This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to a pro traveler and blogger, Sharanya Iyer who blogs under the trulynomadly.com. So sit back and enjoy as Sharanya takes us places!
Today's destination: Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh (29km from the Indo-tibet border)
Nearest Airport: Lilabari (North Lakhimpur) and Guwahati (Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport)and Mohanbari (Dibrugarh) both in Assam
Nearest Railway Station: Silapathar (Assam) and Naharlagun (Arunachal Pradesh)
Prerequisites - Inner line permit or ILP, can be obtained online (http://arunachalilp.com/
onlineApp.do) or at the Guwahati airport.
Packing - Warm clothes and rain jackets/rain coats are advisable.
Time of the year - April
Length of the itinerary: 4 days
- Sharanya starts off her journey from Guwahati, from where she takes the Lachit express to the border town of Murkongselek, Assam. She then hailed a shared taxi to Pasighat at Ruksin gate (where one has to produce the ILP).
- A 4 hour cab ride to Along or Aalo is the first overnight pitstop, also the last major hub before the border town of Mechuka.
- She starts off for Mechuka the following morning in a shared sumo at 530AM(it's best to book the seats before hand, ideally the previous day)
- The last major village before hitting Mechuka is Tatu. The Siko Dido waterfall is a notable point of interest about half hour before reaching. She finally reaches Mechuka by about 230PM after a long sumo ride.
- For accommodation, Sharanya uses the services of Gebu Sona, one of the most popular home stays in the region (Gayboo's guest house).
- After relaxing for sometime and freshening up, Sharanya set out to explore the town, the market area and the new monastery. It is preferable to hire a car to see around the village and nearby points of interest.
- Make sure to pick up some lovely boots and woolens for a bargain, while checking out the market!
- While at the homestay, get a first hand experience of an open kitchen, where everyone participates in chores and sits around the fire.
- Delicacies include a number of beef and pork dishes. Chhang beer is a local millet based beer!
- Rain plans to play spoilsport on Day 2 of the itinerary but turns out Sharanya has a bunch of activities to keep her entertained at the homestay. This included hanging out with the Bruce-Lee look alike and the locals.
- The rain gods show some mercy the following day and Sharanya heads off to a small trek up the Samten Yongcha monastery, the 400 year old monastery that is older than the Tawang monastery. The monastery has a big Tibetan influence and has a number of traditional masks and Buddha statues.
- The view from the monastery is a stunning mix of browns and greens of the rolling hills, blues of the river and whites of the snow capped mountains and clouds!
- After spending some time at the Monastery, Sharanya and Gebu descend downwards, passing through beautiful rickety hanging bridges over the Yargyap Chu river (Also known as the Siyom river in some places)
- The next pitstop is the Sikh Gurudwara built on the Yargyap Chu river, built by the army. Sharanya shares some stories and a meal with the armymen while sharing the Langar.
- She moves on to the place where there is a Hanuman mandir and naturally formed sculpture of Hanuman! Sharanya also gives a try to making home-made jewellery at Gebu's house to end the day!
- On the final day of the trip, Sharanya makes a trip to Dorjeeling village to a small monastery that houses a huge Buddha statue and then made a quick hike to a small cave which has a head impression that Buddhishts believe is of the spiritual teacher Rinpoche while the sikhs believe is that of Gurunanak while he was meditating at this cave.
- Sharanya is introduced to a number of legends right from the crevasse in the cave to the little pools with the white, black and grey stones!
- Mechuka also manages to turn Sharanya into a poet, no kidding!
In a valley far far away,
There flows a river with a voice.
Through lush forests and meadows and snowy mountains it goes,
Under rickety hanging bridges and over rocky beds it roars.
It talks and hums and merrily sings,
Tales of lamas and tribes and other ancient things.
Those were peaceful times before the world was hungry for power, it croons,
No borders or wars or territorial violent loons.
Om Mani Padme Hum, it chants as the valley echoes it back,
The vibrant prayer flags flutter in the wind, flap flap flap.
No one honks here to chase a deadline or come first in a race, it says aloud
There‘s patience and goodness here,
look there it is, floating with that misty cloud.
You’re blessed to be here, cut away from the trappings of time and a to-do list,
Paradise has been found in hiding, it does exist.