Amazing Arunachal – Nameri National Park and way to Ziro


We woke up round 5.00 and get ready by 6.00 in morning with the forest guards already present there. We found the vehicle belongs to lodge actually going towards the start point of trek for getting woods, we were offered a lift and saved almost 2/3 km journey. While reaching the point we found the actual trek would start from other side of Jiabharali river a boat was waiting for us to get in that side. The river was quite deep as mentioned by the boatman and experiencing sunrise over Jiabharali river was simply fascinating. We had to walk another km or so on sands of Jiabharali to reach forest beat office and there we had to submit our permits and got the order to start our trek. The trek was fascinating inside the thick forest, we saw sambar deer, elephants, buffalos and many different birds. At some point of time our guard was little nervous as the herd of buffalos were almost charging to us but somehow we got escaped but the chilling current of nervousness flowing through our bones, we visited so many natural parks, wild life sanctuaries in India, but none seems to be so wild and virgin like what we felt in Nameri. We finished our trek of 8kms in almost slightly more than 2 hours. Then again 1 km trek on sand to catch boat and then 2 km walk on other side took us to Resort. We had a fabulous breakfast there as after a long time I walked for more than 10km at a stretch. I gave a call to Ashim and he was already on his way towards Nameri from Tinsukia. Good news but we were so tired, we left the idea of rafting as we had to go another 45 mins towards Bhalukpong by a car and the place was too hot to enjoy the rafting at noon. We preferred to take a much sought after rest after hectic 8 days of traveling and by evening Ashim reached safely with a new Bolero, that just ran less than 1000 km as per its Odo. We were happy and gone to sleep early as tomorrow we would enter more into Central Arunachal towards Ziro.

Sunrise over Jiabharali River at Nameri:


Pet Sambar Deer:


Indian Gaur:


The walking trail:




The Geometry:


We continue our walking:


Lots of Birds:


Nameri Eco Resort:



With Ashim we started with new energy for the next and more interesting leg of our journey. We started quite early and for first 10km again it was a big struggle to proceed with extremely bad roads. After 10 km, road was smooth enough to sail at 60kmph easily. We reached Balipara which is around 17km from Nameri and there we take left on to NH52 for next 200km on very good surface where you could cruise around 80 kmph easily. We took our breakfast at Biswanath Chairali and moving through right (North) bank of Brahmaputra and as I mentioned this is the biggest hurdle in exploring Arunachal as every time you have to navigate through Assam in East-West direction and that definitely increase driving time, distances and most importantly complex permit issues as you have to repeatedly come out of various check gates from Arunachal and get into it through some other gates. 30km before North Lakhimpore, we took left turn towards Kimin Check gate and once again we had to face the bad roads. Till Kimin Check gate road was bad but surprisingly improved to some extent once we entered Arunachal again. Kimin is one of the closest check gates from Assam through which you can access Central Arunachal districts like Lower Subansiri, kurung Kamey. Serpentine roads through thick forest roads over hilly region had high similarity with Bhalukpong though road was better here and as usual number of tourists were much less in this circuit. Our permits were checked in Kimin Check Gates and then we were allowed to enter Arunachal. When I have come to this topic, I must say obtaining a month long tourist permit is difficult at least from Kolkata, they refused me to issue even 2 non-overlapping permits for 2 different regions and finally I had to get one in my name and other in my wife’s name sending her to Arunachal House to get rid of this problem. So those who are planning for more than 14 days trip and covering more than one check gate and especially planning to get it done from Kolkata, please plan accordingly. We booked our stay at Ziro Circuit House, but the circuit house is actually located at Hapoli, 5 km before Ziro town. You would get some alternative accommodation too in Ziro but Circuit House seems to be the most value for money, not just because of its cost but the excellent location, you would be able to see the whole Hapoli town from the circuit house. The drive from Nameri to Hapoli was almost 365km out of which 100km was in hilly terrain and so it was a tiring day for all of us. Ziro’s height was 5500 ft much lower than even Dirang but believe me, I have very rarely experienced more colder place than this in my life, don’t know how much the temperature was but it was chilling and even more difficult to sustain that what we faced in 10K ft height at Tawang. Nameri Eco Resort Manager specifically told us about this infamous cold of Ziro but that time we didn’t put much importance to that considering it was just 5500 ft height. But certainly it was a cold place may be because of some special air circulation or for some other reason. We were tired, had our dinner and quickly retired for the day.

A quick Odo reading for the day:

104 – Nameri
121 – Balipara
173 – Biswanath Chariali
333 – Kimin Check Gate
345 – Hawa Camp
356 – Lichi
375 – Potin
383 – Pussa
394 – Yazali
409 – Yachuli
424 – Joram Top
430 – Hapoli
435 – Hapoli Circuit House

Today’s journey Map : Nameri National Park to Ziro


Just after crossing Kimin Check Gate:


On the way to Ziro:

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From Hapoli Circuit House – view of Hapoli Town:


At Ziro:


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Next: Amazing Arunachal – Ziro and Daporijo

Amazing Arunachal – Tawang, Journey towards Bumla

Day 5:

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:

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Tawang from Top:

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The snow bound land turns more white as we progress:

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Enroute PTSO:

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War Memorials at Tawang:


View of Tawang from Monastery: DSC_0205

Mother and Baby:


Inside Tawang Monastery:

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Inside Frescos of Tawang Monastery:

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Day 6:

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:


Day 7:

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:


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Amazing Arunachal – Tawang , Journey to Zemithang

Day 4:

This was our first full day in Tawang and the day was neither fully clear, nor completely cloudy, it was slightly foggy and cold morning and we were ready for our trip to Zemithang. Zemithang is towards extreme western end of Tawang district and the state of Arunachal, in the border of China (Tibet) and Bhutan. This is around 100km from Tawang and day trip would cost you a full day. Apart from the famous Chorten in Gorsam (Just few km before Zemithang), the natural beauties of the place would keep you spell bound. This is completely different than what you see in high mountains of Tawang, the whole route is through much lower elevation and you would find lots of trees and greeneries and amazing fall colors (even in early December) through out the route. The terrain matches more closely to Bhutan and now a new road is almost built up to border of Bhutan and work is being progressed for a connecting road from Bhutan end, which when completed, would give a new corridor of business between Bhutan and India apart from existing borders in Phuntsoling (through WB) and Somdrup Jonkhar (through Assam). The road is one of the best I found in Arunachal Pradesh and scenery is simply mind boggling. I also strongly suggest if possible stay a day in Zemithang, there is an Inspection Bungalow which usually be available and enjoy the serenity of the place. If you are traveling in October / November, even better is to plan a round trip from Tawang to PTSO to Madhuri Lake to Y Junction to Taksang Gompha and then to Zemithang and then back to Tawang through the valley route. I missed it as the road between Y Junction and Taksang was blocked and even road to Madhuri lake experienced heavy snowfall for last few days. The chorten at Gorsam usually be opened once in 7 years and it’s very famous to Buddhists. We tried to move another 8 km in a half broken roads towards the border at Kenzamane and stopped by ITBP there, they didn’t allow us to proceed without formal pass from Tawang Brigade but I heard from them, if you could go till border (another 3 km from that point), you could see the Tibetan village on the other side of McMahan line.

Gorsam Chorten at Zemithang: (taken from Tawang Official Web site)

This is situated 90 Kms from Tawang town. This Stupa is the largest Stupa of the area. This Gorsam Chorten is believed to have constructed in the early part of 12th century by Lama Pradhar, a Monpa monk. The semi-circular dome niddling high into the sky rests upon a three-terraced plinth. Four miniature stupas are also set on the four corners of the lower most terraced of the plinth. The base is squared with each side about 170 fts. in length with a niche running along its whole length and 120 manis are set in wooden frames. A well-paved footpath goes around the Stupa for pilgrims to go round about praying (Kora).

After spending a nice day at Lumla and Zemithang, we started our return journey through same route towards Tawang, my intention was to take the high mountain route through Taksang and Y Junction and but everyone at Zemithang advised us not to take that route because of then weather and it was raining there in the valley means snowing in the upper reach and the road is very isolated and you might not get any help if you get stranded. So coming back through same road was the only possibility and we reached Tawang in evening when light was just fading out. After reaching hotel I first enquired about Bumla permit and Hotel manager told the road was blocked beyond PTSO and people couldn’t even reach Madhuri Lake on that day. I called Pabitra and he initially told me that day permit was not issued by army and they would evaluate situation on next day and issue if situation improves, sounded convincing but somewhere I smelt something wrong in his behaviour. I started quizzing him in depth, asked him to handover the permit he obtained from DC Office and I planned to visit myself the brigadier office. Then he started fumbling and told he would be able to manage it tomorrow and when I insisted he told that he couldn’t collect the permit from DC office itself, now that was surprising, when I asked why, he started showing lame excuses like power was gone, photo copy machine was not running, DC was not there and many more. Now I asked him to return my money back, he said he had to travel to Army HQ in a cab, so he spent 200 there, when I encountered him why he gone to army when he didn’t collect the DC permit in first place, he couldn’t answer but stuck to his earlier stand he would refund me partially. This was really irritating, first of all he messed up my Bumla plan and next he was trying to be smart. I called up directly Rampal and spoken to him at length explaining him the situation. Once he intervened Pabitra returned me the money he took but snapped Bumla from my itinerary. So lessons learnt is don’t trust these hotel guys, if you want to visit Bumla, either connect to local cabs and spend a full day in Tawang and get involved in the process of obtaining permits unless you know someone very reliable. Anyway we decided two things on that day, first we would try to go on next day as much as we can as from that day evening it started snowing quite heavily even in Tawang town, so realistically we might not have much of a chance to reach Bumla and second was we would leave Gayki Khang and move to some more value for money hotel as we really took this permit incident as a cheating from hotel’s part. We retired for the day and prayed for a nice day tomorrow.

Morning View of Tawang Monastery:


On the way to Zemithang:


Fall colors at its best:


The zig-zag road towards Bhutan Border (Road is completed till border from India end and still in progress in Bhutan side, when completed, this would give a third option of entering India to Bhutan apart from existing Phuntsholing and Somdrup Jhonkar)


Zemithang Valley:


Waterfalls on the way:


Famous Gorsam Chorten:


Zemithang – a place one must spend a night


The gushing river:


Posing for a photograph:


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Next: Amazing Arunachal – Tawang, Journey towards Bumla

Amazing Arunachal – Tawang, Ziro, Along, Mechuka, Tuting : Introduction

When I last visited Arunachal, 2 years back I fell in love with the state, the awesome landscape starting from rainforests of eastern part to alpine meadows of western part meeting mighty Himalayas, the high mountains all around, deep gorges carving its way with blue waters gushing in, you can clearly see and feel the rapids from top. Waterfalls in almost every bend, in one turn its vast blue sky and in next turn in completely filled up with fog and mist. Arunachal will surprise you in every moment, the other aspect is the diversified culture, it’s completely a tribal state and there are 101 recognized tribes in Arunachal and mostly believe in different religions like Donyi Polo (Sun and Moon), Hinduism, Christianity etc. The state has borders with 3 foreign countries, Bhutan in west, Tibet (Now People Republic of China) in North and Myanmar in East. Tourism is not developed except the western part of Tawang sector, which was developed by late Mr. Dorje Khandu, the former chief minister of Arunachal who belonged to Tawang. The state buses sparsely run through the main towns but still Shared Sumo service is the most common mode of transport for locals, in almost all districts you would still find 30% villages not having any road connectivity and still depend on long trek to meet their daily needs. Actually northern part of Arunachal was more closely connected with Tibet through 4/5 different passes until British drew McMahan line in 1913 as per Shimla Accord with Tibet. The usual business with Tibet had been going on until China disregarded the McMahan line and attacked India in 1962 in both Ladakh and Arunachal sector. Since then all the passes were closed and the whole border with China/Tibet was closed and people were forced to walk 3/4 days through treacherous mountains and dense forests to come down to Indian plains to start their new lives. When we visited places like Gelling, merely a km from McMahan line, the elders were telling us the sad stories how they suddenly got partitioned from their near and dear ones living just couple of km across other side of border since 1962. The state is covered by mountains from west to east and deep river gorges from North to South including Kameng, Subansiri, Siyom, Siang, Dibang and Lohit that created mighty Brahmaputra river system. So traveling the state is extremely difficult from west to east as there is a lack of trans-Arunachal highway which is presently being built with the aid from Central Govt. Every time you have to come down 300 km to Assam and then again have to go up another 300km to reach another spot. So you need at least 45 days just for a touch and go trip to visit the prominent areas of state. So better if you could make multiple visits. Last time we covered Eastern Parts covering Lower and Upper Dibang Valley, Lohit, Anjaw and Changlang districts, this time we covered western and part of central covering, West Kameng, Tawang, Lower Subansiri, Upper Subansiri, West Siang, East Siang and Upper Siang.

The 5 major ancient trade points between Tibet and Arunachal was through Kenzamane (Zemithang), Bumla (Tawang), Kapangla Pass (Gelling), Lolla Pass (Mechuka), Dumla Pass (Monigong) and Kibithu. Except Bumla (where civilians are allowed with passes from DC and Army) all the other borders are closed for civilians. Our main intention was to travel as close as possible to these points to trace the historical McMahan line. We covered Kibithu in last trip, so tried to touch upon the rest of the points.

Our itinerary was like this:

Day1 – Kolkata – Guwahati Flight and drive to Nameri
Day2 – Nameri – Bhalukpong – Bomdila
Day3 – Bomdila – Dirang – Tawang
Day4 – Tawang – Zemithang – Tawang
Day5 – Tawang PTso – Sengetsar Lake – Bumla – Tawang
Day6 – Tawang – Sela Pass – Dirang
Day7 – Dirang – Bhalukpong – Nameri
Day8 – Exploring Nameri National Park
Day9 – Nameri – Balipara – Kimin – Ziro
Day10- Around Ziro
Day11- Ziro – Daporijo
Day12- Daporijo – Along
Day13- Along – Tato – Mechuka
Day14- Mechuka
Day15- Mechuka – Tato – Along
Day16- Along – Pangin – Jengging
Day17- Jengging – Tuting
Day18- Tuting – Gelling – Tuting
Day19- Tuting – Jengging
Day20- Jengging – Along
Day21- Along – Shilapathar – Bogibil (By Ferry crossing Brahmaputra)- Dibrugarh – Tinsukia
Day22- Tinsukia – Dibrugarh – Flight to Kolkata

Enough of Texts and now a few snaps to share some highlights of the trip:

Nameri Eco Resort:


Bhalukpong in the side of Jiabharali (Kameng River):


Semi Frozen Sela Lake at Sela Pass:


Tawang Monastery:


Magical Zemithang:


Snowed Out Tawang:


Snow in backdrop of Fall Colors:


Inside Tawang Monastery:


Sunrise in Nameri:


Elephant Nameri National Park:


What a Geometry:




Apatani Girl:


Subansiri River:


Wayside Water Falls towards Mechuka


Adi Tribes:


Mechuka in evening


The Hanging Bridge at Mechuka, Signature of Arunachal:


River Si (Yargap Chu):


Indian Air Force is landing at Advanced Landing Ground Mechuka:




Mechuka at evening:


Moonlit Mechuka:


Mystic Mechuka Valley:


Gorgeous Serenity:


Lovely colors:


Siyom River:


Morning Mist on Siang Gorge:


Mighty Siang:


Tuting Inspection Bungalow:


Indian Army at LAC near Gelling:


Chopper drops the ration at Gelling:


Memba Boys:


Gelling, the gorgeous Village:


The green mountain in back is the dividing line between India and Tibet (China) – McMahan Line:


The Cute Lama:


Majestic Upper Siang:


Galo Girls:


Next: Amazing Arunachal – Nameri National Park and on the way to Tawang