Arunachal Pradesh: A Heavenly And Heartwarming Getaway- Dr Bhavana

 In Arunachal Pradesh, Destination, Travel, Travel Journal

“The mountains are calling, and I must go”these words continue to echo inside of me. Mountains have that unexplainable aura. Even after multiple getaways, that irresistible urge to escape to the mountains unfailingly and religiously crops up. In 2023, this led us to materialize the plan to another gem of Northeast –  Arunachal Pradesh. Northeast has been our heart, ever since we traveled to Sikkim in 2019. So zeroing down on Arunachal was not difficult. 


The most exciting part of any trip is deciding and preparing for the same. I happened to stumble upon a travel organisation called WanderOn. Upon contacting them, Jibon from their team helped me in customising the entire itinerary to Arunachal- the west side. Our trip was 9 days and 8 nights in the month of May. One of the favourable times to visit there is summer. The weather is usually pleasant, but you may never know; mountains are unpredictable, so expect the unexpected! 

Also before we begin this journey, a special mention to the Operations team, especially Rahul, who took care of the Inner Line Permits (which are required to enter some areas of the state), our vehicle preference. The way he explained to us vividly about our destination, provided inputs about accommodation, network connectivity, packing essentials and weather, providing us with every necessary information for an amazing trip. 

And, with this, our Arunachal escapade began! 

Astonishing Arunachal: An 8 Nights And 9 Days Sojourn In The North Eastern Paradise

Day 1: Travelling From Guwahati- Bhalukpong

We flew from Bangalore to Guwahati on 20th May 2023. Our driver picked us up from the airport, and we started towards Bhalukpong.

Bhalukpong falls on the Assam-Arunachal border, at a distance of 240 km from Guwahati. This is a pleasant 5-6 hour drive. During the drive, we also witnessed the magical sunset over the Brahmaputra River, which was also our first sighting of this mighty river. It was magical. We stayed overnight at Bhalukpong. 


Day 2 : Bhalukpong To  Dirang

We woke up to a wonderful, slightly drizzling morning. The view was perfect to put us in the right mood to start our journey to the land of the dawn-lit mountains! We started our journey, and during the drive, we stopped briefly near a suspension bridge over the Tenga River enroute, to soak in some breathtaking views and capture it in our cameras.


The next stop was Dirang. This is a small town, about 4-5 hours from Bhalukpong, at a distance of 130 kms. We found a small restaurant in the main market and gorged on some authentic cuisine. 

Next we visited the Dirang monastery, which is a learning institute for the study of Tibetan Buddhism by monks. Mountains on all sides surround it and is far away from the main town, creating a very peaceful environment.


Day 3: Explore Sangti Valley

We spent the next day driving up to Mandala top, which is located at an altitude of about 11,000 feet, 30 kilometres from Dirang. It is a one of its kind attraction in India consisting of 108 stupas. In the centre, a Buddha statue with a small monastery at the bottom is being built. 

We walked along the valley in the evening, enjoying nature and the fresh air.

Our hearts and stomachs were full after a wholesome dinner prepared by the hosts in our homestay. Hot rotis, a local variety of homegrown rice, dal and aloo-baingan sabzi, added to it the warmth of the hospitality. Just what we craved.

Day 4: Dirang To Tawang


From Sangti Valley, we started early the next day towards Tawang. The distance is nearly 135 kilometers. This is an uphill drive through the Sela Pass, which is the gateway to entering Tawang. We stopped at Baisakhi and enjoyed breakfast and a view of the army cafe. Anything to do with the army just strikes my emotions. After all, the army is the guardian angel of this divine state. The little one wrote a message to our brave men to be pinned up on the board there.

Later we went to Jaswantgarh war memorial, which is dedicated to a soldier of Indian Army named Jaswant Singh Rawat. He remained at the pass fighting, and is said to held off the Chinese for 72 hours during the Sino-Indian war of 1962. He was conferred with Mahavir Chakra posthumously. The feeling which we experienced during our time in the memorial is indescribable.

Not to forget the drive to the Memorial through the Sela Pass, a high mountain pass at an altitude of 13700 feet, connects Tawang to Dirang and Guwahati. This is one of the highest motorable mountain passes in the world. This is home to Sela Lake, one of the 101 lakes in that area sacred to Buddhism. 


After lunch, we visited the Nuranang Falls, which is located 2 kms away in the Jang town of Tawang district. It is the highest and most spectacular waterfall of Arunachal Pradesh. It came to limelight when a song from the movie Koyla – Tanhai Tanhai Tanhai featuring Shahrukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit was shot here and at Sangetsar Lake. This place had such cheerful vibes, with 80’s music playing in a nearby cafe and visitors grooving to its tunes. 

We ended the day by checking in at our hotel in Tawang, and sleeping the tiredness away, 

Day 5: Tawang Sightseeing

Day 5 was the day where we explored Tawang to its fullest with a sightseeing tour. We first visited Tawang Monastery, the second biggest and the oldest in Asia. The monastery has a residential building for the monks, a library, a museum and school for the basic education.The monastery is situated perched near the top of a mountain, which offers inimitable views of the encapsulating mountains and nearby villages. 


We also visited the giant Buddha statue, which is in Tawang circuit on a small hill. This Buddha overlooks the town.  We then proceeded towards the Tawang war memorial. This is a 40 meter long stupa built in honour of the 2420 soldiers who laid their lives in the 1962 war.

A sound and light show takes place every day at the memorial starting at 6 pm. Each show is approximately 25 mins long. Watching the show against the backdrop of the hills and the stupa is another emotional experience. The street is enlightened with tri color lights.  “Ae mere watan ke logo, zara aankh mein bhar lo paani, jo shaheed hue hai unki, zara yaad karo kurbaani” . This song reverberated in my ears. 

Day 6: Bumla Excursion

We visited the Bum La pass, located,  37 km away from Tawang at an altitude of 15200 feet. It is a treacherous uphill drive and you get to see many snow-capped peaks. We first visited Sangestsar Tso, a lake en route, which falls beyond the bifurcation of the road leading to Bum La Pass. 


We were blessed as we got clear views of the lake with minimal cloud covering. It is quite cold there so it is recommended to wear appropriate clothing. Momos and chai are also available, to provide that additional warmth. We witnessed snowfall enroute Bum La. It was a joy seeing little snowflakes graze past our windows.  Snowfall in May! Expect the unexpected! The story of Subedar Joginder Singh  was narrated to us there, who, along with a handful of his men defended the border at Bum La in the 1962 war. 

This day and the stories of the Indian Army will be etched forever in our hearts.

Day 7: Tawang To Bomdila


After breakfast, We started towards Bomdila from Tawang. This is a 5-hour drive, with a distance of 175 kilometres. 

We visited Bomdila monastery after lunch. Bomdila Monastery was established in 1965.  Followers of Mahayana Buddhism consider this place sacred. There is a huge prayer hall. Adjacent to the prayer hall is a monastic school and residential complexes. It is also a great place for some gorgeous views. 

Day 8: Bomdila To Guwahati

This day marked our longest journey in a day. Bomdila to Guwahati, at a distance of 260 kilometers. It is a 7-8 hour drive. I started experiencing withdrawal symptoms of mountains now going slowly out of sight and dreaded coming to the plains. 

The highlight of the day was seeing the women of the Boro tribe as we entered Assam. Cycling all the way on a busy highway. Some even had children at the rear. This was quite a sight. 

We checked into our hotel in Guwahati after the long journey to call it a day.

Day 9:Bidding Adieu To Arunachal


The last day of our sojourn, well on this day we had nothing much to do, except reminiscing about our beautiful days spent in the hills. We had half a day left, so we visited the Brahmaputra heritage centre in Guwahati. This is a British-era bungalow situated on a hillock that used to be the 17th century military office of the Ahom rulers, now converted into a heritage center depicting life along the Brahmaputra. 

Our main intention of visiting here was to see Brahmaputra up close. There are good viewing decks when you can sit peacefully watching the river. This is open on Sundays too, with entry tickets costing Rs 100 per adult. 

In the evening, we bid adieu to the north eastern part of the country as we  flew back from Guwahati to Bangalore, carrying a plethora of fond memories and experiences to be cherished for the longest time.

Moments From The Journey That Made A Place In Our Hearts

While the entire journey was just amazing, and the state of Arunachal found a home in our hearts, there were a few instances in which we just felt indescribable feelings on another level. 


The first one was at the memorials of Subedar Joginder Singh and Major Mahendar Singh Choudhary, where we watched the light and sound show. The entire atmosphere during the show completely transformed and we could literally feel what the soldiers went through during the period of Indo- China War, which filled our hearts with a feeling of patriotism. The combo of the lights, the sounds and the surroundings just made a forever place in our hearts. 


We had a great time at the Nuranang falls and  Sangestsar Tso. Very beautiful places with unexplored natural beauty all around. Now coming to the Sangestsar Lake, this lake is one of the most iconic ones in Arunachal Pradesh, today, it’s more widely known as Madhuri Lake, a testament to the charm of the beautiful Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit, who graced its shores during the filming of the movie ‘Koyla.’ 

Tips For Those Travelling To Arunachal


1. All Indian nationals need to carry valid govt. ID proofs (Driving license/Passport), their copies and passport size photographs while travelling. Travelling here is safe,locals are friendly and helpful and the Indian Army has a heavy presence almost everywhere.

2. Public transport is scarce in Arunachal Pradesh. It is advisable to hire a car either from Guwahati or Dibrugarh once you alight from your flight to get around in the state.

3. The sun rises as early as 4.40am in Arunachal Pradesh. It is advisable to start your travels early and reach your destination by maximum 5.00pm. Do not calculate the travel time based on the number of kilometers between one place to another, like the way you would do it in plains. A distance of about 200 km can take up to 10 hours here because of the terrain.

4. The road conditions are good. BRO has put in a lot of effort in maintaining the roads as well as placing quirky signboards! Yes you do have some bad patches enroute Jang falls, Sangti valley but it is not for a great distance.

5. Dhabas don’t flank the state highways. It’s advisable to be open and to whatever is available and make the best of it. That doesn’t mean you’ll end up starving. Basic staples are available in most of the places. Restaurants are usually small and clean, mostly attached to the houses of the locals. There are good hotels and homestays, it is advisable to book prior. They serve food prepared in their private kitchens so don’t expect anything fancy.

6. Avoid travelling during the monsoons, as the roads can get washed away due to landslides. Winters can get quite cold, and snow can block high mountain roads from December to February. March, April, the first half of May and October are ideal for travel. Carry sturdy shoes, umbrellas and woollens as the weather can get unpredictable.

7. Things move at a slow pace here and travel plans can get slightly changed at times. But that is what we look for in a holiday right, to slow down a bit?

8. Please carry your personal medication and toiletries as this is a remote area and the availability of items can be limited in a few places. For people prone to motion sickness, it is advisable to take the medication before the journey.

Well, these are just a few tips that you should keep in mind to have an amazing journey in the land of unparalleled adventures and experiences. 

By- Dr. Bhavana

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