The railways of Arunachal Pradesh

Updated with additional information in January 2017.

First, a sidetrack:

Arunachal

But is this in Arunachal Pradesh? The top script is in Bengali.

It is indeed adjacent to Silchar, in a part of Assam where Bengali and not Assamese is the official language. This picture was taken in metre gauge time. The large number of concrete sleepers strewn around indicates that broad gauge is on its way, and it has already been converted. This is the first station to the west of Silchar, on a BG line which now sees trains from Kolkata and Delhi. It is also the junction for the branch to Jiribam, presently the only station in Manipur:

Jiribam-manipuri

A limited passenger service served this station in metre gauge days, and broad gauge services are expected to start soon.

The line mentioned here is from Harmuti in Assam (on the Rangiya-Lakhimpur section) to Naharlagun (near the capital Itanagar) with an intermediate station at Gumto (which is also in AP). You can trace the route here (by expanding the map if needed). Note that the line to Naharlagun makes a U-turn from the main line at Harmuti.

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Harmuti+Junction+Railway+Station/@27.1225941,93.8239808,14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x3746acd30fe01975:0x81330bfea204e39b!8m2!3d27.1191784!4d93.860541

The three stations:

And a quick look at the trains which serve Naharlagun today:

http://erail.in/naharlagun-railway-station

It includes a daily express from Guwahati and a (sort of) Rajdhani from New Delhi, which does not seem to have catering facilities. Also the average Indian citizen will not be allowed into the state without an inner-line permit or whatever it is called nowadays. More about this at the end.

Here is the timetable of the train from Guwahati to Naharlagun:

http://erail.in/15617-ghy-nhln-i-c-ex/route

But what is forgotten is that there was a metre-gauge connection to Bhalukpong in the western corner of AP which was opened in the 1980s. In 1994 the timetable listed one pair of passenger trains between Rangapara North and Bhalukpong.The junction was at Balipara. They seem to have stopped running around 2000. More recently the line was converted to broad gauge.

The wayside stations are all in Assam including Bhalukpong which appears to lie just inside the border. You can see the map here and trace the path from Tezpur:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Bhalukpong+Railway+Station/@27.0021598,92.6426437,15z/data=!4m12!1m6!3m5!1s0x3744a509499d68a3:0xd49629361597570f!2sBhalukpong+Railway+Station!8m2!3d27.002155!4d92.6448324!3m4!1s0x3744a509499d68a3:0xd49629361597570f!8m2!3d27.002155!4d92.6448324

Also see the timetable of the present pair of trains, which run from Dekargaon which is now the station for Tezpur. The original station at Tezpur may have been abandoned as there was not enough space for a BG terminus there.

Passenger services on this line must have started in the last couple of years, but without the publicity that accompanied the line to Naharlagun which served the state capital. This line connects a town which may not be that important in AP.

http://erail.in/?R=55719-DKGN-BHNG#

http://erail.in/?R=55720-BHNG-DKGN#

These are some of the stations on this route:

Dekargaon

Rangapara NorthBalipara

And finally Bhalukpong in metre gauge days and the present.

Bhalukpong old

Bhalukpong new

So you have now seen the full extent of the railway system in Arunachal Pradesh. Perhaps one day the rails will reach the borders of Tibet and Myanmar.

Footnote 1: Anyone from the rest of India wishing to enter Arunachal Pradesh needs a permit. This is apparently available online as well as from various offices of the AP government in Delhi, Kolkata and several cities in the Northeast.

It is not clear where the checking of the permit is done. Logically it should be at Harmuti (which is somewhat larger than Gumto, the first station in AP).

In the case of the Bhalukpong line, there seems to be a road checkpoint a little beyond the station and presumably you cannot proceed beyond this without a permit. It is also mentioned that you can get a permit at this point after a few hours wait.

Footnote 2: see this map extract:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/@27.6968092,94.8153323,14z

It can be seen that the Rangiya-Murkong Selek railway line briefly enters AP between the small stations of Dimow and Dipa. This stretch may be around 500 metres long, and presumably the AP authorities do not bother about “outsiders” passing through their state this way.

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Summary of the extreme points of India

Hope that some have found these posts informative. I am listing them below:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/the-extreme-points-of-india/

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2016/03/19/the-northernmost-points-in-india/

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/the-easternmost-points-of-india/

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/the-westernmost-points-of-india/

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/the-southernmost-points-of-india/

The easternmost points of India

We start with this map (which appeared in the Economist some time ago ) to see the various disputed areas involving India, Pakistan and China.

Disputed areas

While the LOC in Kashmir is basically a result of Pakistan grabbing whatever it could in 1947-48, the borders with China are somewhat more complicated, involving treaties by various entities controlling Kashmir, the former NEFA and Tibet over the past two centuries.

There is even a small disputed area called Bara Hoti on the border between Uttarakhand and Tibet, but nothing much happens there. China claims most (but not all) of Arunachal Pradesh; the dark green part of the map is the undisputed part of that state. And Tawang was supposedly governed by Tibet until 1951 before India occupied it.

That bit about Arunachal is necessary to understand this extract from the Wikipedia article on “Extreme points of India”:

East
(disputed, administered)
Kibithu in Anjaw district Arunachal Pradesh Tibet, China 28.01744°N 97.40238°E [4][8]
East (undisputed) Near Kumki, in the Changlang district Arunachal Pradesh Kachin State, Myanmar 27.12622°N 97.16712°E [9]

Kibithu is in the disputed part of Arunachal while Kumki is in the smaller undisputed part.

You can click on the coordinates to get the location on Google Maps or other sites. The first one seems to be wrong as it shows a point in Myanmar. The second one shows a point in India near the border although no place name is given.

This map of Arunachal Pradesh may also be helpful:

Arunachal 2011

You can see Kibithu north of the better-known Walong in Anjaw district.

The place Kumki is not shown here, but would be east of Vijoyanagar (which, like Walong, has an Advanced Landing Ground which can handle medium transport aircraft such as the AN-32 and C-130J ).

As Wikipedia has got it wrong, let us explore Walong and its surroundings in Anjaw district on Google Maps:

https://www.google.com/maps/@28.1383739,97.0662292,11z?hl=en

We have

Walong listed as a cantonment and town, at longitude 97.0167 E

Dong   listed as the easternmost village in India, at longitude 97.04117 E

Kibithu listed as one of the easternmost towns in India and the easternmost             roadhead in India, at longitude 97.0156 E which is west of Walong and Dong.

Also note the tri-junction of India, China and Myanmar about 20 Km west of the Walong-Kibithu route, apparently without any inhabited place in between.

However, the curiously-named village of Dong would  be the easternmost civilian inhabited place in India-even though it consists of 3 huts. In spite of its remoteness it does attract a small number of tourists. Walong is reachable by road via Tezu (which was once served by Vayudoot flights, and now may have Pawan Hans helicopter services run by the state government). Otherwise one can start from Mohanbari airport or Tinsukia railway station.

As a formality, we also visit the “undisputed” easternmost point in the vicinity of Vijoyanagar in Changlang district:

https://www.google.com/maps/@27.1925253,96.9753302,11z?hl=en

There does not seem to be any civilian inhabited place between Vijoyanagar and the Myanmar border. This has a longitude of 96.9939 E which is west of Walong and its neighbours. Changlang district has numerous places of tourist interest (including the Miao sactuary) which can be reached from Mohanbari airport or Tinsukia railway station.

However, life in Vijoyanagar is hard, as you can read here: https://yobindreams.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/non-existence-of-road-inflicts-miseries-a-story-of-vijaynagar-changlang-district/

That is based on an article written in 2009. Perhaps things have improved since then.

Fortunately the western and southern extreme points of India are not so remote, as we will see later.

 

The extreme points of India

We hear the phrase “From Kashmir to Kanyakumari” or the next-door version “from Khyber to Karachi”. In Britain there is “From Land’s End to John O’Groats” which are supposed to be the extreme southwest and extreme northeast points of the British mainland. In contrast, the US gets by with “From sea to shining sea” in one of their patriotic songs.

Ever wondered about the extreme points of India? One may think that the question is answered in the Wikipedia article linked below. Actually it is not as simple as that as there are several different ways of deciding where India ends in the north. (Do you mean what the official atlas says, or the point actually under Indian military control? And since many countries think that Kashmir is a disputed territory, then what should be the “undisputed”northernmost point?)

Even the eastern border is disputed by China although it is firmly in Indian control. The western extreme is a point in the sea off the Gujarat-Sind border. And the southernmost point is not Kanyakumari on the mainland but a remote settlement on an island in the Nicobars, with a population of 27.

We shall be visiting these places over the next few blogposts. We also look at the nearest inhabited places (which are hard to find unless you are at Kanyakumari).

Read this first: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_extreme_points_of_India