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On gigantic drives like the Renault India Diamond Trail, falling behind schedule can be very unnerving. Especially when you’re moving away from civilization into unchartered and scarcely inhabited territories.
Two days ago we were patiently waiting in Dibrugarh, Assam for the Inner Line Permit. Without it, there’s no entry into Arunachal Pradesh, and without it there’s no ticking off Kibithoo from our list of extreme corners of India. This anxiety induced many questions in our minds. Will we drive the Renault Kwid to our summit? With the permit being stuck in govt. red tape, will we even enter this beautiful state?
With no response from the Namsai processing office, which was our entry point into Arunachal Pradesh, our minds were fried getting in touch with the nearest Liaison Officer. Even Google Maps failed in locating this office. When we tried to seek help from local police, they thwarted our requests and were too indulged issuing challans to traffic violators. However, after hours of hunting for addresses on tourism websites, we finally located the Tourist Liaison Officer’s branch. Without wasting any time, we headed there and got our permit within an hour. The officers were surprisingly friendly and welcoming and even helped us with a few tips and tricks regarding accommodation in remote areas. The Renault Kwid finally entered Arunachal Pradesh via the Namsai checkpost and our crew went berserk over this bright ray of hope. Most of us hadn’t been to this part of India before.
The drive to Tezu had us go past lush green forests and excellent roads. The Kwid sailed past this in utmost comfort and the next morning, with bright daylight at 4am, we headed towards our destination. There was absolutely no traffic except a few army vehicles. Just lush green dense forests, gigantic mountains and crystal clear streams and tributaries of the Bramhaputra. The crew could finally shoot, snap and click selfies in peace with no cattle, idiotic pedestrians and overladen trucks spoiling our peace. After a few hours however decent roads turned into terrifying terrains. It turned out that the entire journey to Kibithoo was a severely landslide prone area and we needed to tread with extreme care.
However, with CEAT grip at our disposal, 180mm ground clearance and a robust chassis of the Renault Kwid keeping things together well, there was little to worry about. It conquered bad roads, rocks, pebbles and even slippery surfaces. It even did some water wading without being unsettled. Mountain streams ran across the breadth of the winding roads with vigour, but the Renault Kwid held its ground. The treacherous roads though increased our travel time by quite a few hours and reaching Kibithoo was now possible only the following morning.
So, we halted at an Inspection Bungalow in Walong, about 20km south of our destination. With the last army check post nearby, BRO’s (Border Roads Organisation) roads were very good in this part. And after a drive through some sweeping corners and mind boggling unadulterated landscapes, we reached the easternmost road in India. What a drive it had been! The Kwid had been driven more than 8500km from the beginning and ticking off another ‘K’ from our list of extreme corners of India instilled a sense of pride in our crew. Speaking of pride, the Indian Army’s field unit had a large base here and just a few hundred meters away was the international LAC (Line of actual control), beyond which we could see the Himalayas in China. There were beautiful sights in all directions and one simply cannot get enough of the purity in nature that this place boasted of.
All the anxiety regarding the ILP and all of the long driving hours in our travel companion, the Renault Kwid, now seemed worth it. We made up for the time lost on our way back and soon we were back on schedule. Three lines of the Renault Diamond have now been traced on India’s map and soon we begin the last leg of this epic trip.