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Sun, 16 Jun 2019

Northeast Today

A Highlander’s Journal

A Highlander’s Journal
April 03
13:50 2019

NET Bureau

Sushmita Sarkar writes about her exhilarating trip to the Sangti Valley, better known as Dirang…

First Words

Every soul dreams of visiting a land where dream flows faster than the wind and amazed steps move slower than the clouds. Where one enjoys that perfect bonfire camps in the middle of majestic valleys and of miraculous night skies. And this dream converged to reality at Sangti Valley- the secret region of Western Arunachal Pradesh. The valley, however, is better known as Dirang!

It was all about seven girls, 38 hours journey and One trip! And there was this astonishment of my parents for how we pulled it off: but that is the obvious reaction of every Indian parent at the first go of an all-girls trip.

The Trip

It was October 27 earlier this year when we reached Dirang after crossing Bombila- the first check-post of Arunachal Pradesh. By 15:00 hours we were standing on the road which led to our first success story of living our dreams.

The cold wind, the little kiwi shops and the wooden houses- every single thing would make you believe in ‘love at first sight’. We met Uncle Letro there, the person-in-charge of our accommodation.

On being asked if we were heading to our campsite he replied with a smile, “You are all young bones and hot blood, are you tired yet? Let’s directly head towards the Thupsung Dhargye Ling Monastery, the sunset is pretty amazing there.”

It was enough to make us feel at home. That confidence, that smile of everything will be fine was enough to make us comfortable in the air we came across for the first time. After a journey of 7 hours it was obvious that we were tired but then we reached the monastery, its beauty blew away all the exhaustion. The beliefs of Buddhism were floating in the air and the prayers in the divine wheels were in motion. You could hear your heartbeats synchronize the chanting of mantras; the peace that one receives here is simply inexplicable.

We met at least a dozen dogs there, healthy and happy souls. Their innocent eyes kept us glued there for at least another 30 minutes. Later we left the monastery to reach our night stay camp.

The Stay

We had to cross the residential region and then a short bridge to reach the site, it was exactly sunset when we were at the bridge and if you have heard of miracles in real life, then I must say that this view was nothing less than a miracle. Fine shades of purple and orange filling the sky and the rhythm of the stream flowing below your feet, paradise is an understatement. With smiles of satisfaction and after praising our proper-timing for witnessing the sunset, we entered our camp and freshened up.

The night stay camp provided us with all the basic requirements with a touch of proper tent living, starting from washroom facilities to heater. The camp was all that we needed after a day full of activity. However, the night was still young…

Arrangements for bonfire and evening snacks were made at the campsite. It was around 6 pm when the sunlight vanished and the stars began ruling the valley. One look at the sky and I can say that all your regrets in life would be blown. At that moment, I felt I lived for that moment and in my 20 years of existence, I had never been that grateful for a scene that phenomenal, gazillion (literal a gazillion) stars forming a blanket above.

The mountains looked unbelievably beautiful with the tint of these heavenly bodies. Our phone cameras could not capture the scene but maybe that is why they say that ‘the best of views and the best of emotions can only be felt, not captured’. I and my friends still could not believe we were actually living our childhood dreams of night camp and bonfire and a cover of million stars.

Warmth of Emotions

Sharing our noodles, gossiping and laughing endlessly, pausing at instances to listen to the song of the wind and river, appreciating the stars which shone for us and staring at the fire which melted our hearts, we were grateful, solely grateful. After a while, Letro uncle came by to see if we were doing fine and later we ended up talking for hours about the history of Dirang and its present state of how they still have to travel for an hour to two in order to buy the basic requirements like vegetables and other edibles.

Uncle also told us about his family and about many other families who lived at the other end of the bridge. Everyone we met so far has been extremely friendly. My heart was filled with tears of happiness to have met such souls who did not think twice before helping out or before considering one as a part of their family. Before Uncle Letro explained, I thought that the lives of these people were confined and tough. Uncle Letro made me realise that I was partially correct! I admit, their life is not absolutely comfortable, but they are much happier than us- the city dwellers! I was at ease to see their simplicity of thoughts and survival. They may struggle for cellular networks, but they know the value of human connection. They may not enjoy fast food but their home-grown corn and rice taste better.  They may not be exposed to western music but their valley songs could cleanse all the negativity. The prayer flags floating across the corners and edges purifies the air and so does the verses of the people living there. Next day we made sure to wake up early to witness the sunrise and yes, it was as ravishing as expected. There were a bunch of ducks and dogs around our tents by the morning and everything was lively.

Before having our breakfast we went to the sheep farm. The view of the sheep grazing the grass was an addition to our journal of perfect scenes. We had breakfast with the strength of the sun, the shine of the morning moon, the songs of the wind, the rhythm of the river and the company of the most magical emotions in a single platter.

Epilogue

We left the valley by 10 in the morning. Did a little shopping while crossing the town and then reached our college by 7 in the evening. We intertwined paths with some super-friendly souls, jotted their stories, blended in the air of West Kameng and secured all those little moments of perfection in our personal diaries. That is exactly what a weekend getaway should be like and we thank for the time we figured out visiting Dirang despite all the risk analysis and negative consequences we calculated before leaving. After all, destiny had this miracle planned for us!

 

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