I get up at 5.30 in the morning. Looking through the window, the sun has already risen. After the routines, I start composing my mail. A villager comes to me and starts talking with me. Even though I was disturbed, I listen to him patiently. He shared several things with me, mainly:
1. Orange cultivation has decreased over the period of time, as it has become difficult to transport it outside. Earlier they used to export it to Bangladesh, but now they have stopped it because of poor infrastructure facilities. I being a farmer myself understand that the plight of a farmer throughout India is same. The most neglected.
2. These days they have started growing elaichi (cardamom), as it fetches them more money.
I wonder what our government is doing. There are no proper roads, no good transport facilities, not to mention cold storages. So what can the poor farmer do? Why can’t at least Parle or Dabur or some other people set up some agro industry here, at least to manufacture orange juice or pulp during the season? These oranges do not require any sugar for sweetening.
We have our breakfast and started the day. There is only one petrol bunk at Khupa on this road up to Kibithu.
We go there only to be told that there is no stock. So we move forward.
We come across more and more orange gardens. We stop at one place for nature call and notice some small variety of oranges. We taste them. The skin was like that of mosumbi, and the juice content was also more than regular variety. But there were no seeds, it was seedless. Is Dabur’s “Real Juice” listening?
We inquire for diesel on the way at many shops, only to be told that try in next village. Finally we by 1 pm, we reach Wallong. Fortunately, we get 20 liters of diesel in a shop here for Rs 750/. We could get only some junk food here for our lunch and we proceed to Kibithu.
The landscape starts changing from here. There were more pine trees, and other trees start to disappear. We approached Kibithu and come across the signboard which tells us that we are on the eastern most road head of India. And this was the place I was looking for. There was a sense of satisfaction. And it was followed by a photo session. We move forward and reach Kibithu at 3.30pm. For the record, it is at 28° 16′ 48.3″ N, 97°0’59.4″ E, at an elevation of 4878 ft +/- 100 ft. This is supposed to be the Eastern most point of our Mother India.
The sentry at the military check post checks our permits and lets us in. He says that we can go up to the market but cannot go beyond, i.e. to the view point. There is a small civilian settlement here and they have few shops. These people do the job of porters for military to make a living.
We go further and reach the road dead end. There we enter another military gate. We request them to let us go up to the view point, and the officer obliges us. So finally we were there. A soldier guides us and shows us the boundary lines, no-man’s land and Chinese bunkers etc. We take some photos and come back to the main gate.
We inquire for the possibility of staying there overnight. We are told that the inspection bungalow is under construction and hence no civilian can stay there. Actually we wanted to see the first sun rays of the day, but it is not possible here. Simply because Kibithu is a valley from north to south and there are peaks on east and west directions. So we conclude that the first rays can be seen only if we can go to the peaks, which is impossible. So with plenty of satisfaction, we start back. We come back to Walong at 5.15 pm. Here we were able to get accommodation at the Govt. Circuit House, which also ensures us some good food. And we call it a day.
Written by – Mr. B P Bhat