Arunachal Pradesh is a tourist’s paradise especially for trekkers looking for some best and challenging trekking routes in the country. The trekking routes in Arunachal Pradesh meander through jungles and waterfalls with some of the most exotic natural settings which are a treat for the tourists. The state also offers immense opportunities for river rafting and rock climbing adventures. Altogether, Arunachal Pradesh is a perfect tourist destination.
Tourism in this Himalayan state is all set to get a boost with the Indian Railways and the Ministry of Defence planning to take the railway network all the way to Tawang on the Chinese border at a height of 10,000 feet.
The town of Tawang
Tawang is a town located in the northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh. The town is famous all over the world for the Tawang Monastery which is the biggest Buddhist monastery in the world outside of Lhasa and the largest Buddhist Monastery in India. The monastery was built on the instructions of the 5th Dalai Lama and is a major holy site for Tibetan Buddhists. Tawang is covered with snow during December- January and is an ideal destination for skiing. There is also a ski lift in the town.
The rail network
Survey for establishing the rail network would start next year. The Northeast Frontier Railway will undertake the construction of Bhalukpong-Tawang railway line. Bhalukpong is the last Indian railway station on the Assam-Arunachal border. Other two rail networks for which survey would be carried out are Murkongselek (Assam) to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and Silapathar in Assam to Bane in Arunachal Pradesh.
The survey is estimated to cost Rs 100.73 crore and the Ministry of Defence has already released Rs 25.18 crore to the Northeast Frontier Railway. Ministry of Defence will continue to allocate more funds as and when the need arises. The total cost of building the rail network is estimated to be between Rs 50,000 crore and Rs 70,000 crore.
The challenges before the railways are immense due to the altitude and the terrain. The rail network would pass through terrains that are at altitudes ranging between 500 to 9000 feet. The highest point on the way to Tawang is the Sela Pass at 13,700 feet. The survey intends to provide a roadmap about the ways to build railway tracks by avoiding high altitude zones. According to officials of the Northeast Frontier Railway, the railway network would also require the construction of very long tunnels which will also be a challenge for the engineers and workers. It is quite certain that bringing rail network at a height of 10,000 feet would be one of the most challenging projects ever undertaken by the Indian Railways.
The time that would be required to complete the project would only be known after the survey and other reports are submitted.
Apart from the vast tourism potential of the rail network to Tawang, the strategic importance of the town in view of the Chinese claim to the area also makes it an important project for New Delhi.