“What is something you know which the tourists don’t?” I asked a local shopkeeper as he handed me over a packet of biscuit while looking confused. “If you had to recommend a place to visit which none of the travel packages include, what would you suggest?” I further clarified.
“There is a cave temple, up above in the dense forest. But, you would need a special permit to go there as it’s inside an army restricted area. Are you traveling alone?” He asked. I replied yes.
“Well, I don’t think they would allow a solo traveler to hike till the cave temple. It’s difficult to find and if you lose track, you might get lost in the dense forest.”
I had found my motive. A challenge. Why did the shopkeeper say it was difficult to reach? Was it because of the rains? Is the terrain too steep? Is the way to reach the cave temple too difficult to find and keep track? My curiosity kept on rising. I couldn’t possibly leave Bomdila without at least attempting to reach the cave temple. That’s when I entered the mode of being curious.
“Can you tell me the route?” I asked, hoping that the shopkeeper can at-least guide me till the army area gate. He gave me directions to the gate which marked the beginning of the restricted area. Somewhere within the restricted area, wrapped in a mist of silence, a secret cave temple stood still; peaceful and pure, away from the tourist circuits.
It was my second day in Bomdila. I had already covered the known tourist attractions; the Upper, middle and lower Gompa. Now, I had to venture away from the guidelines laid by Tripadvisor or any other travel websites. It was time to explore.
Why am I calling this cave temple secret? Because it is a well-kept secret from the tourists. There is no mention of this cave temple anywhere on the internet, nowhere. In this age of information, anything hidden from the tourists is indeed a secret, isn’t it?
After I talked to the shopkeeper, I followed his directions to reach the army restricted area. A red gate with images of Rhinos appeared. I entered the imposing gate and asked the soldiers about this temple.