NOTE: PHOTO GALLERY AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
And I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
– Robert Frost
These last lines of the famous poetry, ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost describes my recent tour to a less explored part of the North Eastern region of the country, Arunachal Pradesh. One of the reasons for less tourist crowd here could be the bottle-neck security that exists here, which is quite justified due to various political and diplomatic reasons, making it mandatory for even a citizen of the country to have an ILP (Inner Line Permit) to enter the state. But the treasure it holds within it is beyond imagination and hence all these pains are worth taking and it can be realized only one when one experiences the idyllic beauty of the place.
Located in the Himalayan range of mountains, Arunachal means ‘the land of dawn lit mountains’, the name itself is suggestive of the beauty the place is impregnated with. One of the gateways to the hills of Arunachal is through Bhalukpong. On the way from here to Bomdila falls the biggest Orchid Conservation Sanctuary of Asia which houses orchids ranging from known to little known to the unknown. Bomdila is the most commercially viable place in the hills of Arunachal since it is located at an altitude of 8500ft from the sea-level. This place is overburdened with private travel agencies that promise a jerk-free experience to the further spots above. The place is also ornamented with the river Kameng that travels along the way to Dirang.
Dirang, situated at an altitude of 4910 ft is almost 42km away from Bomdila. The place again abounds in natural beauties with swift flowing river Dirang Chu (‘Chu’ meaning river in the local dialect) and a Holy hot spring adorning the place. Apart from these Dirang is famous for its apple orchards and Orchid Research and Development Centre.
Our next and last destination was Tawang, it is the highest residential area in Arunachal at an altitude of 10,000ft above the sea-level; the most controversial place in the recent times regarding its possession by the two countries- India and China.
To reach this place one needs to cross the Sela Pass at an even higher altitude of 13,700ft. The most surprising fact about this place is the existence of a lake amidst mountains at such height and its stupendous beauty. On our way down to Tawang, we came across a place called Jaswantgarh commemorating the outstanding bravery of a rifleman, Jaswant Singh during the Indo-China war in 1961. All the way from Jaswantgarh to the whole of Tawang is concentrated with numerous military base camps. The place sends a shiver down the spine since it looks like readymade war-field with bankers here and there, the presence of amry-men all through and always . It is constant reminder of the previous war and that might crop up anytime. The border-line that divides India and China, the MacMohan Line is just kilometers away from here. However this brute scenario is unable to rob Tawang of its spectacular beauty. With the clear blue sky as an uniform backdrop to the mountain ranges forming horizons at various levels and distances with smoggy clouds like fumes over- forms breath-taking view. Apart from this, the place also has a 400 years old Buddhist Monastery or Gompa of the Mahayana sect, which is the second largest in Asia and also hosts a military museum.
The place may lack in so called ‘sights’ for tourists but a tired set of eyes and a hungry heart , so full with the bustle and bustle of a concrete jungle is sure to find them at every corners of the mountains – the innumerable springs with their happy songs, the Rhododendrons and various colourful flowers, the smell of the pine, oak and juniper trees , the abyss, the feeling of touching the sky at any moment and their presence in entirety gives sense of eternity.[flgallery id=6 /]