Tamei - Tamenglong, Manipur
Tamei, my home sweet home. I spent my early years there until the war broke up between the Kukis and the Nagas where bloodshed and death was becoming more of a natural cycle with the events repeating itself every alternate day. At times, your favourite uncle would be alive and buying you sweets and before you realize it, his name’s engraved on a stone in the graveyard. Life goes on as it was for many more years until the intervention of the church and a miracle, forgiving one another. There’s still tension between the two tribes and I don’t blame anyone. Everyone’s at fault. Killing each other for some personal gains and business profits is how it all started although there’s no exact known reason. The war broke up only because one of the 35+ tribes of Naga has issues with the Kuki tribe!! The entire Naga tribes joined in. That’s not the kind of unity we should learn if history has taught us anything.
Tamei is situated on the top of a hill at an altitude of about 1330m above sea level. There are two huge rivers viz the River Agaki and River Ahangki from Tamei. There are some few streams nearby along with splendid waterfalls. This remote hilly area is covered with luxuriant vegetation and ever-green forests.
Tamenglong, the district of Tamei is one of the most beautiful districts of Manipur. Its mysterious caves such as Tharon Caves, splendid water falls, deep gorges, Buning valley (also known as Inpuilong valley which is situated at the imposing height of 1410 meters above sea level and the valley has a charming landscape), Old Konphung (where my grand parents were born and brought up) is a land of prairie, Lots of fertile valleys, Zailat lake and exotic orchids are unique by themselves. Most of the tourist spots are inaccessible. Barak waterfall is a very beautiful spot nestled in the deep cool forest of Konphung which is about 18km from Tamei.
How to get to Tamei:
Though it is a very beautiful place, the transport and communication system is very poor, relatively underdeveloped and poorly integrated with the rest of the Nation. Tamei is situated at an altitude of about 1330m above sea level and is 115km from Imphal, the capital city of Manipur, India. Tamei can be reached after driving through the bumpy, dusty, uphill, downhill, dangerous blind curves, narrow roads for 6-8 hours that one mistake and the car could be sliding down the hill until a tree stops your car less you hit a river/stream at the foothill. There’s always a river or a stream at the bottom of the hills and mountains in Manipur.
Weather in Tamei:
The weather is just perfect, the temperature ranges from 25-30ºC during the summers and not less than 5ºC during the winter seasons. It is probably because of the high altitude and heavy rainfall, there are mild summers and cold winters. Rainfall is generally heavy in the district with as high as 3,264.10 mm recorded in Tamei and nearby areas in 1983. There’s usually heavy rainfall and trust me, those days are the worst with extreme muddy roads and one would have nowhere to go. At times, it rains continuously for over a week and during these days, life comes to a standstill.
Living cost in Tamei:
Food and other basic commodities are imported from Imphal and so naturally, it is not cheap. One cannot get any product at the MRP and the shopkeepers blame the Imphal wholesalers which is true in a way. Everything is expensive in Manipur. Of course, there are no expensive McDonald food chain or a KFC or a mall to spend on, and therefore, the living expense is obviously low.
Liangmai Population of Tamei:
The population of Tamei is predominantly tribals from the Liangmai Naga tribe and they are all Christians. Nothing concrete has been done for the improvement of the socio economic condition of the tribals living there until now.
Tourism in Tamei:
There are a few hotels to stay overnight although I’m not sure about the charges, probably Rs 100-150 or less. To get to Tamei, one can hire a Sumo for about Rs 5000 from Imphal for 3-5 days.