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Thread: Central Arunachal Self-drive Exploratory Expedition, end March 2012

  1. #1

    Smile Central Arunachal Self-drive Exploratory Expedition, end March 2012

    Self-drive Central Arunachal Exploratory Expedition, 2012 [ Kolkata - Alipurduar - Bongaigaon - Ziro - Kurung Kumey [ Koloriang ] - Dapo - Nacho - Along - Mechuka - Yarlung - Yingkiong - Tuting - Gelling - Passighat -Dibrugarh -Guwahati - Siliguri -Kolkata ]///aka/// Safari Dicor 2.2 LX VTT-TMT 4.5-year Grand Ownership Travelogue




    The one and only Safari VTT-TMT, it's always ready to roll out and enjoys as much as we do! - at Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh
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ID:	3195March - April is the time when son's school session ends and a drive was always on and we hovered between the South Sikkim to Binsar Munsiayari side of Uttaranchal, but as always the decision all came down to 4.5-year journey companion Safari VTT-TMT.

    With a 80k km of fantastic journeys and always put out on big journeys with minimum of preparation, we reasoned out that with whatever warranty all over after the 4-year big Kashmir and Zanskar journey and but then still going strong, it is always better to push another exploratory expedition out still as everything is stock and still somewhat good like the shocks [pretty dicey they were almost at 80+ km now] and belts and whatever old in that VTT.

    As always with office work, at the very last moment Central Arunachal was decided [the other destination considered was Mizoram] Permits and even minimum basic Safari maintanence work was not possible, everything was done en route - permits were done at Tezpur, Assam, just before entering Arunachal and Safari front wheel bush change was done at Daporijo, Arunachal. More about these later.



    So, as I start this much delayed travelogue of our April 2012 trip to the Land of Dawnlit Mountains, Arunachal Pradesh, many memories of our past travels with our Safari VTT-TMT come up. And reading one travel article, I though I could very well use this Adventure Matrix

    We could rank trips on a two axis chart. One axis would run between expedition and jaunt and the other between adventure and routine. I drew up the chart to see what it would look like.

    On the chart, point “A” is something like a walk to the store, and point “B” is something like climbing K2. I find this chart interesting, because you can use it to figure out exactly what your trip is. If it has features of an expedition more than a jaunt, move point “C” towards expedition. If it’s routine, move point “C” downward. If it’s adventurous move the point up. At some point, you can determine what you think your trip is. It could be a routine expedition, an adventurous expedition, a routine jaunt or an adventurous jaunt




    n the past 4.5 years, more or less our journeys have been in B and C segment and that included the still vividly remembered journeys of the 1-year ownership fantastic travel to Kinnaur, Spiti and Lahaul and going to some places were few tourists venture to, and then the amazing overnight journey across the absolute desolate NH6 towards one of most remote and part Maoist affected forest of Orissa [Sunabeda] and the unbriddled joy of finding a hidden waterfall with blue waters and a white sandy beach in the middle of the forest, to the tribal lands of Southern Orissa and Chhattisgarh to unknown forest of North Bihar and of course two of the best journeys done till now the drive to Demchok along that high altitude plateau during our Ladakh Oct 2010 trip and then the Zanskar and the unknown Kashmir trip of October 2011. This trip too goes into that axis segment between B and C as we explored some of the best unknown places of Arunachal.

    And of course, if you are interested in writing more info to your amygdala [ http://www.travelstory.in/threads/18...t-October-2011 ] - no better place than the remote and lesser known areas of Central Arunachal.


    Now when we think of Arunachal, 99% of us is going to say of Tawang and Bomdilla. Of course nothing to take away from the places as we had gone previously during our Western Arunachal trip which also included the lesser known Bum la and Eagle Nest sanctuary. But till there is more to this fantastic state and exactly that is what we were up to as we [Bamba, Asmita and I] rolledout on 17th of March from Kolkata towards Arunachal with only a vague idea of directions and as most of the times no GPS - it is too cumbersome for me!!

    Arunachal being a vast state by itself, we had previously for our sake of travel as thoroughly as possible have divided it into 3 areas -


    1. Western Arunachal - which we covered last time during our December 2009 journey [ http://www.travelstory.in/threads/10...d-Nameri-Assam ]

    2. Central Arunachal -- the regions that we covered during this March-April 2012 journey

    3. Eastern Arunachal - this will be covered next as and when possible and will include Roing, Anini, Hayuliang, Kibuthu, Changlang and Namdhapha


    Mighty River Siyom, Interior West Siang, Central Arunachal
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    As always all preparations were done at the last 2 days due to my work situation and even permits were done en route with a 4 hour stoppage at Tezpur, Assam, before we entered Arunachal.

    And of course a bit about Safari, though definitely I know these lines are repetitive from my previous travelogues but then that's the way it is still now!

    It was on October 15, 2007 when the Tata Safari 2.2 VTT LX was bought, within a day of its release, and it thus became the first VTT on Team-bhp and the very next day we went for a 2500 km journey of North Bengal and thus started our tryst with the Safari.

    This 2.2 has had a flawless performance, confidence in it has grown by leaps and bounds -- The way it safely brought us back each and every time from some of the most hostile lands. And contrary to all the premonitions from the false prophets of doom, the 2.2 VTT has and still continues to keep the cynics at bay!!


    The VTT in March 2012 was in its 4.5-year of ownership and with son's school session end holidays - a fantastic trip was what we all eagerly looked forward to -- and as always and again Safari VTT-TMT safely brought all of us[wife, our 7-year-old child, and me ] back to base, as always, going through some of the quite remote and extremes of terrain in one corner of our country.




    Safari VTT-TMT - Yingkiong and beyond, Upper Siang, Arunachal
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    And of course this or none of the past journeys would have been possible, without them enjoying and looking forward to each and every day of the trip.

    The Wanderers - Asmita and Bambi - at end of road at Yarlung, West Siang, Arunachal

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    contd...
    The Wanderers.in

  2. #2
    Arunachal Pradesh, land of dawn-lit mountains, also known as the land of rising sun is the eastern most state of India - let us go through the district map of the State to get a clearer idea.

    District and places of Arunachal


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    As part of our Central Arunachal travel we covered this time the districts of Lower Subansiri, Kurung Kumey, Upper Subansiri, West Siang, East Siang and Upper Siang.




    runachal Pradesh: A part of the eastern Himalaya range and situated in the north eastern tip of India bounded by Myanmar on its east, Bhutan on the west , china on the north and north east.

    *The largest state in the north east that covers an area of 83,743 sq.km with evergreen forests covering more than 82 percent of the state.

    *Average rainfall of above 3000 mm per year and climate variation from the sub tropical in the south to Alpine in the north.

    *Inhabited by 26 major tribes and a number of sub-tribes.

    *Thinnest population density in the country with only 13 persons per sq. km.

    *Home to more than 500 varieties of orchids.




    Due to the rush of my preparations whereby even permits were taken out en route at Tezpur, we did not have any of the bookings either at Inspection bungalows or at hotels in district headquarters - as always we relied upon our luck and of course the goodwill of the local people and administration to fix up something for us and as always things did fall into place!!

    We left on March 18, 2012, from Kolkata towards Arunachal for what came out to be defining 4500 km journey.

    The schedule


    [start of travel]

    Kolkata - Siliguri - Bongaigaon [Assam] - An overnight journey, reaching Murthal at noon due to an mind stupefying traffic jam on the Durgapur expressway at the middle of the night. It took 10 hours to travel 250 km and all the advantage of leaving at night was gone.

    Bongaigaon - North Lakhimpur [Assam]

    N Lakhimpur [Assam] - Ziro [Arunachal]

    Ziro - Koloriang [Kurung Kumey]

    Koloriang - Ziro

    Ziro - Daporijo

    Daporijo - Nacho - Daporijo


    Daporijo - Along


    Along - Mechuka

    Mechuka - Yarlung - Mechuka

    Mechuka - Yingkiong

    Yingkiong - Tuting

    Tuting - Gelling - Tuting


    Tuting - Passighat

    Passighat - Dibrugarh

    Dibrugarh - Guwahati

    Guwahati - Siliguri - Kolkata

    [end of journey]





    As we were without any GPS, in the another post I will use wikipedia tracks to show our journey tracks and all kms will be approx or whatever comes from memory.




    With a kid and with no booking or permits even, Safari VTT-TMT as usual was filled up to the brim

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ID:	3224And what we had in:

    1. 2 Suitcases

    2. 4 Bags.

    3. Blankets and mattresses on that bunk bed

    4. 1 Stove

    5. 1 Portable Fireplace

    6. 20 L Mineral Water jar

    7. Towing rope and battery jump start cables.

    8. A sack of few utensils, and rice and dal ration if emergency stuck situations/days.

    9. Small items like hand bags, flask, etc.

    10. Another extra tyre that we always have since our Ladakh+Changthang trip - so 2 spare tyres are there for the journey.
    The Wanderers.in

  3. #3
    Before I start posting the highlight pictures, one thing you might like to know or even better may if you had not known!

    If by chance there is an accident or you hit the other person's vehicle, be it a car or motorcycle out there, particularly in the interior areas, there is a standing custom in those parts that you buy a new vehicle. yes- you read it correctly! As such everyone's vehicle is spanking new I tell you. And in that sparsely populated land out there in the interior Arunachal that is the best option in fact - it costs quite a hassle to come down to Assam again and go through the processes of either claiming insurance to fixing it up. In fact you would see once in a while vehicles lying in shallow gorges, yet not recovered - its too troublesome of logistics to take those out! And met a Bengali businessman settled in Assam who picks up the condemned vehicles at dirt cheap prices and sells the parts over at Assam at a good profit.

    So on learning this either you feel squeamish on every turn or passing motorcycle - and all of the bike guys carry guns for hunting or like me just horn feverishly at every turn.

    However, the good thing is that almost everyone drives sanely and that is till the day time. Night time things change somewhat!


    Anyway for now let some highlight pictures of Central Arunachal roll before we start on the journey and details. Each image tells a story of place that we visited or a person whom we met and as always got the best of support the most simplest of tribal hill person out there to the accommodating officials as we turned up in the evenings with no bookings or such.

    The journey should ideally have been done another month or so before as by end of March the rains start and we in fact got rains the majority of the days - photography was thus mostly done on the hurry or from inside the Safari, plus strenuous drives of 10-12 hours was the norm every day with a target to reach before the sunset comes over. As said, better to have a place to stay before the night comes over in interior Arunachal.


    Kolkata to Bongaigaon - 950 km approx. Entering Assam through Alipurduar Sreerampur border via NH31-C.

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    But the trip being decided just a day before, it was chaos at ground zero [home] at night before the journey start. Few printing online maps were done as possible and the laptop LCD conked out, a monitor itself was carried.
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    And a day-time Fantastic drive along the North Bengal forests and tea gardens
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    But then it was late evening just as we entered Assam via Sreerampur border and all good roads ended. Also noted how all trucks now seemed headed towards Bengal and none towards Assam after night fall
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    Whatever you do not enter Assam first of all in the evening and definitely not through the Sreerampur border, it is absolute desolate, few police check posts and absolute pitch dark with no facilities. Road is just about made in patches as the snail-pace double laning construction continues for years now. Definitely go via the Cooch Behar border and all knows about the shortcut via villages just before the border post of Boxirhat to avoid the long jams.



    Along half constructed NH31-C after we enter Assam via Sreerampur border - pitch dark night with absolute desolate territory, never take this road at night. As we are a bit tensed up, remarkable as son is blissful and goes on singing and drawing session.






    Safely reached Bongaigaon after some tense drive in the night. Checking out of the Bongaigaon hotel early morning, next day.
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    On towards North Lakhimpur, 500 km from Bongaigaon, for entering Arunachal via Kimin border
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    Early morning beyond Bongaigaon
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    With no pre-check maintenance done due to the sudden travel, wheel alignment was done at this early morning tyre shop which also had a tea shop attached. So breakfast and alignment all done on a fine drive morning.
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    But again due to this sudden travel, no permits. Stopped at Tezpur, Assam, for on-the-spot permits as we both played football during lunch recess hours.
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    Permits done, we headed towards N Lakhimpur - North Assam is beautiful with great roads, tea gardens and clean and neat fenced houses
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    Reached North Lakhimpur at night and as the transport section is over, travelling at night will not do justice any more. So a stop a N Lakhimpur and checking out in the morning next day for a entry to Arunachal via Kimin border.

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    contd...
    The Wanderers.in

  4. #4
    North Lakhimpur, Assam, to Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh, via Kimin and Yazuli
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    A tea factory at the border area of AS and AR
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    And finally into Arunachal through Kimin check post

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    With transport section over, it was a slow drive with stops in between
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    Joram Top before Ziro
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    Entering Ziro, Arunachal
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    contd...
    The Wanderers.in

  5. #5
    At Ziro



    Beautiful Ziro in late March, the last of clear days that we got in this trip

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    With no reservations, tried luck at the circuit house and....
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    also at this resort among other better known hotels, all booked either by foreign visitors or locals due to a local festival going on at that time.
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    Finally got a room at this budget hotel, not an impressive one but okay like. Clean rooms that's all that is needed.
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    Whiled away our time roaming around the town....
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    as the day ends, we look forward for the big unknown journey next day to the district of Kurung Kumey, towards Koloriang
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    contd...
    The Wanderers.in

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