Chuchuyimlang Village and an afternoon with Padmashree Natwar Thakar
“The impulse to change and develop the nation by spreading nationalism on Gandhian lines brought me to Nagaland. I wanted to be a part of the system that motivates and promotes complete development of people in the most remote location of the country. Bringing forward the people staying in backward area is achievement and that is what I yearned for” – Padmashree Natwar Thakkar replied when I asked him what brought him to Nagaland post Indian Independence.
Of many people I met in the last decades, I haven’t come across someone so successful on grounds of serving humanity, with a lifetime full of achievements yet so humble and down to earth. A chance visit to Chuchuyimlang in Mokokchung District, Nagaland wasn’t actually a part of my itinerary for Mokokchung visit but I am glad I did.
Padmashreee Natwar Thakar – The Living legend
It was such an honour to meet someone like Sir Natwar Thakkar who has gracefully aged with lots of contribution to the society and was honoured with Padmashree Award in 1999 for his role in upliftment of Nagaland. He was born in the year 1932 in Maharashtra and instead of choosing the comfort of serving any other place, he happily agreed to move to Chuchuyimlang to promote nationalism and bring development. At the tender age of 23 when we are busy enjoying life, Shri Natwar Thakkar established Gandhi Ashram in the 1955 and even at this age continues to work for the welfare of the people. After establishing the Gandhi Ashram he worked hard to achieve his goals and eventually settled in Chuchuyimlang after getting married to his wife Lentina who belongs to Ao-Naga community. He developed roads, built hospitals and schools and most recently collaborated with TISS with Gandhi Ashram.
What took me to Chuchuyimlang?
My grandmother was a social activist and spent 5 years of her life in Chuchuyimlang at Gandhi Ashram working for welfare and upliftment of people. Her stories of bygones and bravehearts, her fond memories of the days she worked for people and served the nation and her strength in fighting for development always motivated me. She narrated her experience about working in Gandhi Ashram after freedom and I was always fascinated by the strength she pulled up. An urge to see the places and meet people my grandmother worked with took me to Chuchuyimlang, it indeed is a beautiful little village with little roads, idyllic view and surrounded by hills.
How to reach Chuchuyimlang?
The roads are well connected and take you through some breathtaking views. Protected by the hill range on one side and cliff on other, the road from Mokokchung to Chuchuyimlang village is blessed by complete nature bliss.
The road are good with no traffic and crosses mightly rainforests of Nagaland. It is around 20 kms from Mokokchung and there is taxi service available from Mokokchung Police Point to Chuchuyimlang Village. It is better to book an accommodation in Mokokchung rather than Chuchuyimlang as the complete village tour can be completed in about 5 to 6 hours.
What I loved about this little Village?
- Meeting the living legend – This definitely tops my list about what I loved in this village. It was a privilege for me to meet Padmashree Natwar Thakkar and his wife Lentina, talk about lot of things, share stories that my grandmother told me and get inspired to do something out of the box in my life. It was an incredible feeling meeting people I only heard of through my grandmother and listen to the good things they had to say about my granny. I spent about 2 hours talking to Sir Natwar Thakkar and his wife, their struggle, the hurdles they faced and how they fought at every step to bring transformation. The couple beautifully grown old together and their smile show the happiness they get serving humanity. It is not easy to leave the comfort of your home and a city like Mumbai and move to Nagaland but the legend did prove that determination and will power makes everything possible.
- Gandhi Ashram – It was established in the year 1955 and still stands strong with a view that will melt your heart. The ashram is no longer habituated by anyone and serves a small museum or library with variety of old books, photographs and wall hangings of important information related to the place. It is little wooden house usually closed but can be opened at request. The view from behind the Gandhi Ashram is beautiful and mesmerising with beautiful hills surrounding it.
- Open Amphitheatre and Log Drum – There is nothing to see as such but it is a place where you can sit for a while and relax. I wasn’t fortunate to go inside as it was closed but it does look beautiful from the outside as well. It is a small set up with circular walls, a tree in between and seats in forms of stairs. In Nagaland, almost all the villages have an antique wood made log drum used in emergency situations to alert villagers. It has movable logs which can be used to hit the wood frame and the sound produced helped in creating an alarm.
After I started my stint with travelling I have decided to only move forward and meeting Sir Natwar Thakkar was a huge inspiration. It was a beautiful experience talking and listening to moments and situations that are not documented somewhere in our textbooks.