This article is a part of my sister’s college project...and I’m publishing this coz majority of people do not know much about Arunachal Pradesh...probably this will throw a little light on the region...
Pangsau Pass, 3727 feet in altitude, lies on the crest of the Patkai Hills on the India-Burma(Myanmar) border. Pangsau pass is a passage in the mountain ranges that lie at the border. It opens twice a month, on 15th and 30th, to encourage trade and tourism between the two countries. Nampong, Arunachal Pradesh is the last stop in the Indian Territory towards Pangsau Pass. The pass became famous during the World War II as the initial obstacle encountered by American General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell's forces, while constructing a land route to isolated China. The 61 km (38 miles) road that connects the Indo- Burma pass, from Ledo, is known as Stillwell road or Ledo road. It was also nicknamed "Hell Pass" during the war due to the fierce gradients and the mud that made the route difficult. Pangsau, the first Burmese village, lies 2 km beyond the pass to the east.
Today, the pass is considered to be one of the most important aspects to improve Indo-Burma relations, in terms of trade, tourism, and cultural identity. “The pass was made in 1945 during the second World War to connect to Burma and China through land. To enter Burma legally through the Pass one needs to get a pass from the administrative office (EAC), Nampong. It is an exhilarating experience. From the Pass we can see the ‘Lake Of No Return’ - a 15-km drive from Nampong down the historic Stilwell Road, around which many myths similar to Bermuda Triangle revolve. The Burmese people give you a very warm welcome. The local delicacies are mouth watering, the smile contagious, the responses cordial, and the attitude towards strangers amicable, which makes this place an ideal destination to visit”, said Mr. C. C. Singpho, MLA, 49 Bordumsa-Diyun assembly constituency, District Changlang, Government of Arunachal Pradesh, and the parliamentary secretary for the department of Handloom and Handicraft.
Burma, which is an extremely backward country, gets an opportunity to widen its business and trading options during these two days of every month. A very large section of Burmese people suffer from extreme poverty, however there a few people that own gold mines and are very rich. The local Burmese population faces acute shortage of certain basic amenities like salt, torch, batteries, etc. “The most popular product which Burmese people come to buy is bicycle. It is not available in Burma and even if it is, the rates are sky-rocketing”, adds Mr. Singpho. While the Indian visitors get to shop for various handloom products at extremely cheap rates as Indian currency is much higher than Burma’s. The expensive local artefacts are available for us at quite an affordable price. “If you are looking for traditional Burmese goods, Pangsau is the place. One can get beautiful handloom products without making a hole in the pocket. You can also get a taste of a wide range of local delicacies that are an absolute treat”, said Mr. Singpho.
Through this exercise, Burma also intends to improve tourism opportunities in the country. The country has many tourist attractions that come into spotlight during these two days. People not only from the ‘Seven- Sisters’, but also from far off places like Bihar, Bengal and other states, visit to enjoy the sceneries of this beautiful terrain. “I went there twice and it was a wonderful experience, both for my business and holiday”, said Mr. Beta Kimsing, a reputed businessman of Jairampur, Arunachal Pradesh, who runs various business institutions around the state including Handloom and local artefacts.
Pangsau Pass is the main hub of cultural diversification for the people of India and Burma. Relatives living on either side of the border get a chance to meet each other on these days. These two days, one can see the mixing of various tribes. Also, a temporary visa is provided by the administrative office to those people who intend to stay more than the given deadline. For this, the person has to inform a few days prior and go through the necessary interrogation.
One thing that defines Pangsau pass and the region around it is “The Pangsau Pass winter festival”, an initiative of the legislative speaker Mr. Setong Sena. Started in 2007, the festival has been a huge success ever since. The festival unfolds the serenity of this secluded place.offers international exposure to almost all the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. These festivities have altered a sweet sleepy town like Nampong, Jairampur and its neighbourhoods into global village or tourism hub. It has helped to integrate distinct tribes and cultures in the region that once drifted due to religious differences. This festival
The Pangsau pass winter festival is an unforgettable event which blends the joy of New Year to various ethnic amusements. The festival provides an enriching experience of Arunachal Pradesh and its culture and cuisine. Nampong, the venue of the Pangsau Pass Winter Festival, is an EAC headquarter for Changlang district (situated in the south-eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh). A small hilly town along the Indo-Myanmar border and Namchik river basin, Nampong is covered with evergreen tropical rainforest.
The festival provides us the heady thrill of the folk songs and dances, fashion shows, the ethnic food fiesta, traditional sports, the Pangsau Pass expedition, sightseeing, eco-trekking, boating on the Rima and Namchik river, Burmese culture, as well as visits to the World War-II Cemetery, the Border bazaar, The Lake of No Return and The Hell Gate, amongst other attractions. The most interesting land mark which catches your eyes during the trip to Pangsau pass is the coffee garden in Jairampur. One can also see the aeroplane that crashed during the World War II stuck in a tree in the coffee garden. The jungle which spreads from Jairampur to Nampong is covered with the Rudraksh trees in wild.
“People from as far as Kashmir set up stalls at this festival at very affordable prices. It is a merger of colours, fun, games and food. Burmese also participate in the festival with full enthusiasm, which is held on the border for improving our relations with each other”, said Biswajit Paul, a resident of Jairampur.
Mr. Singpho also mentioned that Burma is one of the most backward countries with poor infrastructure. “India, being an advanced and powerful country, can help Burma build good roads to help them become a major trade centre as it has numerous gold and precious stone mines. This will also help the unemployed youth to become self-employed”, added Mr. Singpho. NEC (North Eastern Council) and Tourism Department of Arunachal Pradesh are working upon building better roads between India and Burma through Pangsau pass to improve trade options.
“Earlier excursion in Burma was free, but today it is restricted because unlike India, there is military rule. We get only two days in a month to visit the place and to top it, journalists, especially fair-skinned reporters, are not allowed to cross the border. We can only hope that Pangsau pass will lead to the betterment of people in Burma”, concluded Mr. Singpho.