The largest state in the North East, Arunachal is a sleepy giant, showing little sign of the social or environmental crises that are hurting other parts of the country. The topography is marked by a series of valleys running from the Himalayas in the north to the Brahmaputra in the south. Arunachal’s most popular tourist destination is in many ways the unlikeliest. Tawang did not come under the de facto Indian government until the 1950s, then briefly fell to the Chinese in 1962. It is some 350 km winding hill road from Tezpur but nevertheless attracts tourists and trekkers with its natural beauty.
In Arunachal Pradesh, at 3,400m, close to the borders of Tibet and Bhutan, 347 km from Tezpur and 187 km from Bomdila
HOW TO REACH
Recommended airport: Guwahati (530 km / 17 hours). From Guwahati Airport to Tezpur (178 km / 4-5 hours), taxis charge INR 3,500. Shared taxis available from Tezpur for Tawang at INR 650 per person; these depart from Tezpur main market at 5:30am. Full taxi (Tavera/Bolero/Scorpio) rate for Tezpur-Tawang is INR 5,000 plus fuel and driver charges (minimum 5 days). Flights to Tezpur are erratic. Contact In Tezpur, call BS Tours and Travels at +91-94350-81418 or +91-3712-222717
Nearest railway line: Guwahati. For onward journey, see Sky above
On the road
From Guwahati, NH31 to Baihata Chariali, then NH52 to Balipara via Mangaldai and Tezpur, then the long state highway to Tawang via Charduar, Bhalukpong, Bomdila (overnight), Dhirang and the Se La Pass
Try the 80 minutes Tezpur-Tawang helicopter flight, but for spectacular views, drive instead. Lies lie along the way Sari Handsa traditional trading center, the Nameri Wildlife Reserve in Bhalukpong, popular with anglers and picnickers. A 100 km later it is Bomdilafrom where the landscape becomes interesting, climbing to the Selah Pass (4,215m). Other attractions are the Madhuri ‘Jheel just outside Tawang, which was used as a location in the Shah Rukh star Koyla.
Tawang Monastery, the largest in India, at 3,050 m, dominates the skyline like a medieval fortress. In the southeast is Urgeling, the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama. The Sange Ryabgelling Shrine is close, like the Khinme Monastery. On the Tawang-Bumla Road, the Singshur Nunnery. Taktsang Gompa (12 km) is one of the holiest Buddhist shrines in Arunachal. And on the way is the serene Sangeshar Lake.
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
make your choice Hotel Alpine (Tel: +91-3794-222515; Fee: INR 850-1,350) and Hotel Nefa (Tel: +91-3794-222419; Tariff: INR 800-1,800) at Nehru Market, Tourist Lodge (Tel: +91-3794-222359; Tariff: INR 300-1,050) near the telephone exchange and Tawang Inn (Tel: +91-3794-222172; Fee: INR 1,000-2,500), near the main bus stand. They have almost the same facilities, including a restaurant. Credit cards are not accepted. No great restaurants either, stick to simple eateries and items (momos and butter tea are always nice).
All tourists require a permit to enter Arunachal, available (carry valid ID) from:
● Deputy Resident Commissioner Guwahati. Phone: +91-361-2412859
● Tourist Information Center Arunachal Bhavan, Kautilya Marg, New Delhi. Tel: +91-11-23013915. See website: arunachaltourism.com
● All visiting foreign visitors require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP), which is routed by recognized tour operators (see website above). Available against a valid passport and visa, the RAP (US$50) can be obtained from any Indian mission abroad, the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi and the Office of the House Commissioner, Itanagar (Tel: +91-360- 212339) for a period of only 30 days, for a minimum of 2 people