A 7 Day Travel Guide and Itinerary for Arunachal Pradesh : Experience the Land of Dawn Lit Mountains

A 7 Day Travel Guide and Itinerary for Arunachal Pradesh : Experience the Land of Dawn Lit Mountains
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The land of dawn lit mountains, Arunachal Pradesh, with its vast forest cover, pristine valleys and snow capped Himalayas, is one of India’s best kept secrets. Arunachal Pradesh is located in the North Eastern tip of India and is bordered by three countries, Bhutan, China and Myanmar and two Indian states in the south, Assam and Nagaland. This state, though has gained some popularity among travellers in the recent past, owing to the famous Ziro Festival of Music, it is still far from commercialisation as compared to Himalayan destinations in the northern part of India like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Roads of Arunachal Pradesh

Travelling to Arunachal Pradesh is about setting on an adventure in true sense where travellers encounter multiple layers of history and culture, learn to communicate straight from their hearts and learn to enjoy the wilderness. One would not find luxurious stays across the state but can expect to put up at home-stays run by locals having basic amenities where safety and hygiene is ensured. In several places, camp sites are also available where travellers could spend a night, enjoying barbecue and bonfire under starry skies.

 

 

How to enter Arunachal Pradesh : Permit and Process

It may be noted that Arunachal Pradesh shares its borders with China which is the primary reason why entry to the state is not kept unmonitored for travellers. There are two different processes for Indian and Foreign Nationals to obtain the entry permits, which are explained below.

 

Indian Nationals

  • Indian citizens are required to obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to enter Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Your itinerary should be finalised before you apply for the permit as the permit will be issued based on districts you mention. Please note that your itinerary must follow any of the 12 tourist circuits created by the Arunachal Pradesh Tourism Board.
  • An eILP can be acquired from this portal or it can also be obtained from Guwahati Airport.
  • You would need scanned copies of your Identity proofs and passport sized photographs to apply for the ILP.
  • The Inner Line Permit is of two kinds, one for single applicant and the other is for groups where the details of primary applicant are to be entered.
  • An ILP is issued for a maximum period of 30 days.
  • The fee is charged per person per district you are visiting. You can expect to pay a few hundred for the permit.
  • You have to enter the name and contact number of a local reference. You may speak to your homestay owners beforehand and use their reference. All of them are aware of the drill and are helpful.

 

Foreign Nationals

  • Foreign Nationals are required to obtain a Protected Area Permit (PAP) to enter Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Even with a valid PAP, foreigners are not allowed to visit certain areas in the state. Thus, a proper research is essential.
  • Please note that your itinerary must follow any of the 12 tourist circuits created by the Arunachal Pradesh Tourism Board.
  • The PAP is to be acquired manually from the Deputy Resident Commissioner Office of Arunachal Pradesh located in Guwahati. You’d have to pay a fee of $50 in the office.
  • It is important to note that a PAP is only issued to groups, if you wish to travel throughout the state. For solo travelers, the permit is only issued to travel to Ziro Valley, Tawang and Bomdila. You may look for other group of travelers to obtain the full permit.
  • The office functions between 10am to 5pm and applications for obtaining a PAP are accepted only till 2pm.
  • A local reference and their contact number is a must. You may speak to your homestay owners beforehand and use their reference.
  • An alternative option is to apply through a travel agency to save your time and energy and in case you are unable to find a group as a solo traveler. However, expect to pay a few extra thousand rupees if you go by this process.

 

Best Time to visit Arunachal Pradesh

The best months to visit Arunachal Pradesh, and follow this 7 Day Arunachal Pradesh Itinerary, are April-May and October-November. The weather is pleasant during these months making your travel quite comfortable.

High altitude regions like Tawang, Sela Pass etc. would be covered in snow during the winter months. So if you are comfortable to travel through spine chilling cold and fancy to see a white Arunachal, winter is your month. But make sure you check the weather forecast beforehand to avoid roadblocks or any other mishaps.

In order to make the most of your Arunachal Pradesh Sightseeing Trip, you should avoid the monsoon months that last between June to September.

 

A detailed 7 day itinerary to travel to Arunachal Pradesh

 

Day 1 – Guwahati to Bomdila

The first day of your travel shall necessarily contain two segments. First, to reach Guwahati and second, to travel to Bomdila from Guwahati. It is advisable to arrive in Guwahati by early noon so that you have enough time to get to the bus depot and find yourself a bus.

 

How to reach Guwahati?

    • Fly to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport in Guwahati.
    • Take a train to Guwahati.

How to reach Bomdila?

    • From Guwahati Airport or Railway Station, head to ISBT bus depot from where you can find overnight buses to Bomdila.
    • You would reach Bomdila the next morning.

 

Day 2 – Explore Bomdila

As you reach Bomdila on the second day, check in to your hotel/homestay and freshen up to start the day and explore the town.

Bomdila Monastery

Where to stay in Bomdila?

 

What to do in Bomdila?

Surrounded by various snow capped peaks, Bombila is a scenic destination situated in the Eastern Himalayas. A home to various indigenous tribes, Bomdila is a place where you can explore the monasteries, go hiking and walk through the apple orchards and valleys covered with flowers.  

  • Visit the Bomdila Monastery built in 1965, divided into Upper Gompa, Middle Gompa and Lower Gompa out of which the Upper Gompa is the biggest one located on a steep hill.
  • Hike up to RR Hill, the highest point in Bomdila to enjoy the spectacular and panoramic views of Bhutan and Tibet.
  • If you still have some time to explore, you may take a vehicle to head to Eagle’s Nest Sanctuary, 20 kms outside the town. If you are interested in bird watching, you should definitely not miss this place.
  • Head to the apple orchards to take a stroll and also buy some apples for yourself.

 

Day 3 – Bomdila to Tawang (Explore Sela Pass and Sela Lake enroute)

This leg of the journey might not work too well if you are travelling solo. You can only stop at Sela Lake and Sela Pass if you have reserved a vehicle all for yourself, not a feasible option for a solo traveller. The cost splits in a group.

Sela Pass, the second highest Motorable Pass in the World
Sela Lake

There are shared sumos that cost around INR 500 till Tawang. The journey might take somewhere around 8 hours. Solo travellers can also  manage to tag along with other groups to share the costs of a reserved vehicle.

After arriving in Tawang, spend the evening walking through the mystic streets and gazing at the snowy peaks of Eastern Himalayas and sleep early to compensate for the tiring journey.

 

Where to stay in Tawang?

The arrangement of vehicle to travel to Bum-la Pass and the various lakes must be done on this day itself so that permits can be easily obtained.

 

Day 4 – Explore Tawang

Tawang is one of those places to which photographs and words do no justice explaining the beauty. It is a remote settlement at an altitude of 305 meters, set against mighty Himalayas, dotted with glacial lakes, it is rightly known as the hidden paradise. Though situated in the extreme corner of the country, it is well developed in general. There are plenty of options to stay, many restaurants to eat at.

You can divide the two days in Tawang into nearby locations to visit, which can be covered on foot and the ones situated a bit far off, like Bum-la Pass, for which you’d require a vehicle.

Tawang Monastery
  • Start the day by visiting the Tawang Monastery, the biggest monastery in India and second largest in the world. A three storied monastery situated at a height of 3000 meters is no less than a scenic wonder. Explore the library the old scriptures to learn about Buddhism.
  • Head to Urgelling Gompa, a rather small but historically significant monastery which is the birthplace of the 6thDalai Lama.
  • Visit the Tawang War Memorial, which commemorates the martyrdom of 2140 Indian soldiers of Indo-China War. You can also check the souvenir shop beside the War Memorial.
  • In the evening, head to the cosy cafe, Dharma Coffee House and browse through their books.
  • Relish on a sumptuous dinner at Dragon or Orange Restaurant Lounge Bar.
Entry Point to Tawang District

If you wish to book a vehicle to take you to all of these places, you may opt for the same. A Tata Sumo can charge you between INR 2000-3000 for the whole day, depending on whether it is the peak season or not.

 

Day 5 – Bum La Pass, Sangetsar Lake, Panga Teng Tso Lake

On this day, you are all set to travel to the wilderness and travel towards Bum La Pass, the Indo-China border. A Tata Sumo generally takes INR 5000 for the entire day to take you to these places. It works fine when you are travelling in a group but not for solo travelers. People traveling solo may tag along with another group at the taxi stand. Talk to the drivers or your hotel management beforehand so that they may be able to suggest you about other groups who are moving ahead on the same direction. There are bike rentals as well which is the best bet for all adrenaline junkies. However remember that the terrain is extremely rough so set out in a bike only if you are experienced enough.

Way to Bum La Pass

You need a permission from the Office of the Deputy Commissioner in Tawang District to go to Bum La Pass. Situated at an altitude of 4633 meters, it is a place where Indian Soldiers guard the country. The Pass is historically and culturally significant as well for it is known that Dalai Lama had entered India through this Pass.

Visit the famous Sangetsar Lake, more famously known as Madhuri Lake, named after the actress Madhuri Dixit as she had shot a few scenes of a movie in this spot. Also, stop by the beautiful Panga Teng Tso Lake. These lakes remain frozen during winters.

The Panga Teng Tso Lake

 

Day 6 – Tawang – Bomdila – Tezpur

It is your last day in Tawang and you have to travel a long distance on Day 6 of this 7 Day Arunachal Pradesh Itinerary. Start early from Tawang so that you reach Bomdila by noon. To be on the safe side, book a seat in the shared vehicle a day earlier so that you don’t get pushed to the last seats which is very uncomfortable. The fare for a seat in Tata Sumo is INR 500 to reach Bomdila. You can stop in Bomdila for a while and have your lunch there. There are buses that start in the evening for Guwahati.

In case you do not manage to get a direct bus from Bomdila, you may break the travel at Tezpur. In that case the travel looks like this : Bomdila to Tezpur (Tata Sumo) and Tezpur to Guwahati (Bus). If you are opting for this alternative, you may spend the night in Tezpur and travel from Tezpur to Guwahati the next morning.

 

Where to stay in Tezpur?

 

Day 7 – Fly Out from Guwahati

To be on the safe side, book a flight that is scheduled post 3pm from Guwahati. If you are taking a train, that too, should be scheduled in the second half of the day. This is to ensure that any unavoidable delay on the way from Bomdila/Tezpur to Guwahati does not affect your final leg of the journey.

 

Arunachal Pradesh 7 Day Itinerary – Summary

Day 1 : Guwahati to Bomdila

Day 2 : Explore Bomdila

Day 3 : Bomdila to Tawang (explore Sela Lake & Sela Pass)

Day 4 : Explore Tawang

Day 5 : Bum-La pass | Sangetsar Lake | Panga Teng Tso Lake

Day 6 : Tawang – Bomdila – Tezpur

Day 7 : Tezpur – Guwahati | Fly out from Guwahati

 

Arunachal Pradesh is so vast and so diverse that a week long itinerary only allows you to experience a part of this beauty. There are various other places like Ziro, Aalo, Pasighat, Itanagar which requires another week of travel to get an idea of the versatility of the state. 

North East is a region which has been in the radar of discerning travellers for a while. You May check through these blogs to plan more of travel in North East India.

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