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Old 15th November 2017, 13:28   #1
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Default Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

My First travelogue on Teambhp!


Firstly, a glimpse of a hanging bridge in Walong, Arunachal Pradesh:

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Background:

Life has been very eventful for me this year. Became a father. Got transferred from Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh back to Guwahati, Assam etc. In all this, the traveller in me took a backseat with only a few day trips to nearby places. This October Durga puja time presented a golden opportunity of almost 7-8 days to travel some place.

A few places were discussed with my friends. Many were interested to see the newly opened Dhola-Sadiya bridge. I being me wanted to go further. Why not travel via this bridge and enter Arunachal Pradesh and see where we end up-suggested me. At this stage, there were 4 possible travel buddies including me. As it later turned out, the trip to Walong included just me and my friend Pahar.

Inner Line Permit:

Gone are the days when you needed to physically go to office and apply for ILP. The new online ILP system is very user friendly and you get your ILP the next day of the online application. A big thumbs up to the new online ILP system. I listed Lohit, Anjaw, Lower Dibang and Namsai as my visiting districts and it automatically selected entry points like Dirak, Paglam, Shantipur etc.

Vehicle:

My Bolero 4wd had not seen much action over the last 10 months. Warning: I might be gushing over my truck/ tractor in my posts so please bear with me.

Preparations:

I did some preliminary research on travel sites like BCMtouring and Indiamike and got a lot of useful information. Also, thanks to various bloggers who have put up precious information on their logs.
We didn’t pre-book any accommodation although we had a fair idea of what to expect in the places. We planned to decide as per the situation and plan our travel accordingly.

Day 1: Samelangso, Karbi Anglong to Dibrugarh (Via Nambor reserve)
Distance: 400 kms
Road conditions: Bad to pathetic

Samelangso in Karbi Anglong district of Assam is my wife’s home. Me and Pahar started early at around 6 am from Samelangso. Said bye-bye to my wife and son. It was a beautiful morning with a light drizzle. The green paddy fields kept us company.

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The floods in Assam have been severe this year and it shows in the condition of our roads. Full of potholes and bigger potholes. At one point, I started feeling sorry for my bolero which says a lot about the road conditions.
Eventually, made it to Dibrugarh at around 7:00 pm and went to my sister’s place and crashed for the night. The real journey was about to start tomorrow.

Day 2: Dibrugarh to Khupa, Arunachal Pradesh
Distance: 270 kms
Road conditions: Average to Awesome

When planning for the trip, I was not very clear about the route I would take to Walong. All I knew was that I would take the newly opened Dhola-Sadiya bridge, enter via Shantipur gate and reach Tezu and other places. My buddy Safik in Dibrugarh advised me to take the Rupai Siding route and enter Arunachal via the Dirak gate. I took his advice and my route for the day looked like this: Dibrugarh-Kakopathar-Dirak gate-Namsai-Chongkham-Alubari bridge-Tezu-Khupa.

We started early at around 6am from Dibrugarh and refuelled near Tinsukia. There is a new Tinsukia Bypass road which ends near Makum road. It’s very handy to escape the traffic in Tinsukia. We soon took a right turn and started travelling towards Kakopathar. The roads are brilliant to say the least. After the torture yesterday, this was feeling like heaven. Beautiful paddy fields stretched out to the horizon on both sides of the beautiful road.

Some pics:

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Beautiful roads at Kakopathar, Assam

In no time, we were at the Dirak check gate-our entry point to Arunachal Pradesh. Got our details entered in the register and off we went. Bought some bananas and peanuts- this turned out to be a very good decision.

Tip: Carry some dry fruits, water and food on this route. Population gets sparser and sparser as we travel further in the hills.

The beautiful, nearly three lane roads enticed us to drive fast but we travelled at a sedate place enjoying the views around. Namsai was still waking up when we passed it. Soon, we spotted a signboard announcing the beautiful golden pagoda. We decided to visit this place and it was totally worth it. Beautiful clean surroundings- a perfect place for spending some quality family time. We spotted two RE bikes and we guessed they might be travelling to Walong as well.

Some pics of the Golden Pagoda:

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After reaching Chongkham, one needs to take a diversion to the left to reach Alubari bridge/ ghat. The bridge is a new one and now there is no need to board ferries-an adventure in itself-and no need to plan ones travel according to ferry timings.

Alubari bridge:

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The good roads continued right upto Tezu.

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Road to Tezu:

It was only 11 am and we decided to press on and see where we end up for the day. After 5 kms from Tezu, the typical mountain single lane road begins. Let me go on record and say that the roads here are better than any other route in Arunachal I have been to. Better than Tawang, Mechuka, Along, Basar, Roing, Anini etc. Barring a few broken places to be handled carefully this route should be easily doable in a hatchback.

Our bolero chugged along the winding roads and we soon realised the remoteness of this place. There is only an occasional sumo or army convoy which pass by on this road.

Tip: Whenever possible at the earliest space available, stop and give way to the oncoming vehicle to pass. Reversing on such roads in not a pleasant experience.

We stopped regularly and enjoyed the views which were getting better as we progressed. The bananas we bought at Dirak gate gave us enough energy to keep on driving.

Some pics from the road:

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Lohit river in all its glory

Pahar and I were getting hungry and restless as we didn’t have a proper breakfast. We soon reached a small place where there two or three dhabas. Food was great with local chicken and boiled vegetables. Diesel in the car tank + food in the human tank= bliss.

At the dhaba, a local girl going to Khupa asked for a lift. We had the space so after asking her if she pukes in car- my bolero with leaf sprung suspension is very jumpy- seated her. In Arunachal, you have got to admire the trust and simplicity of the local people. This trust rubs on you as well.


We were travelling through some dense jungles and the drive was getting a bit tiring. Our new passenger who had not spoken much suddenly asked “Dada is your tape working? Its getting boring”. I obliged and my son’s favourite lullaby came on immediately- Shape of You- Ed Sheeran. I guess it is indeed a good lullaby as both my passengers dozed off soon afterwards.

The Lohit river had begun to accompany our drive. Now, Arunachal is full of hanging bridges. So far, I have had the guts to cross only one- a peacefully low one over a sedate river in Mechuka. In my stay in Pasighat, I have come across some really long suspension bridges over the Siang river which I have never crossed. This time I was determined to cross at least one such hanging bridge. Just before reaching Khupa, we spotted a lovely and long hanging bridge. We soon saw the approach road and our new passenger confirmed its in good condition and can be crossed. So leaving the girl in charge of our car, Pahar and I set off to explore the hanging bridge. The wooden planks looked solidly fixed and gave me some confidence. The Lohit river was flowing beneath in all its glory with strong wind. I made it till halfway and then looked below the bridge. It seemed as if the river was standing still and the bridge flying away to one side. Didn’t look down anymore and continued crossing the bridge by holding to the side wires/ railings which incidentally has very sharp edges. The more we tried to hold to the side the more small cuts we got on our hands. Finally, I saw with great joy that the worst was over and we had almost crossed the bridge. Mission accomplished. The way back was not so scary. I think one would get used to crossing these bridges if they stay here for some time.

Some pics:

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Ginger steps to the bridge

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A successful me!

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A parting shot

We were walking back to our bolero when we saw some local men and women walking on the road towards Khupa. They were carrying bamboo caskets full of vegetables to sell at the market in Khupa. They tried waving to a maruti van but as it was full they could not get a lift. They requested us if we could give them a lift to Khupa which was another 10 odd kms from the place. We happily obliged and somehow 5 people and an infant fit in the middle row of my car with their vegetable caskets in the luggage area. My normally jumpy bolero literally transformed into a car with sublime ride quality with the extra load.

We drove into Khupa at around 4 pm. Dropped off the locals at the Khupa market and drove into the Ampani lodge. One of my colleagues had visited this route earlier and suggested we stay at Khupa instead of Hayuliang. There is one more IB/ Circuit house at Khupa. We got a room at the Ampani lodge. It was a clean room with surprisingly round the clock electricity.

Tip: There is a petrol pump at Khupa. Tank up here. The chances of getting fuel are iffy and it’s better to save oneself the headache. I didn’t and got some headache.

There was still some daylight left and Pahar and I decided to explore the small Khupa town. It was such a beautiful setting. No cars, no mobile network- no not even BSNL or Airtel, people walking along peacefully, kids running around-lovely. I would definitely suggest a night stop at Khupa.

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Ampani lodge, Khupa


In the evening, the bikers we had seen at Namsai also came to Ampani lodge. They had gone to Hayuliang and couldn’t get any accommodation. Some private hotel is also there but the bikers informed that it was in a very bad condition.

It was a bit chilly in Khupa and after a lovely dinner of rice, dal and chicken we retired for the night. Tomorrow we go to Walong

Last edited by SDP : 16th November 2017 at 17:42. Reason: Minor typos
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Old 15th November 2017, 16:41   #2
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

Day 3: Khupa to Walong
D
istance: 100 kms
Road conditions: Good (relatively speaking)

I donít know what it is about road trips in Arunachal- but suddenly I am transformed into a eager early morning person. I got up at 5am, checked vitals of the car and got ready to go by 6. The bikers from last night had come from Sibsagar, Assam and were also starting for Walong. We would be meeting each other all the way to Walong.

The fuel gauge was still showing 5 bars and I thought that would be enough for a trip to Walong and back and decided not to tank up at Khupa. This was a mistake on my part as I miscalculated the mileage I would get on my car in steep hills.

It was a drizzly morning at Khupa. Everything seemed fresh and green from the rain last night.

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Lovely morning at Khupa

We started at a leisurely and stopped at almost every twist and turn. Mists had formed over the Lohit giving it a heavenly look. Our first stop was of what I think to be the Hayuliang town. The early morning sun rays trying to pierce the mists over the Lohit river was magical and canít be expressed in these pictures.

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Can you spot a hanging bridge?

We saw some more hanging bridges but did not attempt to cross them. The mighty Lohit was accompanying us all the while.

Some pics from the road:

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Mist over Lohit river

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A rivulet hurrying to join the Lohit

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Land of hanging bridges!

While driving at such lonely roads, where there is no on-coming vehicle for such long times one gets a little complacent. So when suddenly an army convoy comes suddenly at a blind turn it does surprise you a bit.

The road is full of free natural service centres i.e. waterfalls flowing onto the road. A perfect place to wash your car.

We soon came saw a motorable bridge on our right hand side leading to Hawai. The stay options are good there with a couple or more IBs. Made a note to visit the place on the return journey.

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Bridge to Hawai

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Greenery all around

We came across a really wide patch of road with some settlements for the road workers. I was later informed that this is an old runway used for landings by the armed forces.

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Old runway

The road from Khupa to Walong is entirely devoid of eating options. Only a few small shops are there selling biscuits etc. The drive was getting a little tiring with an empty stomach. However every time we stopped for a break the cool air and scenery recharged us to some extent.

Some pics from the road:

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Posing

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Near Walong

We reached Walong at around 1 pm and searched for a place to lunch. The local restaurants sell only fast food like momo (very good) and thukpa. The only place to get a proper meal is the IB. After finishing our thukpa, we went to the IB for enquiring about room availability.

The caretaker there informed that he would be able to confirm only in the evening as some guests were yet to vacate. We told him to prepare at least the dinner for us and we went on our way to the Namti plains and if possible a little beyond.

Day 3 to be continued in next post.
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Old 15th November 2017, 17:24   #3
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

Day 3 continued..

We headed towards the Namti plains from the IB and soon came across the War memorial built in memory of the 1962 war Indo-China war. We decided to visit the memorial on our way back and drove forward.

When I was planning for the trip, I just wanted to reach Walong and anything beyond that would be a bonus- as I had not bothered with any permissions or permits etc. As we moved eastwards, the already thin local population seemed almost to disappear. Only army bunkers and army vehicles are seen everywhere.

We were crossing the Namti plains when a drizzle started. It was a beautiful setting- sun, rain and the wind.

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Towards Namti plains

We soon reached Namti plains with the sun and rain fighting for space.

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Namti plains

We reached the milestone saying- welcome to the easternmost road of India. We kept on driving on the road towards Kibithu. The road as we neared Kibithu is still under construction- i.e. not yet metalled. The views around were great though.

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Welcome to the easternmost road of India!

At this point, with Kibithu only a few kms away- I had a brain freeze. The constant driving over the last few days, lack of adequate diesel in tank, empty stomach and the uncertainty over accommodation combined to take its toll on me. I did what now seems to be the unthinkable- I turned back towards Walong. Sadly no reaching Kibithu or Kaho this time- maybe the next time I am there.

Some pics on the road leading to Kibithu:

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Tough as nails- Bolero 4wd

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Lohit flowing from Tibet into India

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Road to Kibithu

On our way back, we went to a place called Garampani or Hot springs. Just near the Lohit river, there is a narrow stream of water with warm water. Took a dip there and relaxed somewhat.

We visited the War Memorial on our way back. Most people know about the Chinese aggression in the Tawang sector but surprisingly not many (including me) know about the war here in Walong.

Some pics of the war memorial:

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There was happy news once we reached the IB- we got a room. The room was clean and with electricity throughout the night. The caretaker prepared lovely dinner of rice, dal and chicken.

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Relaxing at IB with a nice view

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Nice clean room at Walong IB

There is a village called Dong which reportedly witnesses the first sunrise of the country. Trekkers usually leave the Walong IB at around 3 in the morning and reach Dong at around 430 to witness the sunrise. Pahar and I are too lazy to get up at such early hours. Instead we planned to give driving a break and see what Walong and the nearby places have to offer the next day.
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Old 16th November 2017, 11:17   #4
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

Day 4:

Walong

We did not have any plan for today except that we would not be driving any place. The caretaker of the IB had informed that a shop just before reaching Walong stored diesel. In the meantime, we met some fellow travellers who had come from Tinsukia, Assam. They were planning for a picnic by the river side.

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View from Walong IB

After having an early breakfast of rice, dal and sabzi we set off first in search of diesel. We went back around 10 kms but were unable to find any diesel. As we were returning, we saw the army cleaning and sweeping the streets on the eve of Gandhi Jayanti. Thinking us to be locals of Walong, some army men waved us down and gave us a lecture on how we too should participate in the cleanliness drive. We in turn pestered them for some diesel and they waved us away.

We drove to the previous dayís point of Garampani or hot springs and set on foot from there to get to the other side of the river.

We came across this suspension bridge which looked very sturdy and we thought it would be easy to cross. However, although the sideways swaying is very less, the bridge tends to swing upwards/ downwards with the wind. So yes, we had to hold on to the railings at some point.

Some kids saw our apparent discomfort and took our case royally. They proceeded to run, jump, sleep, and laugh on the bridge while we continued to walk like two unstable chickens

Some pics:

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Pahar taking a break

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Suspension bridge over Lohit

We crossed over to the other side of the river and the trek was proving to be a release from the muscle stress caused by the last few daysí driving. There are a lot of orange trees- sadly the oranges were not yet ripe.

Some pics:

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I would love to live in this house

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Trek to freedom

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Grasslands

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We came across a different river with yet another hanging bridge over it. A good place to unwind and simply relax.

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Pristine!

The previous day, we observed how the land on the other side of the river was looking very beautiful. Today, we saw that the side which we were on yesterday was looking beautiful too. All about perspectives I guess.

As we were returning from the trek, we met the travellers from Tinsukia. They were returning from their picnic in Garampani and were planning to travel to Hawai for the night. On learning that we were in search of diesel, they pointed us to a small grocery shop in Walong where we found the cheapest diesel of the entire trip. 20 lites for Rs.1000/-.

It was already dark and our new friends decided wisely to stay back at Walong instead of going to Hawai. As night descended, we had a small party to ourselves in the lawn of the IB.

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Day 5 and 6 coming up.
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Old 16th November 2017, 16:31   #5
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

Day 5:
Walong to Tezu:

Started early at around 7 am from Walong with no specific destination in mind. We wanted to visit Hawai in Anjaw dsirtict on our way back. Also, Parashuram Kund was on our to-visit list.

We soon came across the diversion to the left which leads to Hawai. From this point, Hawai is another 10 kms approximately. We reached the local market and ordered some chicken thukpa in one of the local restaurants. We learned from the locals that the stay options are plenty in Hawai with some IBs/ Circuit house. We would have liked to stay in Hawai for a day but it was only 9 am and we decided to carry on our way back towards Tezu.

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Hawai bridge

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Pahar and me

We reached the entrance of Hayuliang town and stopped for lunch at a road-side dhaba. When we moved on I heard some loud crick-crick noise inside the car. We thought something finally has come loose in the mighty Bolero. A closer inspection revealed a huge cricket hitching a ride on the back seat. As I am rather squeamish when it comes to insects, Pahar caught the cricket and let it out.

By this time, we had finalised that we would be staying at Tezu for the night. So, daylight permitting we planned to visit Parashuram Kund that day itself.

Some views from the road:

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Heading back to the plains

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We reached the tri-junction at round 3 pm and took the left road leading towards Parashuram Kund. It is a place of pilgrimage where devotees come in the month of January to take a holy dip in the river.

I was in Parashuram Kund as a kid with my parents and friends in 1997. I remember counting the steps to the place for holy dipping excitedly with my friends. At that time, the bridge over the Lohit was not there and we had come to the Kund via Wakro.

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Bridge at Parashuram Kund

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Lord Parashuram's Axe (Stone in the middle of the river)

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View from the bridge

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Lord Parashuram's Axe from another angle

I was happy to note that things have stayed the same over the years and we climbed up and down the stairs to the point where pilgrims take their holy dip. During January every year, a large number of pilgrims flock to the Kund. At this late hour today, Pahar and I were the sole visitors with some priests looking on at us.

It was dark by the time we left Parashuram Kund. Also, the first time we were driving after dark in this trip. We were ambling along the narrow road when a jungle cat with leopard like spots crossed the road and quickly vanished into the jungle. This was our only wildlife spotting after driving so much in the wilderness for the last few days.

We entered Tezu town outskirts at around 8 pm. We spotted the Circuit House and upon enquiry got a nice room for the night. Dinner was lovely fresh rice, dal and egg curry. We retired for the night after a stroll in the Circuit house compound.

Day 6:
Tezu to Samelangso, Karbi Anglong
Distance: 570 kms

The trip had begun with the idea of visiting the Dhola-Sadiya bridge (Indiaís longest river bridge) and somehow it had slipped down the list of priorities as we proceeded. As this was the last day of the trip, we decided to visit it today.

We began at around 6 am from Tezu. The roads were clean, the morning misty air was fresh and the Bolero was singing a rumbling tune- we were enjoying the drive.

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At Tezu Circuit House

Some pics of Alubari bridge:

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At Rupai Siding we took the right towards Dhola and continued towards the bridge. The bridge has witnessed a rush of tourists since its inauguration. Today, at an early hour there were only a handful of people taking photos there. It is a long bridge and we took over 5 mins from end to end. There are a lot of eateries/ dhabas that have come up near the bridge to cater to the tourists.

Some pics of India's longest river bridge:

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That was the last highlight of the trip. We drove continuously from thereon to Samelangso, Karbi Anglong and ended our trip at around 1130 pm.

Thanks for reading
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Old 16th November 2017, 17:37   #6
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 16th November 2017, 18:30   #7
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

Brilliant travelogue, you have penned down the details meticulously. Excellent pics as well. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 16th November 2017, 18:36   #8
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

A great trip undertaken indeed gunin. Thanks for the pictures, the valley looks pristine with abundant greenery in there. I felt nostalgic, as these were the places we used to holiday in during my childhood. Arunachal was quite accessible from my hometown at Dhakuakhana, hopefully i get to follow the same route as you soon enough.
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Old 17th November 2017, 14:22   #9
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

We (six of us) went to Walong, Kibithu this year during Feb. I must say, Walong has some breath taking views and the place is so beautiful that you would not feel like coming back from this place. I have been to most places in Arunachal Pradesh but walong really facinated me. Moreover I went during the orange season and was we bought 90-100 pcs orange (in a bamboo tokri) for Rs. 100. the same is sold in our planes for Rs. 8-10 per pcs.
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Old 17th November 2017, 14:47   #10
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

Brilliant travelogue! You have articulated the details meticulously. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 17th November 2017, 15:24   #11
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

Crisp and well written travelogue along with beautiful pictures. Did you have to use the 4x4 in any part of the journey?
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Old 17th November 2017, 15:49   #12
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

Wonderful debut travelogue from the most beautiful state in the country. Bravo ! I savoured every word and every picture.

I missed going to Walong and turned back from Tinsukia when I was in those parts two years ago . The roads to Walong were dreadful (unlike your beast, my ride is a modest sedan), there were multiple ferry crossings to do (the Dhola-Sadiya bridge wasn't there) and the ILP system was a major pain. All three seem to have dramatically improved and now I have to come all the way back to go there, especially after this travelogue !

I wanted to go to Walong especially for the War Memorial. Our family lost a martyr in the 1962 war. Your photographs brought a lump to the throat. Thank you very much for these pictures.

Smiled and wistfully remembered my own trip, albeit to Mechuka and not to Walong. The winding roads,, the brilliant greenery, the water, the suspension bridges (complete with the local kids giggling away at the attempts of greenhorns trying to adjust to the bucking and swaying), the wonderful people - truly it is a blessed state.

How on earth could you not go to Kibithu after coming so close. Brain freeze, won't do for an excuse You have to now go back and post more of your wonderful photographs !
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Old 17th November 2017, 16:27   #13
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

Thanks for sharing this travelogue gunin. It reminded me of my visit 4years ago to Walong. We had to turn back to Walaong because of 4X2 Safari couldn't climb up to Kibithoo. With a 4X4, how could you think of returning back

Good thing is your are so close in Guwahati. The Walong to Kibithoo Route is so scenic, the vistas are still tied to my eyes.

nice detailed information. Thanks again for sharing
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Old 17th November 2017, 17:13   #14
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhavik.1991 View Post
Brilliant travelogue
Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandx View Post
I felt nostalgic, as these were the places we used to holiday in during my childhood. Arunachal
Staying at Dhakuakhana means you were very close to the Siang belt of Arunachal. Thanks for the appreciation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadicLife View Post
Moreover I went during the orange season and was we bought 90-100 pcs orange (in a bamboo tokri) for Rs. 100. the same is sold in our planes for Rs. 8-10 per pcs.
Thank you. The oranges are of the very best quality in Arunachal. I spent 3 years in Pasighat and the tasty oranges at cheap prices were enjoyed to the full. Since you went in February, the Lohit must have been a deep green shade. Do post some pics here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adeshsurroach View Post
Brilliant travelogue!
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by subhro1988 View Post
Did you have to use the 4x4 in any part of the journey?
Thank you for the appreciation. 4*4 was not required at any point of the journey.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Secretariat View Post
Wonderful debut travelogue from the most beautiful state in the country.

How on earth could you not go to Kibithu after coming so close. Brain freeze, won't do for an excuse You have to now go back and post more of your wonderful photographs !
Thank you. I know I should have gone to Kibithu but whats done is done. I must go back again I am a fan of your logs posted on teambhp and also BCMtouring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hemanth.anand View Post
Thanks for sharing this travelogue gunin. It reminded me of my visit 4years ago to Walong. We had to turn back to Walaong because of 4X2 Safari couldn't climb up to Kibithoo. With a 4X4, how could you think of returning back
The saddest part for me was the road conditions didn't warrant a 4wd. It was doable in 2wd when I went and I still didn't go Whenever I decide to go to Wakro, I will make it a point to reach Kibithu. Thank you
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Old 17th November 2017, 17:35   #15
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Default Re: Roadtrip to Walong, Arunachal Pradesh

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My First travelogue on Teambhp!
Very well written with lots of nice pictures. For a moment there, I was surprised to see that this is your first travelogue!

The sparse traffic, greenery, background noise of the rivers must have been a wonderful experience. The pictures you have put up are telling me to take a break from the city life and head to the mountains.
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