You’d expect people to be really groggy and sleepy when you tell them to wake up at the crack of dawn. But not the members of SOUL. After an informative briefing session the previous night, the participants were really hyped up about the drive awaiting them the following morning. And that was the real driving force behind the fresh and early start of day 1 of the Mountain Trail.
The drive was flagged off from ‘Vivanta by Taj’ in Guwahati and the plan was to cover nearly 230 kilometres across laidback village roads.We were headed to a small town named Bhalukpong located along the southern reaches of the Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh. Only a handful of traffic meant that the convoy stuck together without a hassle for the entire drive. The roads were fantastic, especially the ones maintained by BRO. Add to that a pleasant weather, and the drive just turned out to be perfect. En route, we stopped at Tezpur. Tezpur lies on the banks of the river Brahmaputra and is considered to be the cultural capital of Assam. While in Tezpur, we also visited the famous, age old Mahabhairav temple, built by King Banasura. Interesting local lore suggests that the Shiva Linga inside the temple is made with ‘living stone’ which grows slowly over the years.
We entered Bhalukpong at 4:30pm but the sun had almost set and it felt like its past 6 in the evening. Bhalukpong is a really remote town, but an important one. Because once here, it meant that we’d be stepping our feet into Arunachal Pradesh in just a few thousand metres. Once we settled into our hotel rooms, we drove the Hexa to the bank of the river. The 4×4 Hexa worked brilliantly here without showing any sign of tiredness. What a view it was, from the river bank. Mist pouring in from one side, the river flowing from another. We were blanketed by some mini mountains filled to the brim with tall trees. It was truly a spectacular sight, and we couldn’t have asked for a better end to our day.
What really surprised me is that this was just the first day of our drive. Now we just can’t wait to see what surprises the locations ahead have planned for us.