The Pangsau Pass Winter Festival 2019, just grew bigger and better. Long known as a celebration that transcended international boundaries—the festival brings together the people of India and Myanmar— this year, the organisers have taken another step forward by acknowledging its multicultural flavour. The PPIF 2017 was praised after the hole of 3 years which got a great reaction from vacationers. But the theme of the celebration this year is ‘Simplicity at its best’. The festival will be held in Nampong town, from 20th to 22nd January.
The need for greater international bonhomie, one that would surmount the man-made geographical boundaries of India and Myanmar, was the initial impetus for the winter festival. It was for this festival that the Pangsau pass was actually opened for the very first time, in 2007, at Nampong, the last frontier town on the Indian side of the Indo-Myanmar border. This hamlet, in Changlang district, is nestled along the Patkai Himalayan ranges and is inhabited by one of the major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, the Tangsas.
Visitors can explore the vast variety of flora and fauna that these hill ranges offer. In addition, they also have a once in a lifetime opportunity, of walking through the famous Pangsau Pass, which is situated at the crest of the hill range and offers the easiest and shortest route to Myanmar. The feel of standing at the top of the Pass will live with you forever.
Crossing the Pangsau Pass, one can visit the neighbouring Myanmarese village and tour the ‘Lake of No Return’. The history of the lake is enough to give one goosebump—it was named so for the mysterious disappearance of warplanes in this area during the Second World War, as they flew over the hilly terrain en route to Kunming in China and Chabua, Assam. But the truth of the matter— did all those planes crash by accident, or was there some other reason for their disappearance?—still remains unknown, and gives the lake its mystery and magnetism.
The historical Stilwell Road, which was used during World War II, traverses through Ledo-JairampurNampong and connects to Myanmar via the Pangsau Pass (the road section from Jairampur to Nampong and then Pangsau Pass is now a 2-lane national highway, NH-315). Enroute, one can visit and pay respects at a World War II cemetery in the area, and the infamous ‘Hell Gate Bridge’. These World War II features mark the significance of the Pangsau Pass and its true essence—it was along this alignment that one of the world’s most difficult roads was constructed, from Ledo in Assam to Kunming in China via Myanmar, which became known as the Stilwell Road.
Nampong is the last frontier town on the Indian side of the Stilwell Road. This upcoming season, the international festival promises to showcase the various ethnic groups of the local tribes, especially the Tangsas of Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. The Tangsas, with their different sub-tribes, offer visitors an extravagant treat in terms of a wide variety of folk songs, dances, costumes, culture, art and local cuisines. The homestay provisions, along with pitched tent camps nearby, provide added opportunity to travellers to have a feel of the tribal lifestyles. Visitors can taste local cuisines and experience the warm hospitality of the people.