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Fri, 20 Jul 2018

Northeast Today

Biker Diary: Guwahati to Tawang

Biker Diary: Guwahati to Tawang
May 29
15:30 2017

April Edition, Travel, Mayur Mahanta

Tucked away in the frigid valleys near the snow clad Himalayas in Northwestern Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang, is a place that had captured my heart. A visit to Tawang is more like a pilgrimage, rather than just a trip. In February 2017, I on behalf of the #RideAlongWithMRF community set out for a sponsored ride to Tawang. The 555 km journey, amidst a picturesque lansdscape and breathtaking sights is a delight for both biking enthusiasts and nature lovers. Each stretch along the journey provides a unique experience, mingled with thrill, adventure, serenity and spirituality.

Guwahati – Tezpur

The brisk chill of the morning makes the 200 km 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, 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

The ride from Tezpur to Bhalukpong reminds me of the Nurburgring. Long, endless straights, technical corners, S-bends, chicanes and more, all with a heavenly view of the mountains in the horizon makes you feel like riding in Europe. 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 country road. Zero visibility at the Neciphu Pass may hamper your speed, but take a break to visit the Nag Mandir temple, so you can take in the wonderful view, as your bikes tick peacefully to the chirping of birds.

Dirang to Sela Pass

The lesson in geography continues, as we head to something that looks straight out of our textbooks.  Over a 60 km patch of road, you will start from 4910 ft MSL (mean sea level) 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 a cafeteria to warm yourselves up over some bad jokes and a hot cup of tea.

Sela Pass

With 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 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 fought by the Indian Army to fend off 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.

Tawang monastery

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, 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. The lake 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.


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