One of the first things that come to our mind when we think of a foreign trip is the expenses and formalities. Especially the formalities to apply for a foreign visa. But there are some international destinations for Indians where you don’t even need a passport, leave aside a visa. Most of you must be aware of Nepal and Bhutan, but what you might not be aware of is Myanmar.
Yes! Myanmar. But don’t get me wrong. For an Indian, you need an eVisa to fly into Myanmar but there are a few Indo-Myanmar borders which allow free entry of Indians. All you need at the border is an Indian I-Card.
There are presently three open borders between India and Myanmar, in Nampong in Arunachal, Moreh in Manipur and Zokhawthar in Mizoram. However, you are legally allowed to go only to a certain distance within the Burmese territory.
I happened to cross one of this borders in Zokhathar along with my college friends from Aizawl. The border at Zokhathar is the easiest of any border crossing from India. Just walk pass the border bridge on the river Harhva and there is no one to stop you. As we passed the bridge there were a few Burmese guards who were engaged in their own work, giving little attention to us.
The feeling of being in a foreign country is always wonderful. We were all very excited. There was however not much change in culture or language. The people spoke Mizo and lifestyle was very much similar to the Mizo lifestyle. However, two of the most noticeable things that we saw on the other side was alcohol shops everywhere, which is not often seen in Mizoram. (Alcohol was banned in Mizoram until last year. Even now, there are only limited licensed wine shops) and secondly, we saw small South Asian styled motorbikes in large numbers. We hired a couple of those and started our ride to Rih Dil which is around 5 kilometres from the border.
The heart-shaped lake is one of the prime tourist destinations for the Mizo people. The lake is associated with Mizo folklore, where the departed souls are believed to have made their passage through Rih Dil before they reach their eternal abodes. The lake elegantly stands still amidst rice fields and beautiful green mountains. There were a number of bars and rest houses beside the lake for visiting guests.
A few kilometres from the lake there were a number of Buddist monasteries. We also happened to visit a few of them. We finally wrapped up our Myanmar trip by tasting some delicious local dishes in Khawmawi (first village on the Burmese side).1