Bomdila – Dirang – Sela Pass – Jaswant Garh – Jang Fall – Tawang – Tawang Craft Centre – War Memorial – Tawang Stay
Today was the day when we were headed to our final destination-Tawang. Tawang is 185 km from Bomdila at 10000 ft above sea level, with Dirang, Sela Pass, Jaswant Garh, and Jang Fall on the way. We left Bomdila at 0510 hrs. The road from Bomdila to Dirang was wide enough as we climbed down into the Dirang valley.
Dirang is 44 km from Bomdila and at 1497 metre above sea level. We reached Dirang at 0615 hrs and had our breakfast at road side restaurant. Now we were all charged up for crossing Sela Pass, which is 64 km from Dirang at 14000 ft above sea level. We started at 0645 hrs from Dirang. The road moves along the Dirang River for 10 kms and then climbs starts.
Climate was getting colder & colder with height as we moved closer to the Pass.
The route was sparsely populated and forest was full of alpine trees. After a climb of 54 km for about 2 hrs, we reached Sela pass at 0900 hrs. It is the world’s second highest motorable pass. Lots of snow was there at Sela Pass and it started to snow as soon as we reached there.
We were the first ones to enjoy such heavenly place with snow all around. And the cherry on top was the paradise lake “Sela Lake” just after pass at 14000 ft.
The serene crystal clear water natural lake and the surrounding landscape were truly pleasing to the eyes and senses.
Cold wind along with snowfall was making it difficult for us stay there for longer period of time.
Though our heart was asking us to continue enjoying paradise on earth, we had to move further. Hence we started at 0930 hrs for our journey towards Tawang. Next stop was Jaswant Garh, which is 20 km & Tawang is 70 km from pass.
It is downhill to Tawang Chu River. The drive now was bewitching with piercing snow peaks towering above us, waterfalls at every corner and a gushing Nuranang river accompanying us all the way. This region was the scene of fierce fighting between Chinese and Indian troops during the war of 1962. We reached Jaswant Garh War Memorial at 1015 hrs.
Jaswant Garh is a memorial erected in the memory of Veer Jaswant Singh of the 4th Garhwal Rifles and a recipient of Mahavir Chakra (Posthumous) who alone stopped the Chinese Army for 72 hours during the 1962 aggression with the help of Monpa girls Sela and Nura. The location of this place in itself was very enchanting. The memorial is maintained round the clock by the Indian army. It has a garlanded bronze bust of Jaswant Singh who is referred as Baba by soldiers, a portrait of the war hero and his belongings including the Army uniform, cap, watch, belt, shoes and even his bed.
Jaswant is treated as if he is alive, his boots shined and his personal belongings cared for by Army personnel posted at the shrine. The earthen lamp before the portrait of Jaswant Singh burns round the clock. A marble plaque commemorates him and 161 other men of his battalion who died in the battle of Nuranang, which was awarded to Garhwal Rifles as a battle honour. Other than the memorial building, a lot of bunkers and artillery pits from the 1962 war have been preserved at the site. We felt honored to pay homage to Baba Jaswant Singh and to Indian Army. We Salute to Him and Indian Army. We also had a talk to soldiers stationed there. The landscape around the Jaswant garh memorial was amazing. Surrounded by lofty mountains and beautiful valleys, the view was absolutely breathtaking.
Across the road the soldiers run a snack counter where free tea was served for all travelers. Hot tea was very much required after crossing Sela Pass & long journey from Dirang. They were selling Samosa at Rs. 5/-. We enjoyed hot tea & samosas whilst chit chatting with soldiers and with snow capped peaks surrounding us. After freshening up in Toilets, maintained by Army, we started our journey at 1040 hrs.
Next was Jang Fall. It is about 100 meters high and located 23 km from Jaswant Garh in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, India. Situated at a height of 6000 ft above sea level, it is one of the most spectacular waterfalls. It is also known as Nurarang Fall.
The Nuranang river originates from the Northern slopes of the Sela Pass. It forms the waterfall before plunging into the Tawang Chu (Tawang River). A small detour of about 1 km from the main road took us to the proximity of the falls. What a sight it was! The spectacle of huge volumes of milky white water hurtling down into the river below throwing up sprays upto several ft high provides an exhilarating experience. There is a small hydel plant located near the base that generates electricity for local use.
It is said that this is the waterfall that features in the song ‘Tanhai Tanhai’ from 1997 Sharukh–Madhuri film ‘Koyla’. Jang falls is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered in one of the lesser known and remotest parts of the country. After spending 15 minutes, we started at 1155 hrs for Tawang.
We reached Arunachal Pradesh Tourist Lodge, Tawang at 1300 hrs after travelling 31 km. We already have made an advance booking over the phone for next two days.
They were not having any list for advance booking and were not able to search our booking in a ruff type of register. Since I was having the date of phone call, I searched pages in the register and found my name with details of booking. Finally they asked us to choose the room and we selected one deluxe room on first floor. There was no light in Logde. They informed that since last three days, light problem is there, but assured us that it will come. Room was spacious and it was three bedded room. Third bed was at a height of 8 ft and stairs were going from the room. We liked this type of arrangement. Since lunch was not available at Lodge and we were not in a mood to go outside, we ate packet items in room. After getting fresh, we decided to go to D C Office for permission to Bumla Pass (China Border), PT Tso (lake) and Tawang local visit. We started at 1400 hrs for D C Office.
For visiting Bumla Pass, we need to obtain a separate permit to visit Bumla pass apart from the ILP. Cost is Rs.10 per person. We submitted xerox of ILP, Driving license of the driver and photo id’s of all of us (2 copy each). They asked us to come between 1500 hrs to 1600 hrs for collecting the permission. We went to Tawang Craft Centre and see local craft items. We came back to D C office and collected permission. We went to War memorial and submitted papers there. They asked us to collect after 1800 hrs.
Tawang War Memorial is a memorial dedicated to the soldiers that lost their life in the 1962 indo-china war over the sharing of Arunachal and which still stands a sensitive issue between both the countries. The Indian army is still on guard at all major areas of Tawang being a region of conflict and this war memorial is a mirror to the actual situation and the history behind the indo-china war. There is also a military canteen, where one can purchase souvenirs at affordable prices. We purchase a certificate of visiting war memorial from here.
We visited the war memorial and paid respect to our brave soldiers. It is a well maintained and beautiful war memorial. Location of memorial is excellent with a view of entire Tawang city, Tawang Monastery and spectacular snow capped peaks. After spending a good time here, we went to Tawang market and did some purchasing. After that, we returned back to Tourist Lodge and ordered dinner. By this time rain had started and light was also not coming, so I went alone with driver to war memorial and collected permission for Bumla. We had our early dinner at 1930 hrs in dining hall of lodge. It was simple, but hot and tasty. Rain didn’t stop yet also power cut continued so we decided to call it a night at 2100 hrs.