A trip to Willong Khullen, Maram village. The situation – 3pm in Imphal, a distance of about 135kms along the winding roads of NH39 to be covered and as if that’s not enough trouble, we planned to come back to Imphal the same day/night. And heck, we said yes! So off we drove – destination Willong Khullen, Maram village.
Willong Khullen is simply amazing. We haven’t been much of a traveler but we do have seen some really beautiful places in Manipur that’s simply amazing. And we think Willong, by far, could be one of the very best places in Manipur that’s so rich in lush nature and that’s untouched and unexplored. The drive till Maram was good except for some rough stretches here and there which is quite common here on NH39. But we weren’t so concerned about that, it was Willong that’s on our mind the whole way. We did stop a few times trying to get a good shot of the beautiful landscape here and there along NH39. But anyway, the real fun starts when we take the diversion to Willong Khullen off NH39 onto the Maram-Peren road.
Willong Khullen is located at about 39kms from Maram. And surprisingly, ironically as well, the road seems to be in a better condition than the erstwhile NH39. The entire Maram to Willong road trip could be split into 3 stretches. The first stretch is quite a smooth and uber-pleasant drive. The roads are good and the view fantastic. It’s the kind that makes you want to hum a tune as you drive through the nice roads cutting through some of the best views of the lush green hills and the vast expanse that rolls up and down the slopes. And the road takes a downhill slope and the drive is really pleasant. The second stretch is somewhat bumpy and rough as it cuts through some of the most landslide prone sections of the road. The actual road surface looks quite fine but the remains of the massive rocks from the landslides make the road shaky and bumpy. But the view gets better and better from here. This stretch is an uphill drive; the roads get steeper and the view is amazing along this stretch. The third and the final stretch is really steep and you can feel it as you press down on the accelerator navigating through the worst landslide hit areas of the road. Remnants of what was once a massive rock from a landslide lay sprawled on the ground taking up almost half of the road. And at certain places it feels as if the road is cutting right through the middle of a demolished stone wall; the rough edges and sides of the massive stone lay magnificent on both sides of the road making it somewhat intriguing and amazing and not to forget scary.
It was already 6pm by the time we took the diversion towards Willong Khullen on the Maram-Peren road and just about the perfect time to cover the first stretch. It was a smooth and pleasant drive and we got to see some of the most amazing sights along the road. It was getting darker by the time we pulled into the second stretch but we were early enough to get a glimpse of some really amazing landscapes. It was an amazing sight as we drove through a backdrop of a beautiful sunset over the majestic hills covered with wispy clouds. The sight for sure could be metaphorically related to heaven if you believe in one. And it reminded us of some of the simple but the best things that money can’t buy; peace, serenity, love et al. And the sight simply gets to your heart. It was almost dark by the time we hit the third stretch and as we drive by the remains of the landslides; there was an eerie yet fascinating calm and silence building up in the ambience. It was too dark to see that nature outside but I could feel the greatness and amazing-ness of it. By the time we reached Willong Khullen it was already 7pm and the Willong megalith stood like giant warriors or safe-keepers in the dark as if welcoming us and at the same time being inquisitive about our presence. We drove up the narrow street bounded by stone hedges that ran through the small village and up to the church. It was magical from there and we could see the shadows of the mist covered hills over the distance. We couldn’t see much since it was already dark and the power woe that’s omnipresent not only in the village but the entire state made it worse. And that our cameras were of no use to catch the amazing-ness around. But we did manage to get a brief glimpse of the morungs and the amazing culture of the Marams of Willong.
We had a quick dinner and started off for Imphal at around 8pm. And as if we hadn’t had enough dose of the splendid and amazing beauty of nature throughout the trip, the drive from Willong Khullen to Maram literally blew us away. There was a slight drizzle and the fog embalmed the whole stretch of the 39kms making it almost a zero visibility. It was simply magical as we drove through the clouds along the entire stretch. Willong Khullen made us feel closer to ourselves and nature yet again. And by the time we drove through the last puff of clouds and hit NH39, we were already missing Willong. 11pm at Imphal, we realized we are in love with Willong and that we need to go back again and capture the splendid beauty of the place.