A Road Trip to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh

Tata Magic had its own limitation. It was not equipped for a steep climb. So, we had to stop a couple of times to let the engine cool off. Finally, when I reached the place where the Innova was parked. It was almost dark. Everyone was inside the Innova keeping the door locked and the parking light on. After seeing me, the way they celebrated that was not less joyous than the celebration of the French football team after winning the FIFA World cup. When chips are down then only we realize how much family members care for each other.

The driver of the Tata Magic advised us not to leave the Innova there. That place was completely forlorn and it would not be safe to leave Innova there. He told that somehow, we had to get the car to some shop/house. Since we did not have any spare tires, we interchanged the front and rear tires using the torch of our mobile phones.

It was decided that I would slowly drive the Innova till we reach a suitable place to park it. My Brother-in-Law will be along with me. The Tata Magic would come behind the Innova with the other six members and the entire luggage.

We found a small shop when we had more or less reached Balemu. We requested the shopkeeper for permission to leave the Innova in front of his shop. He agreed. So, we left the Innova there. I do not know how eight people and entire luggage did fit in a Tata Magic. But Tata Magic did magic literally.

We reached Bhairabkunda market around 8 pm. Barring a few, all others shops had closed for the day. There was no streetlight in the market. It was absolutely dark. We started searching for a bigger vehicle frantically. Finally, after half an hour’s effort, we managed to get a Winger. The owner cum driver was ready to go to Guwahati for Rs. 6000/-. We immediately hired it without any bargain.

The mobile network became become available sometime after leaving Bhairabkunda. I called the car rental company and informed them about the problem. We called up our relatives at Kolkata too. On the way, we had our dinner at a Dhaba. At someplace on the highway, there was a huge traffic jam. So, the driver took a village road. When we reached Tranqville Guest House at Guwahati, it was another day.

Finally, the eventful but not so memorable day came to an end. We thanked our stars and slept off.
 
Our return tickets were booked on Saraighat Express on 10th May. We kept 9th May as the buffer day.

In the morning, we went to Kamakhya Temple. It was fairly crowded. Parents managed to go inside the main temple on account of being senior citizens. The rest of us offered prayer to the Goddess from outside. I did take some photos of the temple but misplaced the same while transferring the photos from my mobile to my laptop. The rest of the day was spent settling the matter with the car rental agency. So, we could not see anything else in Guwahati. I guess we were not that keen also. Nobody wants to have Dal-Roti after having Biriyani (no offense to the vegetarians).

Saraighat Express departed from Guwahati Station at right time on 10th May. Thus, our beautiful trip came to an end.

This is our first trip to North-East if we do not include Sikkim. Arunachal Pradesh has mesmerized us with its amazing beauty. So I hope, this is the beginning of the journey to explore the North-East more.


We had a heated argument with a car rental agency. It seems that they do not have their own fleet. They hire the same from private individuals and then in turn give it on rent to people like us. So, they were not ready to take responsibility for any safety-related issue. In my opinion, this is unacceptable. We demanded a partial refund of the rent paid by us. But they refunded only the deposit amount. I guess, they also had to spend some amount from their pocket to get the car down from the hills.

They charged us Rs. 24500/- for 9 days. I guess Innova for self-driving would be available @ Rs. 2500/- day. So, they overcharged us Rs. 2000/-. I was aware of that from the beginning but had no other option. We booked the car at the last moment and only they were offering Innova. We had to take Innova because we were an 8-member team.

The car rental agency is 'Awe Rides'. Now, I jokingly call them 'Awful Rides'. When I searched in Google, I found three agencies in Guwahati (other than Zoom Car) which give cars on rent for self-driving. As per customers' feedback, their ranking was the lowest. But I had to go with them because of the reason stated above. They also provide bikes for rent and it seems bike customers are happy.

Our total fuel bill was ~ Rs. 8,300.

So far, I can recall, we did not have to pay any toll anywhere.

For Tawang to Bumla and Sangetsar Lake, the local driver charged Rs. 5000/- all-inclusive though we finally could not go to Sangetsar Lake. Had we booked for Sangetsar Lake only, it would have cost us Rs. 3,000/-. PT Taso Lake is on the way and therefore automatically gets included in the package.

Accommodation:

Bomdila: I did not take any noting. Since Bomdila has many hotels, you can go there without any pre-booking

Tawang: We stayed first 2 days at Hotel Menda-La Fooding & Lodging (82579 61910). We took 2 triple bedrooms and 1 double bedroom. For the triple bedrooms, they charged Rs. 1,700/- per day and for the double bedroom they charged Rs. 1,500/- per day. The food there is a bit expensive.

We stayed at Hotel White House (84020 41966) for the next 2 days. We took 4 double bedrooms there for two days. For each double bedroom, they charge Rs. 1,500/- day including breakfast. In breakfast, they offer limited items but it was useful and effective. The lunch/Dinner rate is quite reasonable, Rs.80/- per Thali.

Among both the hotels, I prefer the White House because of the view it offers and the quality of the room. In addition, it is easily accessible from the Highway and a bit outside the market and therefore, relatively peaceful.

Since Tawang has a number of hotels, you can go there without any pre-booking. There are multiple eating options in Tawang Market.

Dirang: In Dirang, we stayed at Hotel Snow Lion (84149 95556). We took 2 triple rooms and 1 double room there. All the rooms were on the 1st floor and front-facing. They charged an overall amount of Rs. 8,800 on a room-only basis. There, the room rate varies as per floor and facing. The food there is a bit expensive. It seems that they encourage having food at the hotel.

Since Dirang does not have many hotels, it is better to go there with pre-booking. There is Hotel Pemaling (82589 19962). I first tried this hotel over the phone but the room was not available. It is just before the entry of Dirang almost a km away from the main market center at the Bomdial side. Since it is not in the market and on the highway, in my opinion, it offers the best view among all Dirang Hotels provided you get value facing room.

There is hotel Samdup Khang. This is just beside Hotel Snow Lion. It does not offer any view it seems. Since I did not try there, I do not have their phone number.

The most expensive hotel at Dirang is Hotel Norphel Retreat. At the time of our travel, they were charging Rs. 4000 per double bedroom. It is on the opposite of the Dirang river on the elevated river bed. Since it is very near to the Dirang River and has a lot of open land surrounding it, it definitely offers a pleasant staying experience. But it is a little away from the Dirang market and it would be really difficult to access the market from there in the dark.

While roaming in Dirang, I noticed Hotel Diarng Resort: dirangresorts@yahoo.co.in; himalayan-holidays@usa.net.

While traveling in Sangti valley, I saw a board of a homestay 'Lanjom Homestay' (82588 27576/ 094362 25154)
 
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