STILLWELL ROAD/LEDO TOUR
The Stillwell road: During World war II in early part of 1942, the Japanese occupied Burma and the Allied Army was driven to India (Arunachal, Nagaland and Manipur). Chiang kai Sak’s Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) Army was major force fighting against the Japanese following latter’s invasion of mainland China. Thus KMT Army became a natural ally of the Allied forces. South East Asiatic Command headed by Admiral Lord Mountbatten was formed to drive the Japanese out of region.
The Allies consisting of Chinese Nationalist forces to the North, the American and British forces to the south had their tasks clearly cut out. Field Marshall Slim of British Army the commander of the famed 14th Army was responsible for Southern then Burmese sector while American General Stillwell was responsible for northern Burmese sector.
His responsibility also included supplying of war like materials to KMT forces whose weapons and equipments were comparatively obsolete. General Stillwell was busy in constructing landing grounds in upper Assam viz., Ledo, Dinjan, Doom Dooma and Misamari etc. The objective was to maintain a continous chain of supply to KMT army across Patkai ranges to Northern Burma and Chinese Yunan province. Due to extremely difficult nature of terrain across which the air operation was maintained, it was called, “Hump Route”. Maintaining a major force by air can only be short term and in Long run it is not militarily and economically sustainable. With this perception in view, Gen Stillwell commenced constructionof a road from Ledo through Jairampur, Nampong across Paangsu Pass. Ultimate objective was to link Chinese Yunan province. He made considerable progress in the road construction. However Field Marshall Slim drove the Japanese out of Burma through combination of land, air borne and sea borne operations. Thus Stillwell road construction came to a halt.
The roadwork, which started in April 1942 with a length of 1079 miles, was completed by Oct. 1944. The road connected many important placesbetween Ledo in Assam and Kunming in China. While 36 miles fall in India, 646 miles in Burma and 397 miles in China respectively. Kunming was linked with railway to Chinese Nationalist Capital of Chunking. After the war India and Burma became independent of British rule. Mao’s Communists China drove out Chiang Kai Sak’s Nationalist China to Formosa (Taiwan). Due to new political equations in the region this famous road was consigned to history rather than progressing it fot the benefit of the area and commerce in the region. History now is being reversed.
The tea growing town of Dibrugarh in Assam and its neighborhood are intimately connected with the Second World War. It was the airfields around Dibrugarh that were used by the Americans to fly supplies over the Himalayas – “Flying the Hump” – to China. The nearby town of Ledo is where the famous Stilwell or Ledo Road that cut across northern Burma originated.
This day-long tour gives you a chance to uncover the fascinating Second World War-related history of the area. It takes in the colonial town of Digboi, home of the excellent Digboi Oil Museum and a Second World War cemetery maintained by the UK-based Commonwealth and War Graves Commission. You drive along and to the end – at Lekhapani – of a frontier railway line that was crucial for carrying Allied supplies during the war. A highlight is the thrill of exploring the abandoned Ledo Airfield, one of those used for flights over the “Hump”. The tour also takes in a visit to Zero Point, the starting point of the famous Ledo or Stilwell Road, and a short drive up the road to get a feel for it. Finally, you have the option of experiencing the fabled life of a tea plantation manager by staying at a heritage tea bungalow around Dibrugarh.
Indian nationals have the extra option of applying for an Inner Line Permit (ILP) and crossing over to Arunachal Pradesh to see the remains of Chinese graves at the war cemetery near Jairampur.
The nearest International Airport is Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati. It is connected with the major cities like Delhi, Imphal, Kolkata, Agartala, Aizawl, Dibrugarh, Lilabari, Silchar, Dimapur, Jorhat and Mumbai.
The nearest railway station is Naharlagun/Itanagar. There are daily trains running from Itanagar to Guwhati and Rajdhani express which runs twice a week.
You can book a cab or travel by public transport from Guwahati.
The best time to travel is between October and March
Things to keep in mind before traveling
- Every tourist visiting Arunachal Pradesh needs to obtain an Inner Line Permit and a Protected Area Permit which can be collected from Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati or Tezpur airports.
- The weather in the north-east is pretty unpredictable, so be prepared to have delays due to the bad weather.
- Roads in the north east are being converted into double lane, so right now they aren’t in the best shape.
- Locals are friendly and helpful. Be patient as not everyone will know fluent Hindi or English.
- Most cell phone networks don’t work well, so inform your family or friends about your whereabouts whenever possible.
- Don’t forget to carry some ready to cook food packets or instant noodles if you’re strictly a vegetarian.
- Carry extra batteries, power banks and most importantly warm clothing.
- Keep at least a couple of extra days in hand in case of any problems like landslides and bad weather on your way.
Day 1: Delhi- Dibrugarh: Arrive at Dibrugarh airport. Transfer to Hotel.
Day 2: Dibrugarh-Jairampur: 145kms/ 4-5hrs drive. After breakfast, drive to Jairampur on NH-153 pretty much on the Ledi road. Enroute stop at Ledo, visit the Allied landing strip. The visit to Tipong colliery where machines and facilities of the British era are still used a place frozen in time, then unto Digboi, the birth place of oil in India. Visit the oil museum and commomwealth war cemetery. Reach Jairampur late evening.Stay at Government guest house
Day 3: Jairampur- Nampong 26 kms : Visit the recently discovered cemetery of Chinese engineers who died constructing the Ledo road. During the construction of Stillwell road many laborers from China, Burma and India were engaged.. Apart from ground and air action, a heavy toll of human lives was taken by various jungle and water borne diseases like malaria, dysentery, snake bites and other calamities such as flood, landslides and forest fire. The mortal remains of aforeside casualties were buried in the cemetery.
Day 4: Nampong-Pangsaw pass 15 kms : Morning drive to the famous Pangsaw pass,from where you have a splendid view of the Lake of no return. The legend says that during World War-II, The Allied forces used this lake for soft emergency landing and in the course of this many aircrafts and their crews perished into the lake. Hence the name, “Lake of No Return”. Picnic lunch at the pass. Afternoon drive back Nampong. O/n Govt. guest house
Day 5: Nampong – Dibrugarh: 171 kms/ 5-6 hrs: Early breakfast, drive to Dibrugarh, on arrival check-in hotel, evening at leisure. O/n Hotel
Day 6: Fly out to Delhi/Kolkotta
Drive to Kohima. Overnite at hotel Japfu
Day 7: After breakfast visit the Kohima war Cemetry, state meuseum,local market and other important sites of IInd WW.
Day 8: Drive to Imphal. After lunch visit to the War cemetery and state museum
Day 9: Drive to Moirang and visit the INC museum then Loktak lake. Drive back to Imphal
Day 10: Early morning visit to the colorful Ima market.