Taking Flight…

Expect The Unexpected: Nagaland – Adventures in the Land of Nagas (Part 6)

SubscribeFiled Under: India, Trekking,by Bhakti

Exploring Nagaland was like unfolding secret pages of India’s treasure book. It felt like going back ages & watching a live museum in the era of hunting and farming. It was a real discovery of breathtaking and untouched natural beauty, a preview of hidden and unknown Indian traditions, supreme quality of people and their hospitality.

Click for: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six

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Can you see Thanamir? Because I can’t! But I have to reach on the top of that Mountain!

It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Our driver stopped the car and got down. He went ahead walking. We could not understand what was going on. We were just watching him and he returned after some time and said “Iske aage gadi nahi jaega” (car won’t go any further). That was unexpected. Tsointe had said the car would drop us half a kilometer before Thanamir and villagers would come to help us to carry our luggage. But there was no sign of any village nearby. Roads were deserted. There was deep valley on one side and a huge mountain on the other. Our driver suggested that we can use a short-cut to reach Thanamir. It would supposedly take just one hour to reach Thanamir via this shortcut. We were so angry and at the same time, shocked!

It was 3.30 pm. The sun was getting ready to set as in east India we experience early sunrise and sunset. We had heavy backpacks, food, bottled water cases, sleeping bags to carry with us. Ohh God! We tried to convince him to take us at least little bit further. Me and Neeraj went to check the road conditions ahead to see if it was really bad. But to tell you the truth, it was not! He exaggerated everything. He was so rude. How come he stopped exactly at the starting point of the shortcut? That means he had already decided to drop us there. There was no one to carry our stuff. There was only one road sign there i.e Thanamir 6 km by road. We again tried to convince him. But no luck!

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This is where our driver left us!

Finally we unloaded our baggage and our driver took us to show us the starting point of the short-cut. I couldn’t believe it! Its impossible in one hour! He is talking without thinking! As per his definition “short-cut” was “getting down the valley, crossing a river at the bottom and then climbing up the other side”, that too with all our heavy backpacks, two small bags, 2 liters water bottles and sleeping bags! Now you would say why did we carry so much stuff. But this was totally unplanned! Our original plan was to reach Thanamir by car, stay there for a few days, keep all the extra luggage at the village and then climb Mt. Saramati and finally return to Kiphre by car. Ohh GOD! As they say, “Always expect the unexpected”.

Our driver never suggested us to take the road. It was 6 km (I doubted its authenticity) from where he dropped us. We thought it may be closed due to landslides or it may take longer and there was nobody else on that road. No car passed. It was just us. Our driver was trying to show us some homes on the top of huge mountain which we were supposed reach. The mountain we were standing on was almost at the same level as the other mountain on the top of which Thanamir is located. But there is no bridge to connect these two mountains. You have to climb down. Cross the river and climb up. We asked him which trail we should follow and if there was any split in the trail? He said there is only one path. Follow that. No confusion. Yeah, right.

Being a localite from Thanamir, that pastor said “I will go ahead and send somebody to carry your bags”. We gave him a water bottle for the journey and he left. I think it was like child’s play for him. Anyways, we packed everything. We were “fully armed” with one big backpack at the back, a small one in the front and two 2-liter water bottles, one in each hand. We left extra bottles at the starting point. It was 4 pm now. Our driver asked us to come back at the same place after 3 days. He was not going to pick us up from Thanamir. Was it all pre-decided? Forget it!

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Getting ready for adventure!

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Short cut is hidden somewhere here! And I don’t have any other picture after this! You have to start using your imagination now!

Now our 4-man army headed for this unplanned and adventurous battle. Neeraj was leading the trail, followed by me, Harsha and then Shubha. From step one, we started climbing down the mountain. It was very steep and slippery. It was more difficult because of our heavy backpacks. And as we were carrying small bags in the front, it was even difficult to see the next step ahead. It was a totally steep meandering trail. Shubha was very scared of going downhill. But I must say she is great at climbing up! There was hardly anything to hold on to on the sides. And in addition we had to hold on to our water bottles!

It started getting darker. The path was muddy, wet and sticky that one by one we all were falling down. Haha! But soon this laughter turned to fear when Neeraj saw one snake. I could not see it. I think he ran away. But now we all got scared. We didn’t have any knowledge about those snakes. Within 10 minutes of trek, there was one more. This time it was right before us. I was looking at it, for the first time in my life, so closely, that too in the wild (not zoo). It was dark black, sleek, slim and coiled. Neeraj said “Don’t move”. First I thought we should quickly cross it and move forward. But Neeraj said let him go first, will see where he is going and then we will move ahead. I was more worried as Neeraj was wearing shorts. He could easily get bitten by snake. After 2-3 minutes, that shiny black prince went in bushes. Aahhh! Thank God!

Harsha and Shubha couldn’t meet our snake friend as they were yet to reach here. Hereafter my eyes were constantly looking for snakes as if I got paranoid for snakes. Even if I would have seen tiger, I would have ignored it – haha! But its good to be alert!

Almost an hour had passed and there was still no sign of the river. It was now even darker than before! There was not a single spot where the 4 of us could stand together and discuss. Finally we came to the conclusion that it’s not gonna work. We just cannot carry so much luggage and trek; we finally decided to leave our backpacks on the side of the trail and move ahead. Shubha and I compressed all extra stuff from 4 bags into 2 bags. We took only one pair of clothes each and other important things like medication, water, flash lights and sleeping bags. Harsha and Neeraj took one bag each, but now those bags were very light weighted comparatively. I took one small bag – that’s it! I made my mind to lose all the small things that I had collected as souvenirs in our 2 months of travel in the Northeast. At that point the most important thing was to reach Thanamir ASAP.

It was much easier now, with light bags! We should have done this before! Anyways, now our target was to reach that river. We could hear the flowing river. So that meant we were somewhere nearby. But as the trail twisted and turned the sound of the river kept fading in and out with not even a glimpse of the river. We realized that it was an illusion. We still had a long way to go to reach the bottom of the hill.

It took us another hour. By the time we reached the banks of river, it was pitch black. Flash lights were already out. There was no sign of the village and villagers whom that pastor was supposed to send for us. We started looking for a bridge to cross. We were unable to see anything without flashlights. And in that dim beam of flashlight we could see some broken structure hanging across the river. OHH MY GOD! What is this?! Is this some kind of a joke! Do you call it bridge? It was way better to cross the river wading through water than falling down from that so called “bridge”! But we were not in a position to do that also as we were not aware about depth of water and even if we manage to cross it, how do we find the trail in the dark? That bridge was connected to our trail but not the river. We just relaxed for some time on the banks.

It was my first night trek. I was constantly looking out for wild animals or snakes with my flashlight. Now we had to take a call, whether to stay here or move on ahead. I was very firm on ‘moving ahead”. It was around 6 pm and for sure I didn’t want to spend another 10-12 hours here waiting for the sun to rise. So after taking a 10 minute break, we once again started trampling in the “Dark Night”.

To be continued…

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