Tawang – a melting point of unadulterated nature, human-courage and sanctity
Approx.10, 000ft high from sea-level, Tawang is a beautiful and quaint hill station that is situated at the Northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh. It’s hard to believe that Tawang is a disputed land as both Republic of India and People’s Republic of China claim Tawang as their own, as the town is a part of southern Tibet.
If you are planning to visit Tawang, do remember that you need to collect a special permit from the Govt. of India’s home ministry department.
The foreign tourists also need to get PAP (Protected Area Permit) for duration of 30 days, in order to make a trip to this place.
There is no airport in Tawang. It is approx. 447 KM from Itanagar- the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, 555 km from Guwahati- the capital of Assam and 320 km from Tezpur (Assam). So if you want to visit this place by air, then you have to reach at Guwahati by plane, and from their you can avail of helicopter service to Tawang.
If you want to travel by road- you have two options.
From Bomdila- there is a frequent bus service towards Tawang. But first you have to take bus from Guwahati to Bomdila (approx. 11 hours journey).
If you want to go to Tawang by Car- then first you need to collect ‘in’ permit from – either Tezpur or Guwahati. From Tezpur, preferably hire a TATA sumo as it’s is rough journey towards Tawang. Take a halt at Bhalukpong border (border of Arunachal and Assam) to show your ‘in’ permit.
It’s is advisable to take a break at Bomdila or at tiny, valley town of Dirang, as it’s a 12-14 hrs of stretch journey and can be quite strenuous for health.
Places of tourist attractions
There are many places in and around Tawang that are worth a visit in your lifetime.
1 Tawang Monastery
Built-in seventeenth century, Tawang Monastery is the largest Buddhist monastery in India, and second largest in the world. It belongs to the Gelugappa sect of Buddhists and a sacred place due to the birth of sixth Dalai Lama in here.With its exquisite and unique design which can be viewed from every corner of Tawang, interesting museum, friendly lama monks and serene, peaceful atmosphere- Tawang Monastery is a must-visit place for any tourist.Try to visit this place during winter. The snowfall on the roof of the monastery is a sight worth-seeing for.
2 Jaswant Garh Memorial
A war memorial of Indian army- JaswantGarh will make you proud as an Indian and it will teach you to respect the bravery and toiling power of Indian army.One should visit its memorial hall and the army bunkers- in order to know more about the India-China war in 1962, the gallantry of Indian army especially soldier Jaswant Singh Rawat- after whom the place is named.The army officials are very friendly here, who serve tea to every tourist passing by, and will tell you many unknown trivia regarding 1962’s war.But try to visit this place when you are returning back from Tawang as the road condition is very poor and it will take lesser time than going up to this place from Tawang.
3 PangatengTso Lake
Located above 23 Km from Tawang PT Tso Lake is an out-of-the-world experience with its cleanest, azure sky, snow-capped mountains, pristine, blue water of the lake and beautiful orchids. Ofcouse you need to visit this lake at the right time of the year as during winter, this lake remains frozen for 4-5 months.Apart from the above mentioned places, other tourist attractions around Tawang are Bum La Pass, Madhuri Lake, Tawang war memorial etc.
What to eat
Once you are in Tawang, try to gorge on local dishes as much as you can. Hot momo, thukpa, noodles, GyapaKhazi( type of pulao), the traditional cuisine of Monpa tribe or even the simple paratha-sabzi that become heavenly tasty when eaten from the small, non-descript eateries of Tawang.
What to buy
There are two good places in Tawang for shopping- one is Old market and another is Tibetan Settlement.
You can buy Buddha statues, brassware, colorful shawls, bags, Buddhist prayer wheel or traditional chadars from there.
Unfornutely being a remote area, Tawang has very limited options when it comes to accommodation for tourists.Dolma Khangsar Guest House is one of the best lodges in Tawang with it’scosy and homely feeling.Hotel Pemaling is situated in Dirang so if you don’t get any room in Tawang during tourist season, then you can stay in this nice hotel with grand view of the valley, quick service and cleanliness. Though it’s a bit pricey compared to other.Hotel Tawang Inn is another decent hotel with the provision of generator, hot water and tasty food.Other than that, if you are blessed, you may get to stay at Tawang Circuit house or Govt. rest house.
- Go for trekking
- Pray at ancient Tawang Gompa
- Take a tour of the town by foot
- If chilies and cheese don’t suit you, then don’t go for trying local Monpa cuisines
- If you have breathing problem, then don’t visit PT Tsolake as it’s in pretty high altitude
Some information for travelers
- If you are planning for trekking, come with full measures
- Visiting Tawang is not advisable if you have cardiac or other related health problems. So please consult your doctor beforehand
- The eateries are mainly unhygienic and shabby- so be prepared for that
- Always keep your permits and other documents in check
Though it’s dangerous, rough, toiling and basic- but Tawang is worth your time and money. Don’t miss this place. It will be a trip of your lifetime.
Jheelam Dutta Roy lives in Kolkata.Being born in a Bengali household it’s in her genes to like anything in printed words.Reading fictions, watching Hollywood thrillers are her hobbies.She loves writing and is glad to do what she likes best for earning.