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Old 26th May 2009, 18:55   #1
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Default Tawang And Beyond

It all started one fine late autumn afternoon. Four of us, all colleagues and friends, were sitting over a cup of tea and discussing different tourist spots in India. Suddenly one of us, Milind, a computer engineer, casually passed a remark on the virgin beauty of Arunachal Pradesh. The other three, all police officers, namely Kar, Jharimune and yours truly Naseem, quickly picked up the idea as none of us had ever seen Arunachal Pradesh. Within minutes a plan was mooted out and we all decided to have a firsthand view of Arunachal Pradesh sometime in mid December which was hardly a fortnight away.

Necessary permission from the concerned authorities for entering Arunachal Pradesh was duly obtained and on 15th Dec 2004, the four of us boarded a train for Guwahati and a 4-hour journey by bus landed us at Tejpur in Assam round about midday on the 2nd.day.

TEJPUR: Tejpur is a nice little sleepy town with a beautiful park from where the setting sun beyond the River Brahmaputra was a treat to watch. The next morning all of us packed into a hired Bolero with Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh as our goal.

At this point I want to go astray from our journey and want to say a few words about us.

All of us were different from each other in various ways. I being the senior most, commanded respect from the others and all the planning and decisions were ultimately left to me. I was also in charge of the videography. Milind, who was small built, was the playful type and was up to all sorts of pranks. He was also carrying his Digital as well as orthodox SLR camera. He was our treasurer too. Jharimune perfectly fitted into the gang and seemed to enjoy every joke, prank, etc. But the special type was Kar. He was the jester in the pack. His every innocent move brought forth a peel of laughter from the others. He was tall, averagely built and very dark in complexion. He was bald with a small mop of hair on his head, but every now and then he would take out a comb from his pocket and comb his prized possession. Quite often he was caught on the lens doing this. All said and done, we all mixed with each other freely and enjoyed every moment to the brink.

BHALUKPONG: Coming back to the journey, by 10 o’clock in the morning we reached Bhalukpong, the border town of Arunachal Pradesh where we had to pass the check post. Just beyond Bhalukpong we stopped at a Flower Nursery which accommodated all sorts of beautiful and rare orchids.

From Bhalukpong we proceeded further north towards Bomdila which was about 75 km away. We saw innumerable waterfalls and brooks. At one of the waterfalls we stopped to rest and feast our eyes on the beauty of nature. At this juncture Kar came into play. Suddenly without any warning he ran down the hill to go to the rocks where the water was cascading down. Somehow he lost his foothold and slipped into the chilled water. We had to help him out of the water and he, putting aside his modesty, had to change his wearing apparels in the open, a record of which was mischievously captured in Milind’s lens and my video. We jokingly and fittingly christened this waterfall as ‘Kar Falls’.

Leaving behind ‘Kar Falls’ we soon came to Saiddle Point which was at a height of 5100 ft. The view of the hillside was breathtaking. By late afternoon we had reached Bomdila. Here let me enlighten the readers that during the last Chinese aggression in 1962, almost the whole of Arunachal Pradesh right upto Bomdila and Bhalukpong was under the Chinese occupation and later retrieved by India through treaty.

DIRANG: The evening found us at Dirang. It was quite chilly then. We booked into a hotel overlooking the panoramic view of the Dirang valley with all its hills, streams, trees and flowers. As night closed in we all crept inside thick blankets. Kar, Jharimune and I started playing cards. In fact, whenever there was nothing to do, we passed the time by playing cards; such was our addiction to it. Milind during this time kept himself busy by examining his cameras from all angles. He also kept account of the traveling expenses being the treasurer.

Early next morning we took a quiet stroll and the hotel and befriended some local boys and girls. Every word of ours set forth a burst of laughter from them. They were so innocent and charming

The journey between Bhalukpong and Tawang (350 km. app.) was the longest drive undertaken by us on mountainous terrain. All the aches and pains were however compensated by the breathtaking scenery which met our eyes. There were lots of snow laden hills and mountains. On one occasion we climbed a small snow-covered hill and slipped down the snow. At innumerable places the mountain stream while cascading down the mountain froze into ice while in motion and looked like sparkling cut glasses. Snowy white stairs were also formed at lots of places. The glistening of the sunrays on this ice was something to be seen. At some places the hills were covered by black rocks. Quite often we came across Border Roadways Organization clearing away the rocks and debris accumulated on the road due to landslides which were frequent in these areas. We also saw yaks aplenty.

We soon reached Sela Pass (Height-13700ft) in the afternoon and had lunch in the only hut we saw. Here the combination of low flying clouds, valleys, mountains, fog, etc. presented an ethereal atmosphere. We met some Jawans and shared some of our experiences.

An hour from Sela Pass brought us to Jaswantgarh Memorial which was built in memory of a soldier Jaswant Singh who bravely fought a Chinese battalion and managed to keep them at bay and ultimately lost his life. Just before entering Tawang we came across a magnificent waterfall which was cascading down the mountain from a great height. The sunrays had turned its colour to different hues because of the refraction phenomenon.

TAWANG: Ultimately, on the 4th.day of our holiday, in the evening, we reached our destination Tawang, the last town bordering China and put up in a hotel. We stayed at Tawang for about three days. It was really cold there but Milind seemed to be the worst sufferer and was perennially shivering.

On day 5th, driving 35km uphill on Lhasa Highway, we reached 'Sangester Lake' (1200 ft). The whole area was like a celestial paradise at its best. This lake as well as several lakes that we passed by were frozen. Even the road leading to the lake was laden with snow. We all walked and played like children on the frozen ice. At one place Milind while pulling Kar like a Trolley over the crystal ice slipped and fell flat on his bottom. Unfortunately for him, this scene was caught on the video lens. The name Sangestor Lake has been corrupted by some people as Madhuri Lake because the Indian actress Madhuri Dixit had danced at this site in a sequence to the film “Koyla”. This corrupted version had caused some resentment amongst the local people. On the way we assisted some jawans in buying their ration from a shop at Sangester Lake and off-loading these at their camp. The jawans were very hospitable and made us take lunch with them. In no way could we refuse such a kindly offer. It would have hurt them.

Next day we paid a visit to Tawang Monastery which is the largest Buddhist monastery in India of the Gelugpa sect. Located at 10,000 feet above sea level, it is home to more than 600-700 Lamas. It also houses the Parkhang library: a collection of the 400-year-old Kangyurs which consists of 110 volumes with 400-500 pages in each bundle in addition to invaluable manuscripts. Other large collections include the Sutras, Tangym, Sungbhum, old books and other manuscripts, both handwritten and printed, many of them in gold. The collection has a total of 850 bundles.

We also befriended some local people including the Anchal Pradhan or the local head who had been bestowed with immense power to prosecute the guilty. The womenfolk of the area are really hard-working and in no way lag behind their male counterparts. We also had a tour of the War Memorial site in Tawang.

On the 7th.day of our journey, we started for Nameri Forest in Assam. It is midway between Bhalukpong and Tejpur. Soon after we started the tyre of the jeep got punctured. Luckily for us there was a garage repair shop nearby and it took us some time to have the tyre repaired. Though we had decided to halt for the night at Dirrang, but ultimately pushed on and reached Nameri Forest at night. On the way we saw plants covered with ice and with the blowing of the wind the ice was falling slowly to the ground. We also came across a bridge which had been destroyed by the Chinese and hadn’t been repaired. It bore a mute testimony to the Chinese aggression.

NAMERI FOREST: At Nameri Forest we put up in a tent. It was quite an experience. We met the Director of the forest, Mr. Ranjit Roy who was a tall and witty person.

The next day,i.e. the 8th.day of our tour, we decided to go deep into the forest in the hope of coming into contact with some wild animals. On the way we had to cross a river by boat. We trudged deep into the forest with one armed guard in front of us and another behind us, but the only animals we saw were a couple of monkeys. Quoting Kar, “AAGE BANDUK; PEECHONEY BANDUK; MAAJHKHANE AAMARA. DEKHLAM KI – MATRA DOIKHANA BANDOR”. That very afternoon we decided to push on to Kaziranga Forest which was about 3 hours away.

KAZIRANGA FOREST: We reached Kaziranga Forest in the evening. The next morning as well in the evening we crisscrossed the different parts of the forest in a jeep. Here we saw animals and birds aplenty. Wild elephant, bisons, deers, rhinoceros and even a tree bearing the claw marks of tigers on the trunk were seen by us. “Vaigya” or “luck” was the word often uttered by the armed guards whenever we asked them about the possibility of seeing a tiger.

That very evening we pushed on to Tejpur and the next day i.e. the 10th. Day of our holiday, saying goodbye to Tejpur we boarded a bus for Gauhati and thence to dear old Kolkata by train. We reached Kolkata on the 13th.day of our holiday. It was a perfect holiday for us.


The following travelogue is written by my friend and travel guru Mr. Naseem Ali. The images were taken by me.
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Old 26th May 2009, 19:23   #2
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And here are some more Images
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Tawang And Beyond-kaziranga.gif  

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Old 26th May 2009, 23:15   #3
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Loved the travelogue. Really nice pictures!!! More pictures please.
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Old 26th May 2009, 23:25   #4
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Very nice and crisp pics. Wow.
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Old 26th May 2009, 23:29   #5
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Real nice one. I think our tourism Minister should do some thing about this part of India. So that we should be able explore this part too. My cousin was there 2 decade back, he used to say lots about this place
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Old 27th May 2009, 09:18   #6
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Nice writeup and pictures! The place looks awesome. Wish the photos were larger in size.

How easy/difficult is it to get passes to visit the state? I understand we require an Inner Line Permit.
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Old 27th May 2009, 10:24   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjay_in View Post
Nice writeup and pictures! The place looks awesome. Wish the photos were larger in size.

How easy/difficult is it to get passes to visit the state? I understand we require an Inner Line Permit.
Thanks for compliment.

Getting Inner Line Permit is not at all difficult. It generally takes 2-3 days to get it. You need to submit photocopy of your ID (with photo) along with the application mentioning where you want to go and for how many days.

Following are some contact details from where you can get the permit.

1. Resident Commissioner, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh, Arunachal Bhawan, Kautilya Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.
Ph.No. 011 – 23013915 / 23013956.
2. Dy. Resident Commissioner, Kolkata, CE-109, Sector-1, Salt Lake City.
Ph.No. 033 - 23341243.
3. Dy. Resident Commissioner, Shillong (Meghalaya)
Ph.No.0364- 224247 / 223895.
4. Dy. Resident Commissioner, Guwahati, Assam.
Ph.No.0361 – 2456720 / 2452859.
5. Dy. Resident Commissioner, Parbati Nagar, Tezpur (Assam).
Ph.No.03712-220273.
6. Dy. Resident Commissioner, Mohanbari, Dibrugarh (Assam).
Ph.No.0373 - 2382560.
7. Dy. Commissioner, Roing, for Lower Dibang Valley District.
Ph.No.03803-222223(O) / 222222(R) / 222380(Fax).
Foreign tourist has to obtain Restricted Area Permit(RAP) from Commissioner (Home), Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar.
Ph.No.0360 – 2212339 / 2221409 / 2212540

OR FROM

Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India, New Delhi.
Ph.No. 011 - 24611430.

NRIs can obtain the permit from any Indian Mission abroad.

Regards
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Old 27th May 2009, 10:28   #8
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Nice travelogue and pictures.

Really loved the pictures of frozen waterfalls.

Arunachal Pradesh always amazes me. I also second that the tourism can be boosted in this part of India.
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Old 27th May 2009, 12:11   #9
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Excellent pictures and captions. A lot of useful information too. Good work. Hope to see a few more pictures.
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Old 27th May 2009, 15:12   #10
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Wow ..rare travelogues i have come across..nice pics too
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Old 27th May 2009, 17:29   #11
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Too cool, Photos reminded me my stay of 2 yrs in Tenga valley.
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Old 27th May 2009, 17:43   #12
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My dad was posted there when i was just about 3-4 yrs old. So obviously i dont remeber anything from then. But it sure looks like a beautifull place.

Also The memorial Jaswant Garh, I believe there is a story behind it, anyone knows abt the story, would love to hear!!!
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Old 27th May 2009, 17:47   #13
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Hey guys,

Am planning a 15 day trip mumbai-delhi- kasuali-losar-spiti-back and the area around it. Do i require any kind of permit for the same ?

cheers,
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Old 8th June 2009, 23:04   #14
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Wonderful travelogue, with excellent photos. Were these digital pics or scanned from prints? Milind, your camera doesn't look like a DSLR!
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Old 9th June 2009, 11:34   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Wonderful travelogue, with excellent photos. Were these digital pics or scanned from prints? Milind, your camera doesn't look like a DSLR!
Your observation is 100% correct. The images are taken with Nikon Coolpix 5600. Some of them are taken with F60 and then scanned.

But my Fujairah & Liwa images are taken with Nikon D80. Have you checked those travelogue as well?
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