Day 6, New Melling to Jung and drive to Tawang
Trek duration: ~ 4 hours
Trek Route: New Melling - Jung
Gradient: Level walk, except for a gradual ascend when approaching Jung along the road
Well aware of the uncertainty of transport options to Jung, we decided to start trekking towards Jung instead of waiting for a vehicle to hitch-hike in. The trek to Jung continues on the broad road along the Tawang river. The walk, all of 21 kms is a kaccha road for most part, barring a few sections which are tarred till the ad-hoc labour camps put up along the side of the road. From these labour camps, a tarred tarmac provides a smooth and uneventful ride all along till Jung. Road construction work was underway at many places, and the entire stretch between Jung and Thimbu Hydel could well be tarred by the end of the next year.
The initial part of the hike from New Melling to Jung is quite scenic though, reminiscent of the trek between Ghasa and Tattapani on the Annapurna Circuit Trek: rocky cliffs and huge boulders adjoining broad path, a vociferous river flowing below and small huts visible on the slopes of the mountain on the far side. Hardly any vehicles plying on the broad path and lesser habitation made it more enjoyable a hike than the path leading to Tattapani.
Another remarkable sight – and sound –was that of the Jung waterfalls which can be seen from a fair distance away. The amount of water gushing over the edge of the mountain and the sound of the waters meeting the valley below can only be seen and heard to be believed. A huge cloud of mist formed by the impact of the gushing waters striking the ground below perpetually covers the valley at the bottom of this waterfall. A visit to a viewpoint placed strategically for experiencing the enormity of this waterfall is a must-do once the trek ends in Jung. Located some distance ahead of Jung on the road to Tawang, the viewpoint can be hiked down to in about half an hour.
Jung is closer to Tawang, which is only about 35 kms away. One can get transport back to Dirang and further to Tezpur via Bomdila from Jung, but the shared jeeps start from Tawang early in the morning, passing through Dirang before 9 a.m. and are usually fully booked at Tawang itself. A better option is to head to Tawang, stay there for the night and book a seat in the shared jeep the next morning.
Reaching Jung brought an end to the wonderful journey with a group of locals. Finally there was more food to choose from as well, other than the simple rice meals. Hot steaming momos with the delectable spicy red chutney never tasted that good before. And of course, a large cup of butter tea.
What was to be 9 day trek ended in 6 days, but it surely offered much more than I could have imagined. The eastern Himalayas and the way of life here is subtly and pleasingly different from those in the northern parts of the country. The ever joyful locals, content and at ease in the mountains, always ready to welcome and entertain a guest leaves a long lasting impression on the mind. Their openness and readiness to share their homes and culture with others is wonderful to observe and imbibe. Another trip to these Himalayas has to be on the cards... as soon as possible!