It was pitch dark and we felt the cool breeze and temperatures plummet as we climbed towards Bomdila. The roads were slushy and it was getting difficult to ride in the dark. We were not habituated to ride on such roads at night, from the 20 bikes; all of a sudden we were only 3. The rest had halted. I was leading the team and at that moment another rider’s headlight stopped working, we decreased our speed and continued.Suddenly just before a turn, I lost control over the motorcycle and it skidded around 25meters before I regained control. The same thing happened with the other two riders behind me. We were frightened and rode more cautiously, but after this, our hearts were beating faster.
Let me rewind and start the story from Day 1!
DAY 1: GUWAHATI TO BOMDILA VIA BHALUPONG[320 km including hills of 80 km]
There was a flag off ceremony at the start in Guwahati. The riders also filled up indemnity bonds. We got our motorcycles there, filled up the tank. The motorcycle was a muscular hunk in comparison to the massive looks the company gave it. After the flag off, we started for Bomdila and as it was a smooth highway, we stopped just 50 km before Bhalupong for lunch. There we refueled our bikes and started the journey ahead towards Bhalupong. Just before Bhalupong, the place was beautiful and the weather superb. We stopped for security check and again started for Bomdila. It was dark around 5:00 p.m. and the roads beyond the check post were treacherous, full of slush and rocks. We reached Bomdila at 9 p.m. and called it a day.
DAY 2: BOMDILA TO TAWANG [185 km, roads were not good]
We started late from Bomdila. We were felicitated by the President of the Tourism Department of Assam and Arunachal at a monastery. They also made arrangements for our breakfast. After having a delicious breakfast, we left for Tawang. The roads were pretty good. By afternoon, we reached SelaPass, where we faced problems with the slush and the temperature dropped. We had Maggi and coffee, the taste was far better than how it tastes at home! It became difficult for us to travel further with so many riders and to cross Sela, but we somehow managed to move towards Tawang. Around 5 p.m. we reached our destination and straightway went to the hotel without any delay.
DAY 3: SIGHTSEEING IN AND AROUND TAWANG
We woke up late and went to the monastery to hear the soothing chanting, and also heard about the making of the monastery, and thereafter we went to the local markets. We interacted with the locals there. It was cold and our lunch was arranged at Hotel Dragon, a must visit for Chinese stuff in the town. We also visited a waterfall in Jung, being so cold there; few of the riders took bath and enjoyed the day sharing experiences with one another.
DAY 4: TAWANG TO BOMDILA [182 km]
We started the day with breakfast at the hotel. From there we moved to the monastery and took photographs and videos with the team and headed back to Bomdila. We didn’t find slush this time. It was all cleared by Border Road Organisation (BRO) and hence made our journey comfortable. We took the first break at Sela Pass, had coffee and biscuits and left again. We again stopped at the War Memorial and then at Dhirang for lunch. From there we left at around 3 p.m. for Hotel Native Inn and reached there by 4:40. Then we spent the entire day gossiping!
DAY 5: BOMDILA TO SEPPA [156 km]
Seppa is a beautiful place; it’s a small but very organized town.The people of Seppa are divided into five tribes, (Nyishi, Sajolong, Aka, GaloandPuroik). River rafting is arranged there in the monsoon.The road from Bomdila was not great. After around 60 km slushy roads and off-road started and hence we slowed our pace down. We slowly moved on and took 3 butt breaks and finally reached our destination at 4. A cultural program was arranged in which we also took part and had an amazing time watching the culture of Arunachal Pradesh.
DAY 6: SEPPA TO NORTH LAKHIMPUR [232 km]
We started late from Seppa due to a breakdown in our backup vehicle. The first 15 km was good tarmac, but just after that, we had a nightmare. There were no roads. We all made our way through slushy roads, which was very slippery and stopped for a tea break 90 km from Seppa. Then it suddenly started raining and it became even more difficult to ride. Few riders even got stuck in the slush, some had a fall. 80 km before Lakhimpur the slushy road ended and we headed towards Lakhimpur with of course bad roads but better than the ones we left behind. At last, we reached A2A Hotel in Lakhimpur at 8:30 p.m. We freshened up, had dinner and slept.
DAY 7:LAKHIMPURTO AALO[251km]
We started our journey late. We filled our tanks and headed to Aalo. The first 90km was highway so we didn’t have any problem. After entering the diversion point Aalo was 161km from there! After that we started clocking 15-20kmph, even had to stop for more than an hour for landslides at 2 places. It was 3:50 pm, we reached halfway and stopped for lunch at hotel Tulik and Aalo was 80km from there! We left the restaurant(it was clean and hygienic as well as the food was tasty) and headed on.There were actually no roads, the deadliest road I have ever ridden.As it was dark, visibility was low and the average speed came down drastically. Through forests we crossed, there was no one on the road. There were many diversions which made our journey more pathetic and we got delayed. At last, after a few water crossings, we reached our hotel at 7:30.
DAY 8: AALO TO MECHUKHA [182 km]
We started at 9:15 from Hotel Tashi and as my fuel level was low I rode at a moderate speed.Stopped after 50 odd km and fuelled up. We then started for the remaining journey and road was totally slushy and full of potholes. So we again stopped at a roadside dhaba and had amazing food and left for Menchukha. 87km to go! As we entered the township it was written (Switzerland of NE), but after visiting the township, I would rather say it’s the Switzerland of India!
After reaching the homestay, we were amazed to see the house and rooms made of wood and it was clean and decorated. We had campfire together and relaxed with some lovely music.
DAY 9: IN AND AROUND MENCHUKHA
We woke up late and had our breakfast and left to take pictures of the clouds, mountains and the village. We took a dip in the freezing water from the glaciers. After a bath, we visited the gurudwara, local market, few waterfalls, mountains and a monastery. In the afternoon we had lunch and again went to the market to buy stuff. Menchukha is paradise, the sky is clear with the mountains covered with snow and it’s windy the entire day. People were very helpful; you only can get home stays there. It’s a must visit place for everyone in a lifetime. There is paragliding available for a few months in the year!
DAY 10: MENCHUKHA TO AALO[182 km]
We left the place with a heavy heart, full of joyful memories and started our journey towards Aalo. We needed to pace up as the roads were not at all good. So we left for Aalo without breakfast and directly took our first stop at Tatoo. Then we stopped at the waterfall Enroute to take a shower and photos and directly reached Aalo at 3 pm and rested!
DAY 11: AALO TO NORTH LAKHIMPUR [301kms]
After a lot of discussion on the route, via Basra, Pa shighator Shivsagar! We finally left the hotel at 7in the morning and headed towards Pashighat which was under massive construction and had to travel around 305km. In which the first 110km was pathetic. After a tea break near the hanging bridge(45km before Pashighat) we continued our journey and crossed Pashighatat 12. From there we filled our tanks and reached Lakhimpurat 2without any further breaks!
DAY 12: NORTH LAKHIMPUR TO GUWAHATI[420kms]
This was the last leg of the journey; we started early as we needed to cover 400km and also to meet the legendary colonel at Missamari army camp, who is also a biker by taking a detour of 70-80km. We all were riding fast so as to cover maximum kilometers in minimum time! We stopped for breakfast and started for our destination via Missamari Army Camp. We were welcomed by the colonel and he showed us the entire campus. We had a few photographs with him and he had also arranged refreshments for us.We had a good discussion and the colonel also wanted to join us someday for the ride. As we were getting late we left the campus and started for the remaining kilometers to Guwahati. We reached our destination by 6 in the evening and were happy. The feeling that cannot be described in words.
Text & Photos: Shankar Murarka