The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript 'Journey to Nagaland', by Mildred Archer. An account of six months spent in the Naga Hills in 1947

caption: Bengal to Charali
medium: diaries
person: HuttonMills
location: Charali Nakachari Stn.
date: 9.7.1947
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: (2) 9 July. Charali.
text: As the train ran through the afternoon sun, the flat paddy fields and scrub of Bengal sprawled on either side. Next morning we had almost reached the Brahmaputra and flood water lapped against the embankment. As we breakfasted on the steamer, a cool fresh wind came off the river and ahead of us stood a white temple framed in gaunt rocks and clustering trees like a print by Thomas Daniell.
text: The Brahmaputra rules a line between Bengal and Assam for once across the river you enter a new country. The train chugged up an endless valley, sometimes with dark rotting jungle pressing on to the line and at times between desolate brown swamps with beef- steak birds standing motionless on thin and fragile legs. Nests of weaver-birds hung like giant gourds along the telegraph wires and from time to time we passed a lonely tea-garden, its humpy bushes ranged like Noah's Ark trees in trim and tidy rows.
text: At dusk the Assam Mail dropped us at Nakachari Station; and as we walked along a village track to the rest-house, I felt the thrill which I always get in India as night falls. There was a red glow in the sky and on the ground. The acrid smoke of the cooking fires lay in a low blue cloud over the thatched roofs, doors being shut for the night and except for a crying baby, an old man coughing and the croaking of frogs there was everywhere a hushed silence. It was quite dark by the time we stumbled up to the bungalow, but the fireflies in the hedge looked like diamante on black velvet. In an outhouse was the glow of a hurricane lamp, we shouted and one of the servants came running out. In a few minutes a fire was burning in the cook-house and lights were brought. Soon a bullock cart laden with our baggage came creaking up, the bullocks' eyes gleaming like torches.
text: But it is a cheerless evening, humid and sultry. The mosquitoes are gathering in their hordes and the heavy (3) depression of a monsoon night is seeping up. As I look out of the door, I can see in the moonlight the silhouette of the Naga Hills and I am filled with excitement. Are they still the wild remote land of the monographs of Hutton and Mills or have the years softened and tamed them?