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Day 1 Kolkata to Jessore 22nd Feb

Day 2 Jessore to Dhaka 23rd Feb

Day 3 Dhaka to Sylhet 24th Feb

Day 4 Sylhet to Silchar25th Feb

Day 5 Silchar to Imphal 26th Feb

Day 6 Imphal to Ka Lay 27th Feb

Day 7 Ka Lay to Mandalay 28th Feb

Day 8 Mandalay to Ruili 1st March

Day 9 Ruili to Tengchong 2nd March

Day 10 Tengchong to Dali 3rd March

Day 11 Dali- Around Erhai Lake-Dali 4th MarchDay 12 Dali to Kunming 5th March

OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE BCIM CAR RALLY 2013

View profiles of all participants at bcimcarrally.com/participantprofile.html

A special 14 page article with great pics on the rally titled “ENTER THE DRAGON” has come out in the print issue of AUTOCAR INDIA, May 2013. Do have a look.

View BCIM Car Rally article in Indiandiplomacy‘s India Perspectives Magazine; May-June Issue courtesy Shivam Sharma at http://emagazine.indiaperspectives.in/indiaperspectives/english/05062013/index.html?page=30

A compilation of media reports and news on the BCIM Car Rally with photos, courtesy Sunil Misra, CII, Delhi, Leader of the Indian Rally Group is at http://www.mediafire.com/view/lxnzg7ojqzd4jzi/BCIM_Car_Rally%2CForum_Meeting%2C_Photos_%26_Media_Reports.pdf

Pictures of the rally taken by Ejji posted at BCIM CAR RALLY PICTURES in four parts.

These are not professional or high resolution photographs. I have not edited them or corrected them. I have not given captions or descriptions. I have not added locations. They are there with warts, bad focus, shakes, flaws and all. Just aim and shoot, was what I did. There may be hardly any pictures of me, as I took nearly all the pictures. The pictures are spontaneous records and reflect the actual happenings with no photo-op set up. I have focused on the various types of food, ambiance in hotels/roads/towns/border crossing etc., interesting episodes, public responses, official functions, cultural programs, our visits to important sites, unforgettable sights and experiences, everything that happened on the rally. Please feel free to download any picture you want. I do have many video clips which I will upload on YouTube very soon. May I also request other participants to share their photographs please. And also, please sign up at BCIM CAR RALLY 2013 PARTICIPANTS page on Facebook, and share your anecdotes, pictures and videos.

From Press:IMG_7143

Ejji K. Umamahesh, a veteran of many rallies and the Deputy Secretary of the Formula One Indian Grand Prix  is driving car No. 11, which can be called the “senior citizens’ car”! It had Ejji, Ravi Boothalingam, Sudha Mahalingam and will be joined by Victor Banerjee in Imphal, all of them senior citizens- but with fire in their bellies and adventure in their hearts. Age for them is just a number.

A car rally to revive flow of people, goods on Southern Silk Route

If you are looking for a car rally that provides cross-border adventure and explores uncharted territory across countries, then this one fits the bill. Thanks to the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation, the historic four-nation car rally is all set to be flagged off from Kolkata in February 21 next.

The 2,500 km gruelling rally will cover Bangladesh, Myanmar and reach Kunming in China in 10-15 days.

The rally is being organised to improve flow of people and goods over the famous “Southern Silk Route” which will connect two big players of Asia — India and China — with their smaller neighbours like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.The rally is aimed at creating new avenues for regional cooperation and cross border road links and a road map for the Asian countries to interact more freely. The car rally which would be flagged off from Kolkata on February 21 would reach Imphal on February 26 after passing through Dhaka and Silchar. After covering a total distance of 2800 Kms, the rally would finish at Kunming, China on March 5.

First time since World War II

It will also be the first time since World War II in 1949 that people-to-people movement will be possible, which will later facilitate improvement in cross border trade, tourism and communication among the countries.

The opening of the Southern Silk Route through the car rally is expected to generate new trade and more market access to not only India and China, the economic leaders of the region, but also to less developed nations like Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Starting from Kolkata, the rally would pass through Petrapol, Benapol, Jessore, Dhaka, Sutarkandi, Karimganj, Silchar, Imphal, Moore, Tamu, Mandalay, Ruili, Tengchong, and Dali  before finally reaching Kunming in western Yunnan province of China.

Survey rally

Eighteen cars, three from each country with six support vehicles, will take part in the rally. A survey rally was conducted in February this year to access the conditions along the route and facilities available.

The issue of creating a cross-border road link across the Southern Silk Route was discussed at a symposium organised by the Delhi Chapter of Institute of Chinese Studies in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Research Delhi at India International Centre here on Monday.

Regional cooperation

“The rally is the symbol of the larger regional cooperation which is needed for the realisation of resurgence of Asian countries,” Shyam Saran, former ambassador and chairman of Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), said on the sidelines of the symposium.

Sunil K. Misra, Director of Confederation of Indian Industry and also leader of the Indian Team in the BCIM car rally, said: “It’s a dream come true which will facilitate more and more cross-border trade and people-to-people contact in the region across the Southern Silk Route.”

The grueling 2,500 km rally will cover India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China

The fabled Burma Road stirs the emotions of all who have come to know of the brutal and hazardous battles of WWII. Today it is a link between the powerhouse of China and the struggling pariah nation of Burma. Busy with trade this route takes us into hitherto untouched parts of northern Burma. Here we meet humble tribal folk as well as industrious Chinese as they creep ever southward in the search of business and commerce. There are very few places in the world where two such vastly different cultures meet head on as each finds in way in this ever changing new world

 We begin our journey mingling with tribal cultures in the markets of Hsipaw and Lashio. Heading north we come to the vibrant and busy border crossing and into the southern regions of Yunnan. The towns of Muse and Tengchong are outposts that are resplendent with stunning scenery and remote tribal lifestyles.

Onward we delight in the melting pots of Dali and Lijiang. The Naxi are prominent in the region but there is a blend of influences that is hard to identify. A visit to the Tiger Leaping Gorge is a trip highlight as well as the stunning Ganden Sumtseling Tibetan Monastery in Zhongdian.

This is the true frontier of Asian travel. Time will bring it to the world. See it now before it is lost to the world of exploration

The rally will be using Tata Aria, Tata Safari Storme and Huatai Santa Fe vehicles. the service car will be  Tata Xenon pick up truck.

SNIPPETS OF THE RALLY

From well-known Indian actor Victor Banerjee to Chinese Mt Everest conqueror Jin Feibiao, the BCIM Car Rally that flagged off here today boasts of 80 participants from different walks of life from Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar.

Well-known Bollywood and Tollywood actor Banerjee, who is part of a 30-member Indian contingent, describes himself as “an eternal traveler and searcher. When not working, he spends most of his time in the Himalayas — in Landour, Mussorie, contemplating nothing, he states in his profile of the BCIM Car Rally that will culminate in Kunming on March 5, traversing 3028 kms. Banerjee will join the rally in Imphal on February 26, on day five of the rally. A 50-year-old Feibiao is a celebrated explorer who scaled Mt Everest with his brother on May 14, 2006. He is part of a 20-member delegation from China as the rally hopes to develop trade reviving the ancient Southern Silk Route that will open for the first time after World War II. Actress duo of Aye Myat Thu and Htet Htet Su Hlaing and actor Kaung Khant in the 17-member contingent from Myanmar will add glamour to the rally.

The idea to hold a rally between Kunming and Kolkata took shape with a resolution at the 2006 Delhi Forum meeting and the suggestion was soon affirmed between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao later in the same year with a joint communique.

The BCIM Car Rally of 80 participants in 20 cars will be passing through Benapole and Petrapole, Dhaka, Sutarkandi, Imphal, Ka Lay, Mandalay, Ruili, Tengchong, Dali before ending in Kunming on March 5. 

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Victor Banerjee, my team mate and co-driver

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Karl Slym, Managing Director, Tata Motors, a rally participant.

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Gānbēi – Cheers, in Chinese.

 

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FINISH AT KUNMING, CHINA

BCIM CAR RALLY ENTERS CHINA

By SUDHA MAHALINGAM- Courtesy The Hindu

The Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) car rally crossed into China from Myanmar on Friday night after a memorable journey through India, Bangladesh and Myanmar over the past nine days.

The complex geography of the region entailed entering India twice, once at the start from Kolkata and again from Bangladesh through Sutarkandi in Assam. From Assam, the road stretched to Manipur through Silchar and entered Myanmar through the Moreh-Tamu land border.

From Tamu, the convoy rolled through pristine Myanmarese jungles into Ka Lay, a small town in Chin state. From Ka Lay, we drove to Mandalay, the once imperial capital of Myanmar. Thence the drive took us into China through the Muse-Ruili land border. On Friday, we were in Tengchang, a quaint town in Yunan province surrounded by hills and bursting with spring flowers.

LESS-NOTICED PEOPLES

What sets this journey apart is that it is not about metropolises and mega cities like Mumbai, Beijing or Shanghai, but about relatively obscure places and less-noticed peoples. It is about Benapole, Jessore, Sylhet, Karimganj, Silchar, Imphal, Moreh, Tamu, Ruilly and Tengchang and hundreds of villages on the route whose names are not marked even on Google maps.

The rally is about bridging all those faceless villages and inconspicuous towns which populate the hinterland. It is about the hope that one day, sooner rather than later, the patchy roads will metamorphose into paved macadam providing easy access to each other. The rally is also about breaking down political barriers to ensure seamless connectivity for the common good.

NEGOTIATING THE STRETCHES

For the moment though, the cars have to make their own road in quite a few stretches. So tyres swallow as much dust as tarmac as the convoy moves through the route. The stretch from Silchar to Imphal took fifteen hours to negotiate. Invariably, every single day, the rally reached its destination only by 10 pm, stopping frequently not just to attend to breakdowns, but also to interact with the villagers who had turned out along the route to wish us a safe journey.

School children may have been commissioned, but the home-makers and shop-keepers certainly were not. The reception was as spontaneous as it was overwhelming.

When a young journalist travelling on the rally stopped in Narayanganj town near Dhaka to scoop a handful of soil to take to her family which originally came from the region but now lives in Kolkata, it made headlines in local newspapers that day.

The journey has not been without hiccups though. Some car or the other broke down every couple of hours, some sprang punctures, others broke an axle or bent an oil pipe. The Kukis in Manipur had threatened to block the rally in the route before it reached the border near Moreh, but with literally scores of armoured cars escorting the rally from Imphal and six army helicopters on standby in case of an incident, the convoy rolled smoothly.

The local newspaper in Manipur reported that some explosives hidden on the route were defused well in time before the rally passed the spot, by an alert patrol vehicle. In Manipur, not only had the administration mobilised their entire paramilitary, police and armed forces to provide security, Chief Minister Ibobi Singh personally distributed mementoes to the entire delegation.

LANDSCAPE: SERVING UP A PALIMPSEST

As the convoy passed through, the landscape served up a palimpsest of mountains, swamps, rivers, lakes, rice paddies and jungles, From densely populated Bangladesh and India, the landscape changed into the vast wilderness of Myanmar.

The ethnic, linguistic, cultural transformation along the route, though gradual, becomes pronounced. Facial features changed from the familiar to the more exotic, often defining slotting. Despite these gradual differences, what unites the people of this region is the desire to partake of the fruits of prosperity that seems to elude them primarily because of the lack of proper connectivity.

BCIM CAR RALLY 2013 ENDS IN KUNMING, YUNNAN PROVINCE, CHINA.

Kunming (China): Eighty rally enthusiasts from Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar travelled across the four nations in 20 cars as the epic journey from Kolkata to Kunming was flagged down here this evening by vice governor of Yunnan Province, Gao Shuxun.

In an effort to revive trade and commerce along the Southern Silk Route that was closed nearly seven decades ago after the World War II, the BCIM Forum had organised the 3,000-odd kilometres rally that was flagged off in Kolkata by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

There was euphoria all around as the participants danced to the gong beats by the ethnic minority groups from Yunnan Province — Yi, Jingpo and Dai — who welcomed rally as the convoy rolled into the `city of eternal spring`.

“It`s a historic moment that the four countries have for the first time come together to participate in a rally of this kind. It carries enormous significance and it has strengthened the bonds of friendship. It`s also more significant for us as it was flagged off by our chief minister Mamata Banerjee,” West Bengal sports minister Madan Mitra, who was here as a special invitee, told PTI.

CII Eastern Region chairman R K Agrawal, who flew down to welcome the participants here, said: “The BCIM Car Rally had two objectives. To bring the four countries together and how business opportunities can be further explored along the land route. Secondly, we feel that CII should act as a catalyst in removing bitter feelings if there are any.”

Indian contingent head and CII representative, Sunil Mishra, who was one of the participants, became emotional as the 12-day odyssey came to an end.

“The feeling is similar to when a good book comes to an end. I was happy to have read the book. At the moment, the feeling is difficult to describe,” Mishra said.

Mishra has been working on the initiative for more than six years as it had appeared a lost cause at one point of time.

“I`ve been in discussion with the Chinese delegation

since 2006. It`s a journey we completed in 12 days but it actually began seven years ago,” a relaxed Mishra added.

The rally passed through more than 600-km long difficult terrains of Silchar and Imphal and then from Ka Lay to Mandalay in Myanmar and the Chinese cars in the convoy suffered multiple breakdowns.

One of the cars had to be transported on a truck from Manipur to China as Mishra urged for the need to develop road connectivity which will enable people to travel across the region without any hurdle.

“Regulations have to be there but once that starts happening, the road will act like a cable with impulses across different points where development and growth will happen.”

Since the rally ended in China, recounting a popular Chinese saying is in order: `If you want development, first make a road. Once there is a good road, development will follow.

Chinese team leader, Cheng Yunchuan felt the rally had convincingly proved that if there is a will, there is a way.

“I sincerely hope the rally will help develop relations between the four countries as we really are neighbours,” he said.

Deputy country leader Yang Ye termed the rally historic. “We were confronted with many difficulties on the path but it`s been a very successful journey overcoming the hurdles.”

Country leaders of Myanmar and Bangladesh are convinced that if trade starts happening along the corridor, it will automatically promote development.

“BCIM is the hard-earned fruit of our international cooperations. We hope the rally will help promote trade and cultural exchanges across the border,” Mohammad Delwar Hossain of Bangladesh said.

Myanmar, languishing in political and economic isolation till as recently as 2010, is looking forward to integration with the two powerful neighbors – China and India.

“We are opening up our economy and hope there will be investment from both China and India. A motorable road will go a big way in helping the country catch up with the rest of the world,” Ne Win of Myanmar said.

THE RETURN DRIVE HOME

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The 10 Indian cars were driven home by a group of 13 persons who were part of the rally including Ejji, the Auto Car Team and the Tata Service Team. The Kunming to Ruili stretch was done at a single shot. Ruili to Mandalay again was a day’s drive. Then the famous Mandalay to Ka Ley road, was a thrilling  “adventure drive”. Nothing eventful and no breakdowns. Quite a difference from the small hitches we faced on this stretch on the way up. The Ka Ley-Tamu- Moreh-Imphal stretch was done at top rally speed and gave everyone a chance to do a bit of excellent speed. After a jolly good finish party in the Imphal hotel, we said our good byes and left with heavy hearts, fond memories, a little hangover and everlasting friendships, crowned by an achievement that will always remain a vital part of motor sports history in this part of the world.

CHINA WANTS TO REVIVE “SOUTHERN SILK ROAD” WITH INDIA

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing  June 9, 2013 Last Updated at 16:00 IST

China is looking to revive the ancient “Southern Silk Road” with South Asia through the economic corridor linking Bangladesh, China,India, and Myanmar (BCIM), a topic that figured prominently during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s recent India visit.

As it opened its first South Asia Expo currently being held in Kunming, provincial capital of Yunnan, China wants it to be the “bridge head” with India and South Asia, Chinese officials said.

China is ready for the revival of the “Southern Silk Road” and plans are under discussion, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Yang Ye, a researcher with the Development Research Centre of Yunnan provincial government, as saying.

Chinese scholars say the ancient silk route, originating from China’s Chengdu city wandered through Myanmar and then extended to India, Bangladesh and even the Middle East.

Besides the 16 existing international transport lines linking Yunnan and some Great Mekong Sub-regional countries, seven trunk roads originating from Yunnan extending to neighbouring nations and provinces have been promoted as high-grade highways, the report said.

These include China-Vietnam Highway, China-Laos-Thailand Highway, China-Myanmar Highway, and a domestic section of China-India Highway.

With joint efforts by China, India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, a highway route starting from Yunnan to India by way of Myanmar have been approved by relevant departments of the four countries, Yang said.

Experts from the four countries launched a field inspection along the route in February 2012.

The first auto race along the 2,800-km route was successfully held from late February to early March this year. The BCIM economic corridor figured prominently in Li’s last month’s talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The joint statement issued at the end of his visit said “encouraged by the successful BCIM Car Rally of February 2013 between Kolkata and Kunming, the two sides agreed to consult the other parties with a view to establishing a Joint Study Group on strengthening connectivity in the BCIM region for closer economic, trade, and people-to-people linkages and to initiating the development of a BCIM Economic Corridor”.

Though the route of the new “Southern Silk Road” has yet to be determined, the success of the race across the four countries indicated that it is possible to build a transport passage along the route, Yang said. The route is expected to serve as an inland bridge linking South Asian countries and central, eastern coastal areas of China, so as to promote the development of western regions of China and boost the common prosperity of the nations along the route, he said. An Indian delegation of 130 businessmen took part in the Expo.

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