Sela Pass: A High Altitude Himalayan Wonderland - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Sela Pass: A High Altitude Himalayan Wonderland

The winding and snowy roads of Sela pass, Arunachal Pradesh

It is a paradise for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. It is a place that holds an important place in Indian military history. It is considered a religious place for the Buddhists. I am talking about Sela pass, a 13,700 feet high mountain pass in the Eastern Himalayas of India and that connects the Buddhist town of Tawang with the rest of the country.

Sela Lake, Arunachal Pradesh

Located between Bomdila and Tawang on the Western Arunachal Pradesh highway, Sela pass connects the Buddhist hill station of Tawang and the India-China border at Bumla with the rest of the country. Its surroundings are home to 101 lakes that are sacred in Tibetan Buddhism, the largest lake being Sela lake. In summer months, yaks can be seen grazing around its lakes, while at other times of the year, Sela pass and its lakes can be seen covered in a heavy blanket of snow.

Due to its altitude and tough weather conditions, you will hardly find any tree cover or vegetation here, though in the summer months, you can spot grass growing on its slopes. This bleak landscape when covered in snow and surrounded by thick mist is a perfect excuse for a cup of joe and a piece of freshly baked cake. And when the mist clears up, you can get your eyes and camera lens treated to some panoramic views of the Eastern Himalayas.

And then there is that divine Buddhist connection with the colourful prayer flags floating in the cold breeze, the sight of the Buddhist monks wearing a thin gown while you seem to be shivering in your heavy winter wear and the beautifully decked Sela memorial.

View of Sela Memorial

Sela pass is more than just a pit stop. Its unparalleled rugged beauty, pristine mountain nature, exotic mountain birds, rich Buddhist connection and winding roads make it a hot favorite in Arunachal Pradesh. It is a high altitude Himalayan wonderland in every way you see it. I cannot recommend this natural wonder of a place enough!

Buddhist Prayer Flags at Sela Memorial

Best season to visit:

Sela pass is open all year round unless there is heavy snowfall that leads to road closure. Even in such a situation, the border roads organization will ensure that the roads open in 24 to 48 hours.

As Sela pass is located at 13,800 feet, one can find snow here almost all through the year. Winters will be cold, but offer the best views. Summers are the hot favorite as tourists run away from the sweltering summers of the plains below. Monsoons can be a bit messy with muddy and slippery roads, but late monsoons will be beautiful as you can actually catch snowfall here.

Expect Sela pass to attract lots of visitors during festival holidays and school vacations.

Fresh snowfall at Sela pass, Arunachal Pradesh

How to reach there:

The nearest airport and railway station with the best connectivity would be Guwahati (372 kms away).

One can either take a combination of local buses to reach here or hire a cab. The route would be Guwahati –> Tezpur –> Bomdila –> Sela Pass.

Sela pass at 13,700 feet

Where to stay:
br />If you are planning to explore Sela pass prior to visiting Tawang, you might want to stay at any of the properties in the beautiful Himalayan valley of Dirang (62 kms away). If you want a traditional experience, you might want to try out the rooms inside the Bomdila monastery (103 kms away).

If you are planning to explore Sela pass after visiting Tawang or if you wish for slightly better accommodation, the beautiful Himalayan hill station of Tawang will be your best bet. The hotels and homestays here cater to a diverse audience across a wide budget range.

Sela Pass and lake from a nearby view point

Where to eat:

One can either eat at the simple restaurants and cafes at Sela pass, Sela lake and Jang valley or eat at proper restaurants in Tawang city.

It might be prudent to have your main meals at a large city and may be a small bite with a cup of tea or coffee at Sela pass or Sela lake.

High Altitude and religious Sela Lake at 13,700 feet above MSL

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Dirang: Arunachal Pradesh’s hidden magical world and a pretty little valley

2) Bomdila: Headquarters of the West Kameng district and home to a massive Buddhist monastery

3) Sangti Valley: A gorgeous valley that is also a breeding ground for the migratory black necked cranes

4) Tawang: India’s true Shangri-la and a 10,000 feet high hill station that is home to the largest Buddhist monastery in India

5) Jung Falls: A gorgeous waterfall located 35 kms before Tawang

6) Bumla pass: A high altitude mountain pass on the India-China border

7) Eaglenest wildlife sanctuary: Birdwatcher’s paradise in the Himalayas

8) Nameri national park: Assam’a wildlife haven

9) Sangetsar lake: A 12,000 feet high mountain lake that presents abundant mountain vistas

10) Tak-Tsang Gompa: A remote Buddhist monastery located at 13,000 feet

11) Tongpen la view point: A 15,150 feet high panoramic mountain vista

12) Penga Teng Tso Lake: A high altitude Himalayan lake

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