Photo Story: How Trekkers Did a DIY Trek in the Tamenglong Forests of ...

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Photo Story: How Trekkers Did a DIY Trek in the Tamenglong Forests of Manipur

Category Photo Stories Photography

By Jothiranjan

2022-01-25

Our first team of 6 trekkers just came back from the Tamenglong exploration and were incredibly impressed with the trek. They loved the variety in the trail, the forests and the culture of the region. 

Not just that, they did the entire trek DIY style, without a support system of any kind. They carried their own tents, sleeping bags, food and cooking gear. They navigated on their own, without the help of a guide. They were accompanied by Dr Dhaval Jajal, a Senior Trek Leader and Explorer at Indiahikes, who explored the entire trek previously.

This trek was also supported by the District Magistrate and the Sub Divisional Officer of Tamenglong, Manipur. They have taken a personal interest in opening this trek for others. The entire administration will be behind the team. The state of Manipur is keen to open a new trekking trail in India.

Here’s a photo story to give you a peek into what trekking DIY Style in Manipal is like:

Manipur takes you by surprise right from the time you land in Imphal, the capital city. The lush green landscape, combined with rich water resources and unspoiled beauty is a trekker’s paradise. Picture by Dhaval Jajal

Your trek starts in the endearing forests of Dailong. Almost all year long, the forest floor is a soft bed covered with leaves. Picture by Aditya

Trekkers have the pleasure of camping in the Dailong forests on their very first night of arrival. Picture by Karthikeya

The next morning, you set off on the trek, towards the caves of Tharon. Picture by Aditya

Before reaching the caves of Tharon, trekkers trek through the village of Tharon. These are a few of the remotest villages of Manipur, where they have preserved cultures and traditions from centuries ago. In the picture, you see trekkers testing the weapons and shields that the villagers make and preserve. Picture by Karthikeya

A small sit out at the entrance of the Tharon village. Trekkers sat in this hut and wrote lovely postcards for their dear ones. Picture by Dhaval Jajal

From the Tharon village, trekkers proceed towards the much-awaited Tharon Caves. Picture by Karthikeya

The Tharon Caves are ancient. They existed even before the oldest inhabitants settled in Manipur. They lie deep inside the forest and have many rooms and pathways that go deep into the underground. Picture by Dhaval Jajal

“We were inside the cave for roughly 2 hrs. We crossed few very difficult sections. It was not easy to be inside for that long time, but everyone motivated and helped each other throughout. It was a most memorable experience of the trek,” shares Dhaval.

“We cooked our dinner right next to Tharon caves. We reflected on our day’s trek and called it a night.”

The next day, trekkers set off from the caves towards the Alangta Waterfall. It’s a day’s visit and back to the Tharon caves. Picture by Karthikeya

There are several steep sections within the forests and around the cave. They make the trek suitable only for the fittest of trekkers. Picture by Dhaval Jajal

Bamboo forest on the way to Alangta waterfall. Picture by Dr Dhaval Jajal

This is one of the prettiest waterfalls we have seen in a while, the Alangta Waterfall. “It’s a massive waterfall surrounded by dense jungle. It gives you the vibe of pre historic times. Trekkers were amazed to see such beauty,” shares Dhaval. Picture shot in November 2021, amid rainy season in Manipur. 

“What better spot to cook lunch than next to the waterfall! We had Jeera rice, tomato soup and rice kheer while gazing the waterfall,” shares Dhaval.

While the Alangta Waterfall is the grandest waterfall on the trek, there are myriad waterfalls all along the trek. Picture by Dhaval Jajal

The trek takes you deep inside the virgin jungles of Manipur, many sections of which are reminiscent of the Amazon forests. Picture by Dhaval Jajal

Since it’s a DIY trek, trekkers use GPX files to navigate on their own and find their way through the forests and hills of Tamenglong. Picture by Dhaval Jajal

The forests are infinite too. Although the journey is completely inside the forest, you will never get bored of the variety, says Dhaval Jajal

There are several streams on the Tamenglong forest trek, on which locals have built small makeshift bridges. Crossing them is a small adventure on its own. Picture by Dhaval Jajal

“New Tharon village is my favorite place on this trek. This village is totally disconnected from outer world. It has only 8 households and this time there were only 4 people in the whole village. Temperature was sub zero at night. Morning was frosty but very peaceful,” says Dhaval.

The last day’s trek is a journey towards Piulong through tall grasslands. Picture by Karthikeya

The forests on this trek will never let you settle. Even on the last day it will keep you on the edge. There were several sections where we crawled beneath trees. Picture by Dhaval Jajal

When you’re ending the trek, you’ll leave with a sense of contentment about so many things — the unique forests and the deep connect you build with them, the rare culture of the people of Manipur and the satisfaction of doing the whole trek on your own.

What the trekking team has to say: 

Tamenglong Jungle DIY Trek – A Trek of Self learning

“A DIY style trek, is a kind of trek I have always wanted to do… If you ask me since when? My answer would be… I absolutely don’t remember. But definitely for many many years now….

First and foremost was self-confidence of survival during the trek. I have everytime doubted my capability of doing a DIY trek. But I proved myself wrong during the trek and I am extremely proud of it. I AM capable of doing a DIY trek.

Fitness: I am a fitness freak but was never sure whether I would be able to carry the heavy bag and ascend and descend the mountains. I was happy to shatter my self doubt. I was not only able to carry 12-15 kgs of bag everyday but could also ascend and descend steep terrain for 15-16 kms a day.

Mental Strength: This trek also tested my mental strength. There were moments when I felt tired…exhausted during the trek… But mind never gave up. My mind kept telling me that I am stronger than I know myself. At some stretches, the slope were slippery due to rains. Descending on such slopes was very risky. Because of my over confidence that I wont fall, made me fall and skid a couple of times. Then I realised how risky it was to slip and hit on a stone or twist an ankle or break a bone running rest of the trek for myself and rest of the team. After this realisation, my every step was a cautious step. Whether a slippery stone or loose soil… my mind made me stronger and gave me the power and confidence to keep going.

Claustrophobia: I am claustrophobic, but I overcame that during the trek. First day we did Theron cave exploration near the camp site. I gave up during the first enclosed space. But then things happened in a quick succession. It started with crawling through a 10 feet passage to escape the cave and then one thing lead to another. in an attempt to exit the cave went through lots of enclosed spaces for a good 2 hour period.

Weather: I am very susceptible to cold. In normal Himalayan treks, it’s easy to withstand cold because most of the time you are inside the tent. The temperatures in this trek dropped almost to Zero degrees at the last camp site. But everyone had to be outdoors for cooking, pitching tents and chitchat as sunset used to happen at 5.30 pm.

This was a very different trek to explore and would love to explore more such treks.”

– Aparnita

 

A Trek SO different from a regular trek

“First of all, I would like to extend my gratitude to Indiahikes for the phenomenal experience it offered us. DIY-style trekking just adds a spark to the whole experience. The conversations among the group begin way before the trek and this helps settle anxieties over group dynamics etc. The Dhaval as trek leader was god, humble and fun.

The trek itself was astounding. Witnessing such a big waterfall and huge caves are truly memorable.  On the DIY front, the food was delicious, fresh, piping hot and we so look forward to cooking each time. We had kheer, variety of rice, soup under the star lit sky is simply out-of-this-world. The equipment was good and did not pose hassles.

The Manipur Exploration was a great experience and inspired me to embrace trekking, and be close to nature!” – Jalaj

That was all about the first 6-member team DIY trek to Tamenglong in Manipur.

Click here to read more about the Tamenglong Forest Trek in Manipur.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about the trek, drop in a comment below.

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Jothiranjan

Head Photographer

About the author

Jothiranjan is a National Award Winning wildlife and landscape photographer with over 8 years of experience. He has spent several years documenting animal and bird life in the remotest forest reserves of India. He joined Indiahikes with a keen interest to document the trekking world like nobody has before. He has been successfully pursuing his thirst for adventure and trek photography since 2021, gaining the priceless skill of adventure photography as he grows.