Well, after a lot of struggle at that strange hour in Bomdila, we managed a room for ourselves for the night.
It was 6.30 am. I heard the first knock on the door. As we had to travel far to reach our destination, we all decided to leave Bomdila as early as possible. While leaving Bomdila, we were advised to visit Bomdila Monastery. We got lucky to have a glimpse of the Morning Prayer at the monastery. I was amazed to see the discipline they were practicing at this age. Seeing those little monks in the prayer ground, I was curious to know more about their culture, religion, and their religious practices.
It was my conversation with one of the monks called Thuptan Shastri, I got to know that, every Monpa family with three or more sons has to send the second son (between the ages of 5 – 12) to the Monastery to become a Monk. Young monk is called Genen who is sent to live in the monastery with his teacher or guru called Gergan.
I was awestruck. When these kids are supposed to be carefree & celebrating their innocence, they are being sent to monastery to practice Buddhism. I believe that the process should be organic, rather than being imposed. At least, a child should reach a certain age where he can willingly decide to take the route. Our next Destination was Tawang which is one of the famous tourist destinations in Arunachal Pradesh. The state is inhabited by 26 major tribes and over 100 sub-tribes.
The major tribes are Adi, Galo, Aka, Apatani, Nyishi, Tagins, Bori, Monpa, and Bokar. Tawang is located at a distance of 183 Kms from Bomdila and is situated at an altitude of 3500 meters above sea level. Tawang is derived from two words i.e. “Ta”, meaning horse and “Wang”, meaning blessing. So the word Tawang means a place blessed by the horse. This land is also known by Monyul because of its low lying area inhabited by Monpas.
Monpa tribe is one of the most popular tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. Mostly inhabited in Tawang, Monpas are known for their religious beliefs and humbleness. They practice Mahayana Buddhism. They are one of the friendly tribes you would find in this region. Monpas are known for terraced cultivation.
Interestingly, Monpas are artistic by nature. They weave Carpets and make painted wooden vessels. Wood carving works, carpets and bamboo utensils made by them are exquisitely beautiful. They have earned a niche for themselves in Thanka paintings and hand-made paper making.
The towering hills, breathtaking landscapes, narrow roads, mesmerizing natural surroundings, waterfalls, monasteries, and surely the simplicity of the Monpa Tribe make Tawang one of the most beautiful places on the earth. If you haven’t ever traveled to this part of India, I must tell you that you are missing out something which is worth visiting at least once in your lifetime. The early morning drive in the hills, and seeing the lifestyle of those people in these beautiful valleys made me spellbound. Life is so simple in those layers of hills. Everyone you meet welcome you with a big smile. Where people are not in a rush to make it big in life, they are not in that rat race to reach a point in life. Life in the hills is rather peaceful, stress free, slow and beautifully simple. That’s why I love to celebrate my life on the road. Every time I go to the hills, and I remain firm in front of those mystical towering hills, I find myself really small.
And when I go to those remote corners in India, seeing those villagers living happily without connecting to the world outside, it triggers a question every time…
Are we Living or just Existing in real sense?
Somebody stated once that all the hill stations look the same. I totally disagree with the statement as I think every hill has its mysterious character and a unique story of its own.
It was 12 PM. We reached Dhirang Valley which was almost 42 km from Bomdila. This was one of the spectacular valleys along with Siang River.
This place is known for Hot Spring Water, Apple and Kiwi orchards. While driving through Dhirang valley, the sound of gushing water was ringing in my ear and I could not break myself from coming out of my car and speeding through the valley to just take in those cold breezes, sparkling water and to have a glimpse of that overlooking gorgeous valley.
While driving high in those spiral roads in Arunachal Pradesh, the landscape was changing constantly with every turn.
It was like a pleasant surprise for me. I could see the layers of descending clouds. We were apparently at an altitude of 13,700 feet from sea level. The road was steep and narrow. Few kilometers more to reach the Sela Pass – One of the highest motor able pass in the world.. It was 4 PM, when we finally reached Sela pass. The view was jaw dropping.
The descending clouds just spread the white blanket on the hills; the Buddhist flags were flying high over the Sela Lake, &the reflection of the mountain in the crystal water. A timeless beauty of nature. The experience was surreal.
One has to see it to believe it.
By the time we left the Sela Pass, darkness had fallen in the hills. Since the road condition was not good enough to travel at night, we were advised to leave the Sela Pass as soon as we could. It was very cold. We were tired, exhausted and hungry at the same time. Since everyone was not habituated with the weather condition, it was little difficult to adapt to the sudden climate change. It was hard to see anything in the remote areas like this especially at night. While driving in those hills, we noticed a light from a distance and decided to try our luck to have some food. We stopped in the middle of nowhere at that place and asked the old man if we could have a cup of tea. Interestingly, it was not only a cup of tea, but we were served Maggie as well. The fireplace, Tea, Maggie and the lovely Monpa family were like a treasure we found in that hour. It was one of those rewarding moments which I took back home.
It was around 11 PM, when we stopped at a place called Jang to have our dinner. Jang is known for the famous Nurannang Waterfalls which is one of the spectacular waterfalls in this part of the Northeast. This waterfall is famous for cold water and rainbow trout fish hatchery where one can go fishing in the chilly waters. This is 12 KM away from Sela Pass. This is also known as Jang fall.
It was more than 40 KM to reach Tawang. We were quite late to travel in the hills. But we all were determined to reach Tawang before the dawn. So, started again with our adventurous voyage. It was pitch dark, utter silence and all I could possibly see was the road in front of me. After traveling almost 14 hours on the road, I could finally see those scintillating lights from the distance. The driver pointed towards it and in no time I realized that we were about to reach our destination. It brought smiles to each one of our faces when we saw the Board “Welcome to Tawang”. It was around 1.30 am, when the whole town was fast asleep; the bunch of Creative Strangers silently arrived in Tawang to make a Travel Show.
Reproduction of any of the contents, including the photographs without prior consent/permission of the Writer is strictly prohibited and a violation of the same will attract legal action.