Photograph courtesy: Lovel D’Souza/Creative Commons

Photograph courtesy: Lovel D’Souza/Creative Commons

Arunachal Pradesh is the northeastern-most state of India surrounded by Nagaland and Assam to the south, Myanmar to the east, China to the north and Bhutan to the east. Places like Itanagar, Tawag, Ziro and Nameri are some of the popular tourist destinations in Arunachal Pradesh. Every tourist visiting Arunachal Pradesh needs to obtain an Inner Line Permit and a Protected Area Permit which can be collected from Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati or Tezpur airports. The best way to reach Arunachal Pradesh is to reach Guwahati or Tezpur by flight following which you can opt to take a helicopter ride from either destination to Tawang directly. However, this option is unavailable more often than not due to bad weather conditions. You can rent a car from Guwahati for the entire trip or opt for local cabs at various destinations. Here’s how you can plan a trip to Tawang.

Day 1: Guwahati to Bhalukpong

Land in Guwahati. Rent a car to Bhalukpong as there are no local bus services from Guwahati to Bhalukpong. The cab ride will cost you around Rs 800 and the journey will last for close to 6 hours.

Relax at Bhalukpong, spend the day exploring the village. You could also visit the Pakhui National Park. You’ll have another six-hour journey to Bomdila which will be tiresome, so rest well.

Where to stay in Bhalukpong: There aren’t too many options in Bhalukpong to stay. Your best options here are the Forest Rest House, Assam Tourist Lodge and the Inspection Bungalow. (Approximate tariff per night: Rs 300 to Rs 1,000)

Where to eat in Bhalukpong: There are a few street-side stalls that serve fast food.

Day 2: Bhalukpong to Bomdila

From Bhalukpong you’ll have to rent a cab, it’s the best and safest option for the commute. Once you reach Bomdila, visit the Bomdila Monastery, the biggest tourist attraction here. If you’re not too tired, trek up to RR Hill, Bomdila’s highest point. The landscapes of Tibet and Bhutan are worth watching from the top. You’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Tibet and Bhutan. Just in case you have more time in hand, the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Kameng river and the Bomdila Apple Orchard are good options for sightseeing.

Where to stay in Bomdila: The Circuit House, Hotel La, Hotel Sweet, and Tourist Lodge (Approximate tariff for one night: Rs 800 to Rs 2500)

Where to eat in Bomdila: Momos, thukpa and noodles are some of the famous local dishes to try out at the Bomdila market place. There are several food stalls and dhabas to try out in the locality. There are a few restaurants like Silver Oaks, Tsepal Yongjam and Dragon.

Day 3: Bomdila to Tawang

Rent a cab and head to Tawang, first thing in the morning. The drive will take anywhere between eight and 11 hours depending on the weather and road conditions. On your way to Tawang, you can halt at Nuranang Waterfalls, 130 km from Bomdila and close to 40 km from Tawang.

Where to stay in Tawang: Hotel Nichu, The Circuit House, Inspection Bunglow, Hotel Shangrila, and the Government Tourist Lodge (Approximate tariff: Rs 750 to Rs 3,000)

Where to eat in Tawang: Roadside cafes and restaurants are aplenty in Tawang. However, the food is a little more expensive than your expectations as most of the ingredients have to be transported from other places to Tawang. Orange Restaurant and Lounge Bar, Cafe Nirvana, Sno-Yak and Blue Pine serve pretty decent food.

Day 4: Tawang

Visit the picturesque Tawang Monastery followed by the Tawang War Memorial. Next, visit the Pankang Tso, which offers a scenic view from autumn to the monsoons but remains frozen through the winters.

Next, head to Jaswant Garh, a memorial built in honor of a soldier named Jaswant Singh Rawat of the Indian Army who fought the invading Chinese all along for three long days.

End your day with a hot cuppa tea and some instant Maggi noodles near the lake.

Local cabs in Tawang will cost you anywhere between Rs 1500 and Rs 3,000 per day.

Day 5: Tawang

Start your day with a journey to Bum La (pass), one of the few places near Tawang you can expect to find some snow during the summers. After you’re done playing in the snow, on your way back to Tawang, stop by the Shong-Tser Lake also known as Madhuri Lake which offers stunning views of the Himalayas in the backdrop.

Day 6: Tawang to Dirang

Dirang is located between Bomdila and Tawang. It is advisable to stop at Dirang on your way back because it serves as a good point to break your onward journey to Tezpur.

A drive from Tawang to Dirang will take close to seven hours. If you are taking local transport note that the last bus from Tawang to Bomdila leaves by noon and the stop-over at Dirang is brief. Due to bad weather or landslides, the journey time can go up to between eight and nine hours.

Where to stay in Dirang: Hotel Pemaling, Hotel Samdup Khang and Hotel KC are some of your budget options. (Approximate tariff for one night: Rs 500 to Rs 1800)

Where to eat: There are a bunch of options in Dirang for eating, the best of them will be the local street-side food stalls.

Day 7: Dirang to Tezpur

Before you head towards Tezpur5 from Dirang, visit the Kalaracha monastery which is over five centuries old.

A drive to Tezpur will take seven hours. Try and start your journey to Tezpur before noon.

The cab ride to Tezpur will cost you close to Rs 1,000.

Day 8: Tezpur to Guwahati

Plan your journey from Tezpur to Guwahati according to your flight timings from Guwahati. Make sure you reach at least a couple of hours in advance. The cab ride takes between four and five hours and will cost you approximately Rs 900.

Things to keep in mind:

-The weather in the north-east is pretty unpredictable, so be prepared to have delays due to the bad weather.

-Roads that lead to Tawang, especially from Bomdila onwards, aren’t in the best shape.

-Locals are friendly and helpful. Be patient as not everyone will know fluent Hindi or English.

-Most cellphone networks don’t work well, so inform your family or friends about your whereabouts whenever possible.

-Don’t forget to carry some ready to cook food packets or instant noodles if you’re strictly a vegetarian.

– Keep at least a couple of extra days in hand in case of any problems like landslides and bad weather on your way.