Sela Pass is situated at about 13,700 feet above mean sea level and is known to be home to more than 101 lakes. Each of these lakes is considered sacred by the Buddhist community. One of these 101 lakes is the decently large Sela Lake, located right on the top of Sela Pass, an important location on the India-China border.
You can catch a sight of this beautiful lake from right near the main signboards and near the Sela Memorial. Mostly throughout the year, the entire place gets covered in a blanket of fresh snow, making for a heavenly experience. It was here that you can spot a number of Brahminy (Ruddy) Shelducks floating on the lake. Also, every once in a while, the Dalai Lama comes here before going to Tawang, and hence, you might spot a lot of lamas present in huge numbers preparing a welcome for him. It is said that the Dalai Lama would stop here for a cup of tea before proceeding to Tawang. What a natural setting for the Dalai Lama to have a cup of tea! Apparently many major gurus meditated around or near the lake in the past and some still do. There is one peak that may probably look like it’s floating above the clouds, and if you start to walk towards it through a small diversion from the highway, you will soon reach a vantage point from where you can see the entire lake. Although the lake is visible from the road after crossing Sela, this point offers a different perspective. This lake often freezes during winter and is drained into the Nuranang River, a tributary of the Tawang River. Limited vegetation grows around the lake, which is used as a grazing site for yaks during the summer.
If you have the time to explore, you can hike around the area with a local guide. This area is also good for birding. However, winter is too cold and hostile for any of that. So, you might consider such activities in the spring, summer, and post monsoon.
Sela Lake freezing over in winters
Getting to Sela Lake
By air: Salonibari Airport (in Tezpur) located at a distance of 387 km and the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport (in Guwahati) at a distance of 480 km are the nearest airports from Tawang. There are also helicopter services twice a week between Guwahati and Tawang.
By train: Rangapara Railway Station (in Tezpur) located 383 km from Tawang is the nearest railway station. Tourists can take a bus/taxi from here to reach Tawang.
By road: There are numerous cabs and buses plying to Tawang from Tezpur (319 km), Udalguri (390 km), Bhalukpong (262 km), and other places. Tourists can take public or private transport to reach the city.
Snowfall in Sela Pass
Best Time to Visit Tawang
Summer or before the onset of monsoon is the best time to visit Tawang. In fact, planning a trip between March and October is apt to enjoy the beautiful landscape and amazing weather offered by this quaint town. Summer months in Tawang are between April and June. The temperature is around 26°C in the daytime and the weather is perfect for a trip to this beautiful valley. Tawang also comes alive in various colours with lush greenery all around.
Tawang valley is bestowed with heavy rain showers in the months of July, August, and September. There is a high risk of landslides. On the flip side, the monsoon in Tawang is an exhilarating experience as you can witness the whole valley awash with dark clouds and the valley looks beautiful and fresh.
The winter months in Tawang are between October and March, where November to March is the coldest. December and January witness heavy snowfall, but if you are lucky and the weather is clear, you can get a spectacular view of the majestic Himalayans.