... to the heaven and back

sanuroxz

Super User
Day 18 : Tinsukia – Nampong


Distance : 108 KM

Mode : Bus

Time Taken : 3 hours


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||Flashback||

The day I landed in Tinsukia ..Partha da and myself had discussion over breakfast of this surprise trip.. All thanks to @adsatinder pajji for marking Changlang district in ILP…It came as blessings.. I really wished to visit Pangsau pass but honestly never included in this trip was not at all sure about the route and all.. Partha da casually told that ‘its not very far’ .. so that surprise plan was made there only.. also he told that he might join me in this trip …

And there I was J but the only thing which was not happening was partha da was not accompanying me.. Though last night he had given the contact details in Nampong but both were not able to connect him due to network issue.. So it was just a toss if I would get him well and good if not.. I would be left all on me..

I was excited and in excitement quickly got ready and checked out from the hotel..i was much early to board the bus.. Bus was completely empty so I got a good seat..Packed Bus started at 7.30 AM.. we were travelling on the same AT road till Makum but from Makum we took right turn leaving the AT road towards Digboi and within an hour we reached in Digboi on the smooth road.. Digboi is the place where India’s first Oil well was discovered.The first refinery was started here as early as 1901.

Bus stopped there couple of minutes only again we were on the road..the eastern most railway track was following us all the way with the rural assam views.. One guy who was sitting by myside without a single word just looking at his mobile.. Bus was moving at the best speed.. and we crossed Margherita, Ledo those names I had just read earlier feeling something special..

Ledo is the easternmost railways station now.. as Lekhapani is not operational right now..and soon we reached Lekhapani as well ..Lekhapani had a big Military base… Officially we were travelling on the historic Stilwell road which started from Ledo also called as Ledo road..


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@Jagun
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check gate
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The historic Stilwell's Road, which was constructed by the Americans during the Second World War from Ledo in Assam, India, which is one of the rail-heads of the Bengal-Assam railway in the valley of the Upper Brahmaputra during that time to Burma Road connecting to Kunming, China passes through Lekhapani, Jairampur, Nampong and Pangsau pass, India-Burma (Myanmar) border. It winds up the passes of 9000 feet Patkai Range and emerges at Shindbwiyang and then Myitkyina. It crosses the broad bowl of the Upper Chindwin, threads the Hukawng and Mogaung valleys, andgoes down to Bhamo and to the Burma road which connects Kunming, Yunnan province, China.

Originally it was called 'Ledo Road'; later it was name after the General Joseph Warren Stilwell (1883-1946), Chief of Staff to Allied Forces in China-Burma-India theatre for defence of Burma (Myanmar) from Japanese forces under the Generalissimo, Marshal Chiang Kai-shek, Supreme Command of the forces of the United Nations in China, including such parts of Indo-China and Siam (Thailand) as might become accessible to the troops. The Ledo road (Stilwell's Road) was constructed under his direct supervision during the war. He had also participated in the First World war and mastered the Chinese language during his stay

at Philippines and China after the War. He was better known to the World as "Vinegar Joe", though his troops called him "Uncle Joe".


Initially, this project was prospected by British long before the Second World War and could not implemented until the agreement between the British and Joseph W. Stilwell representing Americans on December 1, 1942 during the Second World War when the Burma was fully under Seized by the Japanese forces. Allied Forces extremely in need of this road for restoration of line of communication between China and Burma, and a line of communication to Allied forces in Burma from India to liberate Burma from the claws of Japanese forces as the topography of the Indo-Burma border was very difficult terrains with thick, inaccessible and malaria and Dysentery infested forests. General Stilwell's Operations Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Frank D. Merrill recommended building a road from Ledo, Assam, India to Burma connecting the old Burma Road to provide a Land Supply to China and Burma for support of the Allied soldiers who were fighting in the North Burma.

Lieutenant Colonel Frank D. Merrill Commanding officer of "the experienced jungle troops, for a dangerous and hazardous Mission - somewhere" lead his specially trained 5307 Composite Unit (Provisional) called "Merrill's Marauders" to the Ledo Road and started marching on foot from Margherita, near Ledo, India on February 7, 1944 passing through Pangsau Pass (Hell Pass), Shindbwiyang, Jambu-Bam, and then Myitkyina most of the times fighting and struggling against rains, mud, swamps, Malaria, Dysentery, Typhoid and strategically positioned enemies at different locations on their way. Merrill's Marauders seized Myitkyina air-strip on May 17, 1944 despite strong resistance from Japanese forces. Then after some days later, they captured Myitkyina town itself, which was stronghold of Japanese forces based in north Burma and the two months campaign ended on August 3, 1944 with Merrill's Marauders 127 deaths and 291 wounded besides, other casualties. Myitkyina was one of the main missions of Stilwell. In December 1942, the road construction begun by constructing Warehouses, Hospitals, Barracks and base roads at Ledo, Assam, India side by side fighting with the Japanese forces. On December 16, 1942, Americans began building the double-track, all-weather Ledo road. Subsequently, the Americans had brought heavy road construction machineries to these wild hills like Bulldozers, Cranes, Power-shovels, Caterpillars, Steam-rollers, in massive procession from the United State production-lines 12,000 miles away, across two Oceans and past three Continents. General Stilwell had organized a 'Service of Supply' (SOS) under the command of Major General Raymond A. Wheeler, a high profile US Army Engineer and assigned him to look after the construction of the Ledo road. Major General Wheeler in turn, assigned responsibility of base commander for the road construction to Colonel John C. Arrowsmith. Later, he was replaced by Colonel Lewis A. Pick, an expert US Army engineer, as road construction was slowed down under Arrowsmith during the monsoon season of 1943. He had employed some of the finest mechanical roadmakers from Americans, British, Indian, Chinese and West Africans to fight against the wild jungles, tangles of swamp and forest, deep valleys and high cliffs and test of heavy rains and floods across the Indo-Burma mountain Range.

On December 27, 1943, three days ahead of schedule, the road reached Shindbwiyang Finished grading and graveling remained to be done, but the 117 miles from Ledo to Shindbwiyang were open before January 1, 1944, as General Stilwell wished. Colonel Pick's celebration for the engineers omitted none of the available essentials. As he congratulated them for opening 54 miles of trace in 57 days, a convoy came rolling into Shindbwiyang with candy, doughnuts, and 9,600 cans of beer.

In late 1944, barely two years after Stilwell accepted responsibility for building the Ledo Road (Stilwell Road), it connect to the Burma Road though some sections of the road beyond Myitkyina at Hukawng Valley were under repairing due to heavy monsoon water, and it become a highway stretching from Assam, India to Kunming, China 1,079 miles length. On January 12, 1945, the first convoy of 113 vehicles was led by General Pick from Ledo and was reached Kunming, China on February 4, 1945 and celebrated the achievement. The road construction was estimated to cost 137,000,000 dollars.

Two 4-inch fuel pipe lines were laid side by side and followed along the Ledo road from Tinsukia, Assam, India to relieve the road and air traffics of carrying fuel from Assam, India to China. They were fed by gasoline pumped from Calcutta to a station near their starting point. On May 20, 1945, newly promoted Major General Lewis A. Pick formally announced the completion of the Ledo road, a task he called toughest job ever given to US Army Engineers in Wartime. The road was renamed the Stilwell Road in honour of General Joseph W. Stilwell at the suggestion of Chiang Kai-shek, it was known to the Engineers who built it as "Pick's Pike." In the course of time, the Stilwell Road had virtually disappeared due to the road lies in the lands of three different nations that are China, Burma and India and due to non maintenance by the respective nations. However, 61 km of the road lies in India, 1,033 km in Burma (Myanmar) and 632 km in China. In India out of 61 km, 30 km lies in Assam and 31 km in Arunachal Pradesh. The border between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has 14 km of the road section previously which was in deplorable condition, now it is repaired and the construction of international trade route is underway to link Myanmar at Pangsau Pass. In India side, the road is being repaired and renovated up to Nampong under this scheme and extension of the renovation work up to Pangsau Pass, Indo-Myanmar border is underway. The section of road which lies within Arunachal Pradesh has been maintained by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh and the road section which lies within the area of Assam out of 14 km has been in maintained by the Government of Assam respectively.

Indian government has proposed this road for reopening as International Highway for trade route to link Myanmar (Burma), China and other Southeast Asian countries. The reopening of this road as trade route will increase the interaction between the people of neighboring countries and maintain good relationship among the member countries. It will also boost trades and attracts inland and foreign tourists as the road itself is historically famous and significant due to Second World War, which in turn will boost Socio-economic development of this most backward border area and will benefited to the local people. The northeast India is geographically isolated and the economical development is lacking behind other parts of India due to several factors even though the region is endowed with natural resources. There is already approved trade routes with Myanmar from Nagaland and Manipur and to Bangladesh from Assam and Tripura which is one of the significant means of foreign trade and regional co-operation towards economic development of the region.

Everyone in this area is looking forward for implementation of the project within the stipulated time and hoping the area be established as a major international trade center.


copied from internet
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Our next stop was Jagun which came at 9 AM..Again from jagun we took the right again the straight road goes towards Miao which is the gateway for Namdapha NP also for people of Vijaynagar ..Bus took half an hour break there without any reason but I came to know every day it was stopping like that.. Jagun being a junction it was crowded place and we started approaching towards Arunachal border Jairampur which was only 14 KMs from Jagun..ILP was check there for everyone.. I must say in that particular gate ILP was checked strictly.. even though I was holding a Tourist ILP I was asked few questions.,..Justified reasons were there… After crossing the checkgate were into Arunachal territory.. and the feel was again different soon we were stopped at Assam Rifles check gate… few AR personnel boarded the bus and started checking bags mainly.. The guy sitting by my side was targeted .. he was asked few regular question like’What he does?’ ‘where he is heading?’ The AR person was not satisfied it seemed hence he was brought down from the bus with his luggage :eek: and we left him.. I was not comfortable at all with the situation … God knows what would happen to him.. On the way I noticed so many posters mentioning the difference between AR(Assam Rifles) and UG (Under Ground)…

We were passing through dense jungle soon also started riding mountains.. but road condition was simply excellent I can proudly say that road was the best road in entire Arunachal… I noticed one diversion towards right on enquiring I came to know that goes to Manmao… We kept on moving straight on those butter smooth road…

And finally we reached Nampong bus stand… I was laughing on myself.. what should I do next ??? I called the number given by Partha da.. and it rang :eek: wow not bad… and the guy named Minning was the ZPO (Zilla Parishad Officer) of another nearby village Rima.. and luckily he was there in Nampong at that moment and asked me to come to the SDO office which was present just opposite to the bus stand..Met him in the office.. I was lucky enough that Partha da was able to connect him and told about my arrival beforehand… Such a big relief .. He asked for my Passport ,Photographs for the Permit for next day.. We both were not sure whether I would be getting the permit due to loads of hassle.. specially as a solo traveller.. and my luck would be tested next day …will provide the details of permit in the next post… Minning was really an energetic guy.. also took care of my IB booking.. honestly i felt booking the IB in Nampong was the most difficult task the SDO verified my details also asked multiple queries.. and finally I got the approval letter from him..

Minning took me to IB in his SUV .. He was super busy those days so was feeling guilty as he would not be able to give much time for me.. but that was really cool for me as he had already done lot for me till then..The IB was situated on a hill top I guess the on the highest place of Nampong .. The care taker was given strict instruction to treat me royally .. and the busy guy left soon after promising to see me early next morning..

The caretaker and his 2 sons were busy in carrying my backpack also arranging everything in my room.. It was a huge room.. and when I asked for lunch they asked me what I would love to have when I asked chicken.. both the son got ready to accompany me to buy chicken.. so we came down to market.. there was a shortcut but In side dark bush to come to market very difficult… The market was deserted ..i did not notice a single soul.. we headed to someone’s place and bought a kilo of chicken at the price of 300..and returned..

When we reached IB I noticed some ladies around and were trying to pluck Amla .. Hari the younger son told me that they were Burmese :eek: and being that was Friday there used to be a market in Nampong where Burmese were allowed to trade with Indians..they used to bring lot of stuffs to sell but mainly ta Salt in exchange ..I tried to speak to few among them but neither they knew Hindi nor English.. only sign language worked very little..

I was very hungry by then ..nothing much to do as the food was still cooking.. so took a long bath and chatted with Hari.. those people were from Assam and settled there .. both the brothers were ambitious enough to get job in some other IB.. Hari told that after sunset they never dare to come out of IB..as lot of patrolling used to take place.. I was thinking this was so called the disturbed area :eek:

Finally my lunch was ready by 2.30 PM I was half dead by then :D but the amount of food they had given I was in shock specially the amount of chicken.. While buying I thought all would have the meat but those people they cooked only for me :eek: The taste of chicken was heavenly.. a bit similar to bong style.. it was just close to perfect.. Grabbed everything… and i was sure that I would be going to skip dinner for sure..


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Burmese in IB
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nampong
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After lunch I was lazing out with those guys .. I noticed one strange thing.. if electricity would go off from there Mobile network and water supply also went off.. that was really strange.. Even I struggled to make calls as maximum number of calls were connecting to Myanmar :eek:

We were witnessing the amazing sunset over the hills and I received a call from Minning that he got a vehicle for me for next day.. That was a good news…I did not wish to venture outside after sunset.. Decided to be indoor.. and another vehicle came to IB that was from state govt and 2 girls 2 guys and their Odia driver reached there for some official works.. Their plan was to make the Nampong IB as base and would walk to all those remote villages and provide the medical essentials.. they were carrying all the cooking equipment with them .. it was really a difficult task.. Hats off to them..


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nampong town
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most shy buemese
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collection of the Chicken seller
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on historic stilwell road
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sobha
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pasted on IB
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got this watch from the Burmese lady by paying 100 INR
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my awesome lunch
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outside my window
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lovely sunset over Myanmar
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haunted town :p post sunset
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local beer.. taste was yuck
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Though I was not in mood of having dinner.. but the kind guys did not allow me to skip.. and it was again the remaining chicken fried with some veggies and chapatti.. another awesome dish.. seriously I became a fan of the cook and she was none other than their mother J

After dinner I spoke late to those 2 guys till late night .. Just prayed that next day which was quite uncertain become smooth and retired …


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