Tenga Valley is heaven for mountain mongers. The serenity of the valley will take your breath away. The calming crackle of the freshwater streams running by and the alluring view of the mountains is exactly what a traveller’s heart needs. It is one of the few places in India that will surely give you a break from your monotonous life (especially city dwellers).
Tenga Valley is a small but strategic military base camp in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. The beauty of this region is breathtaking. Providing some magnificent views of the snow-clad mountains, Tenga Valley leaves a traveller in awe of nature around.
With Buddhism entrenched deep into the culture of the locals, Tenga Valley has some remarkable monasteries that one can visit. The patriotism of the Indian Army personnel who are standing day and night to protect us, in the freezing cold is something that will inspire and make you proud. Explore the beauty of the Tenga valley and stay here for a day or two. This scenic break is bound to leave every nature lover in absolute awe.
Tenga Valley: An Overview
Tenga Valley is an offbeat travel destination and not many people know of it. Therefore, here’s a brief overview of the valley that will help you understand the place better.
|Best time to visit
March to May and September to November
During peak season, the weather is pleasant (inclined towards the cooler side).
Tezpur, Bhalukpong, Chillipam Monastery and Bomdila Monastery.
|Mode of Travel
By buses or cabs
Tezpur (143 km away)
The stream, the gates & passes, and the monasteries
|Cost of the entire trip
8-10K INR for two people (3 days)
Vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is available. Also, the street food is delicious.
Carry warm clothes
Do not drive on your own
Do not look for newspapers there. You will not find any.
|Safety for women
Since Tenga valley is a strategic base for military purposes, it is quite safe for women and men. However, one must take precautions against animals like snakes.
While contemplating the idea to travel, my first instinct was to go with my father who is in the Indian Army and has travelled extensively. So, after his suggestion, I decided to go backpacking in Arunachal Pradesh and to be more specific – in Tenga Valley.
An interesting thing to mention here is that I didn’t need any permit because I went there on Army Quota, where I stayed at Army camps and Army settlements. However, I will tell you the entire procedure of how a civilian can go backpacking in and around Tenga Valley.
Arunachal Pradesh shares its boundary with Bhutan, Myanmar and China. Therefore, the state is extremely important from the point of view of security. Any person who is not a resident of the state of Arunachal Pradesh is required to procure a permit to enter the state. Indian citizens need an Inner Line Permit (ILP) and foreign nationals need a Protected Areas Permit (PAP) for the same. You can read the detailed procedure, fee and other requirements for the permits in this blog.
Domestic tourists can obtain an ILP for Arunachal Pradesh both online and offline. Foreigners are required to obtain a PAP once they get an Indian visa. A foreign national cannot apply for the PAP online. The detailed process of getting an ILP and PAP for Arunachal Pradesh is given here.
The tourism department of Arunachal Pradesh has identified 12 circuits for tourism in the state. Tenga Valley lies in the Tezpur-Bhalukpong-Bomdila-Tawang Circuit.
When travelling by car, you need an Inner Line Permit which can be obtained from Arunachal Bhawans situated in different states in India. On receiving the permit, two people can travel for a maximum of 15 days. Although they give the permits after 3 days of applying for it, apply a week prior to be on the safer side. The permit is made available at a very nominal cost.
The roads in the valley are very narrow. It takes an expert driver to travel through the area. I would recommend people to not go on their own vehicle.
How to Reach Tenga Valley?
Tenga Valley lies en route to Tawang, which is a very popular tourist destination of Arunachal Pradesh. There are three ways of reaching the valley. You can choose anyone based on your preferences. No matter what route you choose, you can reach your final destination i.e. Tenga Valley only after a bus/cab ride. It is tiring to reach Tenga valley, but the beauty along the way makes the journey worthwhile. It’s is an amazing view. One gets to see the mountains on one side and a stream running by on the other, and you forget all about the bumpy rides.
In order to reach Tenga valley, the nearest domestic airport is Salonibari Airport at Tezpur, Assam. The Tezpur airport is directly connected to Kolkata and Guwahati through Air India flights. The closest international airport to Tenga Valley is Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati. Not only is this airport connected to major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, but also to International cities like Bangkok and Paro.
If you want to enjoy the full experience, you should take the road transport bus to Tenga Valley. The Arunachal Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation or APSRTC and other private operators run buses from Tezpur, Bhalukpong, Nagaon, Itanagar and other towns and cities to Tawang. You can choose to get down at the Tenga Market stop. You can also find cars and SUVs to From Tezpur.
The nearest railway station from Tawang is Rangapara Railway Station at the Sonitpur district of Assam. It is located at a distance of 32 km from Tezpur Railway station. Rangapara railway station is well-connected to most of the major cities and towns of Northeast India.
On Road via Bhalukpong- Tenga Valley- Tawang Route
As already mentioned, I went to Tenga Valley with the Indian Army. So, right from Tezpur, the journey was eventful and fun. A lot of jokes and games were played on the minibuses. Tezpur is a cantonment, which is a military town. The road which we took was rough once we entered the Himalayan ranges.
The roads in Tenga Valley are narrow. Due to this, only one vehicle can pass at a time. The exhilarating experience was to see the convoys passing. The convoy is led by radar jammers and the civil vehicles have to wait till the entire convoy passes by.
The roads are very narrow and they go up the mountains twirling around them. The valleys are very very deep. In case of accidents, it gets difficult to look for the survivor.
What is the Weather like in Tenga Valley?
Being at a height of almost 6500 feet above sea level, the weather of Tenga Valley ranges from very cold to mildly cold to pleasant.
|Summers (March – July)
Temperature ranging between 18 and 28°C
|Monsoons (July – September)
Cooler with occasional heavy showers
Temperature ranging between 17 and 24°C
|Winters (October – February)
Temperature ranging between 0 and 18°C
Although some may suggest March to September as a good time to visit Tenga Valley, I would suggest skipping the peak rainy season. Although rainfall here is moderate, there can be few occasional heavy showers disrupting your travel plan.
As a traveller, you should ensure that you’re wrapped up well in woollens, no matter what the month. Else, you will most certainly catch the flu.
You can also see the difference in timings as compared to the rest of the country. You will realize why Arunachal Pradesh is called, “Indian Land of the Rising Sun”. The sun sets and rises very early here.
Things to do in Tenga Valley
Tenga Valley is an ideal place for relaxing in the lap of nature. Since not many tourists choose to halt here, the place is relatively unexplored. Apart from enjoying the amazing weather, following are the places you must explore:
The Temple in its present shape was built in 1966. It is located on a small hillock just before entering Tenga Valley en route to Tawang. The temple offers some amazing views of the valley.
Most inhabitants of the West Kemang district and Tenga Valley are Buddhists. You will see some of the most beautiful monasteries in Arunachal Pradesh. The best aspect of monasteries in Tenga Valley is that they are perched high up in the mountains. Not only do you get to experience Buddhism first hand, but you’re also able to soak the divinity of the environment around. With fog surrounding the monasteries, the view is simply breathtaking.
Chilipam Monastery is one such place to be visited near Tenga Valley. Situated at the top of the hill, Chilipam Monastery is only an hour’s drive from Tenga Valley. The real name of the monastery is Sang Ngag Choekhar Dargyeling (Zangdokpalri) Monastery. The monastery has beautiful Tibetan and Buddhist artwork and architecture. Its bright colours only add more colour to the beautiful valley. This two-floor monastery has plenty of artefacts to look out for. The monks are kind, and you can have some interesting conversations with them.
Chindit Top or Ruchum Pam is a small village in Tenga Valley you must visit if you are here.
Shop for local products in this small market including fresh fruits and vegetables.
The waterfall is located at zero point near Tenga Valley and is visible from the road.
You can enjoy fishing Kameng River.
What to Eat?
Looking at the gastronomic history of Arunachal Pradesh itself, it has influences of traditional North-Eastern dishes with a blend of Monpas. The best form of food can be found on its streets, which is rich and flavourful.
Tenga Haat can take you on an amazing food ride. They serve some of the best dishes in town.
It is a spicy porridge which can be eaten with vegetables or smoked meat. The indigenous spices add a very tasty flavour to it.
The famous Thupkas is undoubtedly the most delicious thing to go into the stomach. With its roots in Tibet, Thupkas have a noodle base that is available in vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian versions. Basically, meats or vegetables are shallow-fried with strong flavours like ginger, garlic and spring onions, making it perfect for winters.
Gyapa Khazi is another version of Biryani with fermented cheese, chillies and dried fish or prawns.
As dangerous as the name sounds, it is actually a pancake that is eaten with tea. It is made from buckwheat (kuttu), fermented alcohol and water kept overnight to make a batter. Its taste intensifies with butter.
The very well-known momos are made by stuffing minced meat or vegetables into a dough, and steaming them in a steamer or frying them. Served with chilli garlic sauce, momo is a delicious snack. The pork momos were the best I ever had.
Other Places to visit near Tenga Valley
There are a number of places one can explore near Tenga Valley. Some of the best ones are
Situated at about 8 km from Tenga Valley, Rupa is a picturesque town. The Chillipam Monastery is closer to Rupa (11 km approx.) You can also choose to visit it along with the Rupa Valey. The town also gives you the opportunity to visit Shertukpen people – an ethnic group related to both Aka and Mongpa tribe. They live in villages near the town.
Bomdila is located at a distance of 19 km from Tenga Valley. With beautiful monasteries, apple orchards and Kangto and Gorichen Peaks, Bomdila is a must-visit for travellers. The places to visit in Bomdila are:
Bomdila Monastery – This monastery is considered to be the exact imitation of Tsona Gontse Monastery in Tibet and is a must-visit.
Bomdila War Memorial and ViewPoint – The War Memorial shows the exact location of the 1962 war fought at Bomdila. The ViewPoint is one of the highest points in Bomdila, and it offers the best view of Nechipu Pass.
Upper Gompa & Lower Gompa – The lower gompa is located right near the main road, and the upper gompa is located uphill at a distance of about 1 km from the main road.
Craft Centre And Ethnographic Museum – It is a place where you can shop some traditional and cultural artefacts.
Eagle Nest Wildlife Sanctuary
It’s an amazing place for bird lovers with more than 450 species of birds to look out for. These include Hawks, Eagles, Kites, Vultures, Cormorants, Woodpeckers, Tragopan, Herons, Black Stork, White Ibis, Pheasants, Quails, etc. The sanctuary is also home to mammals like gaur, elephants, leopard cats, Himalayan bears, wild dogs, red pandas. Bhutan giant flying squirrels, slow loris, etc.
Make it a point to visit this place. Carry your binoculars for spotting the birds
Tippi is located near Bhalukpong. You can visit the Government Orchidarium here which has more than 500 varieties of Orchids.
Bhalukpong is a small and unexplored town. Here, you can indulge in trekking, river angling and river rafting. You can also visit the Pakke Tiger Reserve here. You can either go on a day visit r choose to stay at one of the forest lodges. However, make sure you get in touch with a local tourism office at Bhalukpong before visiting.
Sessa Orchid Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is located midway between Bhalukpong and Tenga Valley. You can find a lot of orchid varieties here. You can also witness first-hand farmers involved in Orchid farming.
You can stay overnight in this lovely town and visit these places
1. National Research Centre on Yak – You can visit this research centre which is located just above the main town. You can also visit a yak farm at Nyukmandung about one-hour Dirang.
2. Hot Water Spring – It is located about 1 km on the way to Tawang. A bath in the Sulphur-rich hot water spring is very rejuvenating
3. Sangti Valley – Take a walk around the apple orchards and admire the exquisite flora and fauna
4. Kalachakra Gompa – This is the oldest monastery in Arunachal Pradesh and is over 500 years old.
5. Dirang Dzong – Ths 17th-century fort was built to protect Bomdila from the adjacent states. It was also a prison in the 9th century.
Thembang Fortified Village
The village is an ancient village with high historical and cultural significance. It was once the headquarters of Thembang Bapu’s territory, who was the direct descendant of the King of Tibet. Surrounded by snow-clad mountains, lush green and steep valleys, the village has numerous ancient and historical structures.
Important Tips for Visiting Tenga Valley
Here are a few important things you need to keep in mind for your Tenga valley trip.
|Keep Buffer Days
Always keep some Buffer days in your itinerary. Things can go wrong because of bandhs, weather changes, etc.
|Pack Warm Clothes
Pack warm clothes, no matter what season you are visiting. If you are visiting during winters, make sure you have enough of these
|Rely on Tourist offices and locals
Rely on locals and tourist offices and not Google maps. Google maps may not be as accurate when looking for some destinations.
Tenga Valley is a must-visit place for everyone because of the beauty, serenity, peace and quiet it offers. With views that are no less than heaven and weather that can encourage Imtiaz Ali or Aditya Chopra (Indian filmmakers) to make a movie, this region should be on the travel bucket list of every nature enthusiast. Excited adventure lovers, mountain mongers and nature seekers should book their tickets and go now.
Happy wayfaring 🙂