Travelling Nagaland Part 1: Getting There.
Since only January 1st 2011, independent travelling around Nagaland without a special permit was possible. Of course we had to take the chance to get a glimpse of this beautiful (but not very well known) corner of our planet. Nagaland is one of seven sister states in Northeast India, with Dimapur as the biggest airport- & rail head point.
From Kolkata To Nagaland.
Travelling beyond Kolkata into the North, through the “needle eye” of India – the distance between Bangladesh to the right and Nepal to the left is less than 20km – can be a challenge to itself. As I wrote about train travel through India in an earlier post, the numbers of 1st & 2nd class seats are limited. Many trains are just ordinary local connections and therefore don’t have compartments with privacy. But this way you also travel with the local community (which is a good thing is in any case). There is a strict non-smoking policy on all the trains and animals are also not allowed as well.
After a long night in a 3rd class non-AC sleeper, where our fellow travellers talked and chatted far beyond midnight, where the overhead fans fiddle constantly with an immense noise and bright neon bulbs light up the wagon, topped with the sweet smell of obvious huge cannabis fields out there in the darkened area (yes, believe me, the smell of cannabis filled the train a long way after passing Siliguri), and with passing trains that gave us the feeling that the train would jump out of the tracks due to the suction, we arrived in Guwahati – tired, but healthy. We only had a few hours layover here before we were off to catch the next train to Dimapur – the starting point for any Nagaland adventure.
A Short Stop In Guwahati.
Walking out of the station just for a quick look was immediately interrupted by a policemen “Come with me for registration!” he said. “What?” we replied. “You have to register with the police” was all he said. So we followed the tired policeman to his office, where more tired policemen hung around; one took our passports and started writing into a huge old book. We waited and looked around. We could see lots of dusty files & documents lying around and we couldn’t help ourselves and asked if anybody would ever even look at them. The policeman shook his head and said “Probably not but it’s British bureaucracy.”
After the registration process we finally got out of the station in Guwahati for a stroll. We immediately notice the heavy military presence. Lots of army trucks, armoured vehicles and soldiers were around and we saw a huge building opposite the station – thinking it was a hotel for a breakfast treat – which was an Army barrack. After wandering around for a few hours, the train to Dimapur was ready to board.
Travel Tip (Women Only, Sorry).
- A really good thing at (larger) Indian train stations are the ladies waiting rooms. You have to pay a few Rupees but they have seats, electricity, toilets and sometimes even showers. It took a while for us to find out that such places exist in every bigger station. They’re a real treat between a long journey.
The train ride from Guwahati to Dimapur would take a few hours. The landscape was pleasant with rice paddies and the occasional ox-car meandering the fields. Our fellow train passengers were tired Indians who snored their way to Dimapur – only interrupted by the few food vendors and the conductor who checked the tickets…
More Nagaland Stories.
Travelling Nagaland: Part 1 – Getting There.
Travelling Nagaland: Part 2 – Impressions of Dimapur.
Travelling Nagaland: Part 3″ – Kohima & Surroundings.