How to Travel from Kohima to Imphal
If you’re in Nagaland, you might want to visit neighboring Manipur for some insight into Manipuri culture and traditions. We have written a separate post about visiting Manipur which might come in useful. This post will deal solely with the logistics of getting from Kohima to Imphal.
Bus from Kohima to Imphal
Before we arrived in Kohima for the Hornbill Festival (read our post here), we were told that there were plenty of shared sumos running the Kohima to Imphal route. Much to our disappointment, we found none, despite asking at several sumo stands and sumo parking areas. All the sumo drivers insisted that there was no direct shared sumo from Kohima to Imphal.
Finally, we were informed there is one single public bus running directly from Kohima to Imphal, departing every day at 7.30am from the Nagaland State Transport bus stand. Tickets could not be pre-booked, but the ticket counter opened at 6.30am and we should be there by that time. This seemed to be by far the most convenient way of getting from Kohima to Imphal.
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If you are in Kohima, we advise you to stay close to the main town if you would like to catch an early morning shared vehicle. We were a good hour’s walk away (in fantastic accommodation, our only option during the popular Hornbill festival). Our taxi driver who was supposed to pick us up at 6.00 am, turned up at 6.20 am and we made it to the bus station at 6.45 am, only to find that all the tickets were already sold out.
A local guy who was also late in getting a ticket, explained that this situation is unusual, and that the bus does not usually fill up so quickly, but during the Nagaland Hornbill Festival, many people wanted to travel to from Kohima to Imphal. We were at our wit’s end at this point because our accommodation in Imphal had been pre-booked and we really wanted to get there on the day… and we did make it, using several consecutive different transport options, and lots of help from the local guy who was in fact a professor at Kohima University.
Here is how to get to from Kohima to Imphal if you happen to miss the bus or you don’t feel like waking up early!
1. Step 1 of getting from Kohima to Imphal – get to Khuzama on the border between Nagaland and Manipur
There are two ways of getting from Kohima to Khuzama, which is the town on the Nagaland side of the border (the one on the Manipuri side is Mao). The first is to take a private taxi running from Kohima straight to Khuzama. The second is to take a shared sumo running from BOC in Kohima to Khuzama.
Since, we were quite far from BOC, we settled on a private taxi between three persons, although we could have taken a private taxi to BOC, followed by a shared sumo. The price difference was minimal though. The private taxi directly to Khuzama cost Rs 750 (about € 9.50) which we shared between three.
Step 2. Cross the border between Nagaland and Manipur on another shared taxi
Once we were in Khuzama, the taxi driver took us straight to the edge of Nagaland, where taxi drivers seemed to be stuffing as many people as possible into tiny shared taxis. The 10-minute very uncomfortable journey cost Rs 30 each (about € 0.40).
As foreigners we should probably have registered with the Manipur police at this point, but nobody stopped us to do so, and the taxi driver seemed very focused on getting us to the Manipur border town, called Mao, as fast as possible.
Step 3. Take a shared sumo from Mao to Senapati
The shared taxi driver took us to an area where sumos were being loaded with people and goods for the onward journey into Manipur. We were very squashed and uncomfortable, but by then we had got accustomed to traveling in shared sumos in Arunachal Pradesh, so the discomfort was not surprising! A seat on the shared sumo from Mao to Senapati cost Rs 120 (about €1.50) each.
Step 4. Catch the bus from Senapati to Imphal
The shared sumo dropped us at a bus station close to a local market in Senapati which seemed to be a rather busy town. We would have loved to explore it, but the passengers were already stuffing themselves onto a bus which seemed about to leave so we quickly got on and found some seats. The rather scenic bus journey from Senapati to the centre of Imphal cost Rs 80 (about €1).