Visiting Tawang, ILP and Everything You Need to Know – Part 1
“Tawang is not merely just another place but a feeling that last like first splashes of raindrops. A place that makes you fall in love like its first love and is a forever essence without goodbyes.”
There was a melodious tune playing in my head and my mind inspired with the feeling of homecoming as I started my journey to the tinsel town of Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. Nestled in the mighty Himalayas at an altitude of 10,000 ft, there was a magic in the air that enveloped my soul and immediately transported me to an intangible La La Land. As I sit after my office hours writing about mesmerising Tawang, I could not help but close my eyes to drool over the memories I lived wearing rose coloured glasses.
Home to the second largest Monastery in the World, Tawang Monastery – I can’t get enough of the crystal clear lakes, endless curves creating the roads, snow-capped peaks, bright yellow flowers on the roadside, hidden waterfalls, soul craving hikes, happy faces of the monks and azure skies I sat staring at. 🙂 🙂 The colourful prayer flags significantly elaborated the experience as peace and tranquil slowly took refuge in my heart amongst sheer Buddhism. My trip to the land of Lama was an amalgamation of culture, understanding of beliefs, visiting places and mostly with the intention of exploring offbeat places in the most remote corner of the country. It is a beautiful assault to your senses, an experience that will fill up the void and create life long memories to fill in.
How to Reach Tawang?
Being a budget traveller, I mostly rely on public transport and shared cabs for my travels. However, being an ardent Himalayan lover I care less about the rickety ride on ruthless roads but soaking in the beauty of the moment. Are you no less a mountain lover? Jump on the waggon friend as I take you on a ride from my memory lanes. There are different ways to reach Tawang and it all depends on if you want to break the journey or not. Most people complete the journey in two leg – with a halt in either Bomdila or Dirang and henceforth continuing the journey to Tawang the next day. Let us assume you start the journey from Guwahati.
Guwahati to Tezpur to Tawang
This is exactly what I followed and trust me is the best and most convenient routes. You easily find public transportation.
There are a number of buses that ply every two hours from ISBT Guwahati or Khanapara to Tezpur. The time taken to reach Tezpur is approximately 4 hours. You have no option but to halt at Tezpur and there is a number of budget, affordable hotels.
Next leg of the journey is from Tezpur to Tawang which starts next day at 5.30am, if you are using shared cabs. Make sure you book your seats for Tawang in the shared sumo a day in advance and most of the taxi counters are located near ASTC Tezpur. The price for shared sumo per person from Tezpur to Tawang is Rs 750/- and cab starts at 5.30am. I recommend you directly book for Tawang instead of stopping at Bomdila or Dirang and the journey takes approximately 13 hours. I reached Tawang at around 8 pm.
The route is slightly bumpy in between but there is a magic that accompanies you while driving or being driven through Himalayan Terrains. I cared less about the potholes and broken roads but was more intrigued by the majestic mountain in front of me. And, crossing the second highest motorable road in the world, Sela Pass is an experience in itself. It is located at an altitude of 13,700 feet.
Guwahati – Bomdila – Tawang
Not many know but there is bus service from Guwahati to Bomdila from ISBT Guwahati. I am not sure about the exact timings but the bus most probably starts at 3.30 pm and reach Bomdila in the morning. If you are using public transport and planning a halt in Bomdila, it is better you take a bus from Guwahati directly. There are many shared cabs that ply every morning from Bomdila to Tawang. Or else, you can also follow the Tezpur route.
Guwahati – Dirang – Tawang
There are daily shared sumos that ply every day from Guwahati to Dirang for Rs 700 per person. The route taken by Sumo is called Kalaktaang route and trust me is a visual delight amidst the Himalayan Range. The roads are buttery smooth and dubious routes definitely will make you fall in love. You can book your cab from Guwahati to Dirang at Zam Zam Travels counter in Paltan Bazar, Guwahati and cab start early morning. If you are planning a halt at Dirang, it is recommended to book cab from Guwahati and henceforth, continue your journey to Tawang next day or day after. There are daily cabs that ply from Dirang to Tawang.
Phone Number for Zam Zam Travels – 09435196981
ILP (Inner Line Permit) – How to get it?
Arunachal Pradesh falls under protected area which makes it necessary even for an Indian citizen to have an ILP (Inner Line Permit) before entering the state. The only people exempted are residents of Arunachal Pradesh or People with Valid Work ID card. ILP can be easily obtained from different places for Tawang. It can be obtained from DC court in Guwahati, Tezpur, North Lakhimpur etc and the permit is checked at Bhalukpong checkpoint, which is the border of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Instead of applying it through DC court, you can apply for the ILP for Tawang from the Official ILP website for Arunachal Pradesh. Log in to www.arunachalilp.com and follow the instructions to apply for the ILP. The application will be reviewed and accepted in a day or two if things are verified and fine. You will have to make a payment of Rs 100/- for getting the ILP that can be printed for verification at the check post.
Where to Stay in Tawang?
Tawang being a tourist place has a number of accommodation options ranging from cheap Homestays to expensive hotels. I would recommend not booking the accommodation in advance if you are looking for budget options. I, unfortunately, am not able to recall the name of the Homestay I stayed but it is right on the market with a clear view of the Tawang Monastery. The owners of the Homestay were extremely sweet and warm hearted. The price for the hotels or Homestays ranges anywhere between Rs 500 to 1500/-. If you wish, you can also choose to stay close by the Monastery as there are many options for hotels and home stays there as well.
There are many homestays near the market area as well. The home stay I stayed was close to the Taxi Stand, in case you do not tour the town on Foot.
Spending My Days in Tawang – What did I do?
I am an ardent follower of offbeat places which means I explored major part of the tinsel town on foot. The smell of fresh air, sprinkling drops of rain, a guest appearance by the fog and prayer flags flowing to the nature tune – Tawang, definitely is one of the most vibrant towns with the splendid grandeur of nature bestowed in abundance. Don’t blame me for getting the invisible wheels on my foot, the mesmerising beauty bowled me over. The city, trust me when I say this, can be best explored on foot. Unless things are offbeat and unconventional, I do not cherish the full essence of the place. Here are few things I loved doing in Tawang (I will write a blog about things to do and how in details in my next blog)
Exploring the second largest Monastery – Tawang Monastery
Took an offbeat hike to the Gyang-Gong Anni Gompa (Nunnery)
Sip coffee at Dharma Buddha Cafe while Walking Back from Tawang Monastery
Walk up to the Buddha Statue and Spend Some Time in Tranquil
Try Local Cuisine and Soak in Buddhist Culture for a While
Accompanied Nuns from Ani Gompa to Collect Logwood in Forests
Visit Mini Yak Farm near Gyang-Gong Ani Gompa
Buy Souvenirs like Traditional Cups and Flags
Walking on foot the tinsel town of Tawang is blissful delight
Dressing up like a Monpa Tribe
Lastly, took a trip to the most remote corner of the country – Bumla Pass which is the Indo-China Border along with Sangetsar Lake(Madhuri Lake), P.Tso Lake and Nagula Lake.
PS: I will write a detailed blog on things to do in Tawang soon. There is so much to write, it definitely cannot be wrapped in the same blog. Right from a trip to Bumla Pass, offbeat hikes, local cuisines etc, my next blog will have everything you want to read about Tawang.