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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Arunachal Pradesh - Visiting the North East (Part-VII)

Enchanting Himalayas around Tawang

View of Tawang from the road above
After having visited the places within Tawang, we chose to explore the areas situated above Tawang. With its cascading waterfalls, and glistening snow-white peaks, Tawang brings you closer to Mother Nature and was the most memorable & enchanting exploration of this tour. However, except for the Bramhi Ani Gumpha, foreigners are not permitted to travel to this part of the district. The inner line permit issued to the Indian citizens are also strictly checked and regulated beyond Tawang township area.
Brama Dungchung Ani Gumpha

View of the monastery tankha paining inside
Brama Dungchung Ani Gompa – The road above Tawang bi-furcates, one leading towards the Ani Gompa and the other towards Sungester or Madhuri lake and Bumla. The Monpas have a tradition of nunneries called "Ani Gompas". Traditionally at least one girl from a family joined an Ani Gompa. However this practice no longer exists. The nunnery is situated about 5 Kms. towards north & above the Tawang township and also called the Ganden Thekchen Choeling. This nunnery was founded by a Buddhist monk named Kachen Yeshi Galek in 1826. The main prayer hall of the monastery houses the images of Lord Buddha, Avalokesetesvera etc. The nunnery houses about 40 nuns.
View of the Panggang Homa Tso or Heart Shape Lake
Panggang Homa Tso – After retreating back to the point where the road bifurcates, we proceeded towards the famed ‘Sungester or Madhuri Lake’. We were directed to produce the ‘Inner Line Permit’ at the entry check post and only after due verification, permitted to proceed ahead. The first of the first alpine lakes (Tso in local parlance) that we encountered was called the Panggang Homa Tso which literally translates into Grassy(Panggang) Lower(Homa)Lake. Because of its shape, this lake is also known as the ‘Heart shaped Lake’. The view from this lake is ethereal and the view of the Ghesi La (La in local parlance means Mountain) & distant Sela Pass juxtaposed against the valley stuns your senses.
Panoramic view of the P T Tso or Panggang Teng Tso
Panggang teng Tso – This alpine lake is situated about 14 Kms. from Tawang at an altitude of 4100 meters or approximately 13,500 feet and literally translates to Grassy Meadow Lake also popularly known as the P.T Tso. The lake is situated almost 100 to 150 meters below the main road and being at such height, the air is rarefied with low oxygen content and therefore, it is not advisable to trek down to the lake side, as the ascent back to the road becomes really laborious and on quite a few occasions (as told by the driver), tourists have had to be rendered medical aid. The view is really spectacular of a big lake juxtaposed against the deep blue sky and monstrous mountains in the backdrop with Yaks grazing below. The area beyond are replete with small alpine lakes of all shapes & sizes and the locals tell you that there are about 108 such lakes in the vicinity.
View of the Nagku La Tso

Nagku La Tso– A few kilometers beyond P.T. Tso likes the lake whose name literally translates to Snake Mountain Lake. It is a small lake which is guarded by a small mountain spur on one side but offers a beautiful view because of its overall natural composition of the surrounding landscape.
View of the surreal Sungestar or Madhuri Lake
Sungester Tso The ascent continued for another few kilometers upto a junction from where the road again bifurcates, one going toward the Lake and the other towards Bumla. After making another round of entries at the check-point, which is situated at about 14,500 feet the road started descending towards the lake which is about 42 Kms. from Tawang. This lake has become all the more popular after shooting of a dance sequence for the movie ‘Koyla’ (starring Shah Rukh Khan & Madhuri Dixit) in 1996 and has since been rechristened as ‘Madhuri Lake’. The original name of the place was Jong-nog-tseir and was a grazing ground for cattle, till a lake was formed in 1973, after an earthquake caused a mountain side to slide down and block the road of the stream flowing through it. The trunks of bare trees standing in the middle of the lake like its sentinels provides for a surreal visual.
Chum chung Meadow or Dung flower

Jumguyu Meadow
Beyond Tawang as the nature is still preserved in its primordial form and is replete with a variety of alpine vegetation endemic to this area. Some of the interesting flora was apart from the Rhododendrons of various hues & colors, some flowers which were growing in abundance. One such flower that covered entire hill sides was a yellow colored flower on small herbs which the locals call as the Chum Chung Meadow, which literally means as the dung (Chum Chung) flower (Meadow in local parlance means flower). Another flower that abounds in the area whose fruits are also edible, is a white colored flowering shrub called the Jumguyu Meadow.
View of the rivulet that feeds Sungester Lake
During this trip, the driver who was not only reasonable in his rates, but also a thorough gentleman, called Tolo (Mobile Phone No.09436678726), who took only Rs.1500/- from us for this particular trip. He met us outside the Taxi stand and was a complete contrast with the other drivers who were quoting Rs.2500/- upwards for the same trip and Rs.1000/- for destinations within Tawang, whereas he had charged only Rs.600/- for the same. I am putting a word on his behalf because such persons need to be encouraged against those who only seek to fleece & exploit the tourists.
Despite the photographs that I have placed in the travelogue, nothing beats the moving images captured through video, you may enjoy the visual treat -

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