Tawang….a heavenly paradise in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, located in north eastern part of India. This place is very sparsely populated, may be because of its altitude. The locals are the Monpa tribe, who inhabit the entire region. The trip was on my mind since a long time, but finally everything matched and I visited Tawang in the month of April, 2013. I started from Tezpur in Assam through the help of a travel operator. The fare is around Rs.700-800 per person in a sumo. They managed with the Inner Line Permit, which is required for every visitor to Tawang, since it is a restricted area.
It was a bumpy ride, right from the plains to the hills of Tawang. However, out of excitement, I kept myself going on. It took almost 12 hours in a Tata Sumo to reach Tawang, a distance of almost 300Kms from Tezpur. So, all visitors should carry some food items, along with them, as after Bhalukpong, there are not many proper restaurants. Bhalukpong is about 56Kms from Tezpur, which is the entry point of Arunachal Pradesh. Then you cross Tipi, Sessa, Bomdila, Sela Pass and some more small places, to finally reach your destination. That night was spent resting in the Hotel, as it was quite late to venture out. Our trip was cut down to 1 day due to heavy rains, but we managed to enjoy and explore as much as we can in that short time.
Next day, we had planned for a tour of Tawang town, which includes all the major attractions listed below:
1. Tawang Monastery : Many might not know, but this is the largest monastery in India, founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1681. It encompasses a very big area, divided in many parts dedicated to different sections. There is the Monastry, a library, a museum, house for the monks. The day we visited the Gompa, it was raining heavily, so I could not explore the area much. But, got to visit the museum & the monastery.
There were different varieties of artifacts, costumes, old manuscripts, crockery in the museum, which dates backs to the days of Buddha. Its really an amazing experience to view all such rare things. A few feet away lies the temple, which houses the 8.3m high Golden Buddha statue. The walls of the monastery are very colorful, with intricate designs, depicting some stories of the old era. The moment you enter the hall, there is a soothing silence. It feels so good to be at peace with yourself.
2. War Memorial : The Tawang War Memorial is dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives during the Sino-Indian war in 1962. I remember my father narrating me real life incidents of that time, when the whole family had to shift to safer location, as they feared attack by foreign soldiers, who intruded into India through the Himalayan border of Arunachal Pradesh. As Tezpur(my father’s hometown) is the 1st location in Assam-Arunachal border, all feared sudden attack. Every local fled from Tezpur,leaving behind their homes,cattles,all belongings,etc. Right now, I cannot imagine the plight of my paternal family. But with God’s grace, the Chinese soldiers retraced back from Bomdila and all were safe. May be because of these brave soldiers, who gave up their lives fighting for the people of the nation, that we feel safe at home. Salute to all the soldiers!!!
- The Craft Centre : If you wish to purchase some local handicrafts, local cloth materials, paintings, wall hangings, this is the place to be. Here, you can get many things to your liking, but they are a bit overpriced.
If you dont wish to spend much cash, local markets are always at your perusal. The holy flags colored in bright hues, were my 1st buy. I got for myself a bag, made out of silky cloth and a closed-neck top,made of silk. Then my mother got some crockery, with beautiful dragons painted on it, all from the local shops. As it was raining, we could not move too much in search of more items, so we had to confine ourselves to 1-2 shops. But, if you are travelling on a good sunny day, there are lots of shopping options available.
There is also, the all famous Sangetsar lake, commonly referred to as the “Madhuri lake”, which got its name after the film Koyla was shot here. Unfortunately, there were heavy rains the previous day, and we could not make that trip, due to landslides. So, the Tawang trip remains incomplete as some parts were missed out ;( . I plan to revisit Tawang again in near future, also to enjoy the beauty of heavy snowfall, may be in Oct-Nov (which is the best time to visit, as told by locals). So, the 3rd day, we started our journey back.
- Sela Pass : On the way back, our sumo stopped at Sela pass, and we clicked some quick photographs, with snow covered peaks and the beautiful Sela Lake as a backdrop. The view was one of the best that I have ever witnessed. White fluffy snow scattered all over. The huge mountains, the long swirling roads, occassionally you can witness a Yak here and there. It was just so so heavenly. So, with this, my journey to Tawang ends and I carry back fresh memories.