Soaking Spiritually and Adventurously in the Astounding Arunachal Pradesh

Touted as the Land of the Rising Sun, Paradise of the Botanists, and Orchid State of India; Arunachal Pradesh in the extreme east of India literally means land of dawn-lit mountains. These honors of this state was known to me right from the school days but was only recalled recently when China tried to claim the state by distributing countless controversial maps to its military showing it as a Chinese state. As a journalist of a reputed Travel Magazine, the news recalled my own wish to explore this state. In no time, I planned my own trip with two more friends of mine, which was off the famous tourist circuit. Lohit-river-arunachal-pradesh Overview Arunachal is the matchless holiday getaway with its own mystical charm. The wavering rivers, the rigid plains, snow clad mountains, elite flora and fauna, misty valleys, thick woodlands, clear lakes, pouring waterfalls, wild savages, tribal terrains, and the legendary cultural heritage since ancient times... Ahh! Nature has plenty to offer for enjoying a rendezvous with the state’s most astonishing attractions. Foreign tourists need a Restricted Area Permit, while the Indian travelers require an Inner Line Permit. Roing-Arunachal-Pradesh Tawang Our first target was the district of Tawang that is true Shangri-la, accessible after a six-hour drive from the domestic airport of Salonibari in Tezpur. Nestled at above 3500m above sea level, this is the best place to enjoy a panoramic view of the Himalayas, trekking, and monasteries. Before reaching Tawang, we came across the Sela pass, the second highest motorable pass in the world, located at an altitude of 14000 ft and running via a small ridge and next to the placid Paradise Lake. The vista of the adjacent landscape and serene crystal blue lake is a treat for senses. Tawang is the home of Monpa tribes as well as a major hub of the Mahayana Buddhist. The main attraction here is the divine Tawang Monastery or Gaden Namgyal Lhaste meaning celestial paradise in a clear night, the biggest one in the country and second largest in Asia. While the exterior is embellished with rare orchids and snowy mountains, the interior houses a 28-feet high golden effigy of Lord Buddha. The shrine also houses over 450 lamas and 700 monks, and is a birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. Other attractions we explored were the Indo-China border, war memorial, Jaswant Garh, Brahma-dung-chung Ani Gompa, and the enchanting Tso Lake and Madhuri Lake housing rare fauna such as musk deer and snow pigeon. For food, I suggest the Dragon located in the main Tawang market and offering Chinese, Tibetan, Indian and local dishes, including the local rice cakes, lettuce vegetable, and Thukpa. For some authentic vegetarian Chinese food such as Hakka noodles, Sno-yak in the Nehru market is simply adorable. Bomdila Nestled in Tawang region, this was our next target for trekking amidst the Himalayas and brilliant landscapes. Trekking routes stretch through the verdant slopes of these hills to enjoy a clearer view of Gorichen and Kangto Peaks. Apart from that, the major sightseeing spot is the Buddhist Monastery housing a cultural hub full of arts and crafts. We also explored the Sessa sanctuary cultivating over 2500 orchids of more than 75 species. For a close observation, trekking on one of the routes is recommended. Nestled at 100 km from Bomdila is Bhalukpong housing the Aka tribe along the Kameng River great for rafting. The main attraction here is the Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary housing tiger, leopard, flying squirrels, Himalayan black bear, barking deer, and elephants. The bird species here include rare ones such as the great pied hornbill and serpent eagle. For food, we choose a dhaba in the main market area, which was offering North Eastern/Tibetan varieties such as soups, noodles, momos, and thukpas. Best Season to Travel October to April

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