Abandoned bunkers of 1962 Indo-China war attract tourists to Nelong Valley
Far from the latest Sino-India standoff in the eastern border, Uttarakhand’s Nelong Valley along the border with China continues to attract discerning travellers to its picturesque Ladakh-type landscape and abandoned bunkers of the 1962 Chinese aggressiondehradun Updated: Aug 12, 2017 19:37 IST
Far from the latest Sino-India standoff in the eastern border, Uttarakhand’s Nelong Valley along the border with China continues to attract discerning travellers to its picturesque Ladakh-type landscape and abandoned bunkers of the 1962 Chinese aggression.
Perched at around 11,000 feet close to the China border, the valley lies in the Gangotri National Park area in Uttarkashi district - around 315 km from Dehradun.
Once a buzzing hotspot for the Indo-Tibet trade, the valley was closed for civilians and tribals residing in villages were shifted out from there at the time of the 1962 Sino-India war.
Though the battle did not play out in this region, bunkers were erected in the valley from the security point of view, local experts say.
The valley then remained out of bounds for civilians for over five decades post the 1962 war, before a part of it was ultimately reopened by the Uttarakhand government for tourists in 2015.
“No longer in use, these bunkers in the open-for-civilians-area of the valley are now attracting tourists...visitors feel very excited to set foot in the abandoned bunkers and to get a feel of how the soldiers would have survived during the harsh, climatic conditions,” said Tilak Soni, an Uttarkashi-based adventure and tourism expert who strove for the reopening of the valley.
Vinod Panwar, who visited the Valley recently, said: “The entire valley is like a thrilling surprise package, tucked in the Himalayas…but I especially enjoyed peeking inside an old bunker dotted along the route, getting the feel of a soldier’s life.”
Uttarkashi district magistrate Ashish Kumar Srivastava said over 464 tourists have visited the valley since April this year, which is “double the number from the last year”.
Almost 90% of the tourists applied for the special permit (which is required for visiting the valley) online through a single window clearance system introduced by the district administration in April this year.
Underlining the valley’s numerous attractions, including the bunkers and an intricate wooden bridge that was used by locals for Indo-Tibet trade prior to the war, Srivastava said, “We are planning to develop the entire region from heritage tourism point of view and to offer a whole range of interpretation about different attractions of the Valley to further enhance tourists’ experience.”