Somewhere between the grassy plains of Tezpur and the hilly mists of Tawang lies a romantic town named Dirang. Its 131km of uphill climb to Tawang, and a 190km downhill roll to Tezpur.
It’s a place that gives you an early view into Arunachal and typifies a hill town of utmost purity. Imagine this, a one road town with settlements uphill and downhill, on a valley which has high rising lush green Himalayas on all its sides. Imagine the downhill road settling down to border with a gushing river carrying freezing fresh waters to the summer bowls of Assam. From the river bed, imagine a sprawling solitary Monastery sitting alone, perched upon a cliff. Turn your head a bit away from the monastery to find another perch, this time gurgling out hot water from a spring. Imagine all this at a lovely temperature of 10C in the Indian summer month of May. This, is magical Dirang!
Dirang is mostly used by tourists as an overnight halt for journeys to Tawang. But, in itself, the town has a lot much more to offer, for tourists to stay and soak in the “time stands still” scenery at Dirang and also the nearby Sangti valley (8km away). My recommendation is a 2N/2D stay in of the beautiful hotels it offers and just lose your phones for the time being there
Places to see: Dirang has an old Dzong (fort) which is well preserved, and also the large sprawling monastery the courtyards of which provide fantastic aerial views of the entire town. On the way up to the monastery you will also find the National Yak Research Organization which is a fabulous place to learn more about this mysterious animal. And then, there is the hot water spring which is everyone’s favorite, though a bit out of the town on the way to Sela pass.
The monastery @ Dirang
Places to stay: most people would recommend Hotel Pemaling which is tried and tested. For budget travelers, there is the Govt. rest house just adjacent to it. However, if you are looking for experience and a stay with views worth killing for, then cross the river and head out to Norphel Retreat. Perched atop a cliff just above the river, amongst fields of cultivated Kiwi, the views of Dirang are plain magnificence. With outstanding avenues to take a stroll, and very healthy air to breathe in, we just loved our time there. The restaurant there has a fantastic sit-out that overlooks the river and the town on the opposite bank. Homegrown fruit wines add to the richness of conversations as you sit down and wonder what life is.
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