Explore Tawang the Offbeat Way – Part 2
Imagine walking through the tranquil of slow zephyr, listening to hymns of Buddhist prayer, witnessing high altitude crystal clear lakes, soaking to the whim of fog, enjoying the rugged Himalayan terrain – Tawang is beyond picturesque, picture postcard out of dreamland. 🙂 🙂
Since I wrote my first blog on Tawang, I could not wait to pen down the amaze ball experience I had exploring the quaint town in the most offbeat way. The balmy evenings, azure skies ferrying with cottony clouds, amicable people, and essence of piping hot cuisines – Everything about this little Buddhist town is a pure wanderlust to encapsulate within. There is a beautiful panorama waiting at every nook and corner of the place to fill your eyes with splendour and senses with amazement. Don’t you want to pack your bags right away and run to this little land at the extreme end of the country? If you haven’t yet made up your mind, let me tell you why you must transport Tawang immediately to your bucket list.
Offbeat and Unconventional Tawang for You
Being a female solo traveller, I make sure everything is sorted in advance and I don’t have to chase my destination like a headless chicken. If you want to know about how to reach Tawang, information on obtaining Arunachal ILP etc, read the Part 1 of Tawang Blog for detailed information. This blog, as promised earlier, is completely about things to do and experience Tawang like a local. It is about what all you can possibly do on a 3 day trip to Tawang. Are you ready to join me and my memories so ripe?
Read this if you want to know How to Backpack North East India?
Have you seen the pictures of Tawang Monastery with its yellow roofs peeking through mist and fog? Is not it surreal a sight? Imagine waking up to the delight of the Monastery view and trust me, you can’t wait to get there, at least I could not. It is the second largest monastery with the impeccable reflection of Buddhism as religion, culture, value, ethics and belief. There are two ways to reach there if you are putting up in the market area.
- Hire a cab from the market area and for the drop, they will charge you around Rs 150/-. The distance from market to Tawang Monastery is approximately 3kms.
- If you are up for some fresh air and wish to soak your soul in the beauty of the town, gear up that alacrity and walk up to the Monastery. I loved the second option but tried both.
Tawang Monastery is huge and if you aren’t in hurry make sure you explore the place with some decent time in hand. There are a lot of things inside the monastery that invite the goodness in your heart and pushes peace in your mind. Talk to the monks, visit the school, feel tranquil inside the temple, pour out your heart to soul feeding colours and experience the essence of warmth and simplicity. The place is magic – Do not miss the surprises it opens at whim.
Gyanngong Anni Gompa
The quaint Nunnery nestled in the mountains is right on the opposite side of the Tawang Monastery. I could not wait to set my foot on the picturesque architectural bliss. There are two ways to reach the Nunnery from Tawang Monastery –
Take the ropeway – It connects Tawang Monastery to the Nunnery but it closes at 2.30pm, so better be on time. The ropeway starts at around 9.00 am but with a flock of tourists waiting for their turn – Boy! You are running out of luck if you are late. The charge per person is Rs 250/- to and fro.
Hike to the Nunnery – I had zero regrets on missing the ropeway because at times taking the unconventional route is a tease to your wandering feet. The hike is for an hour approximately that starts from stairways a little ahead of Tawang Monastery but something you definitely wouldn’t regret. The hidden waterfall scenes, quaint little wooden bridges and soul feeding panoramas aren’t something you want to miss.
Coffee Time at Dharma Buddha Cafe
The quaint and very cosy cafe is somewhere between Tawang Monastery and market. I recommend you walk back on foot after exploring the Monastery to enjoy the surreal breeze of the town. On the way back, not so far, on your left-hand side, you will find the cafe. The wooden architecture and smell of coffee – Pretty please! Can you resist?
Relish and Savour Local Cuisine
Soaking into the culture of a place definitely, includes trying the ethnic cuisines and relishing on the variation of the taste. No – Do not bother to order English breakfast. Let go of your strict diet for a while. Must try cuisines – Relish the delicious Momos, Thupka, Thenthuk etc. A lot of items are made from Yak milk products, if you want a complete ethnic feel, try Yak cheese made items. Dragon is a must try a restaurant with good food, affordable price and great quantity.
Take a walk around the Town
Do not let your muscles go soar before you walk through the dubious roads of Tawang because every corner unfolds a new story of prettiness. Pamper your eyes and soul by giving your legs a little push through the narrow alleys & bemusing stairs and through lanes of adroit triumph. The colourful prayer flags punctuating every road with its vivid presence – A definite Himalayan dream to add to your wanderlust. The tiny yellow flowers sprinkled on the velvety grass will delight your vision like a never ending dream.
Walk up to the Buddha Statue for some Peace
The Buddha statue is located almost in the heart of the town and owing to its large size, can be seen from the Taxi Stand and main market. I recommend you take a walk to the Buddha statue because the route is not less of mesmerising views. The architectural charm of the Buddha statue lies in its colourful and bejewelled facade. As Lord Buddha stand tall relaxed and calm, give your tiring nerves and aching muscles some rest and sit there for a while. Far from the maddening crowd of regular life, the place brings an avalanche of calmness in your mind.
Yak Farms, Nuns and Logwoods
Tawang is all about yaks and enchanting yak farms spreads across rolling hills and green pastures as far as your eyes can take you. A glimpse of yak farms on the verdant Himalayan terrain can be seen from Tawang Monastery and I could not wait to reach the awe-inspiring destination. Although I could not make it to the bigger Yak farms but did make it a point to hike down a little from Gyanngong Anni Gompa to explore a small farm. Bonus point of hiking down was meeting few nuns who were taking a little rest after collecting logwood from the forest. I accosted them with a smile and coaxed them into taking me to the forests. It was a small hike to reach the place from where nuns collected their logwood but a great experience. The hard work, perseverance and strength is a feather on their mundane life.
Get Home Memories of Tawang
Memories play the best role in our lives but are photographs enough. Tawang is a colourful place and hideout for enchanting trinkets and artefacts. Bring back memories from Tawang in form of little souvenirs available in many shops in the market. Be it the prayer flags, dragon fans, flowery hand fan, traditional cups, statues of Buddha – The little things you carry definitely can add colours and positivity to your existing interiors.
Visit War Memorial
Well! This is an optional place and you can skip it if you are running out of time. Most of the time it is hounded by flocks of tourists making it crowded. You have to walk past the Army area to reach the war memorial and while on the way to the war memorial, you will find a small Buddhist temple before entering the army area. It was quite a beauty and if you have some time, do take a walk around it. The best time to visit war memorial is early morning hours as the crowd is limited and if you are lucky, you might be the only one.
Bumla Pass and Sangetsar Lake Visit – A Must!!
Oh! Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Truly said, but both the places were beholder itself. What an exotic location – offbeat, remote and everything that you eyes want to see and memories need to soak. Bumla Pass is located around 40kms from Tawang city centre and is one of the most remote corners of the country. Imagine the Himalayas standing right next to you, lakes rimmed by mountains, the sight of melting snow and not to say, the constant hide and seek of fog and mist – It is so much more a feeling driving en route Bumla Pass. It is the Indo-China Border and is under constant vigilance.
Sangetsar Lake, also called Madhuri Lake got its later name after Madhuri Dixit post the shooting of some parts of the Koyla movie. The breathtaking lake is a mysterious representation of nature which was formed after an earthquake in 1971. The trees from the previously existing landscape pop out of the water body exemplify existence of flora and landscape before being hit by the landscape. It is a magnificent place surrounded by mountains – a dreamlike existence. Make sure you explore the place properly by taking a complete round of the lake through the esoteric forests.
On the way, you can have the driver stop at P.Tso Lake, Nagula Lake and other lakes that tend to catch your attention.
PS: To go to Bumla Pass, you need a special pass apart from ILP. If you are planning to drive on your own, you need to get the pass from DC office a day before. The taxi for Bumla Pass and Sangetsar Lake is available at fixed rate of Rs 4500/-. If you are planning to hire a car, all you need to do is contact any cab service and they will get the permits ready for you for your next day travel to the location. Start as early as possible and at least by 7 am to avoid the rush.
These are some things you can add to your list while in Tawang. Three days in Tawang is enough to check off all the things in the list. However, you can plan out a trip to Zemithang as well if you want to spend some extra days in Tawang. The cabs charge around Rs 4000 for Zemithang village tour. There is no public transportation in and around except for cabs which make transportation the most expensive part of Tawang trip. Nevertheless, everything penny is worth the beauty and serenity the town holds and happiness it imbibes in your soul.
Pictures from Offbeat Tawang!!