Submitted by: Akunthita Gogoi
My last jaunt to the mountains happened when I was a postgraduate student, striving to get through the final semester of university. Of all the trips that I have been on since my childhood, this is perhaps the one that shall remain etched in my mind for years to come. Probably because this time, I was on my own, without any reliance on my parents, who otherwise were my regular travel companions. To mark a glorious end to our academic life, I, along with seven of my friends, decided to visit Bum La Pass in Tawang a.k.a the land of the Monpas.
Walking down the memory lane, I can still reminisce that foggy morning when we set out on our journey uphill, whizzing past lush green fields and viridescent tea-gardens. Our first stop was Dirang, a small town mostly used by tourists for an overnight halt on the way to Tawang. At the crack of dawn the next day, we started our ride to our destination with rapturous anticipation. Our Tata Sumo advanced through serpentine roads flanked by mist-covered pine trees and grassy slopes, enveloped by wildflowers poking their heads from bushy undergrowths. With the first rays of the sun scattering across the valley, Mother Nature came to life. The panorama that lay ahead was purely breathtaking, gradually captivating me with its mystic aura.
But this was just the beginning; the best was yet to unfold. It was 5 am in the morning when we began our drive to Bum La Pass, situated at the Indo-China border. It is located about 37 km away from Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh at an elevation of 15,200 ft above sea level. Known as one of the most popular tourist destination of Arunachal Pradesh, the pass remains covered with snow almost throughout the year.
Muffled up in our woolens, we were all geared up to fight the chilling cold. As we drove through the treacherous terrains, we discovered the seamless grandeur of nature.
A frozen lake atop the mountains that led to Bum La Pass
Once we reached our end-point and stepped out of the car, all I could see was long stretches of boundless snow. The glistening white almost seared my eyes with its incandescence. While I stood there transfixed inhaling the salubrious breeze, I was somewhat taken aback by the enormity of the landscape encircling me. I suddenly felt like a minuscule entity, as against the surreal backdrop.
It is indeed fascinating how nature can be both pleasing and appalling at the same time. If only we cared enough to acknowledge its many favors on mankind instead of exploiting it callously for our own selfish gains.
It was altogether a novel experience for me travelling on my own for the first time, as much as it was thrilling to have explored a mesmerizing place with my troop of venturous comrades.