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. 

Weather:

  • 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!

Culture:

  • 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.

Bomdila

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

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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