The drive from Kohima in Nagaland to Imphal in Manipur will go down as one of the most memorable trips of my life. It was also very unique, as it filled me with a heady mix of anticipatory happiness and fearful anticipation.
The anticipatory happiness came from the joy of discovering a new place and the breathtaking beauty of the lush green landscapes and brilliant blue skies that welcomed me on the road to Imphal.
The fearful anticipation came from many the stories we hear, of blockades, kidnapping, and insurgency related killings, that are allegedly happening here all the time.
But the unending beauty that revealed itself along the highway into Manipur was such, that we ignored all warnings and kept stopping along the way to soak in the scenery, and even have a chat over a cup of tea with locals at a roadside stall near Senapati.
At the back of my mind, a voice kept telling me, in a worse case scenario, I’d rather be a victim to some misguided cause in a beautiful place, than be a victim to the mindless violence that constantly erupts on the ugly streets of the National Capital Region.
But my fears were unfounded, and my first trip ever to Manipur, turned out to be way more exciting and magical than I ever imagined.
I spent time in some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen with my own eyes. I met old friends from college who I had lost in the by-lanes of my memory. I experienced emotions that I didn’t know existed in me. I tasted food that was new yet delightfully familiar in my head. I learnt new things about Manipur and its people that weren’t written about in any book or newspaper. And I totally fell in love with Manipur in the first three-four days that I spent there, and in the many subsequent trips I took to this beautiful place.
Here are some of the images from the drive, and my initial discoveries of Manipur. I will write more about the state and its people, in subsequent posts!