A team of 27 trekkers, led by Tagit Sorang, an Everester, recently made an intriguing discovery near the Arunachal-Myanmar border. Scaling the hills of Tirap district in the frontier state, the group stumbled upon a stone cave at the 2,119-meter-high ‘Longpongka’ point. This accidental find unveiled a historical secret—the cave served as a transit camp for Allied Forces during World War II, which was strategically positioned to impede the advance of the Japanese army.
The trekkers, on a mission against drugs, not only explored the cave but also gathered photographic evidence and details about the site the following day. Local residents pointed out circular symbols, English abbreviations, and numerical carvings on stones near the cave, all of which served as significant markers of the transit camp.
According to accounts from the locals, the Allied Forces used this strategic location to resist the Japanese soldiers making their way from Burma (now Myanmar) into vast areas of the North-East Frontier Agency, which is present-day Arunachal Pradesh. Following the war, the site was abandoned and remained hidden from the outside world.
Khunwang Khusia, a retired forester and native of Thinsa village, part of the trekking team, explained that the hilltop, referred to as ‘Silombhu’ in the local language, was used by the Allied Forces to stock ration and equipment sent from Assam.
Residents believe that the cave’s giant rocks provided a secure shelter, as enemy bullets were unable to penetrate the sturdy structure. Despite their efforts, the trekkers could not reach the cave’s endpoint due to its narrow opening. Also, if reports are to be believed, the porters from neighboring villages, who used to transport defense supplies, have since passed away.
Rigio Tabam, the district tourism officer for Tirap, shed light on the significant role played by able-bodied males from Tutsa and Nocte tribes. They carried ration, arms, and ammunition from Dilighat in Assam to Longpongka and then further to the Myanmar border, preventing Japanese soldiers from opening a new front toward the North-East Frontier Agency.
The trek, spanning 7 km and taking three hours to cover from Thinsa village, provided the trekkers with a unique and uncharted experience as they passed through high hills, trees, and giant rocks. This unexpected historical find will surely build curiosity, as it houses hidden remnants of World War II in the remote hills of Arunachal Pradesh.