If you are looking forward to knowing about the mountain passes in Arunachal Pradesh, you have come to the right place. One of the most underrated destinations in India, this state in North East India is known for its secluded location, stunning majestic mountains of the Himalayas home to rugged wilderness comprising valleys, waterfalls, rivers, small towns and villages.
The state boasts of many rare indigenous tribes cohabiting peacefully and inhabiting thousands of wild animals, birds, and reptiles.
In this post, get to know all about the beautiful Arunachal Pradesh mountain passes.
THE TOP MOUNTAIN PASSES IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH
Let’s start with the top mountain passes in Arunachal Pradesh that form the backbone of connecting the state with the outer world.
But before that, what is a mountain pass precisely? A mountain pass is a route among the mountain ranges, with the pass being the location point at which the altitude along the route is the highest.
In simpler terms, it means a winding road carved across the mountains, and if you take that road, you will pass through a point at which you will be at the highest altitude accessible of that group of mountains.
Humans make not all the mountain passes, but even glaciers, the path of streams running from the mountain tops, and natural events are how mountain passes are formed.
But most of the mountain passes developed are the ones that we use to commute between places. They have become an essential part of connecting and drawing borders between regions and protecting them.
So now that we know the basics, let’s begin to know about the best mountain passes in Arunachal Pradesh, shall we?
The highest point in the mountain pass is about 14,000 ft (4,300 m), making it is one of the highest mountain passes in Arunachal Pradesh.
Sela Pass is a sacred site in Tibetan Buddhism practised by the locals who believe there are about 101 sacred lakes in and around the pass.
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The pass carries the National Highway 13, making an essential connection for Tawang, Dirang, and Bomdilla towns with the rest of the country.
The pass is home to the gorgeous Sela Lake, a high-altitude Alpine lake, near the pass’s summit on the north side.
If you are here during the winter, you can see the frozen lake, which is drained into Nuranang River, a tributary of the Tawang River.
The Sela Pass does get heavy snowfall in winters. Still, India’s Border Roads Organization (BRO) keeps the pass open throughout the year unless landslides or heavy snowfall may require the pass to be shut down temporarily.
The vegetation is very sparse around the pass, with the areas around the lake being a grazing site for yaks during the summer.
Among all the mountain passes in Arunachal Pradesh, Bumla Pass is the highest, located at 15,200 feet (4,600 m). It is a border pass between Tibet’s Cona County and Tawang in India. It is 37 km away from Tawang and 43 km from the China-administered Tsona Dzong town in Cona County in Tibet.
It is often covered with heavy snow throughout the year. It is one of the most off-beat passes globally, which is often covered with heavy layers of snow throughout the year.
It is an important trading point between Tawang and Tibet and has a historically significant past. It was one of the locations where the Sino-Indian War took place in 1962 when the People’s Liberation Army of China invaded India.
After 44 years, the Bumla pass was re-opened to traders for the first time in 2006 to move traders and goods.
If you want to visit the Bumla Pass, you need to obtain permission from the Indian Army. You can get the permit at the Office of the Deputy Commissioner in Tawang, and the same has to be stamped in the Indian army cantonment of Tawang, which is checked at the many check posts on the way.
Reaching there is a long and adventurous journey, and it is better to head there only when the weather is clear and on SUVs.
BOM DI LA PASS
Home to Bomdilla town, the headquarters of West Kameng district and other nearby villages on its route, Bom Di La pass is located in the Himalayan Range at an elevation of 2,217 m.
This mountain pass has abundant wildlife and flora, is also close to the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the top wildlife sanctuaries of Arunachal.
The pass runs a long distance, connecting the western border of Arunachal Pradesh with Lhasa, the former capital of the Tibetan Kingdom.
LESSER-KNOWN MOUNTAIN PASSES IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH
Diphu Pass, also known as Dipher Pass, is one of the strategically essential passes in Arunachal Pradesh, forming a critical border approach to eastern Arunachal Pradesh.
It is a mountain pass lying on the McMahon Line around the area of the tripoint borders of India, China, and Myanmar, which is disputed. Diphu Pass is located in Anjaw district, 120 km northeast of district headquarter in Hawai via the Hawai-Walong-Dong-Kibithu-Kaho-Dhipu Pass route.
In October 1960, China and Burma demarcated their border to Diphu Pass, 5 miles south of the watershed of the mountain ranges. However, this caused a diplomatic row with India, which expected the tri-point to be a watershed.
The dispute still exists and has become part of the border disagreement between China and India regarding Arunachal Pradesh, an issue for many decades.
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Pangsau Pass or Pan Saung Pass, located on the crest of the Patkai Hills on the India–Myanmar border, connects both countries. At 3,727 feet (1,136 m) in altitude, it is one of the high-altitude mountain passes in Arunachal Pradesh.
It is named after the closest Burmese village, Pangsau lies 2 km to the east beyond the pass. Pangsau Pass became the centre of attention during the British occupation of India in the late 19th century.
The British saw the pass as a way to establish a railway connection between India and Burma, both being their colonies.
After an extensive survey covering several towns and villages around the pass, they concluded that a track could be pushed through to Burma and down the Hukawng Valley.
Similarly, a road from Assam into northern Burma had been planned in the Patkai range. None of these was materialised, however.
Later on, during World War II, the pass became famous because of the Stilwell Road (Ledo Road) connecting British India to Nationalist Chinese forces fighting the Japanese in China.
Sitwell Road connected Ledo to Pangsau Pass. The distance between them was 61km, which began at Ledo in Assam and passed through several towns before switchbacking steeply upwards through densely forested hills Pangsau pass.
During the war, the enemy forces found crossing the pass difficult due to the rugged terrain and muddy gravel, nicknamed “Hell Pass”.
Since 2007, Pangsau Pass has been the venue for the Pangsau Pass Winter Festival, a joint India-Myanmar 3 day fest organised during the 3rd week of January every year in Nampong, Arunachal Pradesh.
It is one of the unique festivals in Arunachal Pradesh that also showcases the diverse cultures of Northeast India and Myanmar.
You can witness folk performances and traditional dance performances, check out the exhibitions held by local artists that sell handmade goods, try ethnic foods, and participate in indigenous sports.
KEPANG LA PASS
Kepang La Pass or Kapang La is a mountain pass on the Indo-Tibetan border or Line of Actual Control. The pass is located about 4 km from Gelling town in the Upper Siang district in Arunachal Pradesh.
From just the southeast of the pass, the Siang River enters India, called the Yarlung Tsangpo on the other side of the pass.
It is one of the remote passes in Arunachal Pradesh currently used as one of the points for meetings of the Border Personnel.
Before the 1962 war, however, Kepang La was one of the essential trading routes for the locals on both sides. In 1962, People’s Liberation Army troops used the pass to cross over into Indian administered territory.
MILAKATONG LA PASS
Milakatong La, also known as Menlakathong La, is one of the historic mountain passes in Arunachal Pradesh. It is located along the trade route between Tawang and Tsona Dzong in Tibet’s Shannan province.
It lies in the valley of Tsona Chu, which is a river in the upstream direction leading to the town of Tsona Dzong. The same river flows downstream towards Tawang Chu Valley, attaining the Tawang Chu river’s name.
Located close to Diphu Pass is Dihang La, one of the high altitude mountain passes in Arunachal Pradesh.
It is at an altitude of over 4000 meters and connects Arunachal’s remote village with neighbouring Mandalay city in Myanmar.
One of the high-altitude mountain passes in Arunachal Pradesh that forms a strategic distinction between the neighbouring countries is Yanggyap Pass.
Yonggyap pass lies at 3962 meters on the Indo-China border and joins Arunachal Pradesh with the Tibet region.
Another mountain pass in Arunachal that lies on the border is Chankan Pass, at an elevation of over 2400 meters, located on the Indo-Myanmar border, joining Arunachal Pradesh with Myanmar.
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Kumjawng, also known as Kronjawng, is another mountain pass in Arunachal Pradesh located on the Indo-Myanmar border at 2929 meters connecting Arunachal Pradesh with Myanmar.
Hpungan Pass connects Arunachal Pradesh with Myanmar at an altitude of 3072 meters on the Indo-Myanmar border.
One of the mountain passes in Arunachal Pradesh that provides an important trade and transport route between India and Myanmar is Lekhapani Pass, located at an altitude of more than 4,000 m above sea level.
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