Road to Far East – The Battlefield of Walong

By    April 29th 2016    18 Comments  Posted in Arunachal Pradesh, East Arunachal, India

It was a lovely sunny morning in the hills. We set off our journey to the further most east of India, into the battlefield of 1962 Indo-China war, Walong. The journey continued to fascinate us by the scenic beauty of river Lohit. Every now and then we were stopping for capturing the unmatched beauty of eastern Himalayas.

The Splendid View of river Lohit on the way to Walong.

The Splendid View of river Lohit on the way to Walong.

Walong was not far from the place of our stay night before, Hayuliang. It was only at a distance of 96 km, but we took almost 3 and ½ hours to reach Walong because, first we were moving at gentle speed and secondly, our continuous break for photography.

A bridge over river Lohit. Over this bridge road goes to another beautiful place 'Hawai' in east Arunachal Pradesh.

A bridge over river Lohit. Over this bridge road goes to another beautiful place ‘Hawai’ in east Arunachal Pradesh.

The scenic journey continued by the side of river Lohit.

The scenic journey continued by the side of river Lohit.

At Walong you have a little choice for accommodation and the only place to stay is the Government Inspection Bungalow. We arrived at the Inspection Bungalow with no prior booking; in fact one can’t book in advance for lack of communication. So it all depends upon your luck to get an accommodation here after arrival, and in our case, the luck was in our favour.

Inspection Bungalow, Walong

Inspection Bungalow, Walong

As you enter the town, the first thing that will attract your attention is the Walong army airstrip, an advance landing ground, by the bank of river Lohit. A small mud-paved landing ground was created here by the British during the world war-II for their Burma and east India operation which is now fully upgraded, paved and network connected with an eye on China.

Airfield at Walong

Airfield at Walong

Army Airfield Walong

Army Airfield Walong

We arrived at the battlefield of Walong!

In Autumn of 1962 (October, 22nd to November, 16th) this place was the scene of the Battle of Walong when the Indian Army battled the Chinese advances. In this extremity of India, the poorly equipped Indian soldiers with a basic weapon single shot .303 rifles fought hard with minimum or no artillery support, held the ground and fought it out to the last bullet, till all of their ammunitions were exhausted. Then they engaged in a hand- to-hand combat and fought to the last man. And when they had to withdraw, they did so in reasonable ground. But in that treacherous terrain, many soldiers were left behind unnoticed, who never received any order to get back and were left to fight till their last breath.

Walong fell in the hand of Chinese on 16th November, 1962.  Indians were defeated decisively in that battle of Walong by the Chinese and it was only Mao Zedong’s decision to withdraw the PLA (Chinese Army) allowed the Indians to re-take Walong.

Time magazine of US in its November 30, 1962 edition had paid homage to the martyrs of Walong in a befitting manner: “At Walong, Indian troops lacked everything. The only thing they did not lack was guts”.

Walong Memorial - Hut of Remembrance

Walong Memorial – Hut of Remembrance

Today, a memorial – “Hut of Remembrance” stands at Walong which preserves and commemorates the sacrifices of all those brave soldiers who laid down their lives in the battle for Walong.

The Memorial

The Memorial

Stairs led to the Memorial

Stairs led to the Memorial

A Soldier in Silence at the Memorial

A Soldier in Silence at the Memorial

The visit to the battlefield of Walong is not completed without visiting another war spot known as Helmet Top. A zigzag climb of around 18 Kms from Walong will take you to this peak where stands a memorial in memory of the unknown soldiers who were left here unnoticed to die. At that treacherous ground, Indian soldiers fought courageously a lost battle but held the ground firm for 22 days. Many of those killed were never identified.

Memorial at Helmet Top

Memorial at Helmet Top

During the war of 1962, at this hill position, some soldiers were left unnoticed who made supreme sacrifices fighting the enemy shoulder to shoulder, till the last bullet and last breath.

After the war, what found on this hill position were the helmets of those unknown soldiers and other military gears that were strewn all over. Today, a memorial in the memory of those unknown soldiers stands here which enshrines their helmets, empty case of machine gun magazines, fired mortar shells and other gears.

Military Gears of those unknown soldiers kept in the Memorial at Helmet Top

Military Gears of those unknown soldiers kept in the Memorial at Helmet Top

Walong is not only the battle ground of 1962 Indo-China War; it also serves as the base for hiking to the Dong plateau where first rays of sun fall in India. How could we let go such a wonderful experience once in this lifetime! We had no hesitation to go for it although it required hiking steep hills in the darkness of night to reach the top of Dong Plateau at dawn.

In the darkness of that night, we were traversing through the dense forest. Though we had torch lights but they were only helpful to watch our footsteps and not the surroundings. We were hiking with one guide in the front and the other following us. I asked one of them, “What if a bear comes out now?”

More on that is coming soon. Stay tuned to read about our Journey to catch the first rays of sun in the post to follow.

18 thoughts on “Road to Far East – The Battlefield of Walong”

    1. Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Thank you 🙂

  1. Prasad Np says:

    Indeed a totally forgotten part of history of our nation…the more I read your stories from North East the more I realise how little we know about this part of India. .

    1. Anupam Chakraborty says:

      We know less about it because poorly this part is connected with the rest of the world. This area was left to be developed for decades. But things are changing here with new govt at Centre. Development works are being under progress. Thank you for your kind words.

  2. Awesome photos. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Thank you, Rupam!

  3. Wow what an amazing place and beautiful pictures! Loved knowing so much about a place I hardy knew about. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Glad that you liked it. Thank you very much.

  4. Mridula says:

    Good to know you got the accommodation and we get to see the place through your eyes! Waiting for the sunrise now!

    1. Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Thanks for your kind words.

  5. Indrani says:

    My salutations to these unknown soldiers!
    What a great trip you have made! Thank you very much for showing us these.

    1. Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Thank you for your kind words.

  6. Ritu says:

    very informative…thank u..
    what is the best time to visit kibithu,walong, dong and kahoo..I am planning in October. Is it will be good time? M planning a bike trip to kibithu actually.

    1. Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Yes Ritu, October will be a good time to Visit Kibithu, Kahoo. Thank you for dropping by 🙂

  7. Sumit Chatterjee says:

    Great Insight Anupam Many thanks.

    is there any other permit required for Kaho & Kibithoo. except Inner line permit for Arunachal ? also if you have inspection bungalows ph no please share.

    keep sharing more travel stories.

    1. Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Hi Sumit! No you don’t require any separate permits and they don’t have any telephone connection. Best of luck. Thanks for dropping by Sumit :-).

  8. KAUSTUBH PALKAR says:

    Great Trip to a land of Soldiers of 1962 battles. Salute to them and thanks to you for shearing your experience.

    1. Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Thank you for your kind words 🙂

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