North-east, where, I know I can manage solo, having experienced the hospitality and respect in Sikkim, I was sure of same in remaining Six Sister States. Plan was set for Western & Central Arunachal Pradesh & a stopover at Majuli Island on the way back home. I had booked to & fro direct flight ticket from Mumbai to Guwahati & back through Jet Airways in January. Another friend of mine, agreed to join me, she booked the same flights, and we got the round trip for around 10K each. Also, the train travel from Jorhat Town to Guwahati was also booked by March.
Unfortunately, the Jet Airways crashed financially, and our flights got cancelled. Money got stuck there for some time. We were in March, direct flights were costing a bomb. Tweaked the plan through Kolkata, thereby keeping some hours to visit the nearby places around Airport. Hence, Mumbai – Kolkata, Kolkata – Guwahati, Guwahati – Kolkata flight was booked and to save some money, we opted for train journey from Kolkata to Mumbai. 3 Tier AC tickets, which was RAC by that time, was booked from Shalimar Station, because it coordinated with the Flight time.
Initial Plan was Mumbai- Kolkata – Guwahati – Bomdila – Dirang (Optional) –Whole day travel to Tawang – Tawang – Bum La – Bhalukpong – Itanagar – Ziro – North Lakhimpur – Majuli – Jorhat Town – Guwahati – Kolkata – Mumbai
I had procured the online permits for the above mentioned places through this website: https://www.arunachalilp.com/
Districts to be visited were West Kameng, East Kameng, Lower Subansiri & Papum Pare.
Ziro in Lower Subansiri District,
Itanagar, Naharlagun, North Lakhimpur in Papum Pare District.
Since, we would be crossing through East Kameng in between, I added that too in the permit.
Hence, to be on safer side, added all these districts while filling up the form online. Also, first time the form got rejected because in local address section, I had filled up Mumbai details of mine. Then, I read somewhere that hotel details would suffice. After scanning some hotels in Tawang, I zeroed in on Hotel Ajanta in Tawang and booked the same for 3 nights (also, praying it to be better one than the ones, I read horrible reviews about). I filled up the hotel address and numbers in the local address section of form and paid 200 for two of us, with additional Rs. 11 as service charge and submitted the form. This time, I got the approval and received confirmed online permit on my email.
The permit for Bum La (Here “La” means “’Pass”) and Sungestar Tso (Lake) has to be applied in Tawang itself. Hence, we carried copies of online permit, some passport size photographs and Address ID copies for same.
We left Mumbai on 24th May, Friday by dawn, 5.00 am Spice Jet Flight. I did not check in the tickets, instead did it at Airport and to our surprise, we got Spice Biz Class Seats. We kept smiling throughout journey and sometimes dozed in between. We reached Kolkata by 8.00 am. We kept our haversacks (total 22 kgs, mine was 13 Kg initially) in the basement luggage section (We enquired at the arrival & exit section) Rs. 20 for whole day, one has to share the next flight details with them, Photo ID and luggage should have a lock. We had our next flight at 3.15 PM, further to Guwahati.
Everyone here speaks in Bengali, being first timer to Kolkata and not much time to waste, we booked for Uber (Rs. 347), in few minutes, arrived at the Airport. Our first destination was Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, which was 13 kms away. We reached in half an hour, had local breakfast of Puri Sabzi, Kachoris etc. in the restaurant located just outside the Temple. Photography was not allowed at the Temple, all belonging had to be kept out at the entrance, locker room. Kaveri waited outside with my belongings, while I took a quick tour of the temple. The architecture is brilliant; also, there are many smaller temples with Shivling in the Complex. Photography was not allowed inside.
Dakshineshwar Temple is dedicated to Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali, meaning, ‘She who liberates her devotees from the ocean of existence i.e. Saṃsāra’. The colour and highlights on the temple looked crisp. The sun was scorching. Since, everything was handed over to my friend, I took almost half an hour to locate her without phone. We forgot to fix the place to meet. We decided to go for the Belur Math, which was on the other side of the Hooghly River. We asked for directions, took some photographs of the temple from the Water Pond (Kund) side and took left for the Ferry. It was at 500m distance. Charges for Ferry was Rs. 11/-.
After waiting for 30 mins, the boat was nowhere to be seen. We wanted to reach the Airport by 1.00 pm. Without wasting further time, we hired a local Yellow Ambassador Cab (Rs. 300) and rushed to the Airport. On the way, the driver entertained us with his Astrological stories, I kept nodding and laughing all the way, while my friend kept the conversation flowing. We took out our bags from the basement, dashed off to drop the luggage, I had already checked in for window seats. There was hardly anything visible outside, other than fluffy cottony clouds. We reached Guwahati Airport by 5.00 PM. We were guided to the taxi counter, instead I asked for the Volvos that leave for Paltan Bazar. I had read about high charges these taxis charge. Hence, I had planned for Bus. We got in the Bus (Rs. 90) reached Paltan Bazaar after an hour. I had read good reviews about Hotel Mayur (Rs. 925) at Paltan Bazaar and had booked it one day prior, directly on their website. Bus left us at Bus Stand and Hotel Mayur was located just outside the Stand. We checked in, Room was basic and clean. We freshened up, and went out to book the Sumo from Guwahati to Bomdila. In this region, all sharing Sumo leave early morning by 5-5.30 or maximum by 6.30, if you miss that, then whole day might go waste or you have to find another alternative.
We first enquired with Bus Stand stall; we were informed Shared Sumos were full, and for further travel, we need to reserve a Car costing around 5000. I asked him, if there is any other place from where, we can book. He said no, all are full. I was bit surprised and being stubborn, I told him on face giving him a mean look (LOL), we will find one and went out to explore the market. We saw a small Travel stall, enquired with him for Guwahati to Bomdila. Seats were available for Rs. 750/-. We immediately booked it. The guy also took us to the place (Zam Zam Bazaar) from where the Sumo would start at 6.30 am, next day. I realized some people are helpful and some are plain stupid like earlier one. We had our dinner at Mother’s Kitchen. The ambience was very good, located in the Market itself. We ordered Chicken curry with Bamboo shoots and Fried Rice (Bamboo shoots are local delicacy). We also, tried some local Fish Fry. Overall, the food was delicious.
There were many wooden handicrafts stalls on the roadside, we were browsing through some, when it started raining. We went back to the hotel, slept the night off with alarm set for 5.00 AM. This would be our routine for next 9-10 days.
We got up at 5.00 am and it was already bright outside. We hired auto for Rs. 50, reached Zam Zam Stand, watched our haversack go up on the Carrier of Sumo, being tied with Blue sheet on top along with other boxes etc. There were four of us on the back seat, rest of them (military guys) were picked up on the way from Indo-Tibetan Border Force Camp. Four in the middle and 2+1 driver in front, total 10+1. We started our journey at 7:00 AM. On the way, around 08:30 AM, Sumo stopped for Breakfast and later by 2:00 PM, again halted for Lunch. Everywhere, we usually had 1 Rice plate, which consisted of big bowl of Rice (enough for 2), some veggies, one bowl of chicken curry, daal, some chutnies etc. Even, breakfast options available everywhere was Rice Plate or Puri Bhaji / Maggi/ Chicken Momos.