Kibithu is India’s easternmost motorable point, in the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. When you get there, your only option is to turn back – if you carry on, you will earn the ire of both the Indian and the Chinese armies on either side of the border.
I drove to Kibithu in 2010 – as a part of the Great Himalayan Drive from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh. To date, it has been the most memorable trip of my life. And I would rate it as probably the greatest journey on the planet; I will qualify this statement in another post.
Back to Kibithu. The last few hours to get to Kibithu are a winding, uphill drive from Hayuliang. Even though late February is not rainy season in the region, the landscape was camouflaged with bloated clouds showering us with their bounty much of the way. The precipitation and the play of light gave the mountains, the trees, the village huts a unique hue and glow. The rain was no deterrent to locals who went about their business covered in raincoats – mostly plastic sheets with holes for arms – or under leaky umbrellas.
We reached Kibithu and went in search of the Government run Inspection Bungalow – we were told there was one but all we found was an army outpost and some village homes barely visible in pouring rain and misty clouds. The officers in charge were kind enough to let us spend the night in their guest rooms. What we got was a leaky tin roof but at least there was a bed and hot water in buckets to bathe – and a treat in the Officers’ Mess where we were served a sumptuous home cooked meal.
On a clear day, you can see Chinese villages across the border but not when we were there. This is also the belt where some of fiercest battles were fought when China attacked India in 1962. If you comb the forests in the region, you might find remains of equipment and gear – or so I was told. We limited our explorations to driving and walking around Kibithu – this included taking my car on narrow paths along mountain faces. One slip and the car would have slid into the deep gorges below; the scariest part came when we had to turn back. The only option was to reverse – a dangerously tricky task to say the least. But fun nonetheless.
Conditions worsened the following day during our drive back – it was a nerve-wracking experience dodging falling rocks and landslides. But that is a story in itself – stay tuned.
This is a set of three posts best read in the following order:
1. Kibithu, Arunachal Pradesh: Take a U-Turn or Drive Into Chinese Army
2. Kibithu, Arunachal Pradesh: Dodging Falling Rocks and Landslides
3. A Night of Fear in Hayuliang, Arunachal Pradesh