Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hey guys, I’m back 🙂

Hope you have enjoyed reading my previous post:

Christmas Time in Mizoram, North East India – I

Here’s the continuation…

Monday, 28 December 2015

After a light breakfast at around 8am, I leave my hotel for Solomon’s Temple, a tourist attraction in the hills of Chawlhhmun area in West Aizawl, 10 km away. Taxis charge 400-500 rupees for the to and fro journey. But I’m going there walking. The hotel car driver has told me that there are share taxis going to Vaivakawn, which is on the way to Chawlhhmun. Vaivakawn isn’t far away from Chanmari.

IMG_3452

Instead of walking through the city traffic, I think it best to take a taxi at Chanmari taxi stand around the corner. With the end of Christmas holidays, the city has returned to normalcy.  The clean, narrow roads are bustling with vehicles. Buses, taxis, cars and bikes… the traffic moves in an orderly manner. No blaring horns, no jumping the queue.

The few passing taxis that I flag, drive past me without stopping. A little later, one stops. The driver is the same guy who drove me to Sikulpuikawn on Friday, my first day in the city. Then on Sunday morning, on my way to Hotel Floria, there he was waving at me. “Madam! You are still here?” For the second time, I hop into his taxi, but before ensuring that the fare is on share basis. There’s a boy seated next to him. I should have asked the driver for the fare beforehand because at Vaivakawn he asks for 120 rupees. That’s not a shared fare! For such a short distance, it should have been 20 rupees but he goes on about how he went out of his way for me. I pay him 50 rupees and climb out.

It’s a walk past another locality before I follow the road snaking up the hill to Chawlhhmun. There are plenty of vehicles plying on the uphill road. It’s the same route to the Mizoram University and the Central Jail. The air is dusty and polluted with exhaust fumes. So I wrap my stole around my face. A biker stops and addresses a few words in Mizo to me. He’s dressed in uniform, so could be a cop or from the military. Maybe he’s offering me a lift, but I can’t be sure. Anyway, I’m not interested in the ride. So I ignore him and he drives away.

View from the road to Chawlhhmun…

DSCN2085

DSCN2086

On the road ahead…

DSCN2088

After a 50-minute walk, I reach the gates of Solomon’s Temple…

DSCN2089

DSCN2091

Watch my video: Christmas at Solomon’s Temple 

This striking white structure is constructed by a non-denominational Christian sect known as Kohhran Thianghlim (The Holy Church), founded by Dr. Lalbiakmawia Sailo in 1984. The foundation stone of the temple was laid in 1996. Its construction (still in progress) is funded through donations. An annual convention called Jerusalem Khawmpui is annually held here in the last week of December.

DSCN2120

DSCN2092

DSCN2094

DSCN2096

Solomon’s Temple is considered as the largest church in Mizoram. The prayer hall can accommodate 3,000 people. A voluntary blood donation programme is currently going on…

DSCN2104

Looking around the temple, I’m amazed by the artistic presentations. It’s beautiful!

Colourful artificial flowers and Christmas decorations…

DSCN2098

DSCN2100

DSCN2105

DSCN2107

DSCN2108

DSCN2109

DSCN2110

DSCN2111

Yours truly with Santa Claus…

DSCN2114

Outside the temple gate, there’s a cafeteria. Next to it is this lovely Christmas tree…

DSCN2127

The downhill walk would be quicker but I have had enough of the road pollution. So I take a share taxi from Chawlhhmun to Vaivakawn and another from Vaivakawn to Chanmari. It costs only 20 rupees each way. And both times, I’m the only passenger.

At Chanmari, I find a shop selling face masks. I buy three of them. And soon, like all bikers and most walkers on the road, I too sport a black face mask.

Bikers wearing face masks…

DSCN2150

Next, I take the road to Mcdonald Hill where the Mizoram State Musuem is located.

The road scene around Chanmari at 11:15am…

DSCN2129

DSCN2130

Watch my video: Morning scene in Aizawl 

The museum is closed…

DSCN2131

I thought it would open today. And then I recall Dolly telling me that it’s open only between 2:00pm to 4:30pm.

The Chief Minister’s Bungalow is just a few metres ahead to the left…

DSCN2134

Standing to the musuem’s right side is a white and blue building with a plaque proclaiming: “On this spot in 1896 the first Christian church in these hills was erected by the pioneer missionaries F.W. Savidge and J.H.Lorrain whose house stood a few yards to the Southwest where they were joined by D.E.Jones”

DSCN2137

The hill houses a mix of residences, government offices and commercial establishments. After a brief tour, I stop at a shop to purchase three more face masks, this time in pink, blue and purple colours. I walk down the hill, and reach Millenium Centre…

DSCN2152

The main shopping centres in Aizawl are Bara Bazaar, Millenium Centre and Solomon’s cave. I passed by New Market in Bara Bazaar yesterday. Now it’s time to check out Millenium Centre. I have been waiting for it to reopen today as I need to buy a jacket.

Millenium Centre…

DSCN2149

For a tiny city in a remote area of the country, Aizawl has a wide range of garments, shoes and accessories from top international brands as well as from countries like Myanmar, Thailand, China, Taiwan and Korea. People are highly fashion conscious, especially young women. Like in the hill town of Darjeeling and its surrounding villages, here too girls move around smartly-dressed sporting make-up and latest hair trends. Moreover, people even dress their pets in fancy winter wear. On my walks, I have seen a number of big dogs looking cute in colourful sweaters.

At the mall, fashionable winter wear including leather jackets, sweaters and boots are high in demand. Imported clothes are the favourites. I must have spent more than two hours stopping at each shop on each floor of the popular shopping mall. Everything is so expensive. Finally, I strike it lucky at one shop. They have a lovely fuchsia pink Adidas jacket… it’s the only piece, size and colour available. It’s priced at 2500 rupees. I haggle a bit with the pretty young salesgirl. She has a short chat with the kindly-looking owner, who doesn’t speak English. Since I like the jacket so much, the woman offers it for 1500 rupees. The girl does the Mizo translation: it’s a perfect fit and colour, so it would be a shame not to let me have it. Awww so sweet…

The terrace of the Millenium Centre offers a lovely view of the surroundings…

DSCN2145

Watch my video: View from Aizawl’s Millenium Centre 

Near Millenium Centre, is the booking counter for Sumos running from one town to another on a seat basis. Sumos for Silchar start from this place. Unlike the last few days, it’s a busy road today. People are out in large numbers. The popular Zote Bakery is open but being past lunch-time almost all their food items are over. Damn, I was looking forward to grab a bite here after shopping! Back at the hotel, I rest for a while in my room before starting out again an hour later. This time, to Solomon’s Cave. A long stretch of the road ahead of Millenium Centre, the “Hospital Road” is lined with pharmacies. It’s not “chemist” but “pharmacy” here. Some of them are pharmacies attached to a doctor’s clinic.

By now, it’s dark. On the way, I chance upon a Subway outlet. This small city is full of surprises. There’s a KFC outlet near my hotel. But it’s surprising and disappointing that they don’t have a McDonald’s. I prefer McDonald’s to KFC and Subway. Two days ago, I had a disappointing combo meal after a long wait at the overcrowded KFC. So I hope for a better meal at Subway. No such luck! Their stock of bread is limited to one kind and the soda fountain isn’t working. So I have to buy a bottle instead. At both places, the staff lack proper training. While KFC was crowded, this place has hardly any customers.

Guided by a youngster, I reach Solomon’s Cave only to find it closed. And it’s not even six. Everything in Aizawl closes by 6pm. Compared to Millenium Centre, Solomon’s Cave is smaller. There’s nothing to see or do, so I turn back. There are fewer people on the road. A small laid-back city, there are no nightclubs or pubs…not even a coffee shop.  It’s my final night in Aizawl, so I stop at Hotel Floria for a last night-view from the terrace. It’s quiet on the terrace till I’m joined by some excited females of a Mizo family, gushing about the pitch dark terrace and the fabulous views. I have a soup for dinner and return to my hotel.

 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

At 10:30am, the tourist car is ready to take me to the airport. At 1300 rupees, it’s going to cost me 100 rupees lesser than the airport taxi. The Gorkha driver tells me that there’s another guest in the hotel who is taking the same Air India flight to Kolkata as I am, but he’s leaving around 12:30pm. The flight departure is 3:20pm, so he’s taking it easy. Sharing the car with him would mean having to pay only 650 rupees for the ride. But I’m not ready to take the risk of delay in reaching the airport in case the car runs into some kind of trouble on the road. The airport road is desolate with few chances of getting speedy help. Dolly tries to convince me to share the taxi. I tell her that I’m ready to wait till 12 noon. But the guy is not interested in leaving early, so I go my way.

The hotel stay has been very pleasant, except for the thumping noise from the kitchen which is right below my room. The boys busy themselves in making momos from seven in the morning to past ten in the night. Still, the room is very nice and comfortable and conveniently located near the stairs leading to the main road above. This way I could climb up to the road on waking up to check the early morning scene in my sleepwear.

At 11:30am, I start for the airport. The driver is going to take the longer route and not the one passing the river where the bridge had collapsed. He tells me that heavy vehicles were not allowed on the bridge, but errant drivers paid no heed.  Weakened over time, the bridge gave away when a heavy vehicle passed over it a month ago. Now the new bridge is going to be built by the Indian Army. An excellent decision made by the government. Military bridges are strong and sturdy and they are built within a short time. The one across Tlawng River on the way to Reiek Hill was built by the Army.

Unlike the dusty road that I had travelled through a few days ago, the alternate longer route passes through villages and lush greenery. It’s a lovely drive. I stop to check the variety of fresh veggies being sold alongside the road by two women. The cylindrical-shaped local lemons catch my eye. I decide to buy one as a souvenir. The driver has a word with the first woman. He tells me that she’s selling it as a bunch, not a single piece. I’m ready to pay even ten rupees for one, which I think is a tad too much, but she’s adamant. As I turn to leave, the second woman hands me a lemon from her stock. I hand over the money, but she refuses to accept it. The driver talks to her but she shakes her head, looking slightly upset. The driver tells me that she didn’t offer it for money, it’s a gift. Ooh so sweet…

The sweet woman with her veggies…

DSCN2155

Local lemons…

DSCN2158

Red chillies…

DSCN2157

I reach the airport around 1pm. Initially, my flight was supposed to depart at 2:20pm but it got rescheduled to 3:30pm. However, it arrives from Imphal (state capital of Manipur) at the earlier scheduled time. So at 2:20pm, I’m aboard the flight. But we have to wait for an hour.

At 3:30pm, the flight takes off and it’s “Goodbye, Mizoram”.

 

 

That’s it for today, guys 🙂 Keep visiting me for more!

See you soon…have a great weekend 🙂

 

Advertisements