I guess a trip to Arunachal Pradesh, would figure in every adventure seeking Indian’s bucket list. The fear of unknown w.r.t. terrain, infrastructure, weather and people (language), makes it not only challenging but also a very attractive destination. And these very reasons work the other way round also, in pushing the visit-plan down the list for many.
AP trip required detailed and meticulous planning. The biggest challenge was for the 4 trip members working in varied Pvt sector companies to get 12 days of leave. Our choice of dates shows how we worked it out.
One needs to obtain individual inner line permits (Issued by AP’s administration/ tourism offices in metro cities), run through your contacts to find solutions for arranging a reliable SUV cab and identify/arrange night halt options at various places in your itinerary.
Experience the Trip
Day-1 (Date: 2015/12/24)
Took off from Kolkata 12.35pm to reach Dibrugarh at 1.40pm. One should reserve a left side window seat for amazing en-route views of Himalayas + clouds + Brahmaputra river bed. It was an overwhelming ‘paisa vasool’ experience.
Took a taxi from Dibrugarh to Tinsukia 40km. The evening was spent shopping for food, gas stove+cylinder, utensils etc as we were not sure of what we will get to eat during the trip. Plan was to stock up and be self sufficient. Essentials shopping included 750 ml budha sadhu @120 (as against 260 in Delhi). Since Bihar had recently gone into prohibition, advised “Nitish bhai kahin aisa na ho ki bihar se sare shaukeen assam chale jayen.
Roadies on this trip:
Ashish Sah (Kolkata), Praveen Jain (Delhi), Harshvardhan (Jamshedpur) and Akash Jain (Delhi)
Day-2 (Date: 2015/12/25)
Started early @6.30am from Tinsukia. Crossed into AP from Dirak gate. Our driver Sanjeev knew the check point staff, so we were spared from ILP checking. You need to keep multiple photocopies of your Inner line permits to hand over at various check points in Arunachal.
Visited Golden pagoda in Namsai. Crossed mighty Brahmaputra by boat at Aalubari. Can you imagine they are building a bridge for the last 6-7 year’s. Was told that the Local MLA’s don’t want it completed as they have a very lucrative river crossing business. One is charged Rs 500 to 1500 per vehicle depending on size and place of crossing the river.
Reached Roing 160km at 12noon. Our forest rest house adjacent to sally lake was under repair. For the next 3 hours we scouted for circuit house, forest inspection bungalow, local hotel, w/o any luck. In north east it was peak season, people celebrate Christmas and new year from 20th to 5th. We started worrying a bit, as all the places we planned to visit did not have any thing called ‘Hotel’. Finally I saw an ITBP unit in Roing. Went and met the unit commander, a thorough gentleman who arranged our stay and fed us well.
Debated over campfire+O Monk, whether we should go to Anini (200km beyond Mayudia) instead of our original plan. Every group should have a Contrarion (Praveen’s turn today), as it helps in pumping-up the adrenaline for your sit out in a shivering winter night. Besides, “time bhi to paas karna hota hai.”
Do check out the clear sky and the moon in the night-sky.
In Arunachal the day breaks at 5am and night falls at 4.30pm, while an obvious, I mentioned it here for December end period.
Started from Roing for Mayudia pass 65km one way. On our way the driver explained to us why our alternate plan of going beyond Mayudia to Anini (remember ‘the debate’) was not a good idea. First and foremost the 200km stretch was a road full of potholes, 2nd road is prone to landslide at 3-4 places and if it gets blocked it may take days or week/s to open again, 3rd there is almost no law & order there. 3 months back a businessmen’s vehicle hit a local vehicle and he had to cough-up 50 times the cost of repair.
Roing to Mayudia, the jungle was thick and with wild variety of trees and vegetation. Surprisingly there were very large number of Banana trees in the entire jungle. Enroute we stopped for some tea and b’fast of boiled eggs. Saw some 10-12 villagers pulling/prodding a ‘Mithun’ (a local variety of buffalo) to a village cow shed. We were told that the village will arrange some 3-4 of these animals for a local festival to celebrate New Year. On the D day all the villagers would gather in a ground, circle the mithun’s, akin to a bull fight in an arena and tear them apart using their ‘Dau’ (local ‘khukri’). Followed by village feast….
Reached Mayudia pass (6700 ft) in 2 hours and enjoyed the snow and pristine view of Himalayan peaks.
Came back to Roing, cooked and had fun on river side ‘Eze’ (tributary of Brahmaputra).
The earlier plan to stay in Roing was cancelled and we proceeded to Tezu 100km further. Checked few hotel/home stays, didn’t like any. Met the local Nestle distributor who arranged 2 rooms in the Circuit house. Bought Budha sadhu at Rs 90 (Nitish bhai “aap ko yaad hoga it was costing 120 in Assam…”). Settled down by 6.30pm, ate and slept lavishly.
Day-4 (Date: 2015/12/27)
Left Tezu @7.30am. Destination for the day was Hayuliang. Saw the Brahmaputra vast river bed from a hill top view point. Had breakfast at a T point, where we saw Arunachali’s love and dependence on meat (live pigs/hens being transported on jeep tops and fried/packed fish being sold in bamboo skin packets). Crossed Udayak pass, the highest pass on this sector that led us into the Anjaw valley and the district.
First time in my life I saw such thick and lush green forest. There were N no of trees banana, bamboo, ferns etc. Our driver told us that sometime during 1962 war, banana seeds were showered using planes so that during frequent road blocks, the local population would get something to eat. FYI native Arunachali’s are not rice/wheat eaters. Staple diet was fruit, vegies and meat. It’s only after India woke up post 1962 that we started sending the other food items, which has been slowly picked up by the natives.
Stopped at Tiding river, took bath, washed our clothes and cooked our lunch. Reached Hayuliang which was near Lohit river at 2.30pm. Filled up diesel from the last petrol pump on this route. Decided that Hawai 62km and at a good height would be a better option for night stay. But half way at 4.30pm night descended and next 1.5 hours we drove in pitch dark. Reached Hawai at around 6pm. Not a single soul on the road. Checked the circuit house, which had only one room. Finally managed 2 VVIP rooms in state guest house of urban development and settled by 7pm.
Total km done 190km and almost 12 hours on road, most tiring so far.
Check out the pics of B river bed, the meat, the flora n fauna and the rocks on tiding river.
8am departure from Hawai. Hawai was a hill top and district HQ of Anjaw. The place was freezing cold with bone chilling heavy wind.
Had to drive 60km to Walong. En route there were awesome riverside valleys akin to betaab valley near pehelgaon. We also stopped for enjoying a hanging bridge. Its swing, the creeks and the gap between the planks were scary. I & Harsh ventured down but could muster courage to go some 1/3rd of the bridge and came back.
The lohit river was crystal clear and had an awesome azurish tinge to it. We reached walong at 11am. Took permission from circle officer to stay in the inspection bungalow. Kept our luggage and decided to cover Namti, Kibithu. In walong stopped at an army wet canteen for our supplies. It was a transport unit of Punjab regiment. We had good round of discussion in punjabi and they offered us food. Had our fill and moved on.
Namti plains 8 km was the place where 1962 china incursion’s fiercest engagement happened. Chinese attacked from 3 surrounding hilltops. The Kumaon, Sikh and Gorkha regiment fought ferociously and held their position for 22 days till the last men standing was martyred. 20km further down we drove on ‘Eastest road of Eastern india’. Had to turn back due to landslide, 5km short from the last Indian post at Kibithu. Check the china border in the map. We went into an alternate route crossed Lohit river by Masahi bridge and went to the last Indian village Dechu 12km from the bridge.
On way back we touched the hot water spring 7km from Walong. Walong had an airstrip which seemed very small. 4.30pm it was pitch dark and we settled in our IB. Our driver had warned us that stay away from local youth, who in inebriated condition may poke you or eat stuff from your plate etc. Thankfully nothing happened and we retired peacefully.
Must check : Hanging bridge, Namit plains and Eastern most road of India.
Note the airstrip from our IB in Walong. 7am we started for helmet top which was straight up over walong. The 18km road took us through N no of hairpin bands right to the top of the hill. We must have ascended some 1.5/2k ft in 1 hours drive. The army at the helmet top outpost treated us with tea. They told us that in 1962 war Indian army found only the helmets of their jawans stationed at this outpost, presumably all the jawans were killed by Chinese who over a period of 2-3 months creeped into this and other tops surrounding Namik. Left with all praise for the army personnels who have to work 24/7 in such tough conditions.
Started back and stopped near Samding to cook, bath in Lohit river. Do check the expanse and pristine river.
At Hayuliang checked for acco with Army, Airforce (yes they have small airstrip up there) BRO. Everyone was full by 4pm as there were large scale unit movements happening. Proceeded to khupa 6km down the road and got 2 rooms in PWD inspection bungalow. Khupa has the petrol pump on this route and it had run dry in the morning. We had only 15-20 ltr left and it was not enough to reach the next filling station. Ate and slept by 8pm as we had to start early to get some jugaad diesel, before the other jeeps starting from Walong/Hawai/Hayuliang reach the limited jugaad supplies. Total km done 155.
5 am at Khupa, I checked time on my phone and it showed that it’s raining in Tinsukia (technology). Went out to find it was overcast. We immediately decided to pack and leave asap as there were 2-3 points down the road which were prone to landslide and we had seen their state while coming into the Anjaw valley.
Got 25 ltr jugaad diesel and thankfully it did not rain. We did our heart fill off photography. Reached Parsuram kund at 10.30am. The mythology says that after killing his parents Parshuram ji roamed all over 3 lokas in repentence. Finally Brahma ji gave him the address of this place to cleanse himself of his sins. This is where Brahmaputra reaches the plains. Had bfast, paratha after so many days at a Nepalese run dhaba at P kund, After I finished my meal the driver asked me ‘aapne fish fry nahin khaya’. I pounced on him ‘tune pehle kyun nahin bataya’. They were serving fried river fresh catch “trout”. Savored 3, can’t explain how tasty they were. Stocked some snacks etc and moved on towards Medo. Checked one eco tourist resort at Wakro. It was just wooden huts in a farmland and the bugger was asking 3k/night/cottage. Had read in an article about Medo having a forest bungalow in the middle of an AP corp tea estate. Reached and found it to be picture perfect location in the middle of tea-garden and the jungles with a decent FRH.
We enjoyed our stroll and photography. Check out the sunset pics.
Hope you did not miss the pic of ‘one and only Volcano’ of India…… Total 130km.
OK the volcano bit of day 7 was a fluke….
Had a great start to the day with a morning walk in the tea garden and some good snaps. Started from Medo @7am. The days target was to reach Miao and try and get permit for Deban forest rest house.
The roads and where to cross one of the many Brahmaputra tributary was a big question mark. At Bordumsa check point we were supposed to go to Pangri, Digboi, Margarita, Jagun. The guard there told us that a shorter direct route to Jagun was working with a temp wooden bridge. Saved 110km + 2hrs (check the original route and the arrow showing short cut in the map).
Reached Miao and went to the office of Director Namdapha tiger reserve. Paucity of rooms + 31st night, we were sceptical to get any Acco at Deban. However luck was on our side and we got two huts bang on the riverside.
Had our bonfire party and sumptuous dinner. At these remote locations 31st or 1st did not matter. Being one with nature and in the middle of jungle was greatest incentive. Slept off at 9 pm… Total km 177
Day-9 (2016/01/01) Happy New Year!
Woke up early to go for jungle walk with a forest guard. The place has 6-7 elephants but most of the staff and mahaout were on leave for Christmas+ New year celebration. We all returned from the river bed while Praveen went deep into the jungle. Did our photography and returned to FRH for lunch.
Started back for Jairampur at 1pm. Got 2 rooms at Jairampur FRH 76km from Deban.
Last few days we saw and enjoyed the rivers at Eze river near Roing, Lohit river (main tributary) near Samdul, Tiding river near Hayuliang and finally Namdapha river near Mio – all tributaries of Brahmaputra.
7am we started on the stilt road, the infamous road built during 2nd world war by Britishers using Indian army+labour to thrawt the Japanese invasion.
Went thru Nampong (last Indian village). Took army permission to go to Indo-Burma border at Pangsu pass. There is no formal check post or army present on the border. We could not make out and crossed over the border. The metaled road had turned into a muddy road and the colour on road fender was red n white. 2km down we met a women working on fields, tried to check directions but there was language problem and we couldn’t communicate. We decided to hard stop the vehicle then and there. I walked a bit further to find someone else. Met a boy and old lady on the road, again language problem. I finally asked pointing to the ground INDIA or BURMA. Old lady said Burma and I quickly retreaded back to the car.
On return we got down at Pangsu pass for our photo session. Found the republic of Myanmar signboard and border line there in a corner 50 mtrs away from the main road. Later an Indian army patrol reached there and told us that the Burmese army check post was 2.5km down the road. We thanked god that we turned back after 2km, who would know what kind of treatment we would have got for trespassing. Army jawan showed us the death lake on Burmese side, which supposedly has some magnetic pull.
On way back we saw WW-2 soldiers symmetry. 1700 soldiers were cremated in some 100+ mass graves.
Proceeded to Dibrugarh. 230km for the day.
Arre bhai Dibrugarh pahunch gaye. Khatam ho gaya! It’s over!! Ab Naukri bhi to karni hai……
At Dibrugarh we spent the previous night and sunday morning checking our mails/msgs/whatsaps (Damn the technology & android which has made our daily life so inward looking). Boarded our afternoon flights from Mohanbari.
If you have. Thanks for following this travelogue.
Trust you me exploring the places and sharing the same with friend’s/ fellow community gives immense pleasure. Needless to say that your reviews/inquiries will be added bonus which will egg us on.
I hope this’d inspire you to do something similar in near future.
Parting shot (clouded as were our thoughts at that point of time…..)