Glimpses of Arunachal Pradesh

Sharing some memories from my trip to Arunachal through some of my favourite photos that captured the essence of the place. The route was from Guwahati – Tenga Valley- Bomdilla- Sela Pass- Tawang  and return to Guwahati.

En route to Tenga Valley – A cantonment area before Bomdilla was our first pit stop. A beautiful valley that made for a stunning hault with the river flowing through the town.


Lovely garden at our cottage in Tenga Valley that led to the river flowing below our cottage

View from our cottage at Tenga Valley


We visited Bomdilla while staying at Tenga and the Bomdilla Monastery was a well kept sight and a great visit  at the start of our trip. The monastery houses over 200 monks. A great time to visit the monastery is in the evening when one can participate in the prayers.



I spotted the rainbow as soon as we had left from Tenga towards Tawang. Truly blessed.


Jaswantgarh War Memorial, Nuranang en route to Tawang – A great pit stop where one can read and learn about the bravery of Indian soldiers of the 1962 Indo-China war. The memorial has been built in honor of Jaswant Singh who stood alone holding his post for over 72 hours during the invasion by the Chinese. There are also soldiers who are happy to give a guided tour , on request.


Sela Pass – The entry point to Tawang located at a height of 13700 ft.  We were lucky to witness it on a sunny day and get such majestic clear views of the peaks all around. It was truly the highlight of the trip.



Our cottage and stay in Tawang – Beautiful location and a warm place, thank god for being an army kid 🙂


Walking around Tawang Monastery – Largest Buddhist monastery in India, dated to be 400 years old and houses over 700 monks. School, library, museum and meditation halls are some of its features, a great place to spend some alone time.


A visit to Khinmey Nyingma monastery – This monastery was not on our list nor had we heard about it. A suggestion from our driver took us to Khinmey. We were the only visitors and were greeted warmly by a young monk who not only chatted with us but also gave a personal guided tour and explained to us the difference in sects amongst the Buddhist monasteries. The stupas we saw here were much different from what we had earlier seen. I would recommend a visit here for everyone.



One of my cherished meals was an authentic traditional Thentuk at the Yak restaurant which also happens to be owned by a really kind person , Tong who was a chef in Mumbai and has now returned back home. Indeed a small world.


En route to Bum la – Snow ! Snow ! Snow… is all we could see. It was sooo cold that every time we got off to click a few pictures, we froze. I kept wondering how the Indian army survived in these conditions and not only protected our borders but also maintained and managed all these sights.  The pass is located above 16,500 ft. The driver told us that the same paths in summers are filled with greenery and rhododendrons and we should definitely return to witness that.


Frozen lakes became a common sight by the end of this drive… this one was captured just before the border.



Frozen lakes enroute to Bumla

Sangestser Lake popularly known as Madhuri Lake , yes named after Madhuri Dixit.  We were really lucky as once again as we were the only visitors allowed to go up to Madhuri lake on this day. The views from the lake are splendid and one must walk around the entire lake. The sounds of  the bells ringing, prayer flags flying and being there alone was as surreal as it could get. Hot cup of chai and maggi made our day. There is a little cafeteria run by the army jawans who prepare warm and quick meals for tourists.



Tawang War Memorial –  The visit to this memorial took me back to my army days and reminded me of all that my father and others have done for the nation. The memorial is dedicated to all the soldiers who lost their lives in the 1962 war.  The names of the martyred 2420 soldiers are engraved in gold. We were fortunate enough to get a guided tour by the army personnels who explained and shared all the details of the war. Later , we attended the sound and light show which depicted the war and its harsh conditions which not only left me in tears but also extremely proud of their spirit and heroism.


A special mention to the only nunnery in Tawang – Thukye Chueling Buddhist Nunnery. This was the day when we were greeted by heavy rainfall and yet we decided to carry on and visit the nunnery, and am glad we did. Young nuns greeted and made us comfortable with hot tea and endearing conversations about their lives and routine.


We visited the Manjushree Vidyapith school which is doing some great work in providing education to underprivileged children from the neighbourhood. The school also has a hostel for these children. We met a lovely bunch of kids and teachers and spent some time with them.The school is funded by NGOs, donations and the army.


This was our last evening where we sat at our cottage sipping chai and enjoying the mighty rains…


“It is not the Mountain we conquer but Ourselves” – Sir Edmund Hillary



A journey within…Trek to Hemkunt Sahib

I believe there is a certain time for some feelings to be translated into words. I visited Uttarakhand a year ago and my trek to Hemkunt Sahib during this trip was one such cherished journey. I wanted to write about my experience then itself, but have finally found words now.

Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara located at the height of 15,000 ft. and is known as the highest Sikh shrine in the world.It’s setting is by the glacial lake and is surrounded by seven peaks.


panorama of the shrine

Vaibhav, a dear friend had accompanied me through this Uttarakhand trip. It was our third day into this trip when we were to trek to Hemkunt. To climb or not, will I be able to? Were the questions that haunted me until the night before – I decided if I had walked up to this point I was going to complete the circuit on foot. Vaibhav had decided to take the mule and I knew I was meant to tread this path alone.

At 4.30am with partial moonlight, I stepped out of the Ghangaria gurudwara. With very few people on the path at that hour, and hearing the sounds of the mules being woken up – I wondered if I had made the correct choice.

I had walked around 200 mts when I halted gasping for breath; I questioned myself and my stamina for the path that lay ahead. I also knew that I had to return back in time as we were headed to Badrinath the same afternoon. A few pilgrims passed me in that darkness and without knowing me encouraged with positive words “chal kudiya, saath saath karlenge “(come on girl, we will do it together).

We were all on our own journeys yet we were all connected by the faith that resonated within us.

Step by step, one foot in front of the other, I kept walking. I could hear each breath, feel every muscle on my body, sound of the stones rolling on the path, every sound was heightened yet there was silence. All I could see was bend after bend and an unending path with no idea as to how much I had actually walked.IMG_0626

It was still dark and it helped in a way to not realise how much or where I had been walking.  Dawn was giving way to day and I witnessed breathtaking views of the snow clad peaks, flower beds and floating clouds. Ghangaria town by this time had become a spec in the far off distance. To my disbelief I was not even halfway but extremely exhausted- I still contemplated switching to a mule.


By this time, more people and pilgrims had passed by and we all greeted each other with ‘wahe guruji ka khalsa , wahe guruji ki fateh’ and encouraged to keep going. Some chatted as to how I was the only girl who was climbing alone and ensuring that I was comfortable. With babas name, faith stronger than my fears I decided to continue on the path till I could walk no more.


Vaibhav crossed me at some point and motivated me to keep going and that I wasn’t far from the destination. Strangers became friends; sharing water and food along with other pilgrims and giving strength to fellow travellers were some of the simplest lessons through this trek. I felt it was the hardest for me but when I looked around everyone faced the same difficulties and all we needed was words of kindness.


I walked, paused, and had conversations with babaji. I was left mesmerized at nature’s mystery and beauty as I climbed further. I could feel the sun’s heat and the cold at the same time as I gained altitude. The last stretch was the hardest and I felt the rush to complete and yet slow down and immerse myself in all those emotions I was feeling knowing that I was going to actually complete the trek.


With the gurbani in the background, I stood at the entrance –overwhelmed with tears and in gratitude that I had actually outdone my faith and completed the journey. I am a huge believer of Gurunanak ji and to stand there in his presence was no less than an achievement that had enriched my soul.


At the entrance

I sat in silence observing the changing colours of the sarovar and admiring this gurudwara in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains. A quick darshan inside, conversations with a few guardians of the gurudwara, and a hot cup of tea was all that it took to rejuvenate my spirits and ease off the pain. Each and every moment I spent was special and blessed.


Keeping the time in mind, I started my descent floating and flying through the same paths that I struggled to climb J  It was 10.30am and the path was filled with fog so much so that I could not even see the bends ahead of me. It was indeed a sight to behold. Even though my knees trembled at a few bends and the tiredness would come by- I did not complain for I was satisfied, overjoyed and free in the purest form.


Initially, it was a little strange to be solo or the only female traveller but as the day progressed the inhibitions disappeared. I took back one thing from this journey – even though we walked our own paths, we were tied together beyond faith, religion and belief and that was by Humanity and Grace. The entire trip is sacred to me but these few hours, I am most greatful for and I hope that many more travellers experience this journey within…



A few tips for the trek:

  1. This route is only open between June- September.
  2. This is only a day trek and everyone has to descend  from Hemkunt Sahib Shrine by 1pm.
  3. Carry a light backpack and only essentials- water, nuts, energy bars are of great help. There are a few shops enroute that also provide with water and food.
  4. Carry a poncho as it may rain any time during this season.
  5. Do not rush and take your time during the climb. Everyone has their own pace so enjoy the journey.
  6. Be a responsible traveller and do not litter.
  7. And above all, be positive and hang onto the faith.