6/23/2011 to 6/26/2011 | Assam , India

Ambubachi Mela

Swimming in the rain, Ambubachi Mela, Kamakhya Mandir, Guwahati


Shiva’s wife Sati (an incarnation of Kali) is said to have been dismembered into 51 pieces which fell across India, her genitalia, yoni, fell on Kamakhya hill.  The annual Ambubachi Mela celebrates the mother goddess, Kamakhya’s, menstrual cycle.  Apparently for goddesses “that time of the month” comes once a year.  In respect […]

6/20/2011 to 6/22/2011 | India , Nagaland

World Music Day, Naga Style

World Music Day concert in Dimapur


Aiyush was both covering and promoting a concert marking World Music Day in Dimapur, the Nagaland City on the border with Assam.  I accepted his invitation to come along.  Our first stop was a concert/contest for local bands, an event that Aiyush for good reason disavowed any connection with.  He was covering […]

6/16/2011 to 6/20/2011 | Assam , India


Kamakhya Mandir before the Ambubachi Mela, Guwahati


I had passed through Guwahati on a number of occasions always en route to somewhere else more interesting. But I had never really given the city a shot, being turned off by relatively high price of accommodation, at least that in which foreigners are permitted to stay.  Despite a wall full of […]

6/10/2011 to 6/12/2011 | India , Tripura

Udaipur of the East

Wedding ceremony rituals at tank near Tripura Sundari Temple, Matabari


Udaipur is Tripura’s historic heart.  Not to be confused with that other Udaipur in Rajasthan.  In and around Udaipur are several temples and palaces, some forgotten in a state of ruins, while others a focal point of pilgrimages to this day.  By far the most active of the temples around Udaipur is […]

6/8/2011 to 6/9/2011 | India , Tripura

Agartala: The Drunken Sadhu

The "Drunken Sadhu" drinking whiskey, Agartala


Agartala is Tripura’s capital a flat urban sprawl surrounding the turn of the century Ujjayanta Palace.  The weather in June was hardly ideal, hot and humid, though the pineapple sold throughout the city on street corners everywhere was absolutely delicious, an explosion of sweet flavor in every bite.  At bargain price of […]

6/7/2011 to 6/8/2011 | India , Tripura




On of my primary reasons for visiting Tripura, other than “the just to check it out” factor, was to visit the impressive rock 8th century cliff side bas-relief carvings at Unakoti.  Surrounded in a mane of green forests these carvings of Shiva in the grey stone cliff show a very interesting “tribal […]

6/6/2011 to 6/7/2011 | India , Mizoram , Tripura

Damchara: The back way to Tripura

Bru Woman, Market in Damchara


After more than a month in Mizoram it was time to move on.  Rather than traveling the standard route to Tripura via Silchar, I took “the path less traveled by” and went via Western Mizoram and the village of Damchara, though the route via Silchar is hardly a highway of tourists.  Himpuii […]

4/15/2011 to 6/5/2011 | India , Mizoram

Do It Yourself, Mizoram

Mizo bamboo dance, known as Cheraw, during cultral show in Saiha

I haven’t really put much practical information in my journal posts but since I do get a number of people asking about more practical details. This is the second installment of “Do it Yourself” segment for destinations where there isn’t a lot of info out there.  Of course much of this information may eventually […]

5/20/2011 to 5/23/2011 | India , Mizoram

Touring the East: Mizoram’s Land of Folklore



From Champhai I traveled to Biate where I would meet up with Himpuii.  Though she grew up in Aizawl, Biate was the village where her family originally came from.  Currently a good friend of hers was serving as the pastor in the local church.  She used my visit as a pretext to […]

5/17/2011 to 5/19/2011 | India , Mizoram

Champhai: Ri Lake Denied



After a few days of rest and recuperation in Aizawl I headed east to the district capital of Champhai, a region along the Burmese border famous for its grapes which are made into the only legally sold alcoholic drink in Mizoram, a slightly sweet red wine, and for having the largest area […]

5/7/2011 to 5/9/2011 | India , Mizoram

Chongte: land of the Chakmas

Chakma weaving, in a village near Chongte


Chongte, a city not just divided once but three times.  The merging of two rivers at the center of Chongte, divides the city not just geographically into three lands bound by water but culturally and politically as well.  The rivers form the boundaries of the three districts that meet at the center […]

5/4/2011 to 5/6/2011 | India , Mizoram

Tlabung: Where Fairytales Sometimes Come True

Woman smoking a bamboo pipe, Tlabug


Even before I had set foot in Tlabung (pronounced claboong) I had heard the story.  It had been first relayed to me back in Aizawl by a friend of Himpuii who held senior position in the forestry department, and was based in Tlabung.  It would be relayed to me again and again […]

5/3/2011 to 5/4/2011 | India , Mizoram

Saiha to Lunglei: Lawngtlai’s “Cement Queen”


I had planed to stay a night in Lawngtlai (pronounced long-cly) and proceed to the town of Chongte the following morning; however I had to change my route after I found out the only place I knew of to stay in Lawngtlai, the tourist lodge, was full.  I decided to transit through Lawngtlai […]

4/30/2011 to 5/2/2011 | India , Mizoram

Phawngpui: Climbing the “Blue Mountain”

View from near the tourist lodge, Sangau


Phawngpui, literally “blue mountain” in Mizo, at rather lowly 2158 m (7078 ft) is the highest point in the state of Mizoram.  The mountains or hills of Mizoaram make up for what they lack in height with shear quantity making it the state with the fewest acres of flat land in India.  […]

4/28/2011 to 4/29/2011 | India , Mizoram

Saiha: Land of the Mara

Traditional Mara dance during a cultural program in Saiha


After spending Easter in Aizawl I headed south to explore the southern reaches of this hill covered state.  Prior to removal of the restricted area permit for foreigners visiting Mizoram on the first of the year, tourists who did obtain a permit were only allowed to visit the region around Aizawl.  This […]

4/25/2011 to 4/26/2011 | India , Mizoram

Valley views from Reiek



My first excursion from Aizawl was to the village of Reiek.  This prosperous village is perched on a slope beneath a peak of the same name, opposite a deep valley which separates this rural village from the congested ridge of shops and houses that is Aizawl.  The “trek,” or rather walk, as […]

4/15/2011 to 6/5/2011 | India , Mizoram

A “Sap” in Mizoram: Aizawl

Aizawl at night


Mizoram is not an easy place to get to, even from the relatively nearby state of Nagaland.  I spent the better part of the first day, of my three day journey, packed in like a proverbial sardine in an Indian Railways general class compartment, there-always-room-for-one-more class, aboard the painfully slow passenger train […]

4/6/2011 to 4/11/2022 | India , Nagaland

Hanging out in Shiyong, Nagaland

Drying tea, Shiyong, Nagaland


I always seem to linger a little longer than I plan in Shiyong, and this trip was no exception.  It was nearly a week after Aoling before I finally tore myself away from this pretty hill top village in northeastern Nagaland and the hospitality of Phejin and her family.  The week passed […]

4/5/2011 | India , Nagaland

Aoling in Mon

Aoling festival in Mon


We left the quite village of Shiyong making a day trip into Mon town to view the official Aoling celebration, a program of traditional dance organized by the district government.  While not as intimate as the village celebrations, the mass of dancers made for good photography, and we as foreign guests were […]

4/1/2011 to 4/4/2011 | India , Nagaland

Aoling in Shiyong

Aoling, Shiyong, Nagaland


Fresh off the Meitei festival of Yaoshang, in Imphal, I headed further northeast to my friend Phejin’s village of Shiyong in Nagaland, to partake in another festival, the Konyak festival of Aoling.  Being so close, a relative term in India given that it took a day and a half to reach Shiyong […]

3/1/2011 to 3/24/2011 | India , Manipur

Do it Yourself, Manipur

Ima Market, Imphal

I haven’t really put much practical information in my journal posts but since I do get a number of people asking about more practical details, I’ll start a new “Do it Yourself” segment for destinations where there isn’t a lot of info out there.  Of course much of this information may eventually go out […]

3/24/2011 | India , Manipur

Halangkar Part II: Dance of the Maidens

Halangkar, the last day of Yaoshang, Imphal


Halangkar concludes with a dance by the young women from the locality around the Bejoy Govinda Temple.  Dressed in hooded white dresses speckled with pink dye, hiding their faces, they traditionally perform the last dance of the festival.  After which the idols of the Bejoy Govinda and Sri Govindjee temples are returned […]

3/24/2011 | India , Manipur

Halangkar Part I: Processions and Dancing

Halangkar, the last day of Yaoshang, Imphal


The festival of Yaoshang (Holi) in Imphal ends spectacularly with Halangkar.  While the opening day festivities are held at the Sri Govindjee temple, the final days events take place at an open field adjacent to the Bejoy Govinda Temple.  The idols from both the Sri Govindjee and the Bejoy Govinda Temples are […]

3/21/2011 to 3/23/2011 | India , Manipur

Yaoshang: Water Wars, Ropes, and Sports

Sack race during sports festival, Yaoshang


The days of Yaoshang are a festive time in Imphal.  The entire city is caught up in the celebration.   Young girls man ropes across the streets demanding a small “tax” to pass, while marauding groups of young boys and teenagers roam the streets armed with water balloons, buckets, and dye looking to […]

3/20/2011 | India , Manipur

Yaoshang: Dancing at the Sri Govindaji Temple

Devotees dancing at Sri Govindaji Temple for Yaoshang, Imphal


From all across the Imphal valley buses, cars, minivans, and trucks carry men and women to the Sri Govindaji Temple on the first full day of Yaoshang (Holi as celebrated by the Meiteis).  Clad in their traditional attire carrying drums and banners they dance in the hall opposite the main shrine festively […]

3/20/2009 | India , Manipur

Yaoshang: Torch Relay

Torch relay during Yaoshang, Imphal

During the fist day of  Yaoshang the streets of Imphal fill with runners (and walkers) of all ages.  Each locality of the city begins there Yaoshang sports festival with a torch lighting ceremony.  The fire is brought in a running procession through the streets from either the Kangla (the city’s Meitei historical heart) […]

3/19/2011 | India , Manipur

Yaoshang (Holi in Manipur)

Ceremony at the start of Yaoshan (Holi), Imphal


The Indian spring holiday of Holi is kind of a big deal in Imphal.  Unlike elsewhere in the hills of the Northeast India where the tribal communities are mostly Christian, the Meiteis of the Imphal valley are Hindu and celebrate the spring holiday of Holi, know locally as Yaoshang, with particular exuberance.  […]

3/18/2011 | India , Manipur

Moreh: A few hours in Burma



When I headed to the border town of Moreh, with Deepak, Robin, and Sarah I didn’t expect that I find myself facing down rifle brandishing member of the Burmese Junta.  But I guess that is one of the great things about travel you never know what new experiences a new day will […]

3/15/2011 to 3/17/2011 | India , Manipur

Ukhrul: Escape to the Hills

Siroi Hill, Ukhral


We were all excited to finally get out of Imphal into the surrounding hills.  We had chosen the destination of Ukhrul a town in the northeastern hill region of Manipur inhabited primarily by friendly Tangkhul Nagas.  Few foreigners make it to Imphal and even fewer to Ukhrul.  Three foreigners hopping off a […]

3/14/2011 | India , Manipur

TV auditions in Imphal: Mainpur’s got (some) talent

Traditional Manipur drum dance, for Indian Talent TV show audition, Imphal


Our friend Deepak was responsible for organizing the Manipur auditions for a talent competition reality TV show, to be aired on Indian TV.   We went along to watch as it was an opportunity to see cultural groups perform traditional Manipur dance, and martial arts.  Unfortunately interspersed among theses more traditional groups were […]