I get up early and finish my morning routines. As it was a manager’s bungalow, the facilities were excellent. I take an early morning walk in their kitchen garden and lawn. It was so beautiful and well maintained that I wished, in my younger days I also should have worked as a tea estate manager somewhere. I just asked myself, what is not there in this garden. From carrots, beans, ladies fingers to beetroots, tomatoes and chilies to lemons to oranges to mangoes to Indian breed cows to what not… You name it, and it was there. All were fresh and organic.
The Tyagis gift us a packet of their best tea powder. We gladly accept the same. After breakfast, we start our journey. We enter Digboi town and visit the Digboi Centenary Oil Museum. It is a well documented and maintained museum. It is constructed in a place where the very first oil well of Digboi was dug. From here we go to Digboi war cemetery. It was constructed in the memory of around 155 soldiers, who sacrificed their lives during the Second World War. The list included soldiers from various religions and nations.
We move on and notice that the tea estates slowly start disappearing. Then there were many coal mines, which we came across.
Next, we come across a board which announces the start of the famous Stilwell Road. We take some snaps and move on. Now the road which we are travelling is the beginning and part of the Stilwell Road. Of course, the old road had become part of NH38, and is in good condition.
Next we come across a junction called Jagun, where the road diverts in two directions. The driver takes the left one without inquiring, and after 8 km, we come across Assam-Arunachal Pradesh (AS-AR) Namchik Check Post. On enquiry, we were told that, for Stilwell Road, we must have taken the right turn at Jagun. So we return to Jagun, and then take the Stilwell road. After around 15 km, we reach Jairampur check post on AS-AR border. For our bad luck, this route was not mentioned, while getting the inner line permit. So the police refuse to let us move further. Vaibhav tells me that he thought that the Stilwell road was the one which also goes to Miao, Arunachal Pradesh our next destination. And that is why he had not mentioned this place while filling the Inner Line Permit (ILP). I beg with the police, and after greasing him, he lets us in but more was in store. After a km we come across a military check post. They also check our ILP, and we are directed to approach the ADC for a pass. We went to his office and request him, only to be rudely told that we might get it at the end of the day or next day. Unfortunately we didn’t have that much time at our disposal. We request him but it falls on deaf ears. Now you know why it is so difficult to travel in Arunachal Pradesh. The Govt. officials are least bothered about improving tourism and other development work.
So with a broken heart, we came back to Namchik Check Post. In the process we wasted precious time and money.
Our next destination is Miao, the last village in this route. And how is the road? Don’t call it as a road. It is just boulders. The Namdapha forest starts from here. It looks as if we are travelling in a reserve forest. Occasionally we come across some villages. Otherwise it is just green and green. And we reach Miao at 3 pm.
Miao is a much bigger town than what I thought of. It had an SBI branch, hotels, lots of shops selling all kind of merchandise, BSNL, Reliance and Airtel network, electronic repair shops etc. We take our lunch quickly. Then Vaivhav goes to forest department to get the necessary permits. I just move around the town roads. It becomes dark at 4 pm here and all the Govt. departments stop working by then. But here was a nice Govt. servant called Mallik, who worked till 5.30 pm and gave us the permits to enter and trek in the Namdapha Tiger Reserve. May his tribe increases.
We try for some accommodation at the Govt. lodges and manage to get one in a Circuit House. And settle for the night.