An epic road trip to the world’s second largest monastery

There aren’t many places left in the world where you can truly feel like you’ve stumbled upon a hidden gem off the well-traveled path. Places where, for a split second, it seems as if you’re an early explorer, discovering something new for the first time. Arunachal Pradesh in India’s wild northeastern region may just be as close as you can get to such a place.

“It’s the most beautiful area — it’s just so remote,” the hostel owner in Gangtok said. I was sitting in the small lounge of what seemed to be the only accommodation in the former mountain kingdom of Sikkim’s capital. I had only a few weeks to explore the region, and the sparkle in this man’s eyes was enough to sway me. He was speaking of a small town in “the land of the dawn-lit mountains,” a location that would become my next destination…

Written for Passion Passport. To continue reading: A Journey to the Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains

Travel guide for Tawang

Protected Area Permit for foreigners can be obtained from the Deputy Resident Commissioner Office of Arunachal Pradesh in Guwahati, Assam. It was a fairly painless process and in fact, the friendly man did it for me in the matter of hours by emailing me the permit to print out that night. At the time (2018), it cost 3000INR and required a photocopy of your passport and visa.

Guwahati to Tezpur

The first leg was a bus from Guwahati to Tezpur which took four hours. There were buses and sumos making the trip, however, I went with the morning ASTC bus which was very comfortable.

In Tezpur, I stayed at Hotel Kaustav, walking distance from the bus and sumo stations/stands. The hotel was very good; the staff were nice, good WiFi and room service available with good food.

Tezpur to Dirang

The next leg was a shared sumo/jeep from Tezpur to Dirang (roughly the half way point to Tawang). It’s best to reserve at least the day before, the desk is in the middle of the bus station, and the departure was 6.30am, although it was more like 7.30am by the time we left.

The journey was around 7 hours with a stop at the Arunachal Pradesh border at Bhalukpong to show your permit.

In Dirang there are a few hotels but I stayed at a place called Snow Lion on the main road and for 1200INR I got a large private room and dinner included. The owner was nice and it was a very quiet place.

Dirang to Tawang

From Dirang, there are just two counters in the middle of town to reserve tickets and as always, it’s best to get the day before. The jeep for Tawang left at 7.30am.

The journey took 7 hours and the views were spectacular (advised to get the front seat if possible or at least a window seat).

In Tawang there are quite a few hotels scattered around town. I decided to stay at Tawang View Hotel, which I wouldn’t exactly recommend, except that the balcony had exceptional views of the monastery and it was very central.

The monastery is free for people to roam around in, ask the locals when the best time to go is, usually the early morning is the best when the monks begin their morning chants.

Tawang to Tezpur

From Tawang I decided to do the full journey in one day back to Tezpur. There are a few different sumo/jeep counters around the main market area of town and its worth checking them all out to get the best seat on offer as they fill fast. The journey takes 14 hours and usually departs at 6am.

It is then possible to even get a shared jeep onto Guwahati the same evening although I opted to stay a night in Tezpur before taking the bus back.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s