It was an important day for us and luckily we got a great weather and the Tawang Monastery was looking awesome from the other side. Gayki Khang hotel probably offers you one of the best view of Tawang Monastery. The day was sunny with blue sky but quite cold after last night’s snow. The Tawang town looks so beautiful with fresh white snow and the surrounding mountains are all glittering in the sun light. We skeptically started our journey after having breakfast. Within 10/12km of Tawang Town the road started to be filled up with snow only. The place where our permits were checked, army men clearly told us, it was impossible to go even up to PTSO without snow chain, but we assured him we would only try till we could go without taking any risk and then would return. But by the time we reached around 3 km from PTSO, our driver, Dipankar started loosing his confidence and didn’t really want to proceed, It was difficult indeed with snow and ice (some hard ice) with some amount of skidding but definitely doable had we been having a local driver from hill. We even found couple of cars proceeded further but Dipankar was so nervous, we didn’t press him any further. He needed BRO guys help to do a reverse on his Bolero and that’s one important lessons we learnt that day, if you expect challenging hill driving with ice / snow etc. be careful while choosing your driver, inexperienced drivers in those conditions would surely fail 99% times. We even tried to walk and gone almost 2 km in that icy/snowy condition at that 13K height but then we found it was even beyond the condition for walking, we were slipping in every alternate steps and then called off our mission as sky started turning gloomy quite quickly. We were more than happy with our day playing in on lots of snow and a white carpet all around but definitely missed Madhuri Lake and Bumla for which I believe you need luck and good driver if you try it in December. One major snow fall can change the whole scenario. Later we learnt the cars were not allowed beyond the PTSO either towards Bumla or towards Madhuri as snow was much heavier after that but finally what happened was we had lot of times left for that day to visit War Memorial at Tawang and the Tawang Monastery where paintings were simply fabulous. We had to shift our hotel too and moved to place more close to main market but still quite isolated from the crowds and charged for a very nice room of around 1000/- with heating. It was much cheaper and value for money than what we got in Gayki Khang. Somehow I couldn’t remember the hotel name but I certainly collect the number and try to put in end of the log.
Tawang after last night’s snow fall:
Tawang from Top:
The snow bound land turns more white as we progress:
War Memorials at Tawang:
Mother and Baby:
Inside Tawang Monastery:
Inside Frescos of Tawang Monastery:
The day was nice and sunny but simply the feeling of taking the same route all the way from Tawang to Bhalukpong was making me sick. Arunachal Govt should and must resume reliable helicopter service or should improve the road at earliest, I heard by 2014 end the whole road would be ready but really doubtful considering the work culture of this part of India. We started the day early and first destination was Jung Falls, that we missed while coming as it was late. But Location of falls was so weird, it was difficult to get proper sunlight any time of the day for good photography but the location was really amazing. We proceeded further to Jaswantgarh, had the wonderful samosas and tea by army again but moved as quick as possible to cross the Sela pass before it’s getting late. We also knew about the bad stretch of road between Baisakhi and Dirang. During our return journey, Sela was even more windy and we didn’t want to wait there anymore and straight away proceeded to Dirang. When we reached Dirang around 4.00pm, day light started fading out and we started searching for hotel. Dirang is really having very few hotel, except Pemaling nothing is that good or standard but with help of Dipankar we were able to find a nice hotel, Snow Lion which was pretty standard for a night stay I would say and cost us just Rs. 700/- where as Pemaling’s lowest rate room cost would be Rs. 2200. We had a nice dinner and wonderful night there.
On the way back from Tawang to Dirang:
Hotel Snow Lion at Dirang:
We started another long journey towards Nameri and it was an eventless day as we crossed the same road again via Bomdila, Tenga, Sessa and Bhalukpong. We noticed for the first time in trip a late start almost around 9.00 in morning by Dipankar, he always used to take breakfast with us during entire trip which he broke first time for the trip and in morning gone alone to have his breakfast. Anyway we were ok with that, As we reached Bomdila, he refueled the car but just after crossing Bomdila he said there is some bushing problem in front wheels that he needed to change then only, we surprised and asked why he didn’t do it in morning, he said it was not that bad in morning, we were fine with that but we understood we were loosing significant time of the day. Then at Tenga, he took a break again for us to buy some fruits etc, but once we returned we didn’t find him for at least next 20 mins. We started from Tenga around 1.30pm which was late and then in Sessa when none of us were ready to take lunch, Dipankar insisted he had to take, finally we reached at Bhalukpong by 4.30pm when light started fading out, once again he took a tea break and then wasted some more time in Check Gate. We started from Bhalukpong around 5.00pm and reached Nameri finally around 6.00/ 6.30 as road was terribly bad and it was absolutely dark. After reaching Nameri we had a cup of tea and finally when I started the settlement with Dipankar reasons for all the delays since morning were clear to me. We hired him for 7 days and it was 7th day evening now he claimed as it was 6.30 and he couldn’t reach Guwahati on that day, he would charge for 8 days. His intention was clear to me by then and I again called up Rampal who actually got me connected to Dipankar. Rampal intervened and persuaded him somehow and saved my day otherwise honestly speaking it’s extremely difficult to trust most of these North East Drivers, Dipankar was sober, co-operative, punctual for most of the time, polite and most importantly didn’t drink while driving but he was definitely not honest. Anyway we ended our first part of the trip and was little shocked as well as we didn’t expect this nasty surprise from Dipankar on last day. But anyway day after tomorrow onwards we would start our next part of the trip, which should be more pristine and lesser known places and more importantly with someone whom I knew earlier, Ashim, the guy who drove me in Eastern Arunachal. We had some other things to do like getting Nameri Forest Permits / arranging for forest guard as there is still no Jeep / Elephant Safari available in Nameri, it’s simply walk with one armed guard, sometimes feel scary too but an experience you should never miss out. Everything can be done from Forest Office which is located just behind the lodge and anybody who works there in lodge can help you to get the permit. We took both forest visit and rafting permits for all 3 of us and a forest guard was allocated to us, we were asked to be ready by 6.00am in morning to start the safari. We had our dinner and retired for the day.
On the way back from Dirang to Nameri: