A man traveled the 8 sister states to quench his longings for his home- a home nestled in the deep North-Eastern India. This is his story.
By Jim Wungramyao Kasom
Between 2012 and 2013 I toured 8 Northeast India States on two separate trips, covering a distance of 7,054 km in the process. I was on the road for 97 days and spent 295 hrs seated in the vehicle.
The roads are taunting and present a serious challenge for any traveler. The difficulties of traveling in the Northeast are far too serious to go unnoticed. Inaccessible roads and insurgency problems have repelled many travelers from entering this region. But all is not lost here. It is because of such challenges that Northeast India still retains its Unique identity.
The idea of traveling is still a dilemma to many people in the Northeast States. It is considered a luxury; a surplus. Most people I met were amazed when they realize that I was traveling on my own. These are some of the questions thrown towards me, for which I would always begin explaining with a smile:
Are you not scared?
Don’t you feel lonely?
Why Come here?
Who pays your trip?
Travel is subjective, it is like looking at a painting. You have your interpretation, likes and dislikes. Some place speaks to you while some don’t. I can’t speak for others but I’ve always had an inbuilt point of reference that subconsciously decides which place I like or dislike. Just as the likability of a book can be related to your past experience and your sensibility to the subject in real life; the place you grew up has an authoritative say when it comes to accepting a place.
Going back to the Northeast after having lived in the city for some years gave me a new insight in the way I see the place. I did my studies in Shillong and had a great time but after having battled Delhi’s heat and having experienced the ordeals of rush hours in Delhi’s Metro, Shillong shone even more. The idea of traveling can be strange to people from the Northeast India because they didn’t feel the need to in the first place. But once you have lived in the city, Your mind will create the need for travel.
1. The Lake Where The Birds Are The Caretaker
This is the Khecheopalri Lake in Sikkim. Sacred to the Buddhists, it is one of the most importantly a pilgrimage sites.
The water in the lake is believed to possess curative properties. Locals don’t eat fish from the lake. They considered everything sacred and believe fish from the lake are poisonous.
Even though surrounded by forest, no leaves are sighted on the clear water. It is believed that birds do the arduous job of removing leaves from the lake.
And on the other side of Sikkim
A football match in progress between Sikkim United and East-Bengal at Paljor Stadium, Gangtok.
Football is scoring big among the North East Indians with few teams from the area participating in I League.
2. A Glimpse Of The Largest River In India- Brahmaputra River (Assam)
The Brahmaputra River runs through the length of the State and touches some important cities. On my travel I followed the river upstream from Guwahati to Dibrugarh. By the end of the trip I was well acquainted with the largest river in India.
To me the river became the biggest attraction. It gives and takes. Assam suffers from flood almost every year because of the overflowing river but a lot of people depend on it for their livelihood. The river runs deep into the State.
3. When Cherry Blossoms Turned The Switzerland Of India Pink (Meghalaya)
In Shillong, pink cherry blossoms devour the town at the onset of winter.
I had never quite noticed these before during my earlier visits. I was indifferent to these treats. But now, returning from the scorching heat in Delhi, I’ve learned to appreciate things I would otherwise have taken for granted.
4. The River That Runs Through The Hills And Snow Clad Mountains (Arunachal Pradesh)
A large part of Arunachal Pradesh is under forest cover. Steep mountains and thick forests makes it hard to travel from one part of the state to another. Traveling from Along to Tawang was like traveling between two different countries. The topography changes completely from evergreen forests to snow-covered mountains.
But oblivious to it are two fishermen floating on Yomgo River near Along.
5. The First Green Village In India- Khonoma (Nagaland)
Terrace rice fields welcomed me at Khonoma.
At one time Khonoma had gone literally green, by painting all the village rooftops green. It was a pretty sight then, but now only faint vanishing smudges remain and don’t look too good. The steps taken by this village can be only termed as monumental and futuristic.
6. Fishing At The Land Of Gold (Manipur)
Fishing at Lamlang River in Ukhrul, on a cold winter night was one of the most rewarding experience of the whole trip. Afterwards we made a huge bonfire and dried ourselves.
7. Look! The City That Shines At Night (Mizoram)
Some of my colleagues after seeing this photo asked, “Are you sure this is in Northeast?”
Yes. This is Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram, a well developed city with good hotels and restaurants. At night the city sparkles and I have not seen a better looking night cityscape in India.
8. The Royalty Of Tripura
The name Ujjayanta Palace was given by Rabindranath Tagore, a regular visitor to Tripura. The State has a long history of being an independent princely state.
Ujjayanta Palace was built right in the heart of Agartala city. Construction work began in 1899 and was completed in 1901. The project cost at that time was Rs. 1 million and was overseen by the Martin & Burn Company during the reign of Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya.
Coming back to Northeast India was like coming home but at the same time there was so much I didn’t know about. I felt like a stranger in one’s own land. The journey was as much about discovering Northeast India as it was about discovering my identity. (Courtesy: morung.com)
About the Author: Jim Wungramyao Kasom is a Photographer and Writer. His short stories and articles have been published in magazines like Reading Hour, Contemporary Literary Review India, The Morung Express, Eastern Mirror.