Arunachal Pradesh Trip, Chapter 2

Arunachal Pradesh Diaries

Chapter Two

So yes, my reader, we were stuck at the beatific morning of Dirang, right? Moving on… Looking back from the car I bid adieu to this blissful town nested in the glamour of the Himalayas. This was the second day of the Arunachal Pradesh Trip and we were in a Tata Sumo, off on our way to Tawang (which is situated at 3000+ m above, by the way). Speculations (insane heights!) competed with skepticism (insane heights?), and with the breeze of Himalayas kissing my face, the former seemed to be winning.

The outskirts of Dirang reminded me of the pictures from Switzerland, that I had seen, not exaggerating the slightest bit! You can see for yourself.

Seems like a touch of Alps, no?
Seems like a touch of Alps, no?

And then, it appeared Dirang had other plans in store for us. Barely had we reached the outskirts of Dirang, the car engine seemed to be protesting. Taking no risks, all the passengers agreed to stop it there and ask for another. Since, the roads were reportedly going to be challenging, it was never wise to continue in a vehicle susceptible to breakdown mid-way! So then, we got down while the substitute car arrived. But I was not the slightest bit disappointed, because who hates stranded in an amazing scenery anyway?

Bottlebrush flower!
Bottle brush flower!

And then, there were these cottages.

We struck gold! Corns drying at a village cottage.
We struck gold! Corns drying at a village cottage.

We decided to have some chai at one of the cottages, and they made it for a small charge. And there were these cute little fellows with fine courtesies! All of them were enrolled in schools, and courteously stood up and thanked us when we shared some snacks with them. Take a look:

With some fine young fellows!
With some fine young fellows!

Oh, I don’t think I introduced you to the gentlemen we had the pleasure of having as co-passengers! There’s nothing better than some friendly soldiers having tales to tell about their life, and the place!

Who needs a guide, when you befriend some people who know almost every inch of the territory?

To those who keep these beautiful places safe for us!
To those who protect these beautiful places for us to explore!

The Indian soldiers made for some really jovial company, contrary to my suspicions of them being serious, cold people. We shared snacks, jokes and experiences among ourselves and not long before, on another Tata Sumo, back on our way to Tawang.

“You see those mountain tops out there?”, one of them asked me, pointing towards some high mountains which were draped in clouds.

I nodded.

“We will be driving up there.”

“Whoa! No way!”, the prospect was lucrative and seemed unbelievable. For then.

“Yes, that’s the Sela Pass.”

Moving from one mountain to other, the music and occasional rush of streams, we halted at a spot for some lunch. As before, the meal was sumptuous and I could not have enough of those juicy squash preparations and soft chappatis. Who knew vegetarian meals could be this fun?

And then I spotted this butterfly, the size of a small bird!

Spotting butterflies!
Spotting butterflies!

Continuing along the journey, some illustrations of Tyndall effect (for the non-geeks, just some science stuff about the splitting of light beams) came into being as the sun, clouds and mountains indulged in a game of hide-and-seek.

Sunlight escaping from the clouds, Arunachal Pradesh
Sunlight escaping from the clouds, Arunachal Pradesh

Sela Pass

The elevation kept increasing, as we went through some clouds, surpassed them. Cloud, clouds, all around! Some colorful display of different shades of orange, yellow and green pine forests (and my hands freezing with the chilly breeze it faced while making videos) later, we reached Sela Pass. I could notice that the vegetation had been decreasing considerably with increase in height.

And save some mosses, a barren landscape lay here. Somewhere in the harsh, barren landscape lay this tranquil lake which reflected the cool blue of the skies. Situated at more than 14000 feet, Sela Lake/Paradise Lake with its crystal clear reflection, was embedded like a sapphire on the crown of the majestic Himalayas.

Clouds at Sela Lake, Arunachal Pradesh
Clouds at Sela Lake

Sela Pass, with its silence and serenity had an uncanny allure.

The silence with the scenic beauty presented an aura of some mysterious beauty!
Ah, the tranquility!
The silence with the scenic beauty presented an aura of some mysterious beauty!
The silence with the scenic beauty presented an aura of some mysterious beauty!

NOTE: From experience, I should warn against touching the water- however appealing it seems. Frost bite might not be very cool. (Ignore the pun, I almost had it!)

Sela Pass, Arunachal Pradesh
Bidding goodbyes to Sela Pass

Spending some time in Sela Pass (I craved for some more. But then, who would not?), we continued on our way, the Sela Lake still captivated us and kept us glued to the window.

Jaswantgarh

The journey now was downhill, and the pine forests and streams reappeared. Next stop was Jaswantgarh War Memorial, a tribute to the brave soldier Jaswant Singh Rawat for his valor and persistence in the Sino-Indian war of 1962. Jaswangarh sings the legacy of a soldier who almost single-handedly defended the 10000 feet high region. A feat which impressed even the enemies he was fighting against.

Jaswantgarh, Arunachal Pradesh
Jaswantgarh War Memorial

Not only is Jaswantgarh a shrine, it presents spectacular views of the Himalayas.

Cherishing the panorama
Cherishing the panorama at Jaswantgarh.
Clouds and mountains, view from Jaswantgarh
Clouds and mountains, view from Jaswantgarh.

Panoramas. More panoramas (to be relished with self-served chai, courtesy of the Indian Army)

Bleh at selfies, I would rather use a self-timer.
Bleh at selfies, I would rather use a self-timer, at Jaswantgarh.

Journeying further downhill, we would reach Jung, the penultimate halt before we reached Tawang. And on our way down, such colourful displays of nature never grew tiresome to the eyes!

Pine forests, streams- alleys through the Himalayas
Pine forests, streams- alleys through the Himalayas

Jung

At Jung, we halted for some refreshments. And I found plenty to click there as well! Every place in Arunachal appeared to have surprises and stunning images for us to relish. And Jung was certainly no exception.

Birds of the same feather do flock together!
Birds of the same feather do flock together!
Perched.
Perched.
I don't know the species. Botanists, help?
I don’t know the species. Botanists, help please?

We missed the Nooranang falls as nightfall seemed close with the magnificent sunset that reddened the skies and the Himalayan peaks. (No photographs, sorry! Car in motion, mountainous roads and low light- too much restrictions for steady clicks.)

We reached Tawang by about 7PM. It was quite cold and we quickly got into our room at our hotel, Hotel Dawa in the Old Market area. After a dinner of egg curry and chappati, we retired to the comfort of the blankets.

The journey from Dirang to Tawang was spectacular in the truest sense and dynamic enough not be captured through some mere words and photos- anybody claiming to do that is surely demeaning to the Himalayas.

PS: If you have not yet read the first chapter of the Arunachal Pradesh trip, find it here.

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