Tucked away in the frigid valleys in Northwestern Arunachal Pradesh is Tawang, a place that has captured my heart. Riding to Tawang makes me feel more than alive. A visit to Tawang is more like a pilgrimage, rather than just a trip.
In February 2017, I was approached by the #RideAlongWithMRF community, for a sponsored ride to Tawang. It was a dream come true, as I had been yearning to make my ritual visit to that prettiest of all hill stations in Arunachal Pradesh. I did the ride, and also created a travelogue, which is live on the website.
10 Reasons Why You Will Fall In Love With The Guwahati To Tawang Route
- Guwahati – Tezpur
The brisk chill of the morning makes the 200km transit from Guwahati to Tezpur a real treat. Add to that the seductive curves on the road to Jorabat, the ramrod-straight 90-km stretch on the Nagaon bypass and the epic Koliabhomora bridge, and you are already in riding Nirvana. The river Brahmaputra comes into view, greeting you like an old friend, as you roll into Tezpur, the cleanest city in India.
- Tezpur to Bhalukpong
All right, how many of you have seen those test ride videos shot at the famed ‘Ring? (The Nurburgring, guys)? This is exactly what the ride from Tezpur to Bhalukpong is like. Combined with long, endless straights, there are technical corners, S-bends, chicanes and more, all with a heavenly view of the mountains in the horizon. You have to be extra alert here, not just because of the difficult patches, but also because animals from the Nameri National Park tend to charge oncoming vehicles
- Bhalukpong to Dirang
And just like that, you suddenly land up on a stretch that feels like a European country road. Zero visibility at the Neciphu Pass may hamper your speed, but we suggest a break to proceedings at the Nag Mandir temple, so you can take in the wonderful view, as your bikes tick peacefully to the chirping of birds.
- Shangti Valley
Camping is an excellent way to save money and also connect with Mother Nature. Case in point – The Shangti Valley. Yes it does really offer so much “shanti” that waking up the next day after a night under the stars will be a task! The Shangti Valley is 12km from Dirang and is home to black-necked cranes, kiwi farms, wild orange trees and huge pastures where horses graze.
- Dirang to Sela Pass
And the lesson in geography continues, as we head to something that looks like the Tundra regions (we did this in the 9th standard. Anyone remember that?) Over a 60km patch of road, you will start from 4910f MSL and reach 13700 ft MSL. The roads here are in average state, with a few broken patches, smooth corners and narrow hairpins making it a superb ride. Once at Sela, you will be in sub-zero temperatures, so better halt at the Prahari cafeteria to warm yourselves up over some bad jokes and a hot cup of tea.
With a 101 lakes along the way, Sela Pass is basically snow-capped heaven in the winters. With temperatures falling to -10 degrees, the ride through Sela pass is worth it, because the frozen lakes will leave you nature lovers speechless. Paradise lake is, by the way one of the best in the area!
- Jaswantgarh War Memorial
Now if you find riding here to be tough, imagine what fighting must have been like. At the Jaswantgarh War Memorial, one can relive the herculean battle the Indian army fought, to fend off the Chinese assault during the 1962 Indo-China War. The memorial is dedicated to Jaswant Singh, a man whose exemplary bravery in battle is what legends are made of. Have a cup and be a part of history at the Jaswantgarh War Memorial.
- Tawang monastery
A number of bikers will tell you that spending precious miles together with the love of your life is as close as you can get to meditation. Seen that “Feel Like God” ad? That’s exactly what riding up to the famed Tawang Monastery feels like. This imposing place of worship stands like a guardian of stone, at 10000 feet above MSL, watching over the Tawang-Chu valley and the Himalayas. The Tawang Monastery is the second largest of its kind in the world, and is home to 300 monks, with space for up to 700.
- Pankang Teng Tso Lake
From an earthquake many years ago was born the Pankang Teng Tso Lake. The name’s a mouthful, but this place seems to have been tailor made for the lady love(s) in your life. Of course, there is an 18-km stretch of corners so exciting you will think that you are in Assen or Misano, and not in Arunachal Pradesh. PTSO has something for fans of Valentino Rossi and Hrithik Roshan, alike.
- Tawang Local Markets
Next up is the local marketing scene at Tawang. Whether you are looking for adventure gear, prayer flags or crockery, you will find it at one of three major marketplaces(The Nehru Market, the Old Market and the New Market). And yes, do not forget to buy some Churpi, which is cheese made of Yak’s milk. It is a primary ingredient in some of the tastiest dishes in Arunachali cuisine.
If you are broke, you can still embark on a window shopping expedition. Who knows? You might actually find a reason to stay back and never go home again.
The ride from Guwahati to Tawang is a reason why you would thank your stars for being born a biker. No one else would understand why we love it so much!