93 months ago

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Guwahati to Dirang (Arunachal Pradesh)

Distance: 378.3 Km / 235.7 Mi Duration: 11:21:13


I did not ride yesterday as we (Indians) need an ILP (inner line permit) to travel within Arunachal Pradesh & Manipur. So Shahnawaz Zaffar (Hasan) got that organised for me (Kind of him to take time out & do it for me). Meanwhile the local chapter of Triumph riders met me and gave me a debrief on the land and topography which was very helpful. Arunachal Pradesh shares border with China & there is a dispute over this part of the land in AP. According to China the land was a part of Tibet but India has refused to accede the land and there is a huge military presence in this remote mountainous region. After a rest-day my clothes are clean thanks to Taj laundry. I am now mentally prepared to head to the remote mountain top called Tawang. The Chinese border is close and according to many its a very beautiful place. Since the terrain is mountainous and the roads very bad its not possible to make the trip in a single day. So the plan is to head to Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh via Tezpur.

5:30am I was out of Guwahati. It helps that Hotel Taj Vivanta is on the highway & hence without any difficulty I was out of the city limits. It was cold & foggy. Visibility at times was reduced to a kilometre. Roads were brilliant till Nangaon then the road condition took to worse gradually. The moment I turned for Tezpur it went to its worst phase. My speed reduced as the pot holes increased. The hills started to make its appearance on the horizon. I was entering an area where the winter was setting in and this was obvious with the shivers I was having in between. Thankfully I had lined my Riding Jacket in anticipation.

At Bhalukpong I encountered the check post for Arunachal Pradesh. Without a ILP permit one is not allowed to enter. Unfortunately for me there was an error in the ILP and hence I had to reissue the permit which is not a hassle to make. Fortunately for me the office which makes permit is only open between 10:00am & noon. They were more keen to know why I was travelling alone at this age. I had to reluctantly tell him that most people mature at my age and they become more responsible, I unfortunately am not among those. He acknowledged my words and said ride carefully do not behave like a 20yrs old on the road (on my face with all seriousness) I took my ILP & made a hasty exit.

Since this land is coveted by the Chinese & shares border with them hence one can see huge army presence. Various battalions have their HQ's here & one is used to seeing convoys passing by on the road. Thanks to them I dared to move ahead as the road conditions are deplorable. The old road has completely eroded into extinction, rains & avalanches have destroyed what time & age did not. So BRO - Border Road Organisation is redoing the entire road till Tawang thus riding was a nightmare. The average speed is around 15 kms/hr and sometimes a 5 kms stretch can take a hour. There are bottle necks at the avalanche areas but due to lane discipline it never holds up for too long.

The hilly terrain gives way to sheer drop on one side and one can see the small tendril of Kameng River flowing with deadly pace. The other end of the cliff is tree covered forest. One needs to be careful as avalanches are commonplace here. The road has many waterfalls that happen to fall on the vehicals. Thanks to this scenic occurrence the road tends to get slippery thus its advisable to stop before one crosses the wet patch. On the way one can see many army cantonment areas that are so beautifully constructed & maintained that makes one wish they were part of it too. I had two scary episodes one where a broken truck had blocked the entire path and I had to navigate over gravel & stone. Because my tyres were not gripping anything solid I started to slide backwards towards the cliff edge. Somehow I managed to stop the half-ton bike from its slide and managed to extricate my self off the mess with some help from a passerby. The other one was over a wet muddy patch which got my bike to sink in the mud due to its weight. It was also getting dark. So that was scary, I was lucky I did not get stuck.

My initial paln was to ride till Bomdila, a small town on the way and check into a hotel. Many people advised me to ride further 40kms to Dirang and check into a hotel there. It was supposed to be a more scenic place. I was losing out on sunlight, by 4:30 its twilight and 5:00pm its pitch dark. It would be nightmarish to be caught in these hills with no proper road and night chill descending. I reached Bomdila at 3:00pm and it would take hour and half more. It was already dark in the shadows and my fingers were numb in cold. I also encountered that scary muddy patch in this leg & was sceptical if I would make it in time. I reached Dirang with the sunset on its last leg and checked into Hotel Pemaling. I was also lucky to secure their last free room.

I halted for breakfast at 7:00am at Nagaon it was rotis with channa masala and potatoes fried with lots of chillies & some local chutney which was mind blowing. My lunch was a a very family fare cooked by a Nepali housewife which comprised of Dal, beans vegetable, cabbage, rice, chutney, chicken curry followed by tea and costed me INR 180/- The funny thing was that these people are refugees from Kathmandu, Nepal & they think that the locals of Arunachal Pradesh are Junglees (tribals) & thanks to the Nepalese the tribals now have a good life. This influx of refugees from Nepal has been one of the moot agitation point of the locals. Sometimes the tempers do flare but as of now they are living together & thriving. Thou there is a lot of undercurrents.

I have decided not to ride my cruiser on this road anymore as its not meant for mountain/jungle riding condition. I have many more miles of Northeast to cover hence tomorrow I am hiring a car to Tawang & will be back dayafter to collect my bike. On my return I plan to hitch my bike on a carrier truck till Tezpur so as not to damage it on the way back.

Total distance covered today 382 kms Total Distance from Bombay 5772 kms

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