Today we were going to visit Majuli, the biggest inhabited river island in the world. It is located in the middle of the mighty Brahmaputra River in Assam. Initially, this island was spread over an area of about 1250 square kilometers, but due to erosion, its size has now decreased considerably to an area of about 421.65 square km only. Originally, the island of Majuli was a long and narrow piece of land, which during ancient times was known as ‘Majoli’, meaning ‘land in the middle of two parallel rivers’. It was called so because it had the River Brahmaputra flowing in its North and the River Burhidihing flowing in its South. Both these rivers met at Lakhu. During 1661–1696, frequent earthquakes occurred, which led to a momentous and destructive flood in 1750. Due to the flood, the Brahmaputra got divided into two branches, one of which continued to flow along the original channel, while the other started flowing along the Burhi Dihing channel, which lead to the formation of the Majuli Island. The island is popular as a ‘pollution free fresh water island’, and is located at a distance of about 20 km from Jorhat town.
We started at 0700 hrs from Jorhat to Nimati Ghat (15 km from Jorhat). First River ferry was at 0830 hrs to Kamalabari Ghat. This ferry transport vehicles along with passengers, but unfortunately the vehicle booking was over and no space was left for our taxi. We decided to leave taxi at this end only and asked our guide to arrange vehicle at Majuli end. Majuli is accessible by ferries only. Our guide was the young boy, who was going to his home at Majuli during Bihu holidays. He has contacted his friends at Majuli and arranged a vehicle. We enjoyed the river ghat and activities at ferry. All type of items & vehicles were being loaded on ferry. Slowly it was filling and people were going to top of ferry. Ferry started at 0830 hrs and reached Kamalabari ghat at 0930 hrs.
We enjoyed the ferry trip and view of Bharamputra. It was worth a watch.
Vehicle was ready at Kamalabari ghat. Our guide informed us that we are going to visit some of the important Satras at Majuli.
An abode of Assamese neo-Vaisnavite culture, there are many ancient Satras in the Majuli. Besides, there are several sites associated with Lord Krishna. In the 16th century, Sankardeva, the founder of Vaishnavism, a monotheist form of Hinduism, established various monasteries and hermitages across the islet, known as Satras. There are over twenty-five neo-Vaisnavite centers, the most noteworthy being the satras of Garmur, Kamalabari and Auniati. We visited all three Satras and it was totally a different experience. On a visit to the satras dating back to 500 years, we explored the rich cultural heritage of the region. The satras have preserved several articles of cultural and historical importance, which include weapons, ornaments, utensils and other artifacts. Our guide, being the local was able to show & explain us about the satras. To our surprise, he took us to the house of Shri Goswami, who is famous as a Mask maker man. We had a chat with him. It was a memorable moment for all of us. On the way to satras, he also showed & explained us about missing village and about the culture of Majuli. We had lunch at island and decided to head back. After thanking our guide and wishing him for Bihu, We boarded ferry at Kamalabari Ghat at 1400 hrs & reached Nimati ghat at 1500 hrs.
Our taxi was ready at ghat and we started for Dibrugarh (150 km). On the way, we visited Tea gardens and purchased Assam tea.
We reached Dibrugarh hotel at 1900 hrs. We settled the payment of taxi and had our dinner in room.
Today was the day of testing time of the taxi driver for driving & testing time for us to sit through a long journey of around 380 km. After a tasty breakfast at Awoo Resort, we started our journey at 0800 hrs. We stopped to buy different types of rajma & walnuts at Bomdila. We reached Sessa Orchid Sanctuary at 1200 hrs. It was not in a good shape. But still we found some orchids blooming.
At 1400 hrs, we stopped for lunch at Balipara. Since Agnigarh at Tezpur was closed previously when we crossed Tezpur during onward journey, we went to Agnigarh and reached at 1500 hrs.
Agnigarh is a beautiful hill top garden located beside the Brahmaputra river. It is a scenic spot to view the broad and magnificient Brahmaputra River from the hill top. Kaliabhomora Bridge can be viewed from above the hill. With well built steps running around the hill till top, Agnigarh marks the spot where the legendary battle of Sonitpur between the armies of Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna took place. Garden is clean and well maintained, with beautiful and well carved statues of Usha- Anirudha and Hari-Hara battle (a mythical battle of God Hari and God Shiva), each narrating a story of its own.
It was a good place to hang out and to recharge ourselves for the journey ahead. We started for Jorhat at 1530 hrs.
After reaching Jorhat at 1940 hrs, we checked in Prashaanti Tourist Lodge, marking an end of our long and tiring journey.
We were famished and took our dinner at nearby restaurant and went to bed early.
Today our plan was to go to Bumla Pass (China Border). We were ready at 0600 hrs and went to nearby market for breakfast. During the hot paratha sabji breakfast, we were informed that there is lot of snow fall in upper areas of Tawang and in the area of Bumla Pass. No tourist vehicle went there since last three days and we may also face the same problem. We contacted local taxi drivers and they told that you try, but chances of reaching Bumla are very less. With heavy heart, we decided to give it a shot and go to Bumla as far as possible. We started at 0650 hrs from Tawang.
Slowly slowly we were climbing and enjoying the beautiful view of Tawang from height. As we were climbing, climate was changing and was growing heavier. No tourist vehicle was to be found on the way except army vehicles and trucks. By now, Snow fall had started and white snow covered the road. We were enjoying and climbing gradually.
Now vehicle started giving trouble and was not able to climb on snow filled road. Somehow, we reached near one lake. Army persons informed us that snow fall is heavy on upper hills and it will be difficult for us to move further.We decided to enjoy snow& lake at this place only.
We came out of our vehicle and walked on snow enjoying natural surroundings. After getting our fill with snow, we started back to Tawang.
We reached Tawang Monastery at 0900 hrs. This world famous monastery of the Gelukpa was founded during the 17th century by Mera Lama Lodre Gyaltso who is considered as a contemporary of the 5th Dalai Lama. It is Asia’s second largest monastery and India’s largest which controls 17 Gompas in the region. The highlights of this monastery are the imposing three-storied assembly hall and the 28 ft high golden statue of Lord Buddha.
Tawang Monastery overlooks the wide Tawang Valley at a height of 10,000 ft. The monastery is a vast complex of 65 buildings housing Lamas and antique scriptures written in gold letters and ancient scripture images. We were allowed to open the doors of the main monastery and enter our self with no one there to supervise our presence. Entry to Monastery was free. We visited the monastery museum which houses the tanguar and kanguar sacred scrolls written in gold. Its entry ticket is Rs. 20/- per person. We liked the monastery. We can view this mighty ancient monastery from almost every corner of Tawang.
We returned back to Tourist Lodge. Since we had covered all main tourist spot of Tawang, we decided to start back. We checked out at 1020 hrs and move back to Dirang.
We reached Jaswang Garh War Memorial (54 km) at 1215 hrs. Since we had visited this place previous day on our journey to Tawang, we stopped here for a cup of tea & samosa, served by soldiers. We continued our journey and reached Sela Pass at 1320 hrs. Full road was white and snow fall was there. We stopped for a short duration to enjoy it and moved ahead towards Dirang. We reached Dirang at 1525 hrs. We were not having hotel booking at Dirang. We went to Awoo Resort and got super deluxe room. After taking bath & tea, we walk around in the Resort. This resort is situated at a height with a spectacular view of Dirang valley. We enjoyed the view and relaxed in big property of Resort.
All our tiredness of full day journey vanished. We had a nice dinner at dining hall of Resort which had good ambience.
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.
Nameri National Park river rafting – Bhalukpong – Bomdila – R R Hill – Monastery – Bomdila Stay
With adventure on our mind, we started at 0640 hrs for our first river rafting by jeep, which interestingly had a boat on it. After a 20 minute drive towards Bhalukpong, we reached the starting point of river rafting and started our first river rafting in Jia Bhoroli River. This is a first stage of rafting and can be done by any one.
The route is around 18KMs (duration 2 hrs) on a peaceful Jia Bhoroli. A lot of migratory water foul can be seen on the banks and we had a time of our lives.
Around 0900 hrs, we reached to end point of rafting. All in all,It was a different yet wonderful experience and we recommend all to try it once for sure. After returning eco camp, we had breakfast, which was tasty.
We started from Eco camp at 1030 hrs for Bhalukpong.
Bhalukpong is the entry point to Arunachal and is 24 km from Nameri Eco camp. It is situated at 213 metres (700 ft) above sea level. For entering Arunachal Pradesh, Inner Line Permit (ILP) is required. ILP can be obtained from EAC (Extra Assistant Commissioner) office, Bhalukpong, which is in Arunachal state. We reached Arunachal entry check post at Bhalukpong at 1100 hrs. They allowed me to cross check post without vehicle to obtain ILP. When we enquired about EAC office, People directed us to a photocopy shop instead of main office. There he collected photo copy of Driving license (DL) (as identify proof) and two passport size photo of each and Rs. 300/- to arrange ILP from EAC, which is situated above on a small hill. He asked us to collect permit in 30 minutes. We took 10 photocopy of ILP, which will be required on the way.
We started our journey to Arunachal Pradesh at 1140 hrs by crossing check post at Bhalukpong after completing ILP formalities. Our target was to reach Bomdila, 100 km from Bhalukpong at 2700 metres (9000 ft) above sea level. Road was in good condition and greenery started increasing as we drove further into Arunachal. Kemeng River was running alongside us making excellent view. Climate was beginning to get colder as we were gaining height. After crossing Tipi, Sessa & Tanga Market, we reached Bomdila at 1500 hrs. It was raining and temperature has suddenly dropped. We check in the Hotel La, Bomdila and have a hot Lunch in the room.
Bomdila is headquarter of West Kameng District. We visit RR Hill, Monastery and market. The view from R R Hill was excellent and heavy cold wind was blowing. It was difficult to stay there for a long time. Then we went to Monastery.
After a short visit, we went to Market. We purchased walnut & Rajma from there. It started raining again and we returned back to Hotel.
At hotel, we met two young boys, who were returning from Tawang. They informed that there is snow fall in upper ridges of Tawang and at Sela pass. They asked us to start early in the morning for Tawang to enjoy the route and specially Sela Pass. We decide to start at 0530 hrs tomorrow morning for Tawang. We paid money to hotel manager and informed him our early morning checkout time. Temperature was dropping. After having Dinner in hotel dining hall, we slept early.
Kaziranga National Park – Tezpur – Nameri Eco Camp Stay
We woke up to chirping birds and beautiful sunrise, giving a sign of great day ahead. It was 0500 hrs and watching sunrise from our balcony was a wonderful way to start the day.
We freshened up & got ready by 0600 hrs for Elephant Safari. We started from cottage at 0615 hrs for Kaziranga Range, Kohora (4 km).
On the way, we had a cup of tea. We were the first persons to reach the starting point of Elephant Safari for the 3rd & last safari of morning. The Forest person at check point informed us that safari will start at around 0700 hrs the elephants return from 2nd round of safari. The check point was an elevated platform that overlooked the forest. Luckily we saw a Rhino in forest, though it was far we could still manage to see it. And we couldn’t wait to see more of them. Slowly, other tourists also started gathering. At around 0650 hrs, we saw elephants returning back with tourists. They allotted the elephant “Rukmani” for three of us and the fee was 1630/- for 3 persons plus camera. Thus, We started our Elephant safari at 0710 hrs to Kaziranga Park an Rukmani along with her baby “Karan”. It was a new & exciting experience of looking for Rhinos in forest on the back of an elephant. First we saw a group of Deer & Barashingha just grazing around.
On moving further into forest with long elephant grass, we saw our first Rhino, among the grass.
Hence began our series of rhino sightings. Fortunately, we saw many Rhinos in various areas making it a memorable moment of our lives. We were clicking pictures incessantly.
After about an hr of safari, we reached back to starting point at 0810 hrs. We thanked the elephant person for the wonderful ride and started back to Aranya Tourist Lodge at 0825 hrs.
After reaching Lodge, we enquired about Jeep safari and in turn the Manager asked about the experience of Elephant safari. After getting good feedback, he suggested us to skip Jeep safari because we will not be able to see anything more exciting. Dropping the idea of Jeep safari, we sat down for breakfast as we were famished. Hot Breakfast after a tiring ride was a delight. After breakfast, we freshened up, took bath and was ready for checkout by 1030 hrs.
Our next destination was Nameri Eco Camp, Nameri National Park (112 km) with a short stop at Tezpur (74 km). To reach Tezpur, we have to cross Brahmaputra river through Kalli Bhomora Setu.
This is 2nd longest bridge over Brahmaputra and has no railway crossing unlike other bridges of Brahmaputra. The bridge provided an excellent view of Brahmaputra.
After reaching Tezpur at 1200 hrs, we directly went to Agnigarh Hill but found it closed due to Bihu festival. We were disheartened. From there we went to market of Tezpur and purchased water & food items for our journey ahead. After taking snacks at Tezpur, we started for Nameri Eco camp at 1400 hrs.
Eco camp was 38 km and we reached there by 1430 hrs. It was near a village and was set up in a beautiful clearing in the forest area. The entire place is set amidst dense green surroundings with lots of birds and butterflies around.
After check-in to the beautiful the luxury tent “Mithun Nala-5”, we checked with reception regarding activities. They asked us to get permission from forest department for tomorrow river rafting. We went to forest department office, which is next to Eco camp. After noting our details, they asked us to come in evening for depositing fee and collecting permission slip.
Till 1700 hrs, we explored the eco camp and enjoyed the natural beauty of the surroundings, the swings, watching birds with a cup of tea.
Then, we got ready to go to Jia Bhoroli River, which is very near to the camp. The river bank was beautiful.
After the sun set at river bank, we came back to camp. Our permission was ready at forest dept. office, which we collected by paying total fee of Rs. 250/- for three persons & camera for river rafting. We informed the camp manager for arranging river rafting for tomorrow morning.
It was around 1900 hrs and we were hungry. We went to dining hall and found that they were setting buffet dinner. They told that till they are ready, we can enjoy a cup of tea. Dinner was excellent and we eat more than required. Camp lights were on and it was nicely decorated. We sat near camp fire, which they were going to start in a while and were chit chatting with other tourists. To our pleasant surprise, at 2000 hrs, suddenly, artists came near camp fire and started performing Bihu group dance.
We enjoyed the performances sitting beside camp fire till 2130 hrs. Now it was time for bed. We went to our tent and slept with a determination to wake up at 0500 hrs for river rafting.
I have started my dream journey to Arunachal & Assam by boarding flight at Delhi for Dibrugarh, Assam. We were three; myself, wife & daughter. Flight was via Kolkata and duration was four hrs. We reached Dibrugarh Airport at 1400 hrs. Mr Bijoy, our taxi driver with pre-booked Scorpio taxi was at airport. We started for Kaziranga at 1430 hrs.
On the way to Kaziranga, we reached at Sivadol Temple, Sibsagar (97 km from Dibrugarh Airport) at 1645 hrs. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and attracts a lot of devotees. There is a huge Shivasagar lake also. After a short break, we started at 1730 hrs. for our today’s destination.
We crossed Namdang Stone Bridge (14 km from Sibsagar). This bridge was made by cutting single stone. Our target was to reach Aranya Tourist Lodge (148 km from Sibsagar) at Kaziranga and ensure the booking of Elephant Safari for next day morning. Mr Bijoy told that he will try to reach there before 2000 hrs. (Closing time for Elephant Safari booking). Despite rash driving, we could reach Aranya Tourist Lodge at 2010 hrs and found that counter for Safari booking was closed. We were very much disappointed and asked Manager & staff of Aranya Tourist Lodge to help us in getting Elephant Safari & Jeep Safari booking for next morning. They asked us to complete check in & have Dinner and they will try to help us.
With heavy heart, we completed the check in formalities and ordered Dinner. Our cottage “Buffalo” at Aranya Tourist Lodge was large and well furnished.
We freshened up quickly and went to Dining hall for Dinner. Dinner was fine. After dinner, Wife & Daughter went for walk in Lodge complex, with a hope that I will arrange booking for Elephant & Jeep Safari. I tried with many people and finally got 3 tickets for Elephant Safari for 3rd trip. Staff suggested me to book jeep safari tomorrow only after coming back from Elephant Safari. We were very happy and excited after getting booking for Elephant Safari and enjoyed Moonlit night in peace.
Day 7: Jorhat – Nimati Ghat – River Ferry – Kamalabari ferry Ghat – Majuli Satras – Kamalabari ferry Ghat – River Ferry – Nimati Ghat – Dibrugarh Stay
Day 8: Dibrugarh – Dibrugarh Airport – Delhi Airport
After finalizing itenary and dates, first we booked flight tickets from Delhi to Dibrugarh & return. Then we contacted drivers and travel agencies for Scorpio taxi for 7 days from Dibrugarh to Tawang & back. Finally one driver agreed to book taxi for Rs. 2500/- per day for vehicle + Diesel +Driver’s food & stay. When I contacted this driver, one day before reaching Dibrugarh, he refused to come with us due to personal reasons. Since I was having contact numbers of other travel agencies, I contacted them and booked taxi (though per day rate increased by Rs. 200/-). After reaching Dibrugarh, I came to know that it is Bihu festival in Assam and that was the main reason of shortage of drivers. Mr. Bijoy, our taxi driver was a good person who adjusted according to our travel plan. Next issue was to book tourist lodge and hotels. I decided to use Assam & Arunachal tourism tourist lodges. The phone service in Arunachal was not working properly. I was able to book Aranya Tourist Lodge at Kaziranga; Nameri Eco Camp at Nameri National Park and Tourist Lodge at Tawang. I was not able to book at Bomdila & Dirang. We have not booked for Jorhat & Dibrugarh, due to our flexible itenary. We got good accommodation at these places on the spot. Inner line permit (ILP) is required for entry in Arunachal for all Indians. For ILP, Identity & address proof and two passport size photo are required. We planned to obtain ILP at Bhalukpong.