The first attempt was unsuccessful. The Bailey trail remained elusive. And yet, whatever little was seen of Arunachal Pradesh during the first attempt only strengthened the resolve to be back here soon. The promising views of the forests – countless tall treetops with outstretched arms floating between the clouds, a seemingly unending chain of mountains, with lush green sides and mystical snow-clad peaks, that peeked through the dark clouds every now and then – there was something different about the Himalayas here that beckoned strongly.
So, having a week in hand after completing the Goechala trek, I decided to head back to Arunachal and complete the unfinished Bailey trail. Bidding adieu to friends in Yuksom, I forced myself to get back to sultry, humid Siliguri. Fortunately, a waitlisted ticket purchased that very morning on the Kanchenjunga express resulted in a confirmed berth by the afternoon train. A swift overnight journey by train, and I was in Guwahati, ready to head onward to Tezpur.
Heavy downpours and a flash strike of bus operators caught me unawares, threatening to end my attempt at the Bailey trail once again. It took some negotiations with drivers gathered near the ticket counter before a bunch of us boarded a traveller and managed to get started.
Tezpur – a quiet yet bustling town surprised me with the all the amenities it had to offer including a well equipped market wherein all supplies for the trek could be purchased. Tinned food, however, was difficult to procure. In an emergency, Supplies could be procured from Dirang too, although some provisions were priced higher there.
The Bailey trail trek can be started from a number of small settlements located near the tourist spot of Dirang on the Tezpur-Tawang highway. While most Bailey trek references on the internet indicate Chander as the starting point, the trek can also be started from Thembang, Pangma or Phudung. Over the last few years, all of these settlements – and Panchavati have become accessible by road, though public transport options to reach these hamlets are still limited and expensive.
Chander, though providing the easiest approach to Thungri (camping spot for day 1 of the trek), is about 25 kms uphill from Dirang, and would involve paying a sizeable amount as taxi fare. Additionally, Chander is very cold as it is situated atop an exposed ridge, and none of the households can boast of a formal toilet setup
A summary of the Bailey trail trek, day-wise itinerary and travel up to Phudung, from where the trek started:
Trek start point: Phudung, near Dirang
Trek end point: Jung, about 30 kms from Tawang (Thimbu Hydel is where the trek actually ends and a road connects to Jung. You can hitchhike your way from here up to Jung)
How to reach Dirang:
Nearest airport: Guwahati
Nearest railhead: Guwahati (Bhalukpong actually, but not sure if train services are active to this station)
From Guwahati, it is a 4-5 hour drive to Tezpur. ASTC buses and private mini-buses / Tempo Travellers ply from the New Paltan Bazar taxi stand regularly.
From Tezpur, it is a 7-8 hour drive to Dirang. Shared taxis (Tata Sumo) are available, cost INR 500 per person, at fixed timings from the ASTC bus stand in Tezpur. Private taxis available just outside the bus stand as well.
From Dirang, a 30 minute drive takes you to Phudung, the last of the villages on this road. Private taxis (small cars like Maruti Suzuki / Alto) are available for INR 400-600 from the taxi stand near the Government Rest House, a few minutes’ walk down from Dirang’s main bazaar.
Trek route: Phudung – Thungri – Khudumbara – Chang La – Poshing La – Pangi La – Potok – Nyang – Tse La – Lap – Lurthim – Mago – Thimbu Hydel – New Melling – Jung
Day 1: Guwahati to Tezpur and completion of ILP formalities
Day 2: Drive from Tezpur to Dirang
Day 3: Drive from Dirang to Phudung
Day 4: Trek from Phudung to Thungri
Day 5: Trek from Thungri to Chang La
Day 6: Trek from Chang La to Nyang
Day 7: Trek from Nyang to Mago
Day 8: Trek from Mago to New Melling
Day 9: Trek from New Melling to Jung and drive to Tawang
Getting back from Jung / Tawang to Tezpur
From Jung, head to Tawang, which is 30 kms / 1 hour away by taxi – as the taxis leaving for Tezpur start from Tawang. You can hitch a ride in shared taxis or private vehicles coming from Tezpur / Bomdila and head to Tawang by paying INR 100 – 150 per person.
From Tawang, it is an 11-12 hour drive to Tezpur. Shared taxis (Tata Sumo) are available, cost INR 750 per person, at fixed timings (early morning between 6 to 7 am) from the taxi stand in Tawang (many taxi counters available in the main market area).
Upon reaching Dirang and making arrangements for the night stay, I called Sonam, a local guide, whom we had met at Thungri during the first attempt at Baileys. Sonam was a native of Lagam and had promised to join me on a trek during the next visit. As agreed over the phone call, we met the next day, shopped for provisions and headed to Phudung, to Sonam’s brother’s house for the night.
A homely dinner and lively conversations ensued at the Phudung residence, and an early start to the trek was planned for the next day. For a detailed day-wise account of the Bailey trail treks, follow the links below.