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My first date with nature in MIZORAM

When you enter Mizoram, the rolling stretch of the Blue Hills welcomes you with open arms. The pristine atmosphere and the sounds of nature bring joy to the heart and the dramatic veil of the morning mist as it enfolds the hills is a heavenly sight, not to be missed. Nestled in the southern tip of North East India, Mizoram is an unexplored paradise, offering travel enthusiasts much to unearth. The capital city, Aizawl, is situated at 1132 meters above sea level and is located in the heart of the state. The Highlanders – or the Mizos – are the major inhabitants of the state, and are known for their hospitality, warm nature, their helpfulness and their passion for music.

With a moderate climate throughout the year, Mizoram is the ideal destination for people seeking to rejuvenate their minds and bodies. The state is fast gaining popularity as an offbeat destination where one can travel on a shoestring budget. Luxury tourism is something not to be expected, but it is a must for nature and adventure lovers. Some consider Mizoram to be the most peaceful state in India. Aizawl city, as it happens, is also famous as the only ‘silent city’ in the country. The noisy honking of horns and overtaking of vehicles is a rare sight on the city’s roads. (Some say the most disciplined drivers are also found in Mizoram.)

The streets are spotlessly clean, which reflects the lifestyle of the Mizos. And even though Western thought has influenced the new generation to a great extent, the authenticity of their customs and traditions are still intact today. Music is the people’s second religion; most Mizos are prolific singers, and many Mizo bands have claimed top awards in countrywide competitions. Mizos are also known for their sportsmanship. Their tremendous athletic prowess, especially in sports like football, has taken them to the top of many of India’s athletic and sporting rankings.

For visitors to the state, there is much to see. For example, a day’s excursion 35 km—about an hour and a half’s drive—to the west of Aizawl takes visitors to the majestic Reiek Mountain. The lush green slopes are a breathtaking sight, and up close, are ideal for trekking, rappelling or even just a picnic at the top of the peak. At the base of the mountain lies a Tourist Resort run by the Mizoram Government’s Department of Tourism. To reach the peak one has to trek for about 45 minutes uphill from the Resort, through a luxuriant natural forest teeming with flora, fauna and wildlife. Huge bat caves can also be found nearby the trekking trail, offering visitors an uncommon sight of nature. The virgin forest is protected by the locals of Reiek village, who are also usually willing to act as guides for visitors. In fact, on the drive from Aizawl city to Reiek, the road passes by the longest cave in Mizoram, called Khuangchera Puk. The cave is named after a great Mizo warrior of the 19th century— Khuangchera—who was known for his heroic deeds and the stubborn resistance he offered to early British army expeditions, which eventually cost him his life. The first expedition to explore the cave was led by Khuangchera himself, in a time when it was believed by local villagers that it was inhabited by demons. For trekkers who climb to the peak, a beautiful panorama of hills awaits—there is even a viewing tower, situated in an airy glade on the highest point.

Another beautiful tourist destination near Aizawl is Hmuifang. It is a beautiful getaway, located 50 km to the south of the city. Enroute to Hmuifang is Maubuang Lungsai hamlet—a stone marker has been erected there to mark the line the tropic of Cancer makes as it passes through Mizoram. (A stop over at this junction for a quick photo shoot is highly recommended.) The peak of Hmuifang mountain reaches an elevation of 1,619 metres above sea level. It is still covered with virgin forests that have been preserved since the days of the Sailo Chiefs. The grassy glades on the peak are also suitable for picnics and outdoor camping. The Tourism Department of the Government of Mizoram runs a Tourist Resort here, with comfortable cottages and a lovely cafeteria. From here, one may also visit four Mizo villages situated on the hillsides—Hmuifang, Sumsuih, Lamchhip and Chamring—for a glimpse of typical rural life. Slightly beyond Hmuifang, about 43 km away, lies the famous Thenzawl village also known as the handloom hub of Mizoram. Almost every household in Thenzawl village has weavers among the family, with weaving looms a common sight in people’s homes. On the outskirts of the village are two of the most fascinating waterfalls in Mizoram—Vantawng falls, the tallest waterfall in Mizoram, recorded as 750 ft and the beautiful Tuirihiau Falls which are a must visit.

A total of 3 days is sufficient to visit Reiek, Hmuifang and Thenzawl. The ideal time to visit is from October to May. Aizawl is accessible by flight from Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati and by road from Assam via Silchar. An Inner Line Permit is required to enter Mizoram which is easily available at the airport on arrival and at the entry point at Vairengte for the road travellers. One can also obtain these permits at Mizoram Houses located at Delhi, Kolkata & Guwahati. For one seeking to reinvigorate and revitalise themselves amongst the beauty of nature, with clean, fresh air, Mizoram is the perfect destination.

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