Sunday 23 October 2016

Day 10 - Dimapur to Senapati

My morning introduction to the city of Dimapur, got me all confused, given that the image I had of Nagaland in my mind. The first appearance of this busy city with a lot of shops and traffic around and no sight of greenery or hills, got me thinking, where am I exactly. "Well this doesn't look like the Nagaland I was hoping for", was what I thought to myself. "What's the deal here ?!?", I was mumbling standing in the hotel lobby area, looking outside the glass walls. The guy at the reception came to my rescue and enlightened me about the missing information. Dimapur is like the commercial capital of Nagaland and Kohima is the capital of the state. Dimapur shares the border with Assam (which I rode through yesterday) and it's just 3-4 km away from the hotel. Once I move towards Kohima, I will be climbing up the mountains again and THAT is what I might have heard about :) He was originally from Manipur, so I got a good deal of information and did-you-know facts from him about Manipur (my next destination) as well. It was my first morning with so much population in a proper city since I left Tezpur for Tawang, so I just wanted to walk around a bit observing people. 

The security at the hotel was more than happy to take a photograph of me, so got lucky :)

It wasn't long before, I said 'Hello' to my old friends..the mountains

The city was still away, but the district border possibly started from here...

Some beautiful lush green fields with mountains in the backdrop and this tree trunk frame the picture.

First sight of the city and the houses.

During this journey you would have seen the pattern in which the houses were in Sikkim, here is a curve ball.. this was nothing like that, as you can see. houses were scattered all over the mountain.

Introduction to the Kohima War Cemetery.

This cross in the center of the cemetery stands tall as if the fallen are still on guard and watching over the people of Kohima.

Another part of the city is visible from the left side wall of the cemetery.

I spent almost an hour walking across these tombstones.

The messages written on each with the name and age of the soldiers just make this experience so real. It just made me think so hard that people of our age fought and martyred right in this place... The level of challenges they saw and faced, in comparison puts the challenges to shame, which we could possibly come across in our lifetime in the free nation that we live in.

Zoom in to have a look at the names of many other soldiers, whose bodies couldn't be traced/recovered, hence only the names are marked for the record here.

With this quiet time spent thinking about all these people from so many different countries (India, England, Australia), I finally said adios to the city of Kohima.. as well as to Nagaland.

During my ride-through, I could only scratch the surface of the diverse and culturally rich state of Nagaland. There is so much to see and experience here, that I could safely say that I would be back, maybe backpacking. There are some challenges about safety here but nothing too serious that I personally came across. The issues I learned about are mostly among different tribes and with the increase in education we can safely assume, things will get better in the future. The only common pattern I saw across all these states so far is the amount of school-going kids (especially girls), even in the remotest of villages, where there are hardly 9-10 houses around. That in my opinion is a good sign of development. I wish all the Naga people, working hard to make their state come up in the economy and peaceful living, all the best. I left behind a wish to visit a head hunter's village and meet some of the warriors. During my travel, I learned that they stay deeper in the forests and their villages are close to our eastern border. Due to a lack of time and information, I chose to skip that route. Maybe during my next visit :)

What's in there ??

Before I realized it, I was getting into the state of Manipur..clearly which shares the border with Nagaland.

Notice the stepping structure of the crop fields, I noticed this only after entering Manipur and took a picture to remind myself of this farming trait

With the ride across Nagaland, time was running short for me. Still, it was imperative that I took breaks and enjoyed the sights and views the place had to offer.

Not long after I entered Manipur, I was welcomed by this beautiful sight of sunset after hours of shower.

Another view of the evening shades of the sky.

I intended to ride all the way to Imphal, the capital city of Manipur, as it would be safer to be in the city for the night halt. However, I was told not to ride that patch at night due to some known issues of mugging and worse. I ignored the first few times I heard this, but then couldn't proceed any further after the suggestion became a bit redundant with every person I enquired with. So I decided to call it a day, in a town named 'Senapati'. Yep, that's the name, even I first thought I misheard the name, but I hadn't. I found a hostel (sort of) there with huge corridors and big and spacious rooms. It was run by a lady and her brother. They were really nice people and were more than happy to accommodate me. She even allowed me a good discount, for a double occupancy room, cause that's all they had available for the night. They didn't have any provision for food, so her brother accompanied me to the nearest hotel, as they were about to close for the night. Mind you it was not a tourist town or anything, so I was like a total outsider there. This became more obvious when I walked into a random hotel, which I saw open. There was this bunch of guys (mostly drunk) who were having a good time. One of them in a cowboy hat was a bit curious about my entry. He was loud and was trying to show his dominance around and I think I unintentionally miffed him when I didn't look away, while he was staring. I was actually ready for a situation, given the circumstances, but thankfully the lady (yeah most of the shops and hotels are run by ladies in this part), intervened and shooed that guy away to his table. He was mumbling something looking back at me, but I decided to back down as it was not a smart idea to get into a tussle that too in Manipur, that too with a group (though the rest of the guys were keeping it to themselves). To take my focus away, I started giving attention to the tv in front of me, which was running some Bollywood movie of the 90s. Not bad really, way better than watching that buffoon in the cowboy hat anyway. lol. So my choices for dinner were limited (excluding beef and pork), and I ended up with this:

Clockwise from the bottom: Cucumber slices, some leafy vegetables (shaag of sorts), bamboo shoot soup, dal, fish fry, don't remember what that one, chicken piece I guess, and rice (big ones) in the middle :)

Honestly, the food was so different than what I was used to with my limited experiments so far. I didn't like the rice and bamboo shoot, not because it was bad, it just smelt and tasted different. Maybe I would have developed a taste in a few more attempts, but the first time wasn't that great. The lady saw my facial expressions while eating and could make out that am struggling :P She said come over tomorrow, I will make chicken for ya. That's what you like right ?!! I was like yeah, thank you. I am not sure if I will be around here tomorrow but if I am, then I will drop by. It was kind of her to make such a generous offer, considering pork and beef is the staple food there and chicken may not even sell, except for my meal. I ordered another slice of fish fry, just to help let the remaining items sink in. Either way, I was thankful for the dinner tonight and the whole experience in the middle of Manipur. It was dark but my batteries still had enough charge (wanted to ride till Imphal, remember?!!). So I just sneaked past my hostel building and went a little ahead on the hill road, just to get a view of this town from the total darkness. Not a smart move, I know. I just had my phone on me, so took a few snaps of the town of Senapati from a distance.

Bonfire and the city lights in the backdrop.

A closer look.

It was getting cold outside and I didn't have any warm clothes at that time, so decide to get back to the room. Had to put the camera and other stuff to charge and riding gear to get some air. Cause tomorrow we have miles to cover and places to see :)

Until tomorrow.


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