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Philip Game | profile | all galleries >> India (14 galleries) >> Road trip to Tawang, NE India tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Road trip to Tawang, NE India | Manipur, NE India | Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh (4 galleries) | Gujarat | Mumbai (Bombay) | Haridwar, India | Rishikesh, India | Pushkar camel fair, Rajasthan, India | Uttarakhand, northern India | Rajasthan: Jaipur | Rajasthan: Udaipur, Kumbalgarh and beyond | Agra | Slowly down the Ganges | Delhi, Old and New

Road trip to Tawang, NE India

India’s wildest and least explored state, Arunachal Pradesh (‘Land of Dawn-lit Mountains’) rises abruptly from the Assam plains as a mass of densely forested, steep hills, which eventually top off as snow-capped peaks along the border of Chinese-occupied Tibet. Much of the state still remains beyond tourism’s reach, but new areas - lush river gorges and craggy mountainscapes - are slowly being opened to visitors.

It took the surprise Chinese invasion of 1962 for Delhi to start building roads up here(the Chinese voluntarily withdrew). These days, border passes are heavily guarded but the atmosphere is generally calm. Compared to some neighbouring states, Arunachal remains relatively untouched by political violence.

Led by the intrepid Tadar Robin of Mercy Tours & Travels from Itanagar, three foreign travellers set forth on this epic road journey, over 400 km each way, from Guwahati, capital of Assam State, and began the climb up into the Himalaya. After two full days of jolting along what could easily be called the worst road in the world, we emerged into a landscape of magnificent blue mountains guarding the ancient town of Tawang.

Tawang is notable for its large and venerable Buddhist monastery, founded 1680 AD and perched on a ridge 3,000m (10,000 ft) above sea level. Reaffirming their close cultural ties to Tibet, the local Monpa people were preparing to welcome - with great enthusiasm and extravagant festivities - a visit from His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Lama, a much-revered Rimpoche or reincarnation, according to Tibetan Buddhist belief.

Most of these images were taken with Nikon D300 using RAW format, and are available for licensing. Please visit www.travelgame.org or my blog.

24 Feb 2017. Thanks to the courtesy of an Indian Army officer who found my mobile (cell)phone at a roadside halt, and mailed it back to me, I can now add a few images captured on that device.






Cutlery rack at a roadside 'hotel'
Cutlery rack at a roadside 'hotel'
Cook at a roadside 'hotel' (a diner)
Cook at a roadside 'hotel' (a diner)
A small hillside town, one of many
A small hillside town, one of many
Climbing into the ranges above Dirang
Climbing into the ranges above Dirang
Memorial cairn above the Tawang highway
Memorial cairn above the Tawang highway
All-woman road gang takes a break
All-woman road gang takes a break
Snow-dusted peaks approaching Se La
Snow-dusted peaks approaching Se La
A meeting of the minds...
A meeting of the minds...
At the Se La (Se Pass) at 4120 metres or 13,700 ft
At the Se La (Se Pass) at 4120 metres or 13,700 ft
Visitor amenities at Sela Pass
Visitor amenities at Sela Pass
Entering a gompa (temple) on the Se La
Entering a gompa (temple) on the Se La
Morning fog rises from the Tawang Chu Valley
Morning fog rises from the Tawang Chu Valley
Buddhist flag on the roadside...
Buddhist flag on the roadside...
Upper slopes of the Tawang Chu Valley
Upper slopes of the Tawang Chu Valley
Tawang Gompa perches above Tawang at 10,000 ft ASL
Tawang Gompa perches above Tawang at 10,000 ft ASL
Mon people in the Tawang town centre
Mon people in the Tawang town centre
The Big Day Out: do these two represent a different tribal group?
The Big Day Out: do these two represent a different tribal group?
Back streets of Tawang
Back streets of Tawang
Tawang bedecked with banners for the Lama's arrival
Tawang bedecked with banners for the Lama's arrival
Inside the main gate of Tawang Gompa
Inside the main gate of Tawang Gompa
Entrance to the Dukhang or prayer hall of Tawang Gompa
Entrance to the Dukhang or prayer hall of Tawang Gompa
Inside the Dukhang or prayer hall of Tawang Gompa (Buddhist monastery)
Inside the Dukhang or prayer hall of Tawang Gompa (Buddhist monastery)
Inside the Dukhang prayer hall
Inside the Dukhang prayer hall
A corner of the Tawang Gompa prayer hall
A corner of the Tawang Gompa prayer hall
Painted panel at Tawang Gompa
Painted panel at Tawang Gompa
Prayer wheels at Tawang Gompa (Buddhist monastery)
Prayer wheels at Tawang Gompa (Buddhist monastery)
Gyangong Ani Gompa, a small Buddhist nunnery, outside Tawang
Gyangong Ani Gompa, a small Buddhist nunnery, outside Tawang
The abbess of Gyangong Ani Gompa makes tea in the nunnery kitchen
The abbess of Gyangong Ani Gompa makes tea in the nunnery kitchen
Inside Gyangong Ani Gompa (Buddhist nunnery)
Inside Gyangong Ani Gompa (Buddhist nunnery)
Monpa woman of Tawang, NE India, dressed in her best
Monpa woman of Tawang, NE India, dressed in her best
Old Monpa lady, Tawang
Old Monpa lady, Tawang
We came to town to see the holy Lama...
We came to town to see the holy Lama...
Villagers arrive to celebrate the visit of the distinguished Tibetan lama
Villagers arrive to celebrate the visit of the distinguished Tibetan lama
The 17th Karmapa Lama, a Tibetan lama revered as an incarnation of the Buddha
The 17th Karmapa Lama, a Tibetan lama revered as an incarnation of the Buddha
Ritual dance honouring the visit of the Karmapa Lama to Tawang
Ritual dance honouring the visit of the Karmapa Lama to Tawang
Ceremonial 'yak' dance for the visiting Karmapa Lama
Ceremonial 'yak' dance for the visiting Karmapa Lama
Massed dancers welcome the Karmapa Lama to Tawang
Massed dancers welcome the Karmapa Lama to Tawang
The Karmapa Lama's rapt audience
The Karmapa Lama's rapt audience
Memorial to casualties of the 1962 war with China
Memorial to casualties of the 1962 war with China
Gilded Buddha commanding a hilltop above Tawang
Gilded Buddha commanding a hilltop above Tawang
Monks at a monastery en route prepare to welcome the Karmapa Lama
Monks at a monastery en route prepare to welcome the Karmapa Lama
Young and old at Chillipam Gompa
Young and old at Chillipam Gompa
Yet another army convoy...
Yet another army convoy...
As the road descends, the forest becomes distinctly tropical
As the road descends, the forest becomes distinctly tropical
Hairpin bends on the Tawang road
Hairpin bends on the Tawang road
Monkeys cavorting in lowland forest, Assam
Monkeys cavorting in lowland forest, Assam
Marshalling the cows, a daily chore
Marshalling the cows, a daily chore
Village mother and child, Assam
Village mother and child, Assam
Nameri Eco Camp, Assam - our last night on the road
Nameri Eco Camp, Assam - our last night on the road
Crossing the mighty Brahmaputra
Crossing the mighty Brahmaputra