Dzuko - A piece of heaven on earth

 Clay Khongsai
Contd from previous issue
To the valley: Before trekking down, we filled our water bottles from the tap water having been convinced that this water from the tap is the real mineral water by my two companions. By 7 am, we were off trekking down to the valley of flowers. The morning sky was a bit cloudy but no rain and therefore less mud along the path. Still we put on our raincoats and did not take any chance. From this moment onwards, every view was beautiful and enchanting. Here and there we posed for photo shoots. We first went to a helipad site which is also an ideal place for pitching tents, though a bit of a distance from the guest house. The view from the helipad to the surrounding was also very lovely and captivating. Then we continued our trek to the valley side. We took our time to enjoy the captivating scenery along the way. Some beautiful quotes from the bible verses were put up on board on dry blackened trees now and then. After almost an hour trek down, we saw one of the most amazing landscapes filled with short bamboos interspersed with wild flowers. A little deviation on the eastern side brought us to a cliff point with gushing water below. It was a popular spot for youngsters, but i thought it would suit me more if I were to meditate here.
As we trekked down more, we soon realized that we were amidst the flowers on the gradient hill slopes everywhere. It was simply stunning and beautiful!. Here and there, we saw stones engraved with names or a set of stones put together for resting. After a while, we came across a stream that we have to cross if we have to go beyond. But a wooden log was put on top to walk on it if one can balance well. We crossed by walking on the log without much problem. But soon there was one more rivulet which we had to wade through. It was cold, our shoes and trousers wet up to the knees, but it was clean and fast running. We stopped for a while to see the landscape and then we climbed up to the height where a towering cross on top of a lower hill is located. On reaching the cross site, we looked around and everywhere was a sight to remember.
Beautiful flowers adorn most hill sides, and at a distance, people slowly streaming in towards our side from the base camp/rest house. Then we came down from the height and explored other places nearby. Pradeep said that he has heard people saying that white elephants used to roam this valley long ago. One nice place we saw was stones fixed in such a way that one could sit with friends in a circle and can even have refreshment. We sat there for a while and discussed about the peculiarity of the place. Hardly any grass, but lots of bamboos short and stunted. No big trees, no sound of birds or crickets, no fish or tadpoles visible in the water we waded through. A geologist may have something to say about the place, but laymen like us have no explanations to these points we raised. We could not explore further as we planned to move back the  same day. So, we trekked back to the base camp. The valley trek was to and fro was leisurely, and it took us about two and half hours in total.
Once back at the camp, we packed our things and got ourselves ready to leave. But before that, we had a light meal prepared by our fellow friends from our department who insisted that we take the meals prepared by them. We devoured whatever was in the plate and profusely thanked them.
The journey back:Thereafter, we commenced our return journey. When we were nearing the hill junction that starts the climb down, we decided to take the route taken by the rest and not the earlier route which we had taken. This was equally a challenging one. Being steep and slippery, a lot of care especially on the knees had to be taken.
Then we reached the drop point from where we boarded our vehicle and came back.
Summing up and observations: I would say that this has been one of the most beautiful places i have ever trekked in recent times. An amazing place, with unusual hill features yet beautiful. But what worries me is that most trekkers are not environmental conscious. Littering of mineral water bottles along the path, some plastic sheets simply being thrown away, empty sweet wrappers, and even in some places a pile of disposable plates, food remains, plastic cups were seen and looks ugly.
Perhaps, SAYO should lay down stringent guidelines regarding respect for the environment, those who litter can and should be fined, and also to instruct tour operators to adhere to basic dos and donts on littering. Else, this beautiful place will soon become another garbage dump of tourists and trekkers. Without debating on whose territory the Dzuko belongs, Manipur Tourism Deptt can definitely construct roads and build rest houses on Manipur side too, so that trekkers and tourists can also use Manipur side for trekking into Dzuko valley. If an approach road is built from Manipur side, I am sure there will be more tourists coming via Manipur as we have better connectivity with outside states and the Tourism Deptt can earn good revenue out of it. This should be a win win situation for both Manipur and Nagaland.
The writer is  Inspector General of Police (IGP), Manipur Police