91 months ago

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Sivasagar to Kohima

Distance: 263.1 Km / 163.9 Mi Duration: 06:18:42


I started at 5:30am, I was in awe of Sivasagar but now it was time to move on. Sivsagar houses are beautiful, most houses do not have a porch or garden but they have a pond. These are private ponds and each house breed their own lunch, I meant fish. What an amazing way to live, feel hungry and fancy a skewered fish guess what, cast a net and catch one. I could live here forever. Since I am carrying a handful of toiletries I guess moving on with the journey is a better idea than staying forever. There was life on the road but not enough to cause a jam or traffic jams at 5:30am. The sun rays had illuminated the far horizon and most of the people were out for their morning walk, in jogging shoes and shawls. There was a nip in the air and one could see thin fog over the meadows and by the time I hit the highway I witnessed an amazing sunrise.

I had to ride towards the west i.e towards Guwahati to reach Kohima which is the capital of Nagaland and nestled within the clouds. I crossed Jorhat and post that took a left towards Dimapur from Khoundpara. The roads were in top shape and the countryside was scenic. There was lush green fields on both sides interspersed with houses. I was also feeling hungry but there was no place that offered any food till later. Since the sunrise is early people get up early around 5:30am and work on the fields till 10:00am and only then have their first meal of the day. Owing to this local village food stalls are not open till 9:30am. I was enjoying the idyllic ride on an empty stomach. I reached the city of Golaghat and it was too crowded and dusty. I thought I would stop on the outskirts of the city to avoid the traffic and have breakfast. Since the outskirts of the city merges with the dense Naambor Habi forest hence no food stalls.

I went riding through the forest and there was not much traffic on either side of the road. I had the roads and forest all to myself. The roads suddenly deteriorated thanks to heavy rains in this region and the riding was reduced to 30 kmph. I had my eyes glued to the edges of the road as this was an animal corridor. Thankfully ahead in the middle of the dense forest I saw a forest rangers outpost. Next to the sentry post my stomach identified a eatery. I stopped much to the awe of armed forest rangers, who kept asking you are riding alone? On knowing I was they explained that this area was once regarded as Assam's dreaded forest. Those days even the rangers never ventured without a large platoon. Thanks to active insurgents this was a no go area. Now times have changed and its peaceful to travel through the Naambor Habi Forest in daytime, at nights the roads belong to the elephants and local bandits who loot passing trucks (occassionly). I saw a lot of oil tankers stopping and assembling in one area, On my asking why they had stopped in the middle of the forest their reply was chilling. The bandits would loot tankers of their gas or blow it up to make a point (dependent on the dacoits mood on that day). To safeguard their passage the forest rangers were the escort for the tanker convoy till the end of the forest. I quickly had puri and chana dal for breakfast and left. The road from there on was better, I rode at a healthy pace and crossed the forest in no time and thankfully it was uneventful.

After the forest it was smooth sailing till the border of Assam, moment one crossed over to Dimapur thats when chaos descends. The roads are single lane, it is in tatters, rickshaws everywhere, dusty and above all there is a town championship of 'lets all honk together and destroy eardrums'. It was shocking but by default I adjusted, I hail from Bombay navigating through hell is a daily routine. The whole town is a mess and somehow I saw the end of it and crossed over to the other side. The hills start where the town ends and from here its all uphill with sharp bends. Kohima is situated on top of a hilly range. The roads turn to worse as we go much further into the hills. At times I had to stop to mentally decide how I would navigate over the stones. It was back breaking and nerve racking. The further I went from Dimapur the air became much cleaner & colder. The sky was blue as blue can be and the white tufts of cloud where glistening white as if someone had scrubbed them just for me. On my way I could see some work going on & I presume it must be road broadening due to which a lot of trees were being cut. It pains to see them go but sometimes it is just whats needed. I hope they are compensating the denudation by planting more trees on some land somewhere. The landscape reminds one of the landscape one has seen in Burma, Thailand & Malaysia. The only difference being the weather is not humid, the cool breeze of Naga hills makes the landscape more appealing.

At 12:30 pm I reached De Oriental Hotel in Kohima & was so dusty that I had to dust myself off before I entered. Had a shower and decided to go to the restaurant for some local cuisine. I was recommended Pork in Bamboo Shoots & local rice. It was fantastic for my famished stomach.

After that delightful lunch I hired a car and went to Kohima War Cemetery. It is a well kept edifice from the times of the Raj which is still well maintained in the memory of all those young soldiers of the allied forces (British Army & the Royal Indian Army) who laid down their lives fighting the Japanese in Kohima. The soldiers died on the battleground of Garrison Hill which was the tennis court of the Deputy Commissioner's residence. There are 1420 soldiers buried and 917 Sikh and Hindu soldiers cremated as per their rituals. Thanks to them the Japanese retreated and their valiant sacrifice was rewarded with victory. Reading the epitaphs of these young soldiers is heart wrenching. They lie here far from home and the locals make sure they are never forgotten. I came back to the hotel after the cemetery visit as the war museum closes by 3:00pm. The whole town shuts by 5:00pm and its pitch dark. At 6:00pm even the traffic cease to exist. If I am exaggerating, I apologise as there is not much one can do once its dark in this city but complain and make a mountain of a Naga hill.

I have to plan my route for tomorrow as my goal is Imphal. I need local guidance of the good and bad roads, it will help me chart my route.

Total distance covered today 268 kms Total Distance from Bombay 6272 kms

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