Temples, Chortens and Gompas: Buddhist communities and their landscape
Day 1 Arrive in Guwahati, where you will be met by your driver and guide, and transfer to your accommodation. In the afternoon, time permitting, there will be an opportunity to visit visit Kamakhya temple, Kalashetra and its museum, plus the state emporium. Overnight in Guwahati.
Day 2 In the morning, continue the sightseeing in Guwahati not completed on Day 1. In the afternoon, drive to Nameri National park, crossing the mighty Brahmaputra by road bridge. Overnight in Nameri National Park.
Day 3 Today we have the choice of either taking a restful day in the beautiful grounds of our eco-lodge accommodation, perhaps enjoying a short walk along the banks of the Bor-Dikorai river, or otherwise opting for our guided activities.
If you choose our guided activities, you will rise early for breakfast and then cross to the far banks of the Bor-Dikorai river by canoe for a short jungle nature trek. In the afternoon, we have the option of taking a raft for 13km downriver, looking out for any wild animals or exotic birds coming down to the water’s edge. Overnight in Nameri National Park.
Day 4 Cross the border into Arunachal Pradesh and drive northwards into the mountains to reach Bomdila, taking a detour through the mountains to visit the donyi polo Sherdukpen tribe villages of Rupa and Chhilipam. Take time also to visit the beautiful Buddhist monastery of Sang-Ngoy Choekhor Dargyeling and take in the staggering 360 degree views across the mountain tops from its upper terraces. Overnight in Bomdila.
Day 5 Today we take an excursion to visit the traditional local market and Buddhist monastery at Nafra before returning to Bomdila. Overnight in Bomdila.
Day 6 We continue our drive northwards detouring to visit the 1000-year old Monpa tribe village of Thembang, believed to be the oldest village in the region, perhaps dating back 2000 years, in time for the annual Thembang festival. Overnight in Thembang.
Day 7 Monpa village tour: we continue our drive, pausing at a succession of traditional Monpa villages, such as Gunthung, Panama and Namshu, before we finally reach Old Dirang. Here, we visit the historic Khatsikpa Gompa, beautifully sited on a ridge overlooking the town, then descend on foot past ancient mani walls and stupas to the restored historic Dirang Dzong, from where Tibetan officials once collected taxes. Finally, we take a stroll through the village itself to admire traditional Monpa houses. Overnight in Dirang.
Day 8 Still we continue northwards, driving over the lofty Sela Pass (4170 m/13,700 ft) and passing by the beautiful Sela Lake, believed by Buddhists to be just one of 101 lakes in the area. We then descend into the Tawang Valley past the spectacular Nuranang Waterfalls, pausing to visit Jaswant Garh, a monument to rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat who performed great acts of bravery, eventually losing his life, during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. We finally reach the town of Tawang itself, the heart of the Buddhist community in Arunachal Pradesh. Overnight in Tawang.
Day 9 Today we spend a whole day exploring Tawang town and the region around. We pay a visit to Tawang Monastery and its remarkable museum which displays unique Buddhist artefacts dating back to the time of the seventeenth century Dalai Lama and even earlier.
We visit two nunneries, first Jangchup Choling Nunnery, reached by cable car, then Thukje Chueling Nunnery, and finally the fifteenth century Urgelling Gompa, reputedly the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. We will even find time to do a little shopping, with visits both to the local market and to Tawang Emporium. Finally, time permitting, we will visit the remarkable memorial to the 1962 Indian War with China. Overnight in Tawang.
Day 10 Our excursion today takes us 90km to the north of Tawang to visit the venerated historic Gorsham Chorten, said to be the second most important chorten in the world. Based upon the famous Boudhanath Stupa of Kathmandu, as well as the less well-known Chorten Kora in east Bhutan, it draws pilgrims from near and far.
On our way, we pause to admire spectacular views westward into Bhutan, picking out small village houses across the border, some 30km away. Beyond Gorsham Chorten, we visit the traditional Monpa village of Zemithang. On our return, we keep our eyes open for monkeys which frequently emerge from the jungle and sit by the wayside hoping for contributions towards their evening meal. Overnight in Tawang.
Day 11 Today we set off from Tawang and retrace our route southwards through the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh, driving as far as Dirang. Overnight in Dirang.
Day 12 Today we conclude our journey south, driving out of the mountains from Dirang back over the border and onto the plains of Assam to reach our beautiful accommodation, the historic Wild Mahseer, set in the midst of the verdant Addabarie Tea Estate. Fronted by a massive lawn interspersed with mature trees, decorative beds blooming with seasonal flowers and dotted with wooden benches, this is a perfect refuge for visitors who are keen to re-create the experience of the old-world British planters’ lifestyle.
Day 13 Today we drive to Guwahati, breaking our journey in Tezpur to enjoy some of the city’s cultural legacy. We will visit picturesque central park of Chitralekha Udyan, dotted with carved stonework dating from the earliest settlement of Tezpur, and the ancient Hindu temples of Ganeshgarh and Mahabhairav, time permitting. Overnight in Guwahati.
Day 14 We transfer to the airport.