[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
Someone once said, “It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey”, but sometimes, it is about the destination, especially if the destination is Mechukha. You may run short of adjectives describing Mechukha once you’ve seen it in all its glory.
The roughly 550km route, which is also the longer and better route, will certainly make great stories to tell back home, but Mechukha in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh will have more stories in store once your twisted back starts to straighten up.
First time visitors will find that the 265km and five-hour long road till Pasighat is effortless, and if you left too early in the morning, you might even doze off if not accompanied by a good team to keep you entertained and awake. The next 103kms and roughly six hours to Aalo, a major stoppage point to reach Mechukha, will definitely take a toll on you and your passengers. The 182km and eight hour road to Mechukha is considerably better, but frighteningly narrow.
While the stories of the rugged roads are never ending, the sights are breathtakingly beautiful. Countless streams and cascading waterfalls will get you out of your car and into the scene for that perfect picture.
The most magnificent waterfall is the Siko Dido. You will realise how high the Siko Dido is when you can’t fit into the frame of your camera without looking like an ant. The location did not have any roadside eateries till a year or two ago, but now a “line hotel” has opened up and serves its purpose well for travellers who halt for a few dozen pictures.
After a tedious journey through the tough terrain of East and West Siang districts, Mechukha is ready to receive you with its quaint home stays. From merely four to five home stays, the tiny town has over 20 home stays now, which offer wonderful service.
While the rains may play spoil sport and wrap Mechukha in a blanket of clouds if you visit in October, come mid-November and you will be able to visit the famous tourist point- the 14th century built Samsen Yongcha monastery and get a bird’s eye view of the entire town and beyond. Must visit places also include the Gurudwara Guru Nanak Taposthan, which is known for a “cave crossing or you are a sinner” tag and the Hanuman Mandir, from where you can get a view of a “Hanuman-like” face on the mountains.
Besides the tourist locations, the ice-capped Himal-ayas surrounding the valley at 6000 feet AMSL is enough to take your breath away.
However, mobile connectivity is an issue and BSNL is the only service provider which manages to keep you connected to the outside world somehow. But when you are in a painter’s canvas, it’s best to dive into the colours of nature and become part of the painting; the world can wait for a while.