“Tawang is a utopia” – I have heard this from an aunt who had visited Tawang some 10 years back. Yet she could vividly describe her experience even now. So, we two decided to pack our backpacks and head towards Tawang during the Puja holidays!!
Tawang has been a kaleidoscope to us. We sensed the Buddhist culture for the first time seeing the mighty Tawang monastery and the Buddhist monks. We could feel the tension of the people living so close to international borders by interacting with the local people. We felt proud of our Indian army who protects the borders in such inhospitable conditions.
The beauty of Tawang lies in its harshness. It is a rugged territory with very extreme climates. Even in October it was chilling. Tawang boasts of many interesting places, but what attracted me most here are the lakes.
Arunachal Pradesh has more than 806 high altitude wetlands, out of which almost 300 are present in the Kameng and Tawang district. These high altitude lakes serve as reservoirs for most of the rivers of Arunachal Pradesh.
In the rugged terrains, in the midst of a hill, suddenly you could see a patch of blue or emerald waters, just giving you the feel of an oasis. In our way towards the Sangetsar Tso, or more commonly the Madhuri Lake (named so after Madhuri Dixit had shot here her film Koyla with Shah Rukh Khan), we saw many small and big lakes, some with names and others whose names we could not know. Tawang truly seemed to me like a land of beautiful lakes.
The first one is the Sela Lake just as you cross the Sela Pass at 13,700 ft. and enter Tawang. The Sela Lake just gives you a glimpse of what Tawang holds for you. The crystal clear lake is sheltered by the majestic ranges of Eastern Himalayas. The place is extremely windy and cold. But we were quite enthralled seeing the lake inspite of shivering from top to bottom !
The Sela lake is home to a beautiful legend. It is said that during the Sino-Indian war in 1962, a heroic sepoy Jashwant Singh single handedly defended against the Chinese troops near the Sela Pass. A tribal woman named Sela used to bring him food and supplies. Jashwant Singh eventually achieved martyrdom while Sela is rumored to have killed herself on seeing the dead body of Jashwant Singh.
As tourist spots, you will be taken to the beautiful Madhuri Lake and P. T. Tso (Pankang Teng Tso) lake in Tawang.But there are lots more to see. Enroute these two spots, we encountered a few lakes whose name was not known, but their beauty was no less. As we left Tawang towards the Madhuri Lake, we saw a small, blue lake which our driver informed us that shooting of the film Koyla had taken place there. On the way towards Zemithang, we saw another beauty – a twin lake – two lakes side by side. The view completely bowled us over.
The climax to all these was the Sangetsar Lake or Madhuri Lake itself at an altitude of 12,000 ft. In the midst of mountains, lies the huge blue lake with trunks of trees jutting out of the lake.
The lake was formed in 1950 during an earthquake. It was a grazing ground previously. The earthquake resulted in geological shift and the lake miraculously moved from its earlier position to that of a pine forest. The entire forest was drowned except the tree trunks which are still seen amidst the clear lake. It is believed by the locals that the trees are still living!! The beauty of the lake is still afresh in our minds. The serenity of the place still haunts us. Even as I close my eyes and think, I am transported to another surreal world of magic and tranquility.
Tawang has a number of very alluring lakes – Kyo-Tso Lake, Kheset Tso, Tsobri Lake, Chanrezing Latso, Chomu and a few others. As you will be travelling around Tawang, you will be overwhelmed by seeing numerous exotic nameless lakes. If these were properly maintained and developed Tawang would boast of not only two lakes, but many other enticing tourist spots.
Another unnamed lake near Tawang
Tawang – Some facts:
How to reach:
Nearest airport: Tezpur
Nearest Railway station: Rangapara, Assam
By road: From Tezpur via Bhalukpong – Bomdila – Dirang – Sela Pass – Tawang
Best Time to visit:
March to October. Winters are harsh in Tawang. But if you want to see the beauty of the lakes, the ideal time to visit is October. Also monsoon is to avoided due to the road conditions. Winter clothes required throughout the year.
Things to see:
1. Tawang Monastery and other Buddhist monasteries; 2. Lakes; 3. Bumla; 4. Jung Falls; 5. Jashwant Garh; 6. War Memorial