Before putting my plan in front of my client I made an extensive survey in Nampong, Arunachal Pradesh and upto the “Lake of No Return” in Myanmar and Deban in Namdapha National Park (Changlang District). Finally I choose Deban, not inside the Namdapha National Park, but on the bank of the No-dihing River on the other side of the National Park’s forest IB. After everything finalized, I detailed to the concern authority about the location and also the basic preparation they need to consider; like to be in sporty get up and sporty mind. As per the program they needed to reach Deban on 25th October by the noon or afternoon, overnight in Deban and next day morning trekking, elephant safari, boating, swimming etc.
Since we needed to make a lot of arrangements at the location, we moved one day ahead of the program. I had already collected the entry permits for everyone from the Field Director of Namdapha National Park, Mio office and informed the official that we would enter not via Mio but via Dirak entry gate, Lohit District and through Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary. ILP (inner line permit) to Lohit district is instantly issued at Dirak Gate, and that what I knew and experienced till then. But this time at Dirak Gate, we were told that we need to issue the ILP from Dibrugarh which is some 118 km away from there and there is no more issuance of instant ILP. By that time an unfriendly atmoshphere was waving at the Dirak Gate as a lot people were caught in trouble for the sudden change of the rule. The security person allowed me to go meet the Deputy Commissioner of Lohit district with the promise that I would come back to the gate to let them know what I got. Our car was allowed to enter in Arunachal Pradesh. I landed at the DC office in Namsai and seek the appointment. I explained our purpose to DC (Deputy Commissioner) and told that we had 30 people who would be coming the next day from different parts of Assam and if they were not allowed to enter there would be no other way but to go back. I showed him the entry passes for everyone issued from Mia office. The DC then told me that the passes were to enter Namdapha National Park, Changlang District and he was responsible only for his own Lohit District; how can he allow us. But he called his PA and asked him to prepare entry pass for every one of us listed. Thanked him, got much relief with a little effort. After almost 3 hours we got the prepared permits. Now I had been loaded with one more task, and that is to come back again the next day from Deban to Dirak Gate (100km) to receive them coz ILP were in my hand.
Next day after breakfast I with our driver reached Dirak gate by around 10 am and waited for SBi Life Insurance team. At around 12 noon I got the call from my client that the national highway was blocked by a mob in Kakopather area, Assam and the situation was somehow unrest. After almost 2 hours they could reach Dirak Gate. I told them that we were already late, we should move soon, but there was something unseen that perhaps planned to make the entire episode more thrilling than I planned. We needed to wait for almost 1 hour for one of their car for no major reason at zero point from where the Kamlang forest begins and from there the forest is nearly 47 km in length that we need to cover and it usually takes 2 and a half hours.
Before heading our drive inside the Kamlang Sanctuary I put some points to everyone one of them that-
- 1. Everyone needs to be very careful in driving as the roads was broken in many places, potholes, sharp rocks always ready to puncture the tyres.
- 2. There was a bridge swiped away by the hilly flood last summer and we need to drive by the side of it.
- 3. At two places there were huge uprooted trees fell from the top of the hill over the road like the inclined arm of a triangle and the road there had no shoulder on the other side and is steep down, there were little space to cross the vehicle.
- 4. At places few landslides.
- 5. We would be driving our cars over water stream or river at Kampai, where there was an iron hanging bridge connecting two hills.
- 6. And most importantly there was a RCC Bridge at a sharp descending turn whose half of the entrance was no more as if someone had eaten up the 25% of a slice bread from one corner. For the slightest short of attention this bridge might lead any car to the depth of the hills straight down.
We switched on the ignitions. The road was a narrow one and suitable for one way. By the time darkness already gulped the Kamlang forest. My car was on the lead and wherever I felt the need of an extra caution I stopped and signaled them to safely cross. In the darkness the swiped away bridge was looked ghostly as we passed by it over the boulders. We could only see the lonely thin broken and torn road as if the jungle was squeezing it from the both sides. Small branches were lashing at the body of the cars from the sides.
After about 40-45 minutes we reached Kampai, where we needed to cross the river. Yes, for the people from the city to drive over a river (whatover small may be it) amidst a hilly jungle and that too in darkness, is definitely a great NO. I asked everyone to come out of the cars to lessen the load of the vehicles so that the hidden rocks in the river do not do any harm. They get off the car and felt amazed to feel the cold whistling sound of wind; the touch of the crystal clear river water and its flowing noises with the rocks that made everyone shout the ‘WOO….’ All the troubles that had happened to us so far were the conspiracy of the unknown only to make our drive more thrilled. From here onwards I was requested to wheel one of their cars. Now I am on the wheel and they were three. Throughout the drive I detailed about the road and about the people here as much as I know. They expressed their feelings the way they experience the drive in darkness through the lengthy jungle distance which they never ever thought of. Yeah obviously they had the Goosebumps.
It generally takes 2 and half hours to reach our destination, but this time we took 1 extra hour and after passing through nearly 2 km long wild banana tree forest we reach our destination ‘Camp Namdapha’ where dinner were arranged for them.
Everything was kept ready for them, it’s now their time how they wish, I told. Even after the long tiresome drive they sang, danced, shouted, enjoyed to the fullest with their own ways they could. After the dinner we guided them to their sleeping places. They had no ideas about it. With torches we guided them through small bushes and grassland, a descending slope, 15 minutes walk over boulders and sand to the tents; although it was a very small one, after going through the last hours experiences this too was experienced tiresome.
The night was awesome, the moon was playing hide and seek through clouds, and air was blowing with whistling sound from the top of the hills. No-dihing was creating the symphony, when the cicadas were busy in making their never ending long pitch of sound.
We kept our tents pitched for them from small to big ones and allocate them properly since there were ladies too. On good night wish I told them to sleep tight and relax and just gave a brief geography about their bed rooms’ surroundings. Yes their tents were on the bed of the No- Dihing River, and it was the sub Himalayan Patkai range hills around them. They were tired and we too, but there were four who did not even wish to sleep and enjoyed the night till around 2 am sitting under the sky in the lap of the river making gossips.
Our staff made them awake with black tea and biscuits in the early morning. Coming out of the tents, stretching the body they could not stop the child inside them, which every one of us carry. I could see their eyes, glow of the faces and smiles on their lips.
At breakfast I spoke what next; a short trekking, elephant safari, boating and swimming. Trekking was no longer viable for them as they already had it walking over boulder and sand, ascending and descending the slope, to and fro their so called bedrooms. Staff of the forest dept informed us about the unavailability of elephant. We started enjoying the boating on the crystal green river. The color of the water was so appealing that the first one could not resist to jump into the river to swim, then after few minutes the second, then the third, and within a few minutes everyone (except three) get wetted on the river to swim or to play. Some of them even did not know how to swim, but it was the call of the beautiful nature, so let try…and they were here trying to learn swimming. Even, the ladies, they were not the silent spectator as were seen. They choose a preferred distance and yes they too drenched themselves with the river. A short life spent cheerfully by everyone with all the routines forgotten and now it’s the time for lunch. We had to request them again and again for the lunch, coz they were lost in the beauty of the nature.
After having a complete “khamti traditional” cuisine, it was the time to pack the luggages back to business.
I planned an unusual “offsite meet” but the obstacles on the previous day made it ‘extraordinary’. Every difficulty gave us something new to enjoy. Truly, difficulty is the beginning of a beautiful end.
Courtesy- Mr. Khyanjeet Gogoi, Miss Tine Mena, Miss Ena Menjo, Mrs Antina Maunglang and the staff.
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GLOW LAKE, God had a different plan for us