Monday, February 2, 2015

Unplanned Journey to Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh, the land of rising Sun)

Unplanned Journey to Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh, the land of rising Sun)
We decided to return to Gujarat after a short visit of Bhalukpong at Assam-Arunachal border. After crossing Tejpur, the Boro Land forest area was looking silent with less movement of vehicles and people. We reached at the border of AP but the police man at the check post demanded a permission letter to enter. We took a round of the small market and moved back, but desired to have a coffee at tourism cafeteria nearby. I ask the Prashaanti Cottages guy to make a coffee, meanwhile looked around.

Ohoho..what a beautiful sight it was! A spectacular view of the convergence of the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas with the plains of Assam, with river Kameng coming down from the mountains and changing its name to 'Jia Bhoroli'. Prashaanti Cottages were located near the bank of the river. Our legs moved towards the river which was flowing gently. We took a sip of its non polluted sweet water, and our minds changed. The Himalayan mountains of Arunachal Pradesh were pulling us. We decided to travel further up. The Prashaanti man Kumud Boroh took our I card, photos and immediately managed a permission letter from AP officer at the border. Dhawal revised our air schedule. As it was dark in the evening, we stayed over night at Bhalukpong Prashaanti Cottages and next day early morning at 5 AM started for Tawang.

The diesel pump near the post was not opened. But luckily the tank was half full. We travel with average speed of 30 kmph passing one after another places: Sesa, Tenga valley, Bomdila, Dirand, Munna, Senge, Baisakhi, Sela, Jang, Lhau, Bomdir, and Tawang; 280 kms with few stops reached in 12 hrs.

It was a beautiful drive in the valleys and mountains along with river Kameng (Jia Bhoroli in Assam) more than the half of the distance and then the route changed along with river Nuranang from Sela. After Sela, beautiful view of snow streams started.

Scattered Devdar trees and white balls of snow all across the mountains were decorated like Christmas trees by nature. Entire route has strong establishments of army at various places.
Before Jang, the place named Jashwant Garh, a memorial is must for tourists to visit and pay homage to the brave soldiers of 4 Garwal Rifle  who faught battle of Nuranang bravely and killed many soldiers of Chinese during Indo-China war of 1962. The unit was able to protect the post from Chinese attack 5 times on that day, 16 November 1962. 300 soldiers of China were killed and India lost only 8. The soldiers at the memorial site serve a cup of coffee and samosa to the visitors.

After a short while a beautiful fall of Nuranang can be seen by moving 200 mtr away from the main road. The fall and the river Nuranang make a beautiful view to click in camera for sweet memories.

BSNL and Airtel work whenever some basti area comes. Vodafone displayed 3G boards on entire route but it has yet to start its services. As it was unplanned trip and mobiles were getting signals occasionally, still we were able to manage booking at three places: Tawang lodge, Circuit House and Army Guest Room. For convinency of moving smoothly in the area, we preferred to stay with Mountain Brigade.

After a good vegetarian dinner and sleep of 7 hrs, we started our next day journey towards Bumla (Border) and Sangetstar (Madhuri) Lake at 7 AM. Tawang to Y Junction 17 kms and from Y Junction, one road goes to Bumla (17 kms) and another to Shungester Lake (13 kms).

Bumla is the last Indian post at China border. Across the border, two snow picks of Sona De Jung, a post and Radar station and begam mountain, a mountain with Shiv Linga stone on top (17000 ft) in China border were closely visible. Little away (40 kms), a  Chinese town Sona Jong, like Tawang situated. There is a pucca tar road on Chinese side till the last point of the border.  Indian road work is in progress.

During 1962 war only 17 Indian soldiers maned the Bumla post. All were killed in an attack on 23/10/62. At Tongpen La, Param Vir Chakra Sikh Subedar Joginder Singh fought a battle of bravery killed many Chinese soldiers. We paid homage to the brave soldiers.

Chinese troops reached deep upto Tejpur-Misamaari, only withdrew on 21/11/62, after UN's intervention. Total 2420 soldiers gave away their lives in Kameng sector. 

This border has good coordination between both sides. Quarterly meetings and events celebration like 15 Aug, 26 Jan, Baishakhi, their festivals, are happening. Red line is on for communication. The recent agreement of September 2013 between India-China made the things ease. But McMohan's scatch line (line itself is equal to 25-30kms) on a bigger scale does create tension between two parties claiming exterior part of the line. 

Tourists sometimes create tensions. Recently, 15 buses full of tourists visited Bumla and were shouting overenthusiasticly lead to a Chinese call from across the border.

After Bumla visit, we moved to Shungaster lake. It is a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains on three sides. Heroine Madhuri Dixit performed dance scene of film Koyala here. Now it is popularly known as Madhuri Lake. We enjoyed veg biryani, chutney, papad and curd served by soldiers in lunch.

We then returned to Tawang and went to visit the Monastery. It is the second largest monastery after Lhasa with 530 lamas and a Gurukul. We were welcomed by Lama Vive with white scarf and a very tasty cup of tea. Lama Vive guided our tour giving narration of the Monastery. The prayer room with 80 feet statue of Lord Buddha, paintings on walls (medicine Buddha, meditation Buddha) with vegetable colours; museum; library with ancient books and literature; made our visit rich.

Thereafter we visited and paid homage at the "War Memorial" built  in memories of our 2420 brave men of India who lost their lives during Indo-China war of 1962.

There was a Light and Sound show in an amphitheatre located behind the War Memorial at 5.40 PM. A documentary on AP, narrating beautiful Himalaya, streams, lakes, Mopiah tribes, culture, war of 1962, etc made our day complete. The weather helped us to visit, learn and enjoy the trip whole day.
Next day morning, after a short visit to the old market, buying souvenirs, we started our journey back at 8.30 AM. Driver Ramesh, driving us continuously for last 3 days, though tired, still managed to drive for 12 hrs, bringing us back to the Prashaanti Cottages of Assam Tourism at Bhalukpong (Assam). We had our dinner and went into a deep sound sleep only wake up with a morning bed tea call by the cottage orderly.

After the morning breakfast, we enjoyed 2 hrs river rafting in the gentle flow of river Jia Bhoroli. With the great silence of gentle river flow, Nameri forests along with the bank, enjoying singing of birds, seeing varieties of birds (king fisher, brownie ducks, storks, etc) the rafting made our trip complete. The spot has adventure activities: river rafting, rappelling, burma bridge, climbing and monkey ladder. We skipped 3 hrs (5-8 AM) trekking in Nameri Forest some 24 kms away from the Cottage.

After lunch, we travelled to Guwahati memorising our adventurous of unplanned trip of 1000 kms in AP.
It was wonderful. Don't miss a chance visiting Arunachal Pradesh, the land of rising Sun.

9 December 2014


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