To Pangsau Pass along the Stilwell road
(A Photo Story)
It was a dream journey to a land and along the historic Stilwell road about which we had heard during childhood. The country of Aung Sun Suu Ki, a woman leader with indomitable spirit. Constructed between 1942-1945 under the leadership of General Joseph Stilwell, this 1736-km long historic road connects Ledo in Assam with Kunming in China’s Yunan province.
We were thrilled by the very first sight of this road with memories of World War II embedded on it about which we had read in our history books. The journey along the road was more thrilling.
Pangsau Pass on India-Myanmar border is 61.38 km off Ledo. We drove through Lekhpani, Jagun on Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border, Changlang district of the neighbouring state. From Jairampur on Assam- Arunachal Pradesh border Pangsau Pass via Nampong is about 35.5 km.
Rainforests on both sides of the road, lush green valley, tea gardens, rows of tokou trees, beautiful flowers greeted us. We bowed our heads as we came across burials of many unknown soldiers who laid down their lives during the War.
The altitude of Pangsau Pass, which witnessed centuries of migrations, is 3727 feet. We reached Myanmar. History says that a Burmese King married an Ahom princess while many Burmese soldiers stayed back in Assam when the Burmese invaded Assam and fought with the Ahoms who ruled the state for 600 years. A blood relation between the people in Assam and Myanmar cannot, therefore, be ruled out.
We reached Pangsau market. Apart from other Myanmarese communities there are also Myanmerese Nagas but all clad in national attire.
Motorbikes are the primary mode transport in the area. We came across people riding 125 cc Canda motorbike not found in India. We walked along the hilly dirt road for about 1.5km. Dilapidated roads speak volume about tumultuous struggle the people waged under the leadership of Aung Sun Suu Ki against the Military Junta.
The sight of able and self-reliant Myanmerese Women dominating the Pangsau Pass market was inspiring. Local produce of Myanmar is sold in the market.
Chinese and Monoglian influence on their food habit is discernible. We sipped coffee and tasted noodles. Myanmerese women who blackened their teeth as part of their tradition merrily posed for few snaps. School girls and the women had their cheeks coated with Chandan paste.
The famous Lake of No Return was veiled in mist.
We had to return even though we longed to stay longer. We will always cherish the memories of this thrilling trip to the country and its people about whom the Assamese people have always been curious.
Photo and text - Girimallika Saikia
( Girimallika Saikia teaches in a High School in Golaghat district of Assam. A nature lover, Saikia also loves to spend time with children. She has special interest in photography. She can be reached at email@example.com)