A re-write of my photowalk in Aizawl from 2007

Armed with my Aunt’s little Lumix camera, I walked the streets of Aizawl for a photograph things I found interesting. It was uncomfortable to aim at random things with a camera because this was before everyone has a smartphone and before every monkey carries a DSRL. Some people even asked where the photo would be published. Perhaps they thought I was from the newspaper.

Trek to Reiek

Reiek Tlang is a popular  day trek from Aizawl. It’s a 30km, 2 hour drive to the west of Aizawl. This time, like most people I ignored it for  long because I can go there anytime. Why the hurry? But that time never came.

In May 2014, I was in between jobs and had a month break at Aizawl. I decided  it was time to strike Reiek off my list.

I have seen pictures of the cliff and the narrow path on the edge leading to the peak. I though was that was it.  What I didn’t know was that the short 3km trek to the peak through the thick and well preserved forest would be so amazing, if it were nearby  Bangalore, it will attract loads of trekkers!

It’s the best 3km trek I have done. Let me take you there.

Half way to  Reiek, you will reach Tlawng river. There is a small tea stall where you can have tea and snacks.The tea stall with its wide windows make it a nice place to sit and sip tea as you admire the river below.

reiek-mizoram-01

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Damcherra Bazaar (2014)

I had not been to Kanhmun/Damcherra Bazaar in  more than ten years. The last time was 1999. I had been wanting to go there. Since we were at Kawrthah for a brief visit,  it was a perfect opportunity to drive down to Kanhmun. The twin town is a popular shopping place in Mizoram west. It lies at the border of three states- Mizoram, Tripura and Assam. Kanhmun in Mizoram and Damcherra in Tripura, the two separated by  Langkaih river. People come here on Tuesdays from various nearby villages. I don’t know about Assam and Tripura. From Mizoram, shoppers used to come from as far as Mamit.

The Bazaar Ni (Market Day) which is Tuesday is observed seriously like a special day. Pu Muana, a pastor who was posted there said you can’t really plan anything on Tuesday.

We went there on a Monday since we wanted to head back to Aizawl the next day. We started from Kawrthah around 7 in the morning. After Zamuang, we stopped at Bairabi peng (junction) for tea.

Zamuang-Bairabi-Road

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Zawlnuam (2014)

I got very few photos  as we were just passing through. Zawlnuam and it’s adjoining Borai are one of the bigger villages in Hachhek hill range in Mizoram West. They had diesel engine powered electricity long before the power grib reached. It lies in the river valley right next to Langkaih and Borai lui. The other side of Langkaih to the west is Tripura. As it is in flat land, fish ponds and paddy fields are a common sight. The weather is extreme in both winter and summer seasons.

Bailey bridge over Teirei river on Bairabi road, Mizoram

Bairabi road

There were two reasons for taking this route on our return to Aizawl from Kawrthah. I had not traveled it before. Bairabi Kai, Crossing still uses a ferry. I like ferries since childhood. As someone who is always curious to know where the road goes, the former itself was compelling enough. It was the better route in Dec 2014 and till today for the people of Hachhek hill range in Mizoram west.

Mamit road has always been “the route” to Aizawl from Kawrthah. But in recent years, the construction of NH 44A progressing at a snail’s pace has made Mamit road extremely bad and less preferable. We  took Mamit road while going to Kawrthah. From Rawipuichhip to Dapchhuah (Tut), it’s downhill all the way. All I had to do was put the gear in neutral and hold the steering wheel. There was no need to apply brake as the road was so broken up and rough giving us enough friction. We rolled down like a cart.

In the early 90’s, Tuilut road was completed giving Kawrthah and neighboring villages an alternate road to Aizawl via West Phaileng. During the construction, a Junior Engineer (JE) from Mizoram PWD lost his life. The dynamite set to blast rocks didn’t go off as expected. When he went close by to inspect it, the dynamite did ignite and the explosion with along with debris of rocks took him down into the ravine. But in a few years, we switched back to Mamit road as it was shorter. As I was quite young, I can only guess poor maintenance or no maintenance must be why Tuilut road felt out of favour. Now that Tuilut road is less traveled and hardly spoken about, to me it sounds like a classic route to explore.

Bairabi road was never considered an option in the past. First, there’s no bridge and the ferry service is available during the dry weather only. It is stopped in monsoon due to the rising water level and strong currents. Secondly, the road between Bairabi and Zamuang was never in a condition to be desired. I had no idea what the road was like between Bairabi and Kolasib. From Kolasib to Aizawl, we have NH54, the only National Highway in Mizoram. That is if you exclude World Bank Road from Aizawl to Lunglei, which is not an NH but on par or better than most NH’s and NH44A which is still under construction.

In recent years, the road between Zamuang-Bairabi-Kolasib improved a lot and thus winning favours from travelers in this route. Between Zamuang and Bairabi the road is tarred. There were many big craters caused by the trucks transporting teak logs. From Bairabi, the road was broad but not tarred. But from Meidum, it was tarred and one of the best roads in Mizoram.

But that was Dec 2014. A lot could have changed, one way or the other. As of writing this, Bairabi bridge is yet to be completed.

 

Riding home from Serchhip

The rest of the ride to Serchhip was uneventful. The road NH 54 had been recently redone making the ride real smooth. At Serchhip I stayed at Pu James’, a friend from misual.com. We had not met in person before and there was a lot to catch up. After dinner I was suppose to sleep in their department guest house but I left sleepy and lazy and chose to crash in their sofa instead.

About Pu James- Pu James is a foodie like a lot of Mizo men but what sets him apart is his interest in cooking and acquiring a variety of exotic Mizo food and dishes. Most Mizo men aren’t interested beyond sachek. He has a stash of exotic Mizo food such as mautuai, baibing and khawi no all year round. He said that he would not open his exotic reserves unless he has a VIP visitor. I felt very honored to be one.

The next morning he helped me chart the next course of travel. He suggested I proceed towards North Vanlaiphai and may be towards Champhai. He wanted to come along but had to leave that afternoon to Aizawl for a meeting.

But trouble struck. Even before I reached the main road, I had a flat tyre. I did not carry tools and spares as the bike was close to brand new. I quickly changed plan and decided to return home. With the help of Pu James’ driver, I found a tyre repair shop in Serchhip but they didn’t have the right size tools to remove the wheel. And also they were not very eager as they mainly catered to cars and trucks. So we just topped up the pressure and I had it repaired at Chhingchhip instead. I also borrowed Pu James’ pump in case I need to top up the pressure on the way.

Instead of coming back on Seling route, I wanted to try the new Khumtung to Muallungthu road. The road was fresh and gravel till Tuirial bridge. For some distances before Tuirial bridge, there were arrays of thlam, jhum hut. I was invited to tea into one of them and I delightfully obliged. I learned the were farmers from Tlungvel and they mainly grow brinjal which they sell in bulk to the vegetable market in Aizawl. They would camp in the farm Monday to Saturday. They work early morning, rest at noon when the sun is hottest and continue in the evening.

At Tuirial bridge, I rode down to the river bank to freshen up. This cost me some worry and energy. As I was about to start, the rear wheel fell into soft earth which collapsed. I had to pull the extremely heavy Classic 350 out all by myself. What feat!

The road from Tuirial to Muallungthu was in a decent shape of tarmac. I passed by farms and stone quarries. A very pleasant ride and sight.

When I reached home, the bullet has clocked 1024 km.