The British had come to Assam in the early 1800’s much before the State had gone under the British rule. They had come to seek for alternates to the Tea of China when their Tea trade with China had run into rough weather. It was here in Assam that they discovered the “Camellia Asamica” (better renowned today as the Assam CTC Tea) and in 1839 the Assam Company was incorporated that started producing and exporting the famous Assam Tea).
But as history tells us, no successful business is established without initial hurdles. The tea factories in upper Assam mostly in the region of ‘Chabua’ (‘Cha’ meaning Tea and ‘Bua’ meaning to Grow) were located at a far of distance from the nearest available River port at Dibrugarh. Transportation from the tea factories to the port became an impossible task due to non availability of proper transportation facilities as at that time most of this region was under thick forest cover. Though God was bountiful enough to provide all the required natural resources for the Tea industry to flourish in this part of the country like coal and oil; transportation of these resources to the tea garden became a much bigger challenge for the British! And as per the teachings of the Best Management Courses courses in the World today, the British too were aware of the fact that only manufacturing a product was not sufficient for it to gather the attention of the buyers – effective selling, marketing and customer reach was necessary to make the product an instant hit!
Learning from this management principle the British decided to set up an efficient Rail route across this part of the country to ensure not only a viable transportation mode to the Dibrugarh port but also to ensure the requisite mineral resources to run these tea factories efficiently reach on time. This Rail route came to be known as the ‘Dibru Sadiya’ railway.
It was in 1881, that the British Raj under the able guidance of Dr. John Berry White and Mr. Benjamin Piercy established the Assam Railways and Trading Company (AR&T Company). This company was constituted with three (3) objectives in mind:
To constitute an efficient Rail route across the Dibru Sadiya terminal
To develop the coal mining techniques across the Coal reserves in Makum – namely Tikak, Namdang, Tipong, Tirap, Baragolai and Ledo
Improving the shipping route and services in the region
Keeping in mind their objectives to reach the above mentioned mission statements the Assam Railways and Trading Company started the construction of the Dibru-Sadiya Railway and it was on the 15th of August, 1882 that the rail route was opened from the Dibrugarh Port to Dinjan. The construction continued and on 23rd December 1882, the rail route was opened ’til Chabua. The route for the passenger train from the Makum junction was opened to public on the 16th of July, 1883.
The memoirs of the Dibru-Sadiya Railway are well preserved at the Railway Heritage Park and Museum at Tinsukia where one can also view Steam Locomotives that built the success story of one the World’s largest Railway Organization – the Indian Railways!
Jungleideas welcomes you to India’s North East to witness the History of the Dibru-Sadiya Railway and its memories at the Heritage Railway Park and Museum, Tinsukia, the State of Assam, Incredible India!
Jungleideas welcomes you to the Tour of Reliving the Grandeur of the British Raj in Assam. The British had come to Assam in the early 1800’s much before the State had gone under the British rule. They had come to seek for alternates to the Tea of China when their Tea trade with China had run into rough weather. It was here in Assam that they discovered the “Camellia Asamica” (better renowned today as the Assam CTC Tea) and in 1839 the Assam Company was incorporated that started producing and exporting the famous Assam Tea).
Gradually, the knowledge of the bountiful lands of Assam reached the ears of the other powerful men of the ‘British Raj’ who visited this land in search of opportunities to explore other availability of natural resources. It was during the visit of Mr. John Berry White, a civil surgeon, who found out the possibility of coal in Assam. Under his able guidance the Makum Coalfield was discovered and coal mines were opened at Tikak (1884), Namdang (1896), Tirap (1904), Baragolai (1909), Tipong (1924) and Namdang Dip Mine (1904). These expeditions also lead to the discovery of Oil when the first Oil well was dug at Digboi on October 19th 1889 resulting in the establishment of Asia’s oldest Oil Refinery at Digboi. Timber requirements were harnessed from the abundant forests at the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary. Tea exports needed plywood boxes that led to the establishment of Asia’s first Plywood Factory at Margherita. ‘Til this time it was only the British who came here. It was only during the Second World War than Americans came to Assam to setup one of the toughest challenges to beat the Japanese – ‘Building the famous Stilwell Road across the Pangsau Pass (Hell Pass)’. Under the able guidance of General Vinegar Joe Stilwell the Stilwell Road was constructed and it helped in restoring the Allies contact with the Chinese troops that proved as a major step in crushing the Imperial Japanese Army. Traces of American establishment can be found here at the Military Hospital at Margherita.
During your tour to Upper Assam:
Enjoy your stay at the heritage Tea Bungalow at Tinsukia/Dibrugarh
Visit the Railway Museum at Tinsukia that showcases the establishment of Dibru Sadiya Railway by the British
Experience the Grandeur of the Longest Bridge in India ~ the ‘Dhola Sadiya’ Bridge
Visit the Oil Refinery and observe History of Oil at Digboi Museum
Visit the Coal Mines at Tirap Colliery and Tipong Colliery
Tread along the Stilwell Road
Visit the Historic Ledo Airstrip and the Lekhapani Railway Station
Witness and Indulge in Tea plucking with Tea Garden Tribes at Ledo
Visit India’s only Coal Museum at Margherita
Spot the centenary old Steam Locomotives by W G Bagnall at Margherita and Tipong
Enjoy Ecotourism at its best with the Singpho Tribes of Assam
Be a part of the Tour of Reliving the Grandeur of the British Raj powered by Jungleideas
In this tour you will also visit one the best bio diversity spots of India – The National Park of Dibru-Saikhowa that is known for its population of White winged wood duck in its natural habitat and also for its bright colored Wild Horses known as Feral Horses. Some rare and endangered animals of this sanctuary are Hoolock Gibbon, Capped Langur, Slow loris, Water Buffalo, Tiger, Elephant, Gangetic river dolphin, etc.
Tour Itinerary ~
Day 1: Arrive at Dibrugarh Airport. On arrival you will be received by our representative at the airport offering a warm welcome in traditional Assamese style. From the Airport drive to Tinsukia. Check into the Tea Garden Bungalow. In the late afternoon we will visit the Borajan Wildlife Sanctuary at Tinsukia. In the Evening we will visit the Heritage Railway Museum at Tinsukia. Night stay at the Heritage Tea Garden Bungalow.
Day 2: Early morning we will take a tour of the National Park of Dibru Saikhowa aboard a River Cruise. Breakfast/Lunch will be served aboard the River Cruise. After the River Cruise we will visit the ‘Napukhuri’ Pond at Tinsukia that was dug in 1791 and is a popular tourist attraction here. Night stay at a Comfortable Hotel.
Day 3: After breakfast depart to Roing in Arunachal Pradesh. On our journey we will travel over the Longest Bridge in India ~ the ‘Dhola Sadiya’ Bridge on the mighty Brahmaputra River. Check into Tourist Lodge/Eco Cottages at Roing. Evening visit the local market at Roing. Night halt at Tourist Lodge/Eco Cottages at Roing.
Day 4: Early morning we will depart to Mayodia Pass. At an altitude of above 3000 feet Mayodia Pass is one of the toughest motorable roads in North East India. Admire the breath taking beauty of the snow capped mountains at Mayodia and later depart to the Legendary oil town of Digboi. Night stay at a comfortable Guest House.
Day 5: After breakfast we will proceed to see the World War II cemetery at Digboi that has around 200 burials of British Soldiers who laid down their lives during line of duty at the World War II. Later we will depart to the Digboi Museum that will give you an elaborate display of the Oil history of Assam during the British Regime. After lunch we will visit the Digboi Park from where you will get an Excellent view of the Digboi refinery. Evening we will go to Margherita. Night halt at a comfortable Hotel/Guest House and evening Bon fire will be arranged.
Day 6: After breakfast depart to the Faneng Village in Lekhapani to witness the rich culture and traditions of the Tai Phake Tribes of Assam. On our way we will visit the Historic Lekhapani Railway Station. Spend time with the local tribal people and understand their way of living. Our journey will continue to the border of Arunachal Pradesh where we will visit the World War II cemetery at Jairampur. Enjoy traditional Singpho lunch at the Singpho Restaurant in Jagun. On our way back to Margherita we will visit Tipong Colliery and get a glimpse of the Oldest Operational Steam Locomotives in the World here. Visit the Sumi Naga Village at Tipong. Night halt at the Hotel.
Day 7: After Breakfast we will visit the Tirap Colliery to experience open cast coal mining. Later we will visit the International Meditation Center at the Mounglang Buddhist monestary and also visit the Historic Ledo Airstrip. Afternoon lunch will be served at the Singpho Villa Restaurant. In the afternoon we will visit India’s only Coal Museum at Margherita. This museum has many historical artifacts from the Second World War. Visi the remains of the 20th General Hospital at Margherita which was built by the American Army during World War II and was rated as a Class A Hospital of the American Army. Night halt at the Singpho Eco Lodge at Margherita.
Day 8: In the morning we will visit the nearby Singpho village where you will get to experience traditional Singpho life and see the ladies weaving exclusive Singpho handlooms. Enjoy your first hand experience at Tea plucking with the Tea garden tribes of Assam. Later we will visit the remains of the Namdang Colliery at Namdang. Seek blessings at the Muslim Shrine of the Namdang Bibi Majhar. Enjoy your drive along the beautiful roads along the well kept Tea gardens. Drive to Changlang and witness the beauty of Landscape where the clouds kiss the mountains. Late afternoon we will visit the Asia’s first plywood factory at Margherita. Night Halt at the Singpho Eco Lodge.
Day 9: Early morning visit the Buddhist Monastery near the Eco Lodge. After breakfast you will depart to the Dibrugarh Airport for your onward destination. Trip Ends. Bid Adieu.
Image Gallery ~
The Historic Stilwell Road that marked the Allied forces march to victory over the Japanese
The 796 Steam Locomotive at Tipong Colliery in Assam
The John Steam Locomotive by W G Bagnall Stafford at India’s only coal museum at Margherita
The Shelly Steam locomotove by WG Bagnall of Stafford on display at India’s Coal Museum at Margherita
The Digboi Second World War Cemetery has been built and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The neatly arranged graves of the soldiers at the Green Digboi War Cemetery
The Air Shelter of the Second World War at the Digboi Oil Museum
Tools used in Oil drilling on Display at the Centenary Oil museum at Digboi
The Discover Oil Well No. 1 from where oil was first commercially drilled at Digboi in October 1889
The Front View of the Tilinga Mandir at Bordubi in Tinsukia
The Colonial Bungalows of the British Era at Tipong Colliery
The famous David Steam Locomotive at Tipong Colliery in Assam
The Historic Lekhapani Railway Station on the Stilwell Road at Lekhapani Army Cantonment in Assam
The Namdang Tea Estate is one of the oldest Tea Estates of Assam located in the proximity of the Namdang Underground coal mines of Assam
The Margherita Tea Estate factory is located at Margherita and is under the flagship of McLeod Russel India Limited
RUCKLE Machinery at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam
The Centenary year celebration of the AR and T Company at the Asia’s Oldest Plywood Factory of the AR and T Company at Margherita in Assam
The Underground Coal Mining Setup at India’s only Coal Museum at Margherita
Entrance of the Namdang Coal Mine as on 1948
Open cast mining at the present day at Tirap Colliery near Margherita
Open Cast Mining by Volvo Earth Movers at Tirap Opencast Colliery
The Historic Ledo Airstrip that was used as a landing ground for Aircrafts of the Western Allies
Welcome to the Legendary Oil Town of Assam at Digboi
The Entrance to the International Meditation Center at the Mounglang Khamti Buddhist Monestary at Monglang near Ledo in Assam
The Pangsau Pass or the Hell’s Pass and Indo Mynamar Border
The North East Coal fields is one of the primary industry at Margherita and its surrounding areas
Asia’s oldest Refinery – the Digboi refinery that has the oldest operational oil well in the World. Source: wowindia
View of the Landscape from the Tai Phake Ecotourism Camp
A quaint town located amidst the green hills and the lush tea gardens in the extreme north-eastern corner of the country speaks of a legendary history which in due time has lost its grandeur. In our quest to relive these moments of the past, Jungleideas narrates to you this story of the Assam Railways & Trading Company (AR&T Company) and Asia’s oldest Plywood Factory ‘The AR&T Plywood Industries’ at Margherita, the State of Assam, Incredible India!
The AR&T company was established on 30th July 1881, with a prime focus on harnessing the undiscovered potentials of natural and mineral resources in the blessed lands of Assam. The credited of establishing this company goes to two prominent people of the erstwhile ‘British Raj’ in India – Dr. John Berry White and Mr. Benjamin Piercy. Dr. John Berry White, a Civil Surgeon, played a very significant role in the early development of the Assam’s mineral resources including the opening of the Makum Coalfields. Mr. Benjamin Piercy, on the other hand was a Civil Engineer from Britain who had to his credit, the establishment of major lengths of Railway Connectivity across the British Empire.
The contribution of the Ar&T company to the initial development of the Indian industries had been immense which had begun by the establishment of the pioneer Tea and Steamer companies in India. It was the first company to establish a full fledged railway route across the State of Assam in the form of the Dibru Sadiya Railway. The coal mines and collieries were later established in Assam in 1884-85. At the same time, five steamers and sixteen flats were brought into service on the rivers. Oil was struck in 1889 and ten years years later the Assam Oil Company was formed. Sawmills were established at Margherita and the Brickworks at Ledo. The Makum (Assam) Tea Company came into being in 1892 and the Namdang Tea Company in 1916, to which, a few years later, was added the Bogapani Tea Estate. This was all achieved under the able founders of the AR&T Company and their able guidance. But it was in 1924, that the Company built the Margherita Plywood Factory for the manufacture of three-ply chests that made the AR&T Company one of the pioneers of this industry in India!
During the establishment of these industries across the Makum district of Assam a pressing need of quality timber was aroused. Timber also became a prime necessity in the planning of rail routes and building of the Margherita and Doom Doomba bridges. Then again there was also a sufficient need in the coal mines. This demand of Timber led to the establishment of the first Sawmill on the south bank of the Dehing River near Margherita Station, conveniently placed for the Margherita Bridge and the collieries which for sonic years continued to absorb a major part of the output. Public demand at that time was limited mainly to tea box shook made of simul.
Although the art of veneering was practiced from early times, it was not mull the introduction of rotary cutting of veneers that the commercial possibilities of plywood were apparent. Weight for weight, plywood resists the strains of ordinary use to a much greater extent than solid boards. It keeps its size and shape better and is less liable to saturation. For these reasons, it has been widely adopted for use where lightness and strength are required, as in packing cases and especially tea chests. ‘Til this time, tea was packed in boxes of swan timber, known in the trade as shook and each box weighed nearly twice the modern three-ply chest.
This new discovery prompted the Directors of the Company to set up the Plywood factory at Margherita and the necessary machinery was ordered in 1922. Production began in 1924, and plywood boxes marketed under the name “Margherita” achieved a great success. Production continued and gradually lead to a total output of approximately five million square feet a year in the recent years ’til the modern day timber felling norms led to an complete halt of the production in 1996.
Although closing onto almost a hundred years since its inception this plywood factory still has machinery and equipment from Germany and Italy that are operational ’til today.
Jungleideas welcomes you to India’s North East to witness the History of the Assam Railways and Trading Company (AR and T Company) and Asia’s oldest Plywood Factory ‘The AR and T Plywood Industries’ at Margherita, the State of Assam, Incredible India!
A quaint town located amidst the green hills and the lush tea gardens in the extreme north-eastern corner of the country speaks of a legendary history which in due time has started to lose its grandeur. In our quest to relive these moments of the past, Jungleideas narrates to you this story of the Legendary Oil Town of Assam – Digboi (home to ‘Asia’s oldest Oil Refinery’ and the ‘Oldest Operational Oil Well in the World’).
The history of Oil in India began to unfold in the early 1800’s at the head of the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam. It was a vast area of rain-forest surrounded by a semi-circle of high mountains and inhabited, in its more liveable parts, by the Singphos, Khamtis, Phakials and other tribes. Into this beautiful yet savage region, with all the hidden an overt dangers of the jungle, men of daring ventured. They came with different agenda; soldiers to ensure tranquillity and safety at the outposts of the British Empire, civil servants with the assignments of various nature, explorers looking for coal and timber and the exclusive tea-leaf. It was during this time that many came across oil seepages and fortunately for posterity, recorded such instances in their dairies and memoirs.
As per the books of history it was in 1866 that Mr. Goodenough of McKillop, Stewart and Company was making an attempt to utilize the petroleum of Assam. He was granted certain rights over a large tract of land on both sides of the Dehing river, from Jaipur to the Noa Dehing. Oil was struck in one hole on March 26th 1867 at 118 feet, as many as eight holes having put down about this time. These results though didn’t allow Mr. Goodenough to establish a petroleum industry.
Attribute of setting up the Oil industry at Digboi goes to the Assam Railways and Trading Company (AR&T). It was under the guidance of Dr. John Barry White that on October 19th 1889, oil was struck at a depth of 178 feet at Digboi. From here started the journey of Oil Industry in India that speaks of a Legend holding its firm base at Digboi – the Legendary Oil town of Assam!
This Legendary history of the Digboi Oil Story is well preserved at the Digboi Centenary Oil Museum which is built on the fringes of Digboi Well No.1 from which oil is still gently seeping. Inaugurated in January 2002, this museum is a treasure house of memorabilia of the past, tools and equipment of the yesteryear s and elegant wall panels depicting the history of Oil refining in India. While an air raid shelter of the World War II greets visitors at the entrance of the museum, the steel rig of Digboi Well No. 1 stands as a silent sentinel of excellence adjacent to the museum building.
Jungleideas welcomes you to India’s North East to visit the Centenary Oil Museum at the Legendary Oil town of Assam – ‘DIGBOI’, home to ‘Asia’s oldest Oil Refinery’ and the ‘Oldest Operational Oil Well in the World’, the State of Assam, Incredible India!
The period of 1939 to 1945 was one of the darkest moments in the history of mankind. It was during this period the world witnessed the Second World War – a state of ‘total war’ where the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. This war brought down the major super powers of the period into ashes. Japan was rocked with the mighty nuclear explosion of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it was after the Second World War that the world realized the might of the Americans!
The World War II might have brought down the will of the Germans and Japanese to be the might of the World but it to be mentioned that all wars lead to destruction of devastating proportion. The World War II too led to the same fate and millions of people were killed around the world that included the soldiers of the Army who laid down their lives to bring peace to the World. The bodies of these brave soldiers were laid to rest across various cemeteries through the World and one of such is the Digboi War Cemetery that was built and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Located very near to the ‘Legendary Oil town of Assam’ – Digboi, this cemetery has about 200 burials mostly of British soldiers who laid their lives during World War II.
A little to elaborate, during the Second World War, Digboi, in the north-eastern corner of the state of Assam, near the Burmese border and on the road to Ledo, was on the lines of communication, and a military hospital was established there. Digboi War Cemetery was started for burials from the hospital and at the end of the war contained 70 burials. Later, the Army Graves Service brought in further graves from burial grounds in Panitola, Jorhat, Margherita, Tinsukia, Ledo, and as well as from the US Military Cemetery at Shingvuoiyang in Burma where permanent maintenance could not be assured. Originally the cemetery stood on a small spur rising sharply from the main road, but an earthquake in 1950 caused cracks here with one fissure extending the full length of the cemetery. Subsequent landslides occasioned by heavy rains, particularly in 1953, so endangered the cemetery that it became necessary to move the graves to the present site which was not likely to be affected by erosion. The cemetery now contains 200 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War.
And truly mentioned in one of the quotes of the cemetery –
‘These graves bear silent testimony to those soldiers, unlisted workers and labourers who ventured into Virgin jungle amid blistering heat and laid down their lives in the line of duty during the Second World War. Whilst part of all forces against the Imperial Japanese Army. THEIR NAME LIVETH FOREVER MORE’
Jungleideas welcomes you to India’s North East to Witness History and Relive the Memoirs of the World War II – the Digboi Cemetery, Digboi Oil Town, the State of Assam, Incredible India!
The history of coal mining in the region of Assam dates back to the later part of the 19th century by the erstwhile Assam Railway and Trading Company (AR&T). A Civil Surgeon, Dr. John Barry White, while founding the Assam Railway and Trading Company played a very significant role in the early development of Assam’s mineral resources including the opening of the Makum Coalfields. Mr. George Turner, a mining engineer from South Staffordshire, also played an important role to transform the jungles and coal outcrops in the area into prosperous collieries in a few years time. Skilled practical miners were first brought from abroad to train Indian Workmen in the “South Staffordshire” method of wining thick coal seams.
The first mining of coal was started in 1882 at Ledo by Railway’s Engineers, when the erstwhile AR&T Company was laying its own Meter Gauge line. In order to increase the output of coal, the following collieries were started: at Tikak (1884), Namdang (1896), Tirap (1904), Baragolai (1909), Tipong (1924) and Namdang Dip (1904). The establishment of these mines were of great importance to the Tea Industry of Assam which hitherto was dependent upon wood fuel. Some indication of the nature of the Makum Coalfields are interpreted in the words of George Turner in 1895:
“Coal has been proved in these hills over the whole length of the Company’s area, and as coal of very nearly similar description is found in the hills twenty miles eastward and thirty miles westward, there can be no doubt of the existence of a large coalfield. The coal in the hills is found at various heights from Zero in the plains lip to 1000 feet above them. The hills conform in longitudinal direction with the strike of the rocks, although they do not form a continuous ridge, being cut through several streams. The coal has a high dip towards the hills, the average being about 1 in 3, but sometimes it is as high as 1 in 2”
All these erstwhile company mines were Nationalized on 1st May, 1973 and vested with the Central Government of India. At present, the entire coal production of North Eastern coalfields comes from Makum coalfield of Margherita Area, comprising of six mine of which Tipong, Ledo/Lachit Khani and Baragolai are underground mines (temporarily suspended due to DGMS violations) and Tirap, Ledo and Tikak are opencast mines. Both productivity and safety in these mines had improved significantly after nationalization.
Coal mining in Assam in extremely difficult. The area represents a typically folded and faulted mountain belt of Tertiary strata bounded by thrusts. the problem frequently encountered are steep inclination of coal seams, complex seam structure like inter-banding, irregular with thickness variations. The seams are highly gassy,susceptibility to spontaneous combustion, friable coal and poor roof and floor conditions.. The Chief Inspector of mines, in his annual report of 1929 referred to these coalfields as being “where the worst natural conditions of all the coal mines in India have to be faced.”
Certain methods of Underground Coal Mining in Makum Coalfields:
Bhaska Method: Blocks of inclined and thick coal seams are developed on Board and Pillar System. The junction of a level gallery and a dip-rise gallery is then widened and heightened by drilling and blasting to form a dome shaped void which is self supported. The dome is kept on widening and heightening till the roof coal starts caving down automatically. As in this method the recovery is low it is no longer practiced.
Tipong Method: Very similar to the Bhaska method of mining in the Tipong Method, between two sub levels, a funnel is made in coal along the dip-rise gallery which is kept unsupported. Then a slot is cut from Hanging Wall to Foot Wall along the dip-rise direction with a limited width to provide a free face. Towards outbye of the slot, rings of drill-holes are made and blasted to make the broken coal flow onto the funnel.
Descending Shield Method: A Coordinated effort with engineers of erstwhile USSR, this method was introduced in 1983-84. A Shield of timber beams, reinforced with Steel, is made and placed horizontally from Hanging Wall to Foot Wall and coal is blasted below the same to make it flow downward. The Shield descends downward making a canopy above the work-persons face. This practice has been discontinued now.
Flexible roofing method: Here, in place of a shield, artificial roofing is made out of MS-strips and wire netting which is hinged at the Hanging Wall at the top of the panel. Blasting and loading is done below artificial roofing. Roof rocks cave down over the artificial roofing and do not get mixed with the blasted coal. Likewise, the whole block is de-coaled below the artificial roofing.
The History of Coal Mining in Assam is put up on an elaborate display at India’s only Coal Museum at Margherita where visitors get to experience the thrill of underground coal mining. Also put up on display are Steam Locomotives built by W G Bagnall of Stafford in the late 1800’s. Operational Steam locomotives of the likes of ‘796’ and ‘DAVID’ are to be found at Tipong Colliery. The Open cast mining experience can be enjoyed at Tirap Colliery that practices the traditional Shovel-Dumper style Open-cast Coal Mining and is a located a little while away from Margherita.
Jungleideas welcomes you to India’s North East to witness the History of Coal Mining at Makum Coalfields, Margherita, the State of Assam, Incredible India!
The period of 1939 to 1945 was one of the darkest moments in the history of mankind. It was during this period the world witnessed the Second World War – a state of “total war” where the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. This war brought down the major super powers of the period into ashes. Japan was rocked with the mighty nuclear explosion of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it was after the Second World War that the world realized the might of the Americans!
Though many movies have narrated the incidents of the Second World War and grossed millions at the Box office and many historic sites of the War have turned into places of tourist interest earning revenue to the locals, one such historic location has failed to draw the attention of the world over and thereby gradually lost its grandeur to the passing time. Our teams visit to this land narrated in this writing will try and recreate the moments of the history that this historic place has been witness to.
The British had realized the Economic potentials of the upper Brahmaputra Valley of Assam. When Assam first came under the British rule, it possessed four great assets, land, rivers, forests and minerals, all awaiting development. The British ensured that various skills were imported into Assam to harness the natural resources of the State and they brought in skills like tea making from China and others from Britain. In 1834, the Governor General set up a committee to explore the possibility of tea growing in India. It was found that the tea plant was indigenous to Assam, a discovery followed by the importation of tea makers from China, leading, eventually to the great Tea industry of Assam. This marked the beginning of the rapid industrialization of the State. The British were successful in discovering crude oil and vast coal reserves in Assam that prompted them to establish the Asia’s first oil refinery at Digboi in Assam and introduce underground coal mining at Namdang. The timber reserves added to the national treasury and one of Asia’s oldest Plywood manufacturing facility was set up at Margherita. Although the river route provided an efficient means of transportation, the British laid the tracks for an extensive rain route to run across Assam to enable quick transportation of these Natural resources that had value equivalent to Gold during the time of rapid industrialization.
Apart from these vast natural reserves, the British in collaboration with the Allied Forces realized the boon of the Upper Brahmaputra valley during the World War II during the Japanese blockade of the Burma Road that prompted the Western Allies to build the ‘Stilwell Road’ aka the ‘Ledo Road’ so that they could supply the Chinese as an alternative to the Burma Road. Built under the able guidance of American General Vinegar Joe Stilwell with an army of 15,000 American Soldiers and 35,000 locals, this road having a stretch of over 1079 miles (from Ledo in India to Kunming in China) was completed within 2 years under the most treacherous conditions and this is what makes this road “an Epitome of an American Engineering Marvel”. Although, there was a flip side to this feat as more than 1100 American soldiers and many more locals had to lose their lives in the construction of the Western Allies march to crush the Japanese.
The Historic Lekhapani Railway Station marks the beginning of the Stilwell Road in India which is also the eastern most Railway Station in India. The Lekhapani Railway Station played a pivotal road during the movement of the Allied Armed forces during the Japanese blockade in the World War II.
Also during the World War II the state of Assam, in India’s Eastern Command, was an operational area of the Burma Campaign. Ledo, was on the lines of communication, and a military hospital was established here. Ledo airstrip was an important 2nd World War operational theatre and took an important role to aid the alliance forces in China. The runway is still visible and in good condition.
The World War II might have brought down the will of the Germans and Japanese to be the might of the World but it to be mentioned that all wars lead to destruction of devastating proportion. The World War II too led to the same fate and millions of people were killed around the world that included the soldiers of the Army who laid down their lives to bring peace to the World. The bodies of these brave soldiers were laid to rest across various cemeteries through the World and one of such is the Digboi War Cemetery that was built and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Located very near to the ‘Legendary Oil town of Assam’ – Digboi, this cemetery has about 200 burials mostly of British soldiers who laid their lives during World War II. And truly mentioned in one of the quotes of the cemetery – ‘These graves bear silent testimony to those soldiers, unlisted workers and labourers who ventured into Virgin jungle amid blistering heat and laid down their lives in the line of duty during the Second World War. Whilst part of all forces against the Imperial Japanese Army. THEIR NAME LIVETH FOREVER MORE’
Jungleideas welcomes you to India’s North East to Witness History and Relive the Memoirs of the World War II – the Historic Stilwell Road, the Ledo Airstrip, the Lekhapani Railway Station and the Digboi Cemetery, the State of Assam, Incredible India!