travellers who make a stop at Jaswantgarh on their journey to Tawang. We had momos and samosas along with tea. There is also a small shop that sells winter gears to travellers at subsidized army rates. IO bought a jacket and a pair of gloves to help me keep myself warm on the journey to Tawang and further. After spending a little more time near the army pont at Jaswantgarh we headed on our journey to Tawang. It was already dark as mentioned earlier it happens here at high altitudes. It was already around 2.30 PM and we had to reach Tawang in another 2 hours drive time. We decided to skip our halt at Jung to view the Nuranang Falls/Jung falls this time and instead head directly to Tawang. We continued on our drive following the other vehicles that we ahead of us. The roads were slippery due to snowfall so we had to drive slowly as well.
At 5 PM we finally reached Tawang after a long 8 hour drive from Bomdila. We headed to the Tawang Guest House in Tawang where our stay was booked. The manager welcomed us in and this place too was known to us from our earlier bookings in Tawang. He alloted us our rooms and we headed straight in front of the heater in our room as it was freezing cold in Tawang. The manager brought us hot tea to help keep us warm. I put on my jacket and gloves that I had purchased in Jaswantgarh. It did bring in a sigh of relief from the cold. My friend jumped into bed and covered himself with the warm blankets to stay warm instead. The manager called us for dinner at 8 PM and the meal had rice, dal, matar paneer, chicken curry, potato fry and salad. We enjoyed our meal and headed back to our room to retire for the night.
The next morning we were scheduled to explore Tawang Monastery and the market area of Tawang. We were originally scheduled to visit the Bumla Pass today but the weather conditions were not good and hence the manager advised us against it and told us that hopefully tomorrow would be a better day and he would make all arrangements for us before we can head out to the Bumla Pass. We had our breakfast at 8.30 AM and headed out to the Tawang Monastery. It is a slight uphill drive from Tawang town to reach the Largest Buddhist Monastery in India – the Tawang Monastery. The Tawang Monastery is the most popular tourist destination in Tawang and it offers majestic panoramic views of the the tawng valley and the towering Eastern Himalayas. The Tawang Monastery is located at an altitude of 10,000 feet above the sea level. This monastery was built in the year 1860 AD by Marak Lama Lodge Gyantso. The entire Tawang Monastery area appears like a grand fort and has huge doors which measure 925 feet in length and 20 feet high. Once you enter the premises of the Tawang Monastery you are filled with an immense sense of calm and inner peace. The large prayer hall is filled with various artwork depicting the sketches of various Buddhist monks and Saints. Inside the prayer hall there is a large statue of Lord Buddha. A visit to Tawang Monastery is a must for any traveller to Arunachal Pradesh. We offered our prayers here at the Tawang Monastery and at 11 AM we came out from here.
Next we stepped into the local market of Tawang town where we could see various vendors selling local goods. We took a walk around the market where various Monpa people were buying and selling goods. Their local handicrafts and handlooms were a sight to watch out for. There was a food section as well where people were selling meat of ‘Mithun’ and some dried fish items. We spotted a small local restaurant here that was selling hot thukpa and momos. The thukpa in an originally tibetan dish which is basically a noodle soup. This is a very popular dish among the Monpa people of Arunachal Pradesh as it helps to keep the body warm in the severe cold climate of Tawang. We were served with chicken thukpa while other meat options are also available here. Momo is another popular dish from tibet and had found place in the hearts of the people of North East India especially Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Momos are basically a dumpling filled with meat and onion and often served with a spicy chutney and hot soup. These two food varieties speaks of the Tibetan influence on the people of this place. It was a very tasty meal especially as it was served fresh and hot. The chillies in the thukpa made the dish more appealing. We finished by 4.30 PM and then we went ahead to visit the Tawang War Memorial. We had to travel for 20 km further to reach the Tawang war Memorial. The place is a tribute to the brave 2140 soldiers who laid down their lives in the 1962 Indo-China war. The entire place is gracefully maintained and speaks aloud of the bravery of the soldiers of the Indian Army. A sense of patriotism dawns inside you once you visit the Tawang War Memorial. We admired the place and at 3 PM we left the place to return to our guest house. The manager told us that he had arranged for the permission from the DC Office at Tawang and also a separate local vehicle for us to go to the Bumla Pass the next day. We thanked him for his efforts and just explored the area around the guest house. We were served tea in a while and hot chicken pakoras were arranged for us too. We had bought a small bottle of rum to be had with warm water to help keep us warm. The manager lit a small bonfire behind the place and only the hotel staff and we were there. It was pretty cold outside and the rum technique didn’t work out to keep us warm so we decided to eat our dinner and retire to bed to prepare our visit to the Bumla Pass near Tawang the next day.
We were up early the next day and we took a walk nearby the guest house. We were scheduled to leave to Bumla Pass at around 8.30 AM as it was an easy 2 hour drive to the place and weather conditions are never predictable here so it is always advisable to start your journey to Bumla Pass in the morning and then on the way back explore the Madhuri Lake and the PTSO lake as well and return to Tawang. Our driver of the local vehicle Mr. Thapa came to the guest house at 8 AM and greeted us and along with it described us the road ahead of us to Bumla Pass. He was carrying chains along with him in the car as it might be necessary to wind these across the tires to get a better grip of the snow covered roads. We had a quick breakfast and at sharp 8.30 started on our drive to the Bumla Pass near Tawang. The roads were windy and we had to climb up further elevation to the Bumla Pass. The Bumla Pass is situated at a height of 15,200 feet above the mean sea level and acts as a connection between India and Tibet. The Bumla Pass was reopened in 2006 and business started happening between the two countries. The Bumla Pass is covered with snow mostly across the year. The area is heavily guarded by the Indian army personnel and it is always advisable to seek their permission before setting out to explore the area. We reached the Bumla Pass at around 11 AM. The vehicle stopped at a distance and we had to walk about 500 m to view the border of India and China. The army personnel checked our passes and we were allowed to see the Pass. It was severely cold and it immediately speaks of the lot about the dedication of the soldiers who spend day and night guarding the international border here. We enjoyed the view for about 30 minutes at the Bumla Pass and then headed on our way back to Tawang with stops at the Madhuri lake and the Pt Tso lake. By the time we arrived back in Tawang it was almost 4 PM. We thanked Mr. Thapa for his skilled driving and bringing us safely back to Tawang. We also thanked our Hotel manager for arranging everything for us as well. After dinner we retired to bed early as it was a long and hectic day as well.
Today morning we were all set to bid goodbye to a wonderful stay and amazing experience at Tawang to head to Thembang village after making a stop at the Nuranang/Jung falls on the way. We started early at 7.30 AM in order to cross Sela Pass before afternoon and to reach Thembang village before sundown. We reached Nuranang falls by 9 AM and it was indeed a wonderful sight to view this waterfall. The water here was crystal clear and it reminded us of the Nohkalikai falls at Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. We finished exploring the Nuranang falls and then headed on our journey to Thembang village after crossing Jaswantgarh and Sela Pass. The weather was bright and sunny and the roads were clear so we did not have trouble driving today. We admired the drive all along and finally arrived at Thembang village at 3 PM. We stayed at the local homestay here in Tawang. The next morning we explored the Thembang village as per the inputs provided by our friends we had met in Bomdila and then headed on our way to Kaziranga National Park to arrive by late afternoon. It was a very memorable drive and holiday in Tawang and we shall cherish it forever.
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