Geography of Sela Pass
While Sela Pass does get heavy snow in winters, it is usually open throughout the year unless landslides or snow requires the pass to be shut down temporarily. Sela Pass is the main route to access Tawang town, and given the proximity of Tawang District with China, Border Roads Organization (BRO) of India works hard to keep the pass open throughout the year. While summers at Sela Pass are not very cold, temperature in winter downs to -10 degree Celsius. The pass has hardly any vegetation and is usually snow covered to some extent all through the year.
Route to Sela Pass
Sela Pass, in the Tawang District can be reached through the road from Tezpur to Tawang via Balipara (25 km), Bhalukpong (40 km), Sessa (25 km), Tenga (52 km), Bomdila (22 km), Dirang (52 km), Sapper (9 km), Senge (28 km), Baisakhi (12 km), to Sela Pass (16 km). Bhalukpong lies on the Assam - Arunachal Pradesh border. It marks the start of the journey through the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh, which starts with a climb through Sessa to Nachiphu followed by a descent into the Tenga valley, then up again to Bomdila Pass and down to Dirang valley. Sela range is the 3rd and last range that the tourist can cross during the journey to Tawang, and marks the border between West Kameng District and Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh. A gate at Sela Pass was built that was inspired from the Buddhist architecture. This Sela Pass marks the district border and welcomes tourists to Tawang district. The climb from Dirang District to Sela Pass, which is 78 km short of Tawang, gives the tourist to take the adventurous thrill to the tourists of all ages.
Legend of Sela Pass
According to legend, a Sepoy of the Indian Army named Jaswant Singh Rawat fought alone against the Chinese soldiers near the pass during the 1962 Sino-Indian War. A tribal woman named Sela who had brought food and water to him is said to have killed her upon seeing the dead body of Jaswant Singh Rawat. Singh was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his courage and devotion to duty.
Sela Lake at Sela Pass
Near the Sela Pass, there is a lake called Sela Lake. This Sela Lake is a stream fed artificial lake at Sela Pass that is stunningly beautiful. The tranquillity of the lake mitigates the harshness of the rocky mountains, sans any vegetation, that surround it. One can visit the pine forest near the lake. The manner in which the lakes pristine water reflects the blue sky and the rays of the sun can be mesmerizing if the time of the day and weather are right. Sela Lake is the biggest in Tawang district, which has 101 lakes. There is a cemented walkway around the lake, but taking a walk around the lake may not be terribly romantic because of the lack of oxygen and the unpredictable weather. Sometimes high-speed sand laden winds blow across the lake, which gets all iced up in winter.
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