Home CAR & BIKES My 2016 Bolero 4WD goes on a road trip to Manipur: Experience

My 2016 Bolero 4WD goes on a road trip to Manipur: Experience

My 2016 Bolero 4WD goes on a road trip to Manipur: Experience

Guwahati to Kohima is in good condition with few rough patches. Kohima to Mao (30 odd kms) is still under construction and the going gets tough.

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I visited Manipur for a few days in April 2023. This was just a week before the violence started in the state which has claimed many lives so far. It is a beautiful place with friendly people and I hope peace returns soon there.

It is not much of a wonder that I have never visited the state before. The ground situation changes there so suddenly with local bandhs etc. I will not dwell upon what is going on at present in the state and just share the experience of driving through it.

Vehicle: My 2016 Bolero 4wd. It is amazing how easy this vehicle makes travelling to unknown places.

Travel partner: My friend and brother-in-law, Pahar. As usual, we did not discuss any plans except for the starting date.

ILP: Inner Line Permit is required for entering the two states of Nagaland and Manipur. I tried applying for Manipur ILP online but it remained stuck at “under process”. We decided to just wing it and get the ILP made at the entrance gates.

Day 1: Guwahati to Imphal

Route taken: Guwahati- Dimapur-Kohima-Mao-Imphal

Distance: 500 kms approximately

Road conditions: Guwahati to Kohima is in good condition with few rough patches. Kohima to Mao (30 odd kms) is still under construction and the going gets tough. From Mao onwards, it was smooth sailing all the way to Imphal.

I started from Guwahati at around 6 in the morning and picked up Pahar from Dokmoka, Karbi Anglong. Some of his friends and cousins had come to see him off and we took his case for not taking his new Bolero BS6 for the trip. Pahar was treating his new Bolero like a sedan and making all kinds of excuses for not bringing it for the trip.

My 2016 Bolero 4WD goes on a road trip to Manipur: Experience

The new 4-lane Doboka to Dimapur road

Our friends soon cruised by us in their CSUV while I was going pedal to medal at 90 km/h in my DI Turbo on the Dokmoka Dimapur road. It would be nice to cruise like that I thought- I mean I can do that in my Toyota Yaris but I don’t want to take it on an adventure trip. Maybe something which does good speeds with 4wd capability- a Thar would be nice. Yes, a Thar will be sweet- but what if it breaks down with DPF issues on top of a mountain? Petrol Thar will be good- but. At this point, Pahar broke my daydreaming saying the Bolero 4wd feels much tougher than his BS6. Also, he was unhappy that it gets serviced by fixing some laptops to it. I offered to exchange our rides and he promptly fell asleep.

We did not stop much as it was raining all the way through and truth be told I was not really impressed with the landscape on the Dimapur Kohima route. Arunachal Pradesh has spoiled me and it is really difficult to get similar amazing terrain anywhere else here. Nobody checked our ILPs at Dimapur and we moved on towards Kohima on the 4-lane road. Pahar and I skipped breakfast and realized it feels better to have empty tummies on a journey. We passed the town of Kohima and being a Sunday the roads were quite empty. That also meant that there were no eateries and the few open ones we had already passed when we were practicing intermittent fasting.

We stopped at a small place named Maram and had some rice and dal at a small shack. Pahar complained about the price charged to the owner of the shack. I had a full tummy and did not complain.

Somewhere after Kohima

Rains had intensified and Bolero took the bad roads before Mao with aplomb. On such roads, it becomes one of the fastest vehicles. Mao is the entrance to Manipur where ILPs are checked. In the heavy rain, we missed the ILP checkpoint and nobody waved to us to stop. And just like that, we were driving in Manipur. The terrain is hilly but not spectacular and I was getting tired. We stopped on the outskirts of Imphal and had some overpriced coconuts.

We drove into the clean city of Imphal into our lodge for the night- Manipur House. It is a budget hotel and a good choice for people looking for a no-frills stay.

Day 2: Imphal to Ukhrul

We did not have any fixed plans for the day- just that we would drive to Ukhrul, one of the hill districts of the state. There are a number of tourist attractions in Imphal city and I wanted to check out the Kangla fort. However, it remains closed on Mondays and we instead went to the all-women market- Ima Keithel or Ima Market. It is a market run entirely by women. It has different buildings for all kinds of items- meat, fish, clothes, fruits, hardware items etc. We found communicating with the shopkeepers a bit tough due to language barriers. They spoke only a little Hindi and we spoke no Meitei. Pahar is a pro in such situations and very soon he had all the women laughing by being himself. I bought a small knife and it has become my favourite for peeling fruits and vegetables. Pahar got some tree bark which is used during prayers. I found out that it smells really nice even when unlit and kept it in my Bolero as an air freshener. We spent around 2 hours in the market and it was a great experience.

Ukhrul is 80 kms from Imphal. We were at the entrance of the district when we saw a gathering of young people by the road. They sweetly put some bamboos across the road and Pahar and I wondered if it was some kind of welcoming ceremony and we were supposed to crush the bamboos with our Bolero. But we decided to make sure and the young people informed us that a bandh/ strike had been called and we could not proceed forward that day. Pahar and I were lost as we did not have any other plans. I wanted to see Loktak Lake but that meant driving back to Imphal with its busy streets. Seeing our confusion, one of the bandh supporters informed us that the bandh would be over by 6 p.m. and we could drive on then. The young guys were all very polite with us and Pahar took some of their water bottles.

We had around 6 hours and we decided to return and see the Loktak lake. We had lunch at a small hotel near the lake which was alright. We rented a boat which made a lot of noise and the engine died out in the middle of the lake. The owner sheepishly told us he ran out of diesel. I quite welcomed the resulting quiet and appreciated the beauty of the lake. I would like to spend the night here someday.

Some hurried shots of the Loktak lake

We headed back to the place where we had been stopped in the morning by the bandh supporters. It was almost dark and we were finally on our way to Ukhrul. There is a popular trek there called Shirui Peak which is covered in beautiful Shiryui Lilies in the month of July. There is another popular point nearby called Phangrei Peak which gives beautiful views of the valley around.

We had called and booked our stay at a small place called TK Homestay which is run by an old and friendly gentleman, Mr. Tennyson Kazingmei. Because of the bandh, he could not get any fresh meat from the market and instead cooked us a dish of smoked pork and chicken. It was the first time I had eaten a combined dish of pork and chicken and it was great. Pahar ate most of the chicken and I the pork. The weather was cold as well and I had luckily brought a jacket. Mr. Kazingmei had a Bolero 4WD and I took some pictures of the two not-so-common beasts.

Underrated beasts: Bolero OF 4wds

Pahar was in the meantime grumbling about some pending work he had to complete for his madam at the office. Remember we had not discussed about anything about the trip prior- not even the number of days it would take. So, on the second day itself, my partner was having work anxiety.

Mr. Kazingmei heard our plans to trek to Shirui the following day and offered us an alternate plan. Shirui Peak is a very steep climb and he suggested going to Phangrei Peak instead. From Phangrei Peak we could go via the mountain trek to Shirui Peak where the ascent would be much more gradual. He also called up his contacts and arranged a guide for us.

Continue reading BHPian gunin’s travelogue for more insights and information.

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