After an adventurous road-trip driving up to Tawang, we woke up next morning and were served with delicious Punjabi breakfast – aloo de parathe and curd. It was a bliss eating amazing food in cold weather! It had snowed the whole night and all routes north of Tawang were closed. We decided to spend our day roaming in idyllic Tawang and what a day it turned out to be!
We started with Tawang monastery, the largest monastery in India and second largest in the world. It is situated near the top of a mountain, at an elevation of about 10,000 feet (3,000 m), with amazing view of Tawang river valley. The monastery is a grand three-storied building with a spacious enclosure. The entire area has a calming effect on its visitors; although one of our friends still managed to get chased by a monkey to disrupt its quiet.
Tawang was cold enough for us to wear three clothing layers while the whole nation was under a heat wave. We had to rush to Butter Lamp House in the monastery to keep us warm and alive. Butter Lamp House is a room on its first floor, which is filled with lamps lit using yak milk butter as fuel. It provides amazing view of Tawang.
We spent rest of the day roaming around the small town of Tawang. Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims for its monastery visit it. But it is also popular tourist destination for its snow-covered peaks and beautiful, serene lakes. The most popular tourist spot is Sela Pass for its snow-covered peaks and beautiful Nuranang Waterfalls. We had driven through Sela Pass just a day before and was quite an adventure. We could not visit Nuranang waterfalls, however we visited Tawang War Memorial and gorged on local Thupkas, Momos and Yak buttermilk tea in the market. We spent rest of our trying in vain to score some ‘stuff’.
Next morning, we started our journey back to Guwahati. Our first stop was Tenga, which is about 200 kms from Tawang. On our way, we stopped at Jaswantgarh war memorial, a reminiscent of the bravado of under-equipped Indian forces against China. Jaswant Singh Rawat was an Indian rifleman soldier who won the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously at the Battle of Nuranang against China.
When we reached Tenga, it was already dark. We asked for directions to the Army guesthouse. The guy we asked told us it was 7.3 km and it was precisely the distance he had quoted, what an estimate! It was pretty night with good food, river flowing next to the guesthouse and ‘stuff’ we finally were able to score on our way to Tenga.
Next morning we woke up, packed our bags after food and started to head out. But again, there was a problem. We had not one, but two tire punctures. After struggling with the jack for 20 minutes, we fixed one of the tires, got air filled in another and went to nearest car repair shop. After getting it fixed, we were on our way to Guwahati stopping leisurely at places staying true to the quote we were told by a wise man “More than the journey it is important to soak it all up”
On our way, we made a brief halt at IIT Guwahati and visited its most beautiful campus on the banks of river Brahmaputra. Late night, we reached Guwahati where we were put up at army cantonment guesthouse. However, we reached the wrong guesthouse at the other end of the city. We figured out the location of the right place and headed back, but it was no smooth sailing. The board of the place was fallen, this we came to know later and we entered Police area right adjacent to it and were in front of DGP Assam’s office and to think of it I was going to pee there in the bushes! We drove back the way we went and the guard stopped us at the gate, he was sleeping when we came and was scared. We apologized to him and he guided us to right place.
Our morning tea was just out of this world. The guesthouse offered amazing view to say the least. Right on the banks of majestic Brahmaputra, the river is so huge that we couldn’t even see the other end. On the last day of our journey, we gave back the car and headed out to the airport to meet up with two friends who had left earlier and had still missed their flight. As the flight took of I couldn’t just help thinking of the various adventures and life threatening situations we were in. The experiences change you and also you end up being a storyteller!