Tuesday, December 19, 2023

My Soldierathon 2023 Experience: A Marathon for a Cause

The Capriccio Gang
Back: Shreyas, Sharad, Indivar, Jyoti
Front: Nimesh, Samarth, Aurnab, Neha

The Pre-Phase

It all started when I came across following post in one of the WA group about the CME Soldierathon organized by Fitistan. Having already run Lokmat Marathon earlier this year, we were waiting for the winter to arrive to participate in the next marathon. The chance to go inside the CME campus which is usually closed for civilians inspired us to enthusiastically participate in this event. The event was aimed at raising funds and awareness for the paraplegics, who are the soldiers who have lost their limbs or mobility due to war or accidents. After doing the registrations for our Capriccio gang, on Dec 9, we visited PRC (Paraplegic Rehabilitation Center) to collect the BIB and Goodies bag. 

At the venue on the D-Day


At PRC to collect BIB

The Start

The marathon day arrived soon. While my body and mind were not exactly in an ideal conditions, somehow things fell in line the moment we reached the venue of Soldierathon during the early morning of Dec 17. We were 8 from Capriccio, 4 participating in 10km and 4 in 5 km. Getting inside the CME campus was a big moment. There was something in the air that brought much needed shot of energy, The sky was still a deep shade of blue as the chilly winter breeze brushed against my face but the atmosphere was electric. The idea to have national anthem before the runs is much appreciated as it brought a lot of positivity to the mind.

Marathon starts are always great. Our body naturally starts running alongside so many other passionate runners. Running a marathon is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. A focused and relaxed mind can push you beyond your usual limits making the run enjoyable. Stress and distraction can weigh us down like a heavy backpack. Based on the prior experience, this time I followed the Slow run - Fast Walk strategy from the beginning. This helped me conserve my energy and avoid exhaustion.

Slow Run - Fast Walk -> Slow run for 500-70 mtr followed by fast walk for 2 mins, and repeat.

Kahani me Twist

For the first 3 kms, I was able to do it comfortably and went into a good rhythm. By this point, we reached the stretch alongside the beautiful CME lake. The scenic location was very soothing to the eyes. It is around 4 kms when I started experiencing a bit of discomfort in my lower back and right abdomen. I had some back pain prior to the run for a few days and that re-surfaced during this phase. This made me reduce my speed and pause frequently. Thankfully, the electrolyte liquid at hydration point helped.

As my body got used to the pain, my slow running continued. The next few kms were in the interior areas of the clean CME campus. Morning dew brought its own charm. There were funny hoardings at kilometer milestones which I now eagerly started to look out for. As the roads went up-n-down, the fellow runners changed. Some went ahead, some remained behind. But there was a constant motivation, especially from those experienced runners. I remember an advise by a fellow gentleman that proved quite useful. He asked to keep the arms relaxed during the run instead of constantly keeping them up. This resulted in lesser strain on my right arm which was already in pain.

Closing stage

The reverse countdown had started in my head ever since I crossed the 5 km mark. But I had no idea of the time as mobile was in the arm band. Around 8 km mark, I inquired time from a fellow runner who was wearing a watch. This is when I realized that I managed to cross 8 kms in 40-50 mins. This was a good news. I was able to maintain decent speed despite pain. It gave me an added motivation to continue. I stuck to the Slow Run - Fast Walk strategy till the end of 9 kms. 

A funny incident happened at the milestone of 9 km. I was offered oranges at one of the points, but I couldn't eat those while running. So I had to stop for a while. To make up for the lost momentum, I decided to continue running without break till the finish line. We crossed Gurudwara on the right and parking on the left. This is when I knew the race is in the final stage.

The Finish

As I crossed the line, all the pain and tiredness was forgotten and a divine feeling of satisfaction took over. Shreyas had already reached before me. So we waited at the finish line for the rest of the members of our group. It is as much joy to cross the finish line for yourself as it is to see your friends and family do it. It was the first 5k marathon for my son, Samarth, who did it as a seasoned runner. It was also the first 10k run for Jyoti, my lovely wife, who wanted to end the year on high and she did exactly that!

One-by-one everyone arrived with big smiles on their faces. It was a time to collect medals, take photos and have much needed refreshments. Till this moment, I had no idea that there is yet another surprise in the store here at the CME campus. I knew our friend from Tawang, Major Zubair, was here in Pune. So I sent him our Marathon photo. He called immediately as he too was here in CME for his exams. So here in CME campus, we met Major Zubair in front of the Sarvatra Complex. Life sometimes throw some beautiful surprises. With this, our 4 hour stay at CME came to an end but the moments will remains with us forever.

With Major Zubair Ahmed


I would like to thank the organizers of the wonderful Soldierathon initiative. It not only gave us a memorable morning in the CME campus, but also made us a part of a helping hand towards the braves of our armed forces, The funds raised were donated to the PRC (Paraplegic Rehabilitation Center) for the soldiers who got wounded while protecting us. I learned a lot about myself, my limits, and my potential during these 4 hours. I also learned about the courage and resilience of the soldiers and the paraplegics who inspired me to run for a cause. I am grateful for this experience and I hope to share it with others through this blog.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Can Indian IT create another Jamshedpur?

India was a bit late to join the global Information Technology bandwagon, with only 2.5% contribution in 2001. But in a short span of time, it became an IT outsourcing hub, with the growth of homegrown IT Service industry. Strong institutional support, English proficiency, great talent pool and vast marketplace also brought prominent global IT software makers to India. 2010s saw the exponential rise of Startup industry where IT played a major role. Today, Indian IT industry contributes more than 19% to the global IT spend.

While several cities and towns have emerged as IT hubs in recent years, the Indian IT is mainly limited to top 6 cities - Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Noida and Pune. These cities account for the majority of IT hires in last 20 years. As a result of that, these cities (and few more) have seen quite a push for infrastructure investment by IT companies in these cities. Millions spent by companies on their ultra-modern campuses. Some of these campuses are nothing short of 5-star hotel experience. 

A few examples of these investments:

  • Infosys invested Rs. 2,055 crores in its Mysuru campus in 2000s

  • Amazon invested Rs 11,400 crores in India in 2019-20

  • Microsoft spent nearly a billion dollars on infrastructure investments in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Noida

The question is then, how much of this has benefited the employees? Pay packages have gone up, but so is the cost of living in these cities. It was a challenge to migrate to these cities in early 2000, and it remains so after so many years, for both new and experienced people. Like in the case of Bengaluru, it has instead become more difficult to find a decent home, school and work-life balance in most of these IT cities. A family requires to spend close to 5L just on migration to a city like Bengaluru as per some estimates.

Rents are going through the roof in Bengaluru as fight for flats intensifies

With this background, let’s go back 100 years to re-visit the story of Jamshedpur, India’s first Industrial town. When Jamshedji Tata envisioned India’s first iron and steel plant at Sakchi village, he not only thought about the steel-making plant, but also about a sustainable town to attract and support the people working there. This ultimately resulted in the foundation of Jamshedpur, with proper town planning and having all the basic amenities. This is what I refer to as the Institute Model, which like top educational institutions, also takes care of the housing and other needs of their employees.

During my initial experience, I have seen how affordable housing provided by engineering college helped young staff members, as well as having close proximity broke hierarchy barriers and created lasting personal bonds.

Now, let’s compare this to the gigantic Indian IT Industry has mostly operated in the Coaching Center Model since its inception. Like coaching institutes of Kota, they invest heavily in corporate infrastructure, but leave employee welfare to the mercy of civic authorities. IT has played direct role in increased traffic, increased pollution, inflated property and food prices. Employees getting stuck for hours in traffic or having difficulty finding a decent nearby school for their children, are impacting on the work efficiency of these companies only. 

Campuses of IISc/IITs can be an inspiration to modern IT infra

While these IT companies continue to spend millions on their ultra-modern campuses, little thought is given on building an inclusive eco-system for their employees. This is one of the main reasons for the lack of loyalty or sentiment one has for these IT companies despite working for years. Like coaching center experience, employees and their families will never develop a personal connection with such companies.

It is no wonder that people find it more convenient to move to a western country compared to moving to another city in India.

What stops these companies from creating inclusive campuses with well-planned affordable housing, schools, banks, gardens, and recreational facilities?

Definitely money is not a concern here. These IT giants do need to think and act from the employee’s perspective. Remote work due to pandemic allowed companies to hire talent from across the country. Now as they move towards hybrid models of work and expect employees to migrate, these points become all the more important. There are definite advantages for both.

Benefits for the companies:

  • More Talent Willing to Migrate

  • Greater Employees’ Efficiency

  • Increased Employee Loyalty

  • Reduced Attrition Rate

Benefits for the employees:

  • Affordable Accommodation

  • Easier Relocation (including schooling for kids)

  • Inclusive Community

  • Greater Work Efficiency (as personal problems are taken care of)

The vision of Jamshedji Tata established India's first planned Industrial city a century ago. This was when there was no air connectivity and rail/road connectivity was also minimal compared to today.

The question remains then

Can today's Indian IT industry be able to create another Jamshedpur?

Do provide your feedback on this based on your personal experience of migration.

The image is created using Microsoft Bing AI.

TechnoVille as envisioned by Bing AI

Friday, September 1, 2023

Book Review - Siddhartha


Reference - https://www.amazon.in/Siddhartha-Indian-Tale-Pocket-Classics/dp/9386538202/

This is a book written by the renowned German author Herman Hesse in 1922. It is a timeless classic. The spiritual journey of a young boy in search of an enlightenment is still very much relevant today.

I came across this book through one of the book reading sessions at Microsoft. Book manages to make the experiences of a young boy in his adventurous and searching life very visual and lively. The boy, Siddhartha, starts his journey from his father's home and meets a range of people, traveling to different places, each experience bringing certain changes in his life. As I continued reading, the places and characters in the book became very much alive. They all leave a definite footprints in our minds. 

Through the journey of this young boy, the author takes us through various aspects of our lives, from richness to poverty, from an ordinary ferryman to an exalted Buddha. In most part, the language is easy to understand. Some portions are quite comprehensive when it dives deeper into philosophy. Also at 190 odd pages, it will be over soon.

If one likes classical English literature and is looking for some simple yet meaningful read, this book is definitely recommended. It will surprise you.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Book Review - The Battle of Rezang La


1962 Sino-Indian war happened some 60 years ago. While we rightly celebrate our victories in other wars fought over the last 75 years, the loss of 1962 is not discussed. Despite the loss, the raw courage shown by the Indian armed forces in the absence of modern facilities in extreme whether conditions was bravery of the highest class.

The stories related to this war has always fascinated me. I got good information about the war fought in NEFA during our visit to Tawang and Bumla last year. This book The Battle of Rezang La provides quite a comprehensive account about the war fought in the Ladakh region, especially the Rezang La battle fought by the Charlie Company.


Ram Chander and Nihal Singh were captured by the Chinese soldiers during the battle on 18 November 1962. They managed to escape and survived the battle injuries to reach back to the Indian camp in extreme conditions. When they narrated the details of the war, their truth about the battle was not accepted and the last stand of the Charlie Company was forgotten.

A Ladakhi Shepherd happened to visit the site of Rezang La in the first week of February 1963. He was the first to see entire frozen battle scene. He informed the near by post of Indian Army and finally, on February 10, entire nation came to know about one of the greatest battles ever fought, last moments of which were preserved in the snow.

Before the Battle

The Sino-Indian war began in October 1962 on multiple fronts, in Ladakh and NEFA (present day Arunachal Pradesh). Chinese attacked the Sirijap post of Indian Army, near Pangong Tso, led by Major Dhan Singh Thapa.

Indian Army knew that Chinese would try to capture the Chushul airport, the only airstrip in the Ladakh region. Lt Col H S Dhingra, CO of 13 Kumaon regiment, received orders to deploy men between Pangong Tso and Spanggur Tso (Tso mean lake)

The Charlie Company, led by Major Shaitan Singh, was made up of 120 soldiers who were tasked with defending Rezang La against an invading Chinese army.

The Charlie Company

On October 2, 1962, Charlie Company arrived in Led from Baramulla for acclimatization. On 24 October 1962, Charlie Company leaves by road to south of Chushul. They were tasked to protect the Rezang La section, at 18,000 feet, in -30° C temperature.

As per intelligence, Chinese attack from here was not expected, thus the company was not given MMGs. This proved quite costly in the final battle. The book describes in detail about the Charlie Company, their routine, their preparations for the imminent war, and their exchanges with each other

The Setting

The book takes us to those mountains among those brave soldiers of the Charlie Company and Major Shaitan Singh, who was well respected by his unit and he also treated them as his family.

The harsh terrains of Himalayas were also a big factor and the challenges faced by the units in those harsh terrain is captured quite well in the book.

Indian were definitely caught underprepared when Chinese started their attacks. There were no roads, and soldiers had to walk to reach their camps south of Chushul. Luggage was carried on mules, while Chinese already built tar roads on their side.

The airstrip of Chushul had to be repair after every flight that brought limited supplies. Indian soldiers has .303 rifles whose trigger cannot be operated without removing winter gloves in -30° C.

The Battle

On the early morning of November 18, 1962, the Charlie Company found themselves facing an enemy force that outnumbered them by at least six to one.

Over the next few hours, Chinese army launched 7 waves of attacks one-after-another. Charlie Company kept losing men, but they pushed back the invading Chinese army every single time. The artillery fire and MMGs from the Chinese side proved superior, causing grave damage to the Indian camp.

Charlie Company lost radio contact with the base unit and due to mountain ranges, other units had little idea of the fierce war fought here.

The Aftermath

The Battle of Rezang La was a devastating loss for both sides. The Charlie Company fought valiantly against a much larger enemy force, but in the end, they were outnumbered and outgunned.

The Indian army suffered 114 casualties, while the Chinese suffered an estimated 1,300 casualties.

The impact of this battle was felt throughout the region, as it marked a turning point in the Sino-Indian War.

Despite their loss, the Charlie Company's sacrifice was not in vain. They successfully stopped China's advance and saved the Chushul airport, thus saving entire Ladakh.


When Razang La was discovered on 10 February 1963

  • dead jawans were found in their trenches still holding on to their weapons.

  • every single men was having several bullet wounds facing the enemy.

  • men died with grenades in their hands.

  • they all followed the orders of their Captain - either we win, or we die.

Charlie Company is now officially called the Rezang La Company.

The company was awarded -

  • One Param Vir Chakra: Major Shaitan Singh

  • Eight Vir Chakras: Naib Subedar Hari Ram, Naib Subedar Surja Ram, Naib Subedar Ram Chander, Naik Ram Kumar, Naik Gulab Singh, Lance Naik Singh Ram, Naik Hukum Chand, Sepoy Nursing Assistant Dharam Pal Dhaiya

  • Four Sena Medals: CHM Harphul Singh, Hav Jai Narain, Hav Phul Singh, Sepoy Nihal Singh

  • Battle Honor

One can also find the book Summary here - Tome

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Book Review - The Revolutionaries : The Other Story of How India Won Its Freedom

There is one popular narrative about the freedom movement against the British that mainly focuses on the role of Indian National Congress and the Non-cooperation movement. A lot has been written about it.


This book by Sanjeev Sanyal talks about the role and impact of various revolutionaries and nationalists during the freedom movement. While some information about popular revolutionaries is already available in various books and texts, the books brings all revolutionaries activities across the united India, in the late 19th and early 20th century together.

It is generally believed that these revolutionary activities were scattered. But this well researched book connects various movements, the interactions between the leaders of these movements, the tough lives of revolutionaries. 

British built the dreaded Cellular Jail, far away from the main land, on the island of Andaman, for those whom they considered most dangerous.  Many of the revolutionaries were sent to this Cellular Jail for life terms aka Kala Pani. The book also talks in great detail about their life at the Cellular Jail, quoting the references from the books like Bandi Jieevan (Sachindra Nath Sanyal) and others.


After the 1857 War of Independence, which British termed as Mutiny, the Queen took over the controls of India. The setback did affect Indians and India almost lost its confidence by the end of 19th century.

The events of 1857 had inspired many revolutionaries, and they believed that similar revolt by the Indians serving in the British Army is the path towards freedom. This remained an inspiration behind all the revolutionary activities across Indian geography.

There were instances of resistance, but it was scattered and didn’t cause much trouble to the British. This was the period when India was going a lot of internal turmoil. Finally by the end of the 19th century, revolutionary activities started getting momentum.

The books talks about all these (and few more) instances of well-coordinated armed resistance. It takes us on a captivating journey from the courage of Chapekar Brothers to the bravery of INA soldiers.

The book also showcases interactions and relations between members of INC, Communists, Hindu Mahasabha and revolutionaries. A number of times revolutionaries worked alongside other groups or even received financial assistance.

Revolutionary movements and the overall freedom movement was influenced by various international and domestic events. There were things that happened in other parts of the world, like Russian Revolution, Irish War of Independence, World War I and II. The books also nicely integrate this in its storytelling.

And finally, the books talks about the legacy of the revolution movement in post-Independence India and how it shaped the political and cultural landscape till date.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Arunachal Pradesh Diary : Chapter 4 - Bum La and North Tawang

We started our Arunachal Pradesh journey from the Guwahati Airport. We explored Dirang and Bomdila in Chapter 1. From there, we reached Tawang in Chapter 2. Once in Tawang, we covered the nearby places in Chapter 3. Now, in the final chapter of our Arunachal journey, we'll be going north of Tawang, along the snow-capped mountains, exploring the beauty of Himalayas and ultimately reaching the China border at the Bumla pass.

It is recommended to read journey so-far in earlier chapters before continuing.

Travel Advisory:

Tawang is at the altitude of approx. 10000 ft. The altitude will keep on increasing during the journey towards the north of Tawang. So it is advisable to get used to the altitude and climate.


We started our journey towards the Gurudwara and Sungester lake at around 9 am from Tawang. After crossing the town, our upward journey continued in the mountains. While the distances in kms might look smaller, it takes reasonable time to cover these places as the entire journey is on narrow mountain roads. At about 21 kms from Tawang, there is a junction known as Y-junction. As the name suggests, there are two roads going in different directions from this place. The straight one goes towards Sungester lake while the right turn goes towards the Bumla pass.

With Jawans near Y-Junction

While the climate was quite cold, to our pleasant surprise, we witnessed snow fall as we reached the Y-junction. It suddenly became too cold and we were lucky to find an army shop. We not only purchased some winter clothes, but were also offered delicious food by the jawans. The snow fall was quite heavy and we enjoyed it despite extreme cold.


  • Carry extra winter clothes, including gloves, while going north of Tawang. The weather changes quite quickly here. Be extra careful if you are planning for a solo bike trip.

Gurudwara Teesri Udassi

As this was the day of Diwali, our first stop was Gurudwara Teesri Udassi. This is a small Gurudwara is located on the hill, and normally takes 20-30 minutes to climb a rather steep slope. Unfortunately, we could only go till halfway as the snowfall had made air quite thin and it became difficult to even breathe while climbing. We bowed down in respect to Guru Nanak Dev and climbed down. The langar is setup at the base only and we had a wonderful tea and sweets in the open langar. 

This is the gurudwara where Guru Nanak Dev stayed during his voyage to Tibet.

At the base of Gurudwara Teesri Udassi


From the Gurudwara, we continued our journey despite snowfall and rain. We finally reached a small monastery called, Takshang Gompa (T-Gompa). This small but beautiful monastery holds a lot of significance in the Tibetan Buddhist history. When His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama escaped from Lhasa in March 1959, he entered India via this route and stayed at this monastery.

Takshang Gompa

Sungester Lake

From the monastery, we started our return journey, and finally reached the famous Sungester lake. This side of Tawang is quite known for its lakes and we crossed quite a few during this trip. While we didn't spend much time at other lakes due to lack of time, we did explore the beautiful Sungester lake. We had our lunch in a small cafe/restaurant near the lake. Thankfully the rain had stopped by now which allowed us to spend some quality time here. A collection of submerged black trees give this lake a distinct look. The lake became famous after the shooting of movie Koyla here, starring Madhuri Dixit. Therefore this lake is also known as Madhuri lake. 

Sungester lake was created by an earthquake in 1973.

Sungester Lake

While the water is quite cold, you can explore the lake surroundings and enjoy the scenic beauty. Clear lake water surrounded by mountains makes it quite a picturesque location. Here also there is an army camp that offers winter clothes and other accessories at quite an affordable prices.

After Sungester lake, we finally headed towards Tawang and it became quite dark by the time we reached back at 4:30 pm. Our BRO friends invited us to their temple for the celebration of Diwali in the evening. This Diwali celebration in BRO campus will remain one of the most memorable event of our trip.

Bum La

As the roads near border area were closed due to heavy snow fall, we spent next few days exploring places nearby Tawang as highlighted in Chapter 3. This also allowed ourselves getting used to the climate. Finally, we started our journey towards the Bumla pass one morning. Being a sensitive border area, you'll need to obtain a permit to go to Bum La. This can be obtained online.

We again crossed the Y-junction and this time took the right turn towards Bum La. While the road to Bum La was open, the vehicle movement was quite slow due to earlier snowfall. It took us more than 2 hours to finally reach Bumla. We crossed beautiful snowcapped mountains and Joginder Singh Memorial along the route.

On the way to Bum La

At 15,200 ft, Bum La is one of the highest border pass, and road to Bumla is maintained by BRO under Project Vartak. There is a reception area where visitors wait while waiting for their batch. Nice hot soup, samosa and kaju katli is available in the canteen here. You can see the border from the reception room glass window. As our number came, we walked up to the India-China Border gate on a small road under the guidance of an army officer. Photography is not permitted here. The officer passionately told about the history of Bumla, 1962 war and the sacrifice of Subedar Joginder Singh. There was a layer of thick snow all round and therefore there is no fencing along this border. The climate changes suddenly here and it can become quite cold within a few minutes. 

Subedar Joginder Singh was awarded Param Vir Chakra for his bravery during the battle of Bum La on 23 October 1962.

Bum La

The air of Bum La still smells the sacrifices of brave Indian soldiers of the battle fought 60 years ago. The battle is still on for the soldiers here as they face the harsh weather and a hostile neighbor. It is quite unfortunate for a heaven like Bum La to remain a politically sensitive area.

We had a plan to go up to the holy Chumi Gyatse waterfall along the India-China border and spend a night there. Unfortunately, the roads were closed due to heavy snowfall on that route. We therefore returned back to Tawang from Bum La. There is always something left for which we may return to this mesmerizing land again in future.

As we reach end of our journey, again a moment of appreciation for the BRO (Border Road Organization) that takes care of the road infrastructure in this difficult terrain. Many thanks to Gaurav Gupta sir, Rakesh Bhatti sir, Zuber Ahmad Sir and others from BRO whose warmth and hospitality we'll never forget.

Our good friends, Nini and Jay whom we met during this trip, have covered the places of Tawang quite beautifully in their vblog here  -

Like education, travel is also an investment that pays rich dividends, and this particular investment has indeed been such a case. On that note, ending the Amazing Arunachal Chapter here.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Arunachal Pradesh Diary : Chapter 3 - Tawang

 In Chapter 2 of this blog series, we finally reached Tawang after exploring Bomdila, Dirang and all the wonderful places along the route. It is recommended to go through Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 before continuing on this journey here. We stayed in Tawang for 5 nights at Jambey Villa homestay, and this became our base to explore the near-by places. It is here in Tawang where we met our friends from BRO who made our stay extra-special. We even got to celebrate Diwali in BRO temple.

Places to stay:

  • While Tawang is one of the least populated districts in the country, this town located on the mountain does have a good number of places to stay for the travelers. You can find good hotels and homestays to stay during your journey.
  • While all types of non-veg food is quite easily available in Tawang, it was not difficult to find veg food as well. We found decent parathas and momos at the Delhi Darbar restaurant in town. 

Travel Advisory:
  • Tawang is located at approx. 10000 ft (3,048 m) above sea level. The weather is also cold especially as the night approaches. It takes some time for the body to get adjust to these conditions especially when we travel from the plains of Guwahati. Therefore, it is recommended to not have a hectic scheduled and keep buffer of extra days while planning your trip. This will be also handy in case some roads are blocked due to snow fall or rain.

In this blog, we'll cover places located near Tawang. These include some of the famous monasteries of Tawang as well as our visit to nearby villages. The journey to Bumla and places along that route to be covered in the subsequent blogs.


Being a Buddhist town, Tawang has a number of monasteries, some of which hold a lot of historical and spiritual significance. We managed to cover below mentioned three monasteries, but missed out on a beautiful Nunnery, Gyangong Ani Gompa, located around 5 km from the town, due to bad weather. 

Tawang Monastery

The beautiful and historic Tawang Monastery is also known as the Tawang Ganden Namgyal Lhatse. The monastery has an 8 mtr tall Lord Buddha in the sanctum. Monastery has a residential building for the monks, a library, a museum and school for the basic education. The yellow rooftop residential building gives it a distinct look. The monastery is located at about 2 km from the town and it is better to visit it during the morning.

The Twanag Monastery is the oldest monastery in India and is the second biggest monastery in Asia.

Tawang Monastery

Urgeling Monastery

Urgeling monastery is located about 5 kms from the main town. This simple monastery was built around 1487 and was founded by Ugyen Sangpo. This place is the birth place of Tsangyang Gyatso, the 6th Dalai Lama. There is a holy tree in the compound of this monastery which is said to be planted by the 6th Dalai Lama. 

Urgeling Monastery

Khinmey Nyingma Monastery

Khinmey Nyingma Monastery also known as Sang-ngag-choekhorling. It is located at about 8 kms from Tawang in the Khinmey village. The main prayer hall has the statue of Buddhist sage Padmasambhava. The monastery was founded in 1440. His Eminence the 14th Thegtse Rinpoche is the current head of this monastery. The monastery provides accommodation and guidance to hundreds of monk students.

Khinmey Nyingma Monastery

Tawang War Memorial

The border town of Tawang has witnessed 1962 India-China war. Despite difficult geography, extreme weather and limited equipment, Indian army soldiers put a brave effort defending the country against much a superior armed force. Tawang War memorial is a beautiful stupa built in the memory of those brave soldiers.

The names of the brave soldiers of 1962 war who fought on this front are written around the central stupa.

Tawang War memorial

The memorial is located within the area of armed forces and there is a 30 minute light-n-sound show in the evening near memorial, depicting cultural heritage of Arunachal Pradesh and stories of 1962 war. As seating capacity is limited, make sure to reach on time for the show. The start time varies as per season, but normally it is 5:00 pm in winter and 6:30 pm in summer. There is a souvenir shop near by to collect memories. 


During our trip, we also explored some offbeat locations, not frequently visited by the regular tourists. One such location was a beautiful Lumla village, located approx. 40 kms from the Tawang town towards the eastern Bhutan border. There is a scenic waterfall as we enter Lumla with a well constructed viewing platform. Just opposite to the waterfall, on the main road, is Lobsang restaurant. We recommend having your lunch here as not many food options are there in the mail Lumla village.

Lumla is known for its Tara Devi Temple. The temple is mainly visited by the local Buddhist population. The chanting of monks inside the temple creates a divine aura. There is a big Tara Devi statue on top of the temple which gives it a unique view.

Tara Devi Temple, Lumla

On our way back to Tawang from Lumla, we also stopped by the Mahabodhi School in Teli village. The entrance of the residential school has many white stupas on one side of the road. The center was inaugurated in 2016 by the Chief Minister. Mahabodhi runs an integrated program where senior citizens and children are living together like in an extended family.

Chagzam Bridge

Yet another offbeat location around Tawang is the historic Chagzham Bridge. We explored this during our return journey from Tawang. This suspension bridge is more than 600 years old. It was built by Tangton Gyalpo, a disciple of the first Dalai Lama using iron chains, over Tawang-chu river to connect to a monastery. The bridge is of religious significance to the locals and is believed to fulfil the wishes of devotees. There is also a newer suspension bridge built adjacent to the original Chagzam bridge.

Chagzam Bridge is a 100 mtr long suspension bridge.

Chagzam Bridge

Tawang Cultural Festival

Tawang Festival is quite a popular event of Arunachal Pradesh that celebrates the culture of Monpa tribes. Unfortunately, November 2022 Tawang Festival was called off due to some reason. Luckily for us, our young driver Nima took us to attend the Shyo Village Cultural Event one evening. The event had four folk dances, depicting different stories. It even had the famous snow lion dance. The snow lions and bulls do come to audience as well during their performances.

With Snow Lions at Shyo Cultural Event

After exploring Tawang, we'll head north to go to the famous India-China border at Bumla pass and the places located on the north side of Tawang in our final chapter. Stay tuned for the updates as the things are going to be quite chilly.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Arunachal Pradesh Diary : Chapter 2 - From Dirang to Tawang

 In the Chapter 1 of this series, we entered Arunachal Pradesh via South-Western border and reached up to Dirang. In this chapter, we'll continue our 135 km northward  journey towards Tawang.

Our first stop on this journey was a place called Padma, a popular spot to have food. Padma has a few roadside restaurants/stores where you can get anything from chocolates to drinks to momos. We had our best veg momos of this trip at Padma. It is recommended to full your belly here as there are not many food points ahead.

Nyukmadong War Memorial

Nyukmadong War Memorial

Just ahead of Padma, there is Nyukmadong War Memorial. The Nyukmadong War Memorial is built overlooking the famous battle ground of 18 Nov 1962. The main memorial is a 'Chorten' and the names of soldiers who died in this battle are engraved in stones around this Chorten. This beautiful memorial pays homage to the supreme sacrifice of Indian Army soldiers.

Sela Pass

Sela Lake

After visiting the memorial, we continued our journey on the beautiful Himalayan mountain roads. The height continuously increases as we cross the various Army cantonments along the journey. The highest point on this route is the Sela Pass, located at 13700 ft.  This is where we enter the Tawang district. Due to its height, the region is quite cold, and it often snows here. We were lucky to have clear weather during our onward trip which allowed us to explore the scenic Sela Lake located on this pass. 

The pass holds a lot of significance to the local Buddhist community. You'll see a lot of colorful Buddhist flags here. It is named after a tribal woman Sela who fought along side Jaswant Singh Rawat during the 1962 India-China war. The pass is also important to connect Tawang to the Assam and for the movement of the goods. As it sometimes gets closed due to heavy snow, a tunnel is being built to ensure 365 day connectivity.

Jaswant Garh War Memorial

After Sela Pass, we'll continue traveling on the mountain roads through ups and downs. Approx. 25 kms from Sela Pass is our next stop - Jaswant Garh War Memorial. 

Jaswant Garh War Memorial

The story of Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat is that of the battle of Nuranang, on 17 November 1962. Even after 60 years of the war, Rifleman Jaswant Singh is still considered to be serving and on duty. The memorial is built on the location of this battle and to pay homage to Rifleman Jaswant Singh and the Gorkha rifles.

The canteen of Jaswant Garh memorial offers decent food. The army store is also there for winter cloth shopping or to collect souvenirs. This was the place from where we first started seeing the snowcapped mountains. After having some light snacks and tea, we continued our downward journey towards the next stop.

Jang Falls

Nuranang Falls/Jang Falls

Nuranang Falls is located near the Jang town, and are also known as Jang Falls. This 100 mtr tall waterfalls is a popular tourist destination for the locals. The milky waterfalls is famous for its rainbow formations and we were lucky to see the colorful rainbow formed due to the mist formed by the waterfall. The waterfall is on the Nuranang river which merged into the Tawang river at the base of the waterfall. There is small cafe near the base of the waterfall along side the river.

Jang Falls is located approx. 40 kms before Tawang. Our journey along the mountain roads continued after spending some time at the waterfall, and we finally reached our homestay in Tawang during late evening. Details of our Tawang journey is now available in Chapter 3.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Arunachal Pradesh Diary : Chapter 1 - Bomdila and Dirang

 Travel is an investment in oneself. 

Ever since our first trip to the North-East India in 2019, we were eager to come back and explore the hidden gems. The pandemic delayed the next big travel, but finally we got a chance to come to the land of rising Sun, Arunachal Pradesh, in October 2022.

Mountains Calling

Arunachal Pradesh was formed from the earlier NEFA (North-East Frontier Agency). It is a border state having international borders with China, Myanmar and Bhutan. This hilly region of Himalayas has witnessed the 1962 India-China war. Our trip was on the western side of Arunachal, covering Dirang, Tawang and Bumla. In the first chapter, our focus will be on Bomdila and Dirang.

Before we begin, a moment of appreciation for the BRO (Border Road Organization) that takes care of the road infrastructure in this difficult terrain. They are continuously improving the road infrastructure in this region to make it all-weather accessible. Many thanks to Gaurav Gupta sir, Rakesh Bhatti sir, Zuber Ahmad Sir and others from BRO whose hospitality made our trip extra special.

How to reach:

  • Nearest airport is Guwahati Airport. The road journey from Guwahati to Tawang is better to be broken into 2 days due to the hilly region.
  • We stayed in Dirang  (Dirang Dzong homestay) during our onward journey and stayed near Sappers with our BRO friends during the return journey. 
  • The towns in Arunachal are located on the hills and are sparsely populated. The journey on the mountain roads is mostly along the side of the river. 


  • Once you enter Arunachal Pradesh via land route, the altitude keeps on rising and temperature keeps on falling. Keep your winter clothes ready.
  • Extreme winter starts November month onwards, but the cold climate remains throughout the year. It can be understood by the observation that there were no fans in any homestays we stayed!


  • While Christianity is a major religion in Arunachal Pradesh, people of the Western districts of West Kameng and Tawang are mostly Buddhist. 
  • Hindi is quite commonly used by the locals in communication.


We entered Arunachal Pradesh via Balemu check point, quite close to the Bhutan border. As Arunachal Pradesh comes under the restricted area, you'll need Inter-Line Permit (ILP) to enter the state. It can be obtained online.

We crossed picturesque views of Kalaktang and Rupa before reaching Bomdila. This was an 10-hour journey from the Guwahati Airport. The mountain roads are full of cabbage plantations on this route.  Bomdila is a headquarter of the West Kameng district. Bomdila is mainly famous for the beautiful Bomdila monastery. We spent a quite evening here exploring the monastery.

Bomdila Monastery

A drone view of the same monastery can be seen on the YouTube channel of our friends Nini and Jay who met us first time at this Monastery. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taHxMGkmIVw


Dirang is at an hour's distance from Bomdila. This is where we had our first stay at the Dirang Dzong homestay. During our return, we stayed at Sappers which is quite close to Dirang. The beautiful hilly region of Dirang was a pleasant surprise for us. For the nature lovers, this place has a lot to offer. 

Seven Brothers' Monument, Dirang

There is a monument in the memory of seven brothers who laid down their lives protesting against the tyrant king along side the road. The old Dirang Monastery was at walkable distance from our stay. It is a small monastery and was under renovation during our visit. The new Thuksang Dargeyling Monastery was built recently in 2017 and was inaugurated by his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The new monastery is located on a hill top and it takes approx. 30 minutes to reach there. If you are looking for calmness and peace, this scenic monastery has got plenty of them. This beautiful structure overlooking Dirang offers great visuals for photographers.

Thuksang Dargeyling Monastery

Dirang is also a good base to explore nearby locations, like Mandala Top and Sangti Valley. Mandala Top, as the name suggests, is located on the top of a mountain, approx. 25 kms from Dirang. On a non-cloudy day, the hairpin road offers scenic view of the surrounding mountain ranges. On top, there is a recently constructed circular monument of 108 stupas. This is a good place for a day picnic.

Mandala Top

While Mandala Top is located on the top of a hill, Sangti Valley offers a picturesque location of a village along the river. The road to reach valley is not smooth but it crosses beautiful plantations of oranges, tomatoes and kiwis. The white sandy river beach of valley is a good place to relax and enjoy the chilled water. There are homestay available near the valley to stay here overnight. That would be quite an experience for sure.

Sangti Valley

We had planned our trip for Tawang, but Dirang came out as a beautiful surprise. There are few more surprises on our journey towards Tawang, to be explored in the subsequent chapters!

Head to the Chapter 2 here.

More photos of Arunachal trip can be seen at - https://www.instagram.com/nimeshddesai/

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