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Tenga Valley: The Lesser Known Beauty of Arunachal at 6500 Feet

Tenga Valley is a 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, into the freezing cold is something that will inspire and make you proud. 

If you are planning to visit the Tawang region of Arunachal Pradesh, take a break on the way and visit this beautiful little village. Tenga valley lies on the way to Tawang from Bhalukpong and Assam and a lot of people miss the place in a hurry to reach Tawang. 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

Location North-East India
State Arunachal Pradesh
Best time to visit March to May and September to November
Weather conditions During peak season, the weather is pleasant (inclined towards the cooler side).
Nearby places Tezpur, Bhalukpong, Chillipam Monastery and Bomdila Monastery
Mode of Travel By buses or cabs
Accessibility By road
Nearest town Tezpur (143 km away)
Highlights The stream, the gates & passes and the monasteries
Cost of the entire trip 8-10K INR for two people (3 days)
Food Options Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian food is available. Also, the Street food is delicious.
Travel Tips Carry warm clothes

Do not drive on your own

Do not look for newspapers there. You will not find any.

Language Spoken English

Hindi

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 from animals like snakes

While contemplating the ideas to travel, my first instinct was to go with my father who being in the Indian Army has travelled extensively.. So, after his suggestion, I decided to go backpacking in Arunachal Pradesh and to be more specific – 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 but I will tell you the entire procedure of how a civilian can go backpacking in and around Tenga Valley.

Tenga Valley

Bhalukpong. Photography by Biki Naren Gurung

Permits Required to Visit 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.

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.  Though they give the permits after 3 days of applying for it but to be on a safer side, apply a week before or so. 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 by their own vehicle.

How to Reach Tenga Valley?

Tenga Valley lies enroute 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.

By Air

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, it is also connected to International cities like Bangkok and Paro.

By Road

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.

By Rail

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 North-east India.



On Road via Bhalukpong- Tenga Valley- Tawang Route

As told you already, I went to Tenga Valley with the Indian Army. So, right from Tezpur, the journey was eventful and fun. Lot of jokes and games were played on the mini buses. 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) Pleasant

Temperature ranging between 18 and 28 degrees Celcius

Monsoons (July – September)

 

Cooler with occasional heavy showers

Temperature ranging between 17 and 24 degrees Celcius

Winters (October – February) Cold

Temperature ranging between 0 and 18 degrees Celcius

Although some may suggest March to September as a good time to visit Tenga Valley, I would suggest skipping the peak rainy season. Although the 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 in quickly and rises very early here.

Tenga Valley

Chillipam Monastery. Picture by Jay

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

Nag Mandir

The Temple in its present shape was built in 1966. The temple is located on a small hillock just before entering Tenga Valley en route to Tawang. The temple offers some amazing views of the valley.

Monasteries 

Most inhabitants of the West Kemang district and Tenga Valley are Buddhists. You will see some of the beautiful monasteries in Arunachal Pradesh. The best aspect about 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. It’s 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 conversation with them.

Chindit Top

Chindit Top or Ruchum Pam is a small village in Tenga Valley you must visit if you are here.

Tenga Market

Shop for local products in this small market including fresh fruits and vegetables.

Waterfall

The waterfall is located at zero point near Tenga Valley and is visible from the road.

Fishing

You can also enjoy fishing Kameng River

Food in Tenga Valley

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.

Food Item Description
Zan It is a spicy porridge which can be eaten with vegetables or smoked meat. The indigenous spices add a very tasty flavour to it.
Thupkas The famous Thupkas are undoubtedly the most delicious thing to go in the stomach. With its roots in Tibet, Thupkas has a noodle base that is available in Vegetarian Non-vegetarian versions where meats or vegetables are shallow fried with strong flavours like ginger, garlic and spring onions, making it perfect for winters.
Gyapa Khazi Gyapa Khazi is another version of Biryani with fermented cheese, chillies and dried fish or prawns.
Khura As dangerous the name sounds, it is actually a pancake that is taken with tea. It is made from buckwheat (kuttu), fermented alcohol and water kept overnight to make a batter. It’s taste intensifies with butter!
Momos The very well-known momos are made by stuffing minced meat or vegetables into the dough and then steaming them in a steamer or frying them. Served with chilli garlic sauce, momo are delicious snack. The pork momos were the best I ever had.
Tenga Valley

Orchids at the Sessa Orchid Sanctuary. Picture by Revathy Rajeswari

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

Rupa

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 the villages near the town.

Bomdila

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 View Point 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 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, Himayalan 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

Tiipi is located near Bhalukpong. You can visit the Government Orchidarium here which has more than 500 varieties of Orchids.

Bhalukpong

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.

Dirang

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 in 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.

Tenga Valley

Arunachal Pradesh – The Land of the Rising Sun in India. Photography by Krish

Important Tips for Visiting Tenga Valley

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 the views that are no less then heaven and a weather that can encourage Imtiaz Ali or Aditya Chopra (Indian film makers) 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.

About the Author

Satyabhan Singh

Satyabhan Singh

Satyabhan Singh is a passionate traveler who wants to cover as many locations as possible. He has written for newspapers such as the Pioneer and the Hindu. He has worked for Times Internet for as a Food Journalist and Blogger. Coming from an Army background, he has traveled to most parts of India. He is aspiring to be a Television Anchor for news media channels.

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