“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” – Robin S Sharma
Life is a journey, enjoy while it lasts.
I had dreamt of travelling alone to the Northeast India for a long time now. So, the next time I had an opportunity to travel, I chose these unknown parts of India! I made some calls to get my itinerary ready, packed my bags and I was on my way, and to make it more exciting I decided to travel all by myself for some 8-9 days!
I had planned to travel across 3 Northeastern states- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya (you will read Assam & Meghalaya in Part 2 & 3 of my blog).
Fortunately, I came across a very reliable travel company who helped me to plan my entire journey including hotels, transportation and a driver cum guide, they also ensured I was safe and comfortable. I was travelling in December, a very cold and challenging season when the weather changes overnight and they aptly advised me to come prepared.
On my arrival in Guwahati, my assigned driver Saidul from the travel agency pleasantly greeted me at the airport, and soon we were on our way from Guwahati to Bhalukpong, (state – Assam) a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas which was quiet and quaint. We reached in the late evening, there was a chill in the air but hotel was cozy. This was my 1st overnight stay in this trip. After my dinner, I went to sleep early and was really excited to start my much awaited journey to Arunachal Pradesh.
Arunachal Pradesh is the eastern most frontier state of India and is a hidden gem of natural beauty. I am going to spend 2 days here. We started early morning to Dirang, a little village which is the gateway to most of the places in the state. The ride was a bit uncomfortable owning to some damages caused by recent landslides, but the mountainous view was absolutely breathtaking. Saidul suggested that we stop at Nag Mandir market to try out Thukpa, a noodle soup and lemon tea for breakfast. The small eateries on the way to Dirang were amazing – they serve hot, mouthwatering food that you just can’t stop savouring.
I spent a day in Dirang visiting the some of the most fascinating places, the Hot Springs are a must-visit! A dip in the hot water spring is absolutely rejuvenating. Soon, we were on our way to Tawang, but on the way there is one place that I have to visit, that is Se La pass. It is at an altitude of 13,000ft. Oxygen levels are low and it is advisable to carry camphor that helps you breathe. The massive frozen lake Sela was a sight to behold. A little away, I found a quaint little house serving Maggie noodles, Momos (dumplings), cookies and tea. I had some hot tea to keep myself warm. The local people are extremely warm and humble. Hindi and sometimes Assamese languages are commonly used by locals here, English is the official language. But various indigenous tribes speak various languages, there are more than 27 tribes in the state.
Before the end of the day, I wanted to visit one more place, the Jung falls. It turned out to be such a magnificent and picturesque place that it was really difficult to drag myself away due to approaching darkness. Arunachal being on the extreme East, sunset is usually early at 4-4:30 PM and the weather gets extremely cold, as low as -8°C. But I was well equipped for these conditions.
The next day, I visited Bhum La pass. Bhum means ‘height’ and La means ‘pass’. The Bum La Pass is 15,200 ft above sea level. It is a border area where up to 3000 meters it is a no man’s land. It was a cold and windy day, but the experience of standing right at the border is a moment to remember. The Army personnel’s are very kind and I learned that they keep stock of nebulizers so one can ask for help if feeling lightheaded. Then we came down to Madhuri lake, which was a sight to savour. I could actually see the lake slowly freezing to solid. The view of the snow-laden mountains, frozen lake and the sun is splendid and difficult to describe in words. I also visited Shanti Stupa, a Buddhist monastery that is over 400yrs old.
On my way, I stopped overnight at Bomdila, the place looks like a postcard picture at night. When in Arunachal, one must definitely try the locally grown fruits like kiwi, oranges, apples and guavas, more commonly mini (read original) sized fruits that are juicy and sweet. While visiting Monkpa tribal village, I could see houses and roads dotted with these fruit trees. The village looked so beautiful, peaceful and calm – at this moment I felt I could have stayed here forever.
In summary, Arunachal is still unexplored and undamaged by commercial tourism. This can be a wonderful trip for a family of adults, group of friends, solo trips for both men and women. It was one of the best choices I made. A heavenly experience!
I have more to share about my onward Assam and Meghalaya visit… so, stay tuned!