Half of fun in travel is in the aesthetic of lostness.
‘Foot prints on map’ an attempt to document the journey of two crazy people, always on toes, to seek offbeat places, get soaked in different culture, spread love ,smile, and create memories and friends all over the world.
Memories are driving force for human emotion, our brain forgets happy moments but sad ones keep haunting us for days, months, and years. Hence all happy and crazy moments are carefully captured and preserved.
As we went deeper into Meghalaya, we felt the hug of mother earth. No exaggeration! Those big bees, hundreds of butterflies, flowers, fresh air, what not? Numerous insects and birds coexisted with human beings (unlike our cities). In the name of civilization, we eradicate anything which come in our path. 😦 Meghalaya is home for 100s of different species of butterflies and bees. so many types of insects, colorful dragonflies, tiny birds. We all were mesmerized by the rich ecosystem.
Mawlynnong is the village west of Dawki, say around 1 hour drive from Dawki, our home stay was 2km before Mawlynnong village. RB home stay, the owner was a tribal, and owners nephew Rang 🙂 was our host. Rang, a very jovial person, he barely speaks English. Most of the people speak Nishi in Meghalaya ( Monpa Tribal language). When we were discussing about food in Kannada, he not only understood, but replied to us in our language! We all were awestruck. Apperantly, he had a friend in south india, who helped him learn kannada and he was too shy to speak about that ‘friend’. 😉😉
Rang brought a insect with him, and showed us. He was pretty sure, we will ask him about that insect tomorrow “??!!? We were confused. Sure! we are never bothered by a insect until it bites. 😉 But yeah, we all were curious to see what that insect does ? After a nice tea and dinner, Rang helped us with camp fire to beat the cold. As were no street lights, so less light pollution, we could see like a zillion stars in the sky. That day we slept early. We kept the canopy light on, to deviates all kinds of insects towards the light and away from the room. 😀 I have not seen that many varieties of insects together anywhere.
Next day morning we woke up to a shrill, siren like sound coming from a couple of trees near by. The sound was so sharp, we couldn’t hear the person next to us. Rang came with a big smile, and before we asked, he answered. In mating season these insects make shrill sharp noise to attract females, I say, who would get attracted to such sharp, ear piercing, disturbing noise?? 😕 insect stared off by 6am and continued till 12:30 pm. we were perplexed?!
After Tea, We decided to take a stroll in the plantation, in front of our home stay. There was a well paved cement walkway. There were 100s of butterflies, bees, colorful caterpillars, Big and bright spiders with humongous webs. so many types of insects, kids were totally in love exploring unknown species. At the end of our morning walk, we came to know, it was broomstick plants.
I was wondering, what would have been the fate of this shrill noisy insects, if they were in so called metro cities????
It was 10 am and Rang came with a sling bag and a cap. Asked us if we are ready to go around Mawlynnong. We had not planned to take rang with us! we looked at each other, and not to shatter his enthusiasm, we smiled at him and gave a heads up. Rang instantly added 3 places to our list.
Single Living Root Bridge
Travel Tip : If you are a person who wants to experience living root bridge but do not want to spent a day trekking, this is the place for you.
The pics we clicked, did no justice to this enchanting place. we reached the root bridge around 10:30 and there were around 200 people in the place. Ahh! crowded places are our last priority.
This is a place where, we need to feel the fresh air, taste the pure river, walk the path where our ancestors walked, touch and feel the root bridge and most importantly, not disturbing the Virtue of the place. Next day, Rang took me and Avi to the place by 7 am, we had the place for ourselves for nearly an hour. 🙂
Travel tip: Get a guide and go to Single root tree bridge by 7 or 8 am, Place opens to public by 10am and till then you can enjoy the place in tranquil.
Bangladesh view point!
Rang took us to a view point after this. There are many view points around Mawlynnong, built and maintained by locals there. flauting the view of plain land Bangladesh to one side and Meghalayn mountains, with water falls, to the other side. Whole of the terrace is build by bamboo poles, sticks, and bamboo climbers to them together. we couldn’t find a single nail hammered or string tied. we were very impressed with the workmanship. he charged us nominal entry fee and trust me we enjoyed the terrace (view point) more than the view 😉
Mawlynnong or wow!!lynnong!
Until now, we thought we were in Mawlynnong and it only striked us, when Rang told, ” Now, we will go to Mawlynnong! with raised eyebrows, we headed towards the village.
The entry point to the village itself told us, why it is ranked, the cleanest village in Asia. well paved roads, clean surroundings, cute and clean dustbins. Bamboo cones dustbins were installed in front of each house, like we have mail boxes in front of our house.
There is a nice black hoarding which gave us list of things to be followed.
Trust me! dustbins were so cute, ❤ we did not feel like throwing something in it. 🙂 so we carried our waste back to the home stay. A few houses took a step forward and had kept flowers in them. It looked like a vase.
It was very hot, we all were tired by the time we reached the end of village. Guess what! The end of the village, had a nice sitting area and very well maintained toilets! We spent some time in that area, hungry us left Mawlynnong as there was no veg food available there.
Travel tip: You need to stay inside Mawlynnong village to experience it, as the cleanest village in Asia. Wake up in the morning and take a walk, witness the practices, and measures taken to attain this rank etc. visiting the place for half an hour may not do justice.
Ha la Rympei homestay, Nangroi House, arud Wahduid Home Stay, Hala tyngkong Homestay and many more home stays available in the village. All are with very basic amenities and restaurants around.
Baked in the hot sun! we all were so tired, we just wanted to skip everything and get back home. we ordered lunch from Kyntiew restaurant. Tired of eating Dal and sabzi continuously for 13 days in a row, our taste buds wanted some tang and spice. We had packed up Indira instant rasam and sambar packets, which saved us that day. Kids felt they were back home, so as we!
we southIndians are so addicted to rice and sambar! 😛
The day ended for all of us, as kids slept early. We all dozed off, but Avi took rang for a small trek to a nearby high land, for star gazing. Apparently they went to a hill near by, which had a small stretch of tar road on top. Quiet, dark, and clear skies, which was perfect for photography.
Next morning, we woke up to that noisy insect. But not bad, we all had already adapted to that sound. It did not bother us, as it did, the previous day. Avi showed us all photos he took the previous night. It was like zillion twinkle in the sky with hundreds of shooting star. 😦 Sad I missed it.
From Krangsuri falls we headed to much-awaited Dawki, our whole idea of the northeast trip was revolving around this destination. The thought of reflection shot of a boat standing on crystal clear water was haunting our minds, from years, I should say! Dawki is the border village, (India – Bangaladesh) where the sterling Umngot River, leaves mountains and graciously flow on the plane just before it enters Bangladesh. Meghalaya is mostly covered with metamorphic rocks. These rocks when erode, leave very less or no silt behind. Hence the crystal clear water.
There was heavy rainfall in Dawki for two days, so the water had become cloudy. 😦 Locals also mentioned it may take at least 2 weeks to get back to a clear state. 😦 we had to buy the story, as they had just come from Dawki. Thus we left krangsuri Very late say by 2 pm.
Further, our journey was taking a shift from mountains to plains, we were losing altitude and almost every viewpoint gave us the same view. The view of a plain land till horizon… It was just was 30 km away but it took us more than 90 minutes to reach. If you look closely at the map, the route touches the Bangladesh border before we reach Dawki.
As we were nearing the border say 3 km, the journey became slower as there were trucks loaded with boulders parked to the one side of the road. We saw as many as 700 plus trucks parked occupying half the road. Our driver said all these trucks take boulders to Bangladesh. These trucks are not allowed to go during the day, so they had parked it there.
95% of Bangladesh is plains with riverine alluvial soil. So, any sort of construction, roads, building bridges, they import stones and boulders from India. Cant’ imagine the plight of a country, importing stones for constructions. How blessed we are, to be in a country with vast and abundant variety of resources. How important it is to protect these resources? Hope, there is a check on this boulder export 😦 which happens, exclusively in the night.
So this was Third international border visit for this trip, so we did not want to miss it. 🙂
At this point we realized there was only half an hour left for sun set. 😦 so we rushed to Dawki. The driver stopped the vehicle and asked us to walk 100m ahead. we got down, to see turbid green waters of Umngot River. 😦 But this wasn’t the place we were expecting, 100s of boats atleast 1000 people were there. Each boat charges 700 or 750 /- we decided not to get down, as we had one hour more to travel to reach Mawlynnong.
Sad we did not find the famous bridge, which is seen in almost every Dawki photograph. we just clicked a few sunset pics with Bangladesh in the backdrop 😉 and walked ahead. Then we saw ‘the bridge’ 🙂 at a distance, we walked till the bridge. But pedestrians were not allowed on Dawki bridge and vehicles were not allowed to stop, to click photographs.
Usually everyone mistakes typical Dawki photos, to be taken from Dawki bridge, but these are taken from Shnongpdeng Bridge. If you want still waters and magical photographs, get to shnongpdeng. I can call it lesser known paradise, which is 7 km from Dawki boating point. To experience it the best, one should to stay in tent accommodation in the vicinity of the bridge. come out when the sun is Bright and straight up on the head. Sun kissed magical water, levitates the boat 🙂 🙂
Activities like Kayaking are also available in that place. We did not get to experience Shnogpdeng, all thanks to heavy rain and cluttered water. Never mind,
Dawki see you soon! 😎
one hour drive from there, narrow roads, pitch dark, hungry us reached RB homestay, Mawlynnong. Yes! The cleanest village of Asia 🙂 our home for next two days. 🙂
It was 4:30 pm , sun was about to set. We reached our destination Jowai, (paradise adventure camp ) and to our shock, it was over booked! 😦 Heated arguments, booking confirmation mails, nothing worked out. 😦
We had no accommodation or food for the day, and it was already dark. All four kids has lost their cool. They were very sad, that they have to get into the vehicle again. 😦
So we asked the owner, if he knows some place around, where we can just spend a night and cont. our journey. Last option was to park the tempo rite there and sleep in the vehicle. At least we could use the loo in that hotel. 🙄
Basically we chose this place to stay, as we had planned to go to Phe Phe falls (500m) and Krangsuri falls (10 km) the next day.
So he suggested, we to go to Krangshuri falls tent accommodation. I was skeptical about the tent accommodation which is bang on falls, with infants around 😦 It looked like, we would lose that one too if we delayed. So we left the place, only after we got confirmation about the accommodation. 30 minutes from there, the driver stopped the vehicle in a absolutely dark place and said,” This is the Krangshuri parking lot, you will have to trek from here, just about 15 min route”!!! 😮 Avi and Vishu got down, and went to check, if we have reached the right place? An old man there guided them, showing the light pole towards right at a distance, He said, ” walk till that light, you will find the way” 😕 . (this was the second time we had got this kind of directions.) Chilling cold, and with no clue, Avi and Vishu started walking towards the light.
Meanwhile, We had also asked, if someone from the hotel can come and help with our luggage. so we started to pack our day bags. Four people came from the hotel, but from a different direction, ( not the direction Avi went searching the hotel.) we were dumbfounded! After waiting for 5-10 minutes, we were thinking of sending someone to look for Avi and Vishu. But then, we saw a pale torchlight, walking towards us 🙂 they came back as they could not see anything that side. Thank god they gave up and came back.
There was no light, we held our mobile phone torches and started walking towards the falls. There are no symmetric steps, light poles here and there, its was pretty steep trek, like you could feel your knees. With backpacks, kids and senior citizens in the group, it was a bit of adventure I should say. 😕
Crawling through darkness, 15 min and we reached a place. Phew!
It was just 6.15 pm but we were totally out of energy. As a pleasant surprise! 🙂 we met bag packers Sagar and Samhitha who were also from Bangalore <3.
Lavandory ❤ (owner of the place), gave us special lemongrass tea.
I do not know if its the tea- biscuits or thrill that, we met people from our place. we sprang back to energy in a few minutes. We had the best time with them, singing songs, chit chat, stories, what not? peace prevailed in that place only after we had our dinner and walked towards the tent.
Travel tip ⭐ Lavandory makes fantastic Lemongrass tea, food was also good, very nominal price.
It was around 9 pm. (midnight of northeast people 🙂 ) we had got 4 tents. we dumped all luggage in one tent and divided ourselves into 3 tents. When everyone almost slept, me and Avi came out of the tent with the camera. ⭐<3 Star studded sky was looking beautiful, that is the beauty of remote places, far from traffic, smoke and people 🙂 we tried and switched off all lights possible, to get best view. we spent around 2 hours clicking pictures. one light which was across the falls was distructing our star trail.
The experience of star studded pitch dark sky, not many kids of this generation have experienced. 😦 Avi wanted to get a star trail, I wanted to get some sleep, so I quietly crawled inside the tent.
Next morning we woke up to bliss!
They have constructed a narrow walkway across the stream, it was a delight to kids. Water was shallow so we gave a free hand to kids. From around 6:15 am for almost 2 hours we had the place for ourselves. water looks still to the left side of the bridge, where we got a glimpse of what we can expect in the famous Dawki :).
To the right side of the bridge, water glides down to make Krangsuri falls and a crystal clear natural swimming below.
There are well maintained changing rooms and toilets in the place. So you need not think twice before you jump into the natural swimming pool. 10 am is when the place gets opened up to public. It is an awesome idea to stay in Tent accommodation, to enjoy the place in tranquil.
Amma enjoyed meditation while Vishu was trying to put prabhav back to sleep.
There are three view points on to the left side of the falls, another one to the right side. (which can be reached crossing the bridge.) third one needs little trek to be done.
we all were hungry and ordered Maggie and tea. Sagar and Samhitha were already part of our group so they accompanied us for breakfast. Little open space in front of the restaurant was the only place we could leave kids to play around.
Post breakfast we all went to swimming in the natural pool. there are life jackets available for rent, at rs 50/-. The rock forms a cave kind of structure, and you actually can sit behind the water fall curtain 🙂 we sad on a rock and covered by waterfall, and enjoyed the place for more than 90 minutes. As it started getting crowded, we decided to leave the place. ❤
Thinking about how, not getting accommodation in ‘paradise adventure camp’, turned out to be a blessing in disguise ❤ ❤ . If you miss something in life its because yoyu are destined for something better.
after a cozy lunch, we packed our stuff to continue our journey.
There are two routes to get to krangsuri falls, both has parking lots. old one is little steep, with no symmetric steps, but shorter route ( say 10 min trek), New one is neat symmetric steps, not steep but longer (20 min trek). Beautiful view of kransuri falls can be seen from the new route.
For best experience with krangsuri falls, one should stay in those tents. Krangsuri!! i am gonna miss you bad. 😦
The next part of our trip was in Meghalaya, so we had to get to Shillong. It is almost 17-hour journey from Tawang. we did not prefer to travel all day long, hence we broke this journey into 3 days, took a different route and added a few more places to visit our list. Ideally one can cover this distance in two days, taking a break at Tezpur or Guwhathi depending on the next destination.
We thought we will go to Bomdila (Stay) >Pakke tiger reserve > Tezpur>Nagoan (Stay )> then head to Shillong, roughly 5.5 hour journey each day. But the driver was firm on taking regular (much used) route, till Kalaktang (again passing through Bhutan border and to take a left deviation from Orang village.
Drivers in the northeast, prefer to stick to standard routes and do not entertain changes that easily. We could not convince our driver to take the route we planned. He outrageously denied our route option. He said, ” Its always safer to go in the road which is much used, as we can get help faster if there are unpleasant situations”. That was the end of the discussion. 😦
Not caring about which route to be taken, I slept for an hour, as I was sleep deprived for a couple of days now. Atharv slept during the day while traveling and kept us up all night. The same thing with other three kids, they all slept well in the vehicle and were booming with energy by the time we wanted to crash on the bed. Our agenda to keep kids away from gadgets was at the cost of our much-needed sleep.
One hour from Tawang, when I woke up, we were in front of Nuranang falls ( Jung falls). 😮
Falls is about 500 m trek (150 steps), from the parking lot. The baby was sleeping in the vehicle. I stayed back and everyone started to trek. I was so jobless, I started counting lines on the seat cover. Nope! not for much time, 10 min and I decided to risk it. There was absolutely no signal on the phone, so the driver said he would wave at us from the top, if the baby wakes up. I agreed.
Happily, I jumped out of the traveler and ran down towards the falls.
Jung falls is a huge waterfall, from a stream which flows into Bhutan after covering some distance in Arunachal. We had the place for ourselves, except the army camp which was set up beside the stream. The sprinkle of water, the cold wind and the sound of gushing water, what else is needed? place is good for camping as well.
Aarushi wondered where so much water coming from? while Pranav was super excited to see, how army officials can camp in such beautiful places? There was nobody to restrict us from playing in the water, but it was so cold we dint even think of playing in water. we enjoyed the place for half an hour and headed back, as there was chances of snowfall. We had to cross sela pass (13000ft) to reach Bomdila, before sunset.
What a view it was, it looked like a milky ocean with the sailing mountains, and then god showered snowflakes to enhance the view.
The beautiful Sela looked totally different that day. Dull, little snow here and there with Visibility 10-20 m, we all were super excited to see the snow, also little worried about less visibility. Less visibility is not good when you are on mountain roads. Bharath ( our driver ) looked very confident. He was like, “I have come here so many times, I can drive these roads blindfolded”!! We were so afraid, Just to deviate all from that thought, I started digging our snack sack, we got buzy in a minute. 🙂
Yes! we had a huge snack bag, below the last seat, which was filled with cakes, biscuits, candies, bread, jam, etc.
“Pulse” was our national chocolate 🙂 🙂 🙂 , Avi brought a whole pet jar, as it was the most wanted item amongst snacks.
Travel tip: its always good to have candies to save ourselves from motion sickness, or just to make your kids quite.
it was very difficult to get vegetarian food that day. This was a tough day for us. We had to survive on cake biscuits and bread. The cold, grumbling stomach, and cranky toddlers, what not? A couple of us already had got headache, as we did not eat well in the morning. Finally! we found one hotel on the outskirts of Dirang, somehow managed to get rice and dal. it was already 2:30 we still had one hour more to reach Bomdila.
From there, we did not stop the vehicle anywhere till we reached Bomdila. It was already dark and roads inside Bomdila were very bad, due to rain. The last twenty minutes we had a pretty scary drive, especially when google maps lost GPS connection! End of the days journey, we reached Monastery accommodation.
A budget place with basic amenities, but this place was very cold compared to Dirang. Even though we are coming down south, we forgot monasteries are always on top of mountains!! It was raining when we reached there, so we couldn’t remove any luggage from the vehicle. we had to just run to our rooms and wait till the rooms got warmer. Very Kind staff served us tea, and dinner by 8pm, as there was no power, we could not use the heaters in the room. I still get chills even now, when I think of Bomdila.
Travel tip: One need to order dinner well in advance, like before 5pm. and do not miss ginger tea, it was the best!
The next morning, when we woke up, it had stopped raining and we could see the beautiful monastery from our balcony. Kids played in the courtyard in front of dining area. we had to leave early and breakfast was available only after 8am. We just ate instant food which we had and left the place. we could not go to the monastery despite staying in monastery guesthouse. 😦 an hour later, we crossed Kalaktang, bidding bye to Choegyal home stay , where we stayed, the first day of our journey. Cool breeze and greenery everywhere, it was a very calm journey.
On the way, we stopped by a cafe where we got nice hot tea and super clean eco-toilets.
It was a few kilometers left deviation from Amatulla-kalaktang road, there was a fresh fruit shop. Where we found a lot of local variety fruits. Anyone going to Arunachal should taste Persimmons fruit, locals call it Japani phal. I have tried it here in local supermarkets, but its nothing in comparison to eating fresh from yard. Very crispy and juicy and oh no! i want now :(. The sad thing is, we did not get the fruit anywhere else . We should have picked more fruits when we were in Arunachal 😦
After we cross Arunachal and enter Assam. “Refreshment hotel and restaurant” is one place for food amongst very few options. we could see Bhutan from this hotel. 🙂 Decent food and lemon soda is worth a try.
From then, it’s a highway drive till Nagoan, paddy fields, flat land tea estates. We passed through 15-20 settlements not paying much attention to which villages or towns it was. By 4:30 in the evening, we saw Brahmaputra river, we were so happy, we reached Tezpur. There is a bridge to cross Brahmaputra river in Tezpur to reach Nagaon, which is further 70 km. There were a couple of places of visit in Tezpur, but we had to skip them as we were already late.
Travel tip: so it is a bad option to go via Nagaon, when traveling Tawang to Meghalaya, as drivers prefer the highway. And there are no good hotels to stay in Nagaon. Oyo rooms which showed promising photos, turned out to be below average places.
There was another shocker for us in Nagaon, After we reached our hotel, our driver called and told us that, he is not able to come with us for the further trip, as there was some document issue for the vehicle. So, the travel agent will be arranging another vehicle and a good driver. We were very sad. 😦 Bharath was already 11th member of our group, we felt very bad about he will not be coming with us to Meghalaya. Hmm, we had to carry all the luggage to the hotel, to empty the tempo traveller and it was quite a task.
The whole idea of Nagoan stay was because we wanted to explore the Nagaon – Jowai route, which is supposed to be scenic with a lot of waterfalls and a lot of greenery. Next day, Jubain joined us with a better vehicle, we started our journey and with a great breakfast somewhere near Bhorghat point. Our maps asked us to go straight towards the south. But the driver told us, Meghalaya is towards the right side from that point. We showed him google maps and he was like, ‘Sir hum map pe vishwas nahi karte hain, itna toh muje pata hain ki, Meghalaya rightside hai”. (“sir, i do not believe in maps, all that i know is, meghalaya is right side from this point.” we stopped the vehicle and gave a call to the owner and even the owner was not happy with changing route. So, we had no option to travel by highway. Disappointed us started the journey towards Meghalaya.
It was a monotonous, traffic highway drive till we reached Jorabat. Then we took a V-turn to cross Assam-Meghalaya stare border, and the magic happened. Suddenly Clean, well-marked, slightly curvy roads showed up. Green mini cliffs both the sides, with well paved roads.
We were enjoying the drive, and the driver stopped the vehicle and asked us if we want to eat in a pure veg restaurant. 🙂 ❤ ❤
North to south Indian, Chinese to continental, you get everything there. Food was super yummy and the only thing we hated there, was fruit salad with icecream 😦 . Fruits tasted like raw, pale, bottle guard, ( i still wonder, what fruits he used?) and in addition to that, he served it with chocolate ice cream, the combination killed our tastebuds.
The further journey was a treat to eyes, there is a tremendous difference in vegetation, climate, and look of the sky, from Assam to Meghalaya, as we start gaining little altitude traveling into Meghalaya. Jiva veg hotel gave us an idea of how clean, Meghalaya is. The tempo traveler had a dustbin in the front. when asked, the driver said its compulsory for all tourist vehicles to carry a dustbin. Wow!
As travelers, we should understand and respect the law of the state. How I wish Bangalore has such stringent law on waste management.
Passing through Shillong, we headed towards our destination Jowai. we kept calling the hotel we booked, but had not got an answer since morning. I and Avinash were a little worried about this booking. The place looked like savanna grassland, till our eyes could see, we saw only small hillocks and grass. No buildings or people to be seen. while google maps shouted “you will reach your destination in 750 m”, I really panicked as we could see nothing but dry grass around. Then 400m ahead, the road took a bend, and we finally saw 3 huts we booked! ‘Paradise adventure camp’, reaching the place itself was a adventure.
Parking the vehicle, we were very eager to check-in. We all were totally tired. To our shock, the person who came out of the reception told us that, there is no accommodation available as rooms were all full. What!! 😡 we argued with him showing booking details and confirmation mail from booking.com. It was of no use. Later we realized, he had 2 accounts in booking.com and he uses only one. we had booked from the other account. How misleading is that?
We were hungry, angry, feeling lost and it was almost dark. we had to travel 40 km back to Shillong or 35 km forward to Dawki to find an accommodation!! This was a crazy moment.
A fresh day in Tawang. Host had prepared chow-men which was super yummy. Last night, we had given her lecture about, what is considered to be vegetarian and what is not. So she literally called us up, to show all the ingredients she wanted to use, before staring to cook.
Tawang Galdan Namgye Lhatse
This is the second largest monastery in the world after the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It is situated in the valley of the Tawang River. its a feast for eyes to see the architecture which stands on a high hill overlooking the valley.we took the side entrance as we had baby prams and later realized its a bad idea to take prams to tawang monastery.
The monastery looks like a large Mansion, is triple storied with a large assembly hall, with 65 residential quarters for students, Lamas and monks, and center for Buddhist cultural studies. We also saw a huge library but couldn’t get in.
The entrance has a well sculptured huge northern gate. Each gate gives a different view. Northern side, you can see the interlocking valley spur. Small settlements on the slopes of huge green mountains with alpine vegetation. It looked like a green waterfall. The southern side of the monastery is backed by snow cap mountains. Tawang river is also seen from the monastery.
Walking through these small yellow roofed houses and small passages leading to colonies, it felt like we were in a maze.
It is hard to believe that, there were 300 plus monks (kids) residing in the monastery, buy still there was absolute tranquil.
we found monks playing foot ball in the narrow passages, but not sure, what this monk was up to?
Courtyard in front of the main prayer hall is where we spent some time, watching kids running around and then we entered the main prayer hall. I always wonder! how they maintain absolute silence in monasteries?
There is a huge Buddha statue inside the prayer hall , where we tried to meditate. 🙂 kids absolutely ruled out the idea and pulled us out. We had to get out of the place not to disturb other people.
Travel tip: if you want to experience prayer time in the monastery, you should be there by 4 am. Put a complete round of the monastery as each side provides different views.
The best view of the monastery is from the giant Buddha statue, which is at same elevation, 3 km away from the monastery. If you look carefully in the picture above, the giant Buddha statue is seen at a distance through the gazebo.
It was a dull day, so we did not get bright photos of the monastery. Got some nice photos of us, with colorful buildings and hazy background.
Then we headed to the Giant Buddha statue, which is located near circuit house. Its a silent place not much of visitors. nice view of Tawang city. This is the area where you can find most of the famous hotels in tawang. the monestry view hotel.
Travel tip : hotel around buddha statue, rooms with monestry view usually costs more. we took a hotel near monastery, (valley view) so it was pocket friendly.
On a bright day, one can get fantastic view of monastery from this place. Do not forget the mandatory pic with monastery here.
After a lot of walking in the monastery, we all were very hungry. so we visited the most recommended cafe in Tawang.
The dharma cafe is a decent place, with pizzas, pastries, beverages and more. There was no power in tawang that day, so we had to choose only things which were readily available.
Not much vegetarian options in Tawang, hence this place was a delight for us. Post lunch, we went around the local market, to see if we can get some soveniors. Tawang’s teacup shops were a delight to eyes. we did not buy them, as we had 10 more days of travel. we refilled our daily supplies, cornflakes, milk, bread, etc. and decided to head back.
Every other shop sells winter wear and crockery, you will also see Military stores everywhere.
Dusk brought our jackets and caps out. we were about to head back home but then, our driver insisted on the sound and light show, in the war memorial. Its a brave story of Indo-china war in the bleak snowy mountains and the heroes who sacrificed life to protect borders. shoe happens in an open amphitheatre for around 60 min. Army personals took at most care of our seating arrangements, as we had two infants in the group.
Travel tip: carry jacket cap and gloves. The show starts at 5 pm, but by the time it ends, it will be chilling cold. Also reach the place by 4:30 to get tickets and to get seat with good view.
Finally the day ended with UNO game and very comforting roti, sabji and dal. we had awesome time in come inn home stay. Great people, great food and budget friendly place.
The day began, with Avi waking me up, wishing me Happy birthday. 🙂 It seldom happens, that we are awake and kids are asleep! so quietly, we ran to the balcony, to see the sunrise. Next few minutes, we just enjoyed the quiet time and the change of colors!
Cold breeze descends to the valley in the night, hence valley will be covered by clouds at sunrise. As the day gets brighter, clouds get cleared and the valley is seen. by evening again there are clouds covering the valley. Below is the video of the dance of clouds, the whole day.
The much-awaited Bumla pass was planned for day 5.
Only Arunachal registered, small vehicles can go north of Tawang. Hence we had to book another vehicle, leaving behind our tempo traveler. These agencies charged us 5000/- per vehicle for two places. initially, we thought that is too much for a 60 km drive, but later we realized it is very nominal for such tough track. There were no well-paved roads, some roads looked like walkways, where no vehicle can go. Puddles, muddy pools on road, through which our Tata sumo sailed! Just imagine, this is a daily route for our army personals. These roads get a touch of cement every year, but 2/3rd of the year, it is covered by snow and while snow is shoveled the cement gets shoveled too, and the road gets back to its crude state. By the way, this is the road that connects the Chinese border to Indian civilians! it better be in a crude state.
we have to get permits to go to the bumla pass in the local DC office, usually vehicle rental agencies will take care of the permit. So we need to carry our documents and copies, when we travel to Arunachal. (Driving license or Aadhar card will do.) Permits to be applied a day or two before the journey. This permit is to be stamped by army check post, without the army stamp, you will not be allowed through the numerous check posts on the way.
More than permit, they look at all the faces in the car, sometimes that gives more information than the permit in hand, and that is what they are trained for.
Since the road to Bumla may not be in the best of conditions throughout the year, the ideal time to visit would be from May to October. There is a time restriction in both places bumla pass and Sangetsar lake (Madhuri lake), because of sudden weather changes and other security reasons. We have to be back, to cross the army check post before 3:30. so if you have planned to see both places, you need to start early in the morning.
Roads are very bumpy, but your mind will be awestruck with the mesmerizing landscape.
The place is inundated with lakes, we saw around 20-25 small lakes, while we traveled amidst these beauties. The spectacular frame of the clear blue sky in the background and the mountains and hills in the foreground will amaze you.
The driver did not care to stop the vehicle, for us to click pictures, even after several requests. Every turn had a colorful and mind-blowing view. we clicked these pictures with great difficulty, as our car jiggled on the road like a frog. kids slept the whole time as they were frustrated with this roller-coaster experience. Infant (Atharv) was startled with no idea about what’s happening! we were skeptical of taking the infant to high altitude, in fact, infants and kids acclimatize faster than adults. They tend to be more sleepy due to low oxygen. we should keep them hydrated, keep snacks handy.
Travel tip: Drinking too much water can make us nauseous, so small and frequent sips can help us better.
Tip: Start your journey early, say 7:30 am, Reach Bum la, do not spend more than 40 min there. it is usually very cold and the military canteen serves very comforting Maggi noodles and tea, which is a reason to get late :). Drivers there make this a reason to skip the second destination. so, be on time to cover both destinations.
The road to Bum La is also a historical route, where the Indian army confronted aggressively defiant Chinese army during the 1962 Sino-Indian war. Such mighty snow mountains and purest of water streams then turned red in the saga of drawing borders. In 2006, Bumla pass was re-opened to traders for the first time in 44 years. Traders from both sides of the pass were permitted to enter each other’s territories. You feel you are traveling inside an army camp even you are 5 km away from Bumla. Bunkers everywhere, military trucks and a board saying ‘You are under enemy’s observation. Definitely, my heart skipped a beat there.
As we reached Bum la pass, the driver asked us to leave all mobiles and camera equipment inside the car, to reduce the extra entry procedures. yes! if you carry any of them, you will have to deposit it near the entrance, giving id proofs and stuff. From this point, an army personal takes people batch by batch to tell us about the place.
Bum la pass is where the Chinese army barged into our territory in 1962 Indo china war. This pass has seen the most fierce war in history.
By then, it was 11:45 am and we came back to the vehicle and started the descent. After 25 minutes, we just asked the driver about, how much time will it take to reach the next destination? The driver told us, we were very late, and he cannot take us to Madhuri lake. we were really upset and argued with him, we did not know anything about the time restriction. Then he changed his version saying, his manager told him, to take us to only one destination. we were pretty sure, we had discussed two destinations.
It was already noon, and then he told us, the army check post wont let us take deviation after 12 noon. we decided, we shall go till the army check post and check the same. At the check post they asked us to caom back before 3, which was barely 25 minutes in madhuri lake.
Shungestar is another spectacular natural wonder wouldn’t want to miss. it about 20 km from tawang town, a deviation from Cona, which is 7 km before we reach Bum la. They will not let you enter this route, post 12 pm for security reasons. This lake is formed by falling rocks, boulders and trees in an earthquake, the dries trees remains of the former valley, make the lake more scenic.
A song in Bollywood movie Koyla featuring Madhuri Dixit was shot here in Shungestar lake, as a result, this lake is also called Madhuri lake. The lake is about 20 km from Tawang town,
The military canteen here serves Maggi, tea, and Idlis. surprisingly we got idlis, in all the military canteens 🙂 Very picturesque lake with bright flora and with sleepy mountains, wearing a blanket of clouds. we were lucky again, the lake looked stunning as the weather was great.
we could not spend much time there, as it was already 2:15 pm we had to rush back. The way back looked totally different because of thick fog, and visibility was less than 10 m. Thus we understood the reason behind time restriction. The drive becomes more dangerous when there is snow. The driver said, we will not let us cross the check post 3:30pm and will have to stay back in Army camp, till next day morning. The ride was so bumpy, Aarushi and Pranav were bouncing in the back seat. By the time we came back,I couldn’t feel my legs, as I was carrying the baby on my lap the whole time.
Travel tip: Keep more time for Madhuri lake, especially, if you are a person who loves photography. Also, you get to spot Tibetan birds which migrate during October.
it was so cold, we couldn’t come out of the vehicle to take a pic. I wonder, how our soldiers sit in these bunker for hours or may be days to protect our country. can you guys spot a camouflaged bunker in the pic?
We came back home by 4:45 pm, got a warm welcome from our host with hot corn soup and veg momos. There was a old school kerosene room heater, placed in the center of the hall. It made the place warm but, was very difficult to manage as kids were running around all over the place. Pranav and aarushi wanted to play, we all were tired and wanted to sleep, the host entered and told us about a Monpa tribe dance show which begins in ten minutes. we all looked at each other’s face and smiled.
Host said ” Go out, turn right and walk till you see the light.” That is the most amazing directions, I have ever got. Guess what? we grabbed our gloves and started walking towards light. It was pitch dark and we had to use our mobile phone to see if we were walking on the road or something else. Glad we went, we all rejoiced it. here is a small video of the dance show.
Travel tip: if you are in and around Tawang, do not miss cultural program organised by Shyo village welfare association which is near the Monestry. Every day evening 6 pm, costs about Rs 100/- per person.
It was a long day, which soaked us in the culture of Tawang!
Travelling on the roads, in the midst of mountains felt like, we were crawling infants amidst meditating monks. Green mountains interlocked the valley making the place very scenic. Tt was a pretty steep climb, and we also got sneak peak of snow caps. Each hairpin bend gave us a new view, different face of mountains. With increasing altitude, we saw change in vegetation, Lush green had become dull red bushes with pale patches of green here and there. Pranav and Aarushi were very excited and they use to shout out when they see a snow peak. Couple of people in the vehicle had motion sickness, hence we were little worried about this journey, but this is the only route to Tawang.
Taking curves and bends, finally we reached top of the mountain.
Tawang is been on Avi’s bucket list for quite some time now, we actually wanted to do a biking trip to Arunachal, going with a compass north and south 🙂 as they say, ‘ Half the fun in the travel is the esthetic of lostness’. But on the way to tawang, if you are feeling ‘the lostness’, it may be the serine beauty of tawang or the high altitude. 🙂 so keep yourself hydrated, or take some medicine if you have high altitude sickness.
The culture of Tawang is highly influenced by the Tibetans and the Buddhist way of life, inundated with a number of monasteries. Tawang has a serene and pacifying ambiance. It was a 4.5 hour drive with two major climbs and we had to cross Sela pass which was 13680 ft. Many people travel, Guwhati (180 ft) to Tawang (8575 ft) via sela pass (13680 ft ) in one day, thats’ too much of altitude change in a day. As we had infants and senior citizens with us we decided to go slow, acclimatizing ourselves to altitudes, hence less chance of getting altitude sickness.
Most thrilling curves! i call it.
Here comes the godly Sela pass.
Sela Pass is one such beauty in the state of Arunachal Pradesh which is undoubtedly a piece of heaven on earth. You will definitely be awestruck after witnessing the majestic appearance of the perennial lake. Sela looks best on a bright sunny day, we were lucky to witness her at her best. Weather was very kind to us in this trip. Deep blue water and a bridge connecting two mountain at the horizon, mind bowing it was!
A mountain pass is a navigable route through a mountain range. Since many of the world’s mountain ranges have presented formidable barriers to travel, passes have played a key role in both human and animal migration throughout Earth’s history.
The beautiful Sela.
As we opened windows we felt a strong cold wind, it was super cold. Thermals plus a sweater plus a jacket kind of cold. we stepped down with the gloves on, but Atharv (1.3yrs) refused to wear gloves and was already cranky. There are about 100 steps to get down to the lake, and a well-paved pathway to walk along the shore. As we went near the lake Atharv started to cry loud and started pulling his clothes, he was not feeling comfortable. I was really worried if his discomfort was due to altitude? Couldn’t pose to a single photo, in spite of Avi calming me down. Now seeing Atharv, the other infant, prabhav( 2 yrs) started crying, and leaving the scenery behind, we all helplessly started walking towards the vehicle. As soon as we reached the vehicle, I removed his sweater. That instant, he picked up the sweater, threw at Aarushi, and laughed. And the next moment, which he was fine!! I was perplexed! later I realized, his discomfort was not because of altitude but because I made him wear his sister’s sweater. As it was very cold, I made him wear an additional sweater which he did not like. 😦
Thus bidding bye to Sela pass! we moved on. we started downward journey again, this probably was the windward side of the mountain, it had a lot of pine trees, with cascading streams, and thick fog covering the head of the mountain. it was a great place to stop and take a pic. Avinash ( the eye behind the lens, who took all these photos) finally posed for a pic.
By this time, we all very hungry, the only option for eating near Sela pass is a couple of military canteen. Driver told us, one canteen here serves us free tea, in the memory of a war hero, we stopped there, to know more about him, aannnnnd explore what can make our tummy happy.
THE WAR HERO!
Rifleman Jaswant Singh is considered the hero of the Sino-India War in 1962. According to a local, he single-handedly fought the Chinese army for three days. It was the last phase of the war in November 1962, and due to a lack of resources, his company was asked to fall back. But, Jaswant Singh remained at his post. With the help of two local girls, Sela and Nura. Jaswant Singh set up weapons at three different spots and fired them non-stop for three days. Thinking a big contingent was firing at them, the Chinese Army was confused and frustrated, as they knew no way to counter the purported attack of the Indian Army.
It was Sela’s father who did not like her involvement with Jaswanth singh, informed Chinese, it was just one man hiding and firing at them. The Chinese then surrounded Jaswant Singh from all sides. Nura was captured and Sela committed suicide. Jaswant Singh, realizing he was about to be captured, shot himself. The Chinese forces cutoff Jaswant Singh’s head and took it back to China as a war souvenir. After the war was over, the commander of the Chinese forces, impressed by the late Jaswant Singh’s show of bravery, returned his head along with a brass bust. It is now installed at the site of the battle.
further towards Tawang,
1)Some kind of berries we found on the way, but we did not dare taste them.
2) Nice place to lock kids up and peacefully click a few pics, I strongly recommend these kind of kids friendly view points. 😛
Finally, we reached Tawang, it was 5pm and it was totally dark and chilling cold. we were all sitting in the living room, the host helped us with room heater and hot case full momos and tea. we savored all of them and ready to call it a day. But kids got bounced back with energy!! Pranav and Aarushi started demanding board games!! They managed to keep us awake till 9 pm even though we had plans to go to Bum la pass the next morning.
Room heaters were saviors of the day!
The next day began with Avi waking me up, wishing me Happy birthday. 🙂 it seldom happens, that we are awake and kids are sleeping! so, we ran to the balcony, to witness the sunrise. Next few minutes, we just enjoyed the quiet time and the change of colors!
Cold breeze descends to the valley in the night, hence valley will be covered by clouds at sunrise. As the day gets brighter, clouds get cleared, the valley is seen. By evening, again there are clouds covering the valley. Below is the video of, the dance of clouds.
It was about 3.5 hour travel from kalaktang to Dirang. we were slowly gaining altitude until Bomdila. As we traveled north in Arunachal, the number of military camps we saw kept on increasing. Bunkers, millitary truck, tents, igloo shaped godowns and happy soldiers wandering with pride.
THE MIGHTY DIRANG
Our stays in this trip, were mostly in high altitude. For a change we chose a hotel in the valley, it was right on the bank of Dirang river. Highway was on the other side of the river and we had to walk across this bridge to reach the cottage. The bridge is the highlight of this place. Riverine breeze across the bridge was so refreshing, plus sun shine making the day bright, led to wonderful time in ‘Dirang Boutique cottages’ .
Kids went crazy about the lawn,they started running helter-skelter everywhere thy could. so We spent most of our time in the lawn, gushing river, walled by a green mountain, a small river beach, a well maintained patch of grass and orange trees. 🙂 Sushma took up the task of being the commander-in-cheif for the Baccha party.
We spent most of our time in the lawn, gushing river, walled by a green mountain, a small river beach, a well maintained patch of grass and orange trees. 🙂
The lawn monkey bussiness… Avi was feasting on the bright sunny day light. Each click was worth a story.
Sun was tired we were not, we continued to play indoor after dusk. Uno and Chowkabara post 5pm, backed up by Vishu’s special mixture of mixtures (Khara, bhujiya, avalakki puri) and ginger tea.
Yes! Vishu has this great talent of mixing different mixtures and bringing out new flavors! this helped replenish our taste buds which were confused with bland mountain food.
Yummy breakfast is the best way to start a day, and guess what they served us rotis and aloo gobi with lot of smiles. which filled our heart.
THE RIVER BEACH
This was a peacefull place, with no sound other than the dance of water. Amma meditated here for about an hour till we all barged in
🙂 Kids played in sand, took turns to taste pure Dirang water. Despite a boundry line for kids, gaurded by Vishwa, Pranav ran towards water to wash his hands and scared us all.
Dirang Has a couple of tourist spots,
1)Dirang dzong: old tribal buildings, with beautiful architecture, build to sustain harsh weather conditions.
2) Hot water spring: its a 15 min trek off the high way to reach hot water spring. and many more
They say car is like second home, but a tempo traveler can make you feel at home! Almost everyday Atharv, Aarushi and Pranav got to sleep straight and nice. we installed a baby stroller between two seats and infants took turns and had comfortable sleep.
Happy us in the tempo traveller!
Day two: pretty long journey which had transitions from plains to mountains and warm weather to chilling cold. google maps told us we were very close to Bhutan-India border, hence we planned to stop over there and see if we could enter Bhutan? 🙂
Yes! They let us in. officials did not let the traveler (vehicle) in, but they permitted us to walk around. we spent about 20 minutes, despite seeing couple of hotels, we did not eat in Bhutan as they failed to understand the word vegetarian!
Two and a half hours of lush greenery, hairpin bends and total shift in weather dropped us in Kalaktang. we pulled out all our jackets and caps, stepped down from the vehicle to see a pretty huge Tibetan refugee camp in the shadow of Gyuto Monestry and our stay was right opposite to it.
A little about India and Tibetans!!!
History of Tibetan settlements roots from 1960 when Dalaiama fled to India, and Nehru accepted him as refugee,resulted in the mass influx of Tibetan refugees into India that continues today. Since which we are in state of war with China. slowly refugee camps were set up all around India. 39-40000 Tibetans came and each Tibetan adult was given an acre land to start livelihood and and they have a organisation called CTA (central Tibetan academy ) which runs from funds all over the world including Govt. of India. Despite this, govt. of India faces charges of unsatisfactory polices on improper security and facilities for refugees. seriously! those refugees have life better than many of Indian citizens.
In conversation with the owner of home stay, we asked her, its more than 50 years,and why did they not try and get Indian citizenship. she said she is proud of preserving her culture and Tibetan identity!!
yup! getting back to our story!!
Chogyal homestay : simple place with basic amenities, 10 rooms and common bath! without hot water, it was so cold, we weren’t thinking of taking bath, even if they had ten bathrooms in there! This place was owned by a Tibetan family, who were very kind and nice to us. There was old wood heater in the terrace, we all sat around the warm, speaking about the history of Gyuto, and kalaktang. They do not serve food here, but they offered us tea, next day morning which gave a great start for day 3.
The bamboo selfies… i call it.
Once we reached choegyal’s, we had to walk 600 m to a nearby restaurant, the ‘hotel highway inn’. A lonely road, only us, walking with our hands deep inside pockets, Bamboo plantation on one side and cabbage farms to the other. Restaurant had good food, they served us hot rice, dal and sabzi ( here starts the saga of rice, dal and nothing else. ), it was unlimited thali, we can ask for a second serving 🙂
We require ILP ( Inner line permit ) to visit Arunachal, it is to be applied online at https://www.arunachalilp.com/index.jsp. our application took 48 hours to be processed. It is always safer to apply before a week or two.
There are not much options to stay in kalaktang. Choegyal and Kesang or Pema home stay are two decent places. Kesang homestay, which is rite next to choegyal’s is better, as it has attached bathrooms and geyser for hot water.
Kalaktang, best place to stopover en route Tawang!
It was a 15 daylong travel planned to cover little bit of westren part of Arunachal and Meghalaya. we were 6 adults and 4 kids including 2 infants. Both places being two extremes with respect to weather, we had to pack, clothes to keep ourselves warm for Arunachal and summer trip, kind of packing for Meghalaya. We happily carried a lot of luggage, food and camera equipment , as we had a tempo traveller rented for all 15 days. Very less option for eating if you are a vegetarian,else nothing to worry.
our flight from Bangalore was at 7 am, as we reached Guwhati, Bharath (driver of the rented vehicle) met us at the parking lot. it was very sunny ,so we just dumped in, all the luggage into the vehicle, and quickly settled in the vehicle to escape sun. Hungry us landed in ‘Saatvik veg restaurant’. yeah! its a Decent place for lunch, we also got nice lemon soda in the waiting time, which pumped in a little energy to pose for a pic.
it was crazy traffic in Guwhathi, hence we decided to walk to Alfresco cruise parking lot, rather than waiting in hot sun, for driver to pick us up. cruise was at 4:30, and reporting time for cruise, is generally 30 min before cruise time. We had 2 hours for cruise and no where to go, so we played in this random park for sometime
Lachit Borphukan Statue In Brahmaputra
Lachit was the son of Commander-in-Chief of the Ahom army under Prataap Singha. King selected Lachit Borphukan to lead the forces of the Kingdom of Ahom to liberate Guwahati from Mughal-occupation. Cruise goes around this monumental sculpture , which was installed in the river, in 2010.
Evening cruise was a delight for us, cool breeze, orange sunset, hot ginger tea, what not? The fierce water, which looked still compensated the hot noon. Cruise costs 400 per person (only if you want upper deck which is open, 300 per person for other seats inside the cruise. we need to book before 2-3 hours if you have seat preferences. there is dinner cruise as as well. Variety of food available on cruise. Be sure to ask for seats in the edge of the deck for best experience.
There was live music on the cruise and whole time they played old hindi songs, which made Appa really happy, Amma spent her time in videography.
and a few mandatory pics,
After the cruise, it took us 35 minutes to reach our stay, which was just 5 km away. 😦 we stayed at Attica living spaces in paltan bazar, house is in central market, spacious with all amenities. we walked along streets of Guwhathi market, Omg! fish is the staple food here, street was stinking fish chops. we had no option but fruits, and bread. A yummy watermelon saved our day.
Kids enjoyed playing and adults were waiting to crash on bed! By end of day one, we had got a fair idea about, 15 day long tour with 4 kids! 🙂 🙂