India

MIZORAM: THE NORTHEAST’S HIDDEN DIAMOND

The tranquil pastoral state of Mizoram has quite a few jewels up its sleeve; mountain treks, secreted jungle trails, sparkling waterfalls, ancient caves, and crystal-clear streams. All these and more should put Mizoram at the top of your destination list.

2 years ago | tourtravel
A basketball court made on leveled mountains on the road from Laipuitlang Ridge. Moreover, Football is almost an alternative religion in Mizoram © Balajisrinivasan

In this Article:

Aizawl, Capital of Mizoram
Mizoram State Museum
Interesting Information about Mizoram
Durtlang Hill Vantage Point
Trekking Up Reiek Peak
Behind Tuirihiau Falls
Vantawng Falls
360˚ Panorama at Sialsuk Tlang
Mizo Munificence
How to Get There
When to Go Mizoram
Where to Stay in Mizoram
What to Do and See Here in Mizoram
Some Images From Our Trip To Mizoram


Some things just cannot be rushed, like a good meal, reading a lyrical poem, pleasant conversation, and visits to those special places on earth that need a patient, curious traveler. Places that hide their secrets in tucked away corners, ready to be discovered by a persistent soul.
 

AIZAWL, CAPITAL OF MIZORAM

If you fly into Aizawl, and you look out the window of the plane, and you will see luxuriant hills of green, with patches of brown jhum, or slash-and-burn cultivation, randomly carved out of the land. Before Lengpui Airport was constructed some eighteen years ago, you had to travel the 127 miles/204 km to Silchar, Assam, instead of the present one-hour long drive to catch a plane. Do not expect Uttarakhand, Kashmir or Himachal Pradesh’s picturesque scenery, this easy-going, unassuming hill station has its own distinct charm. Here pines, deodars and rhododendrons are replaced with dense unyielding herbaceous bush and shrubs, like in a topical forest. Bamboos flourish in these parts, and mixed forests with banana, fern, palm and orchids prevail.

Throughout the ages, the peoples of Mizoram built their villages and towns on mountain slopes; that goes for Aizawl as well. The city is a maze of streets, with the major commerce, restaurants, hotels, etc. confined to the area of Chanmari. As soon as you leave this area, the city changes character, and becomes a homely rustic village. At first glance tourists sometimes come to the conclusion that Mizoram does not offer much to do or see, but that cannot be further from the truth.

What Aizawl has to amuse the traveler, are idyllic night views from Durtlang Hill of this city, and the Mizoram State Museum. Equally important, this is the ideal base camp from where you can set out on numerous wonderful day excursions.

A bird’s eye view of the lovely city of Aizawl in Mizoram with mountains covered in mist, glistening in the light and reflecting sun rays as they reach the city

A bird’s eye view of the lovely city of Aizawl in Mizoram with mountains covered in mist, glistening in the light and reflecting sun rays as they reach the city © Nomad1988


Mizoram State Museum

Mizoram is home to several diverse tribes, and the three-storied State Museum, inaugurated in 1977, serves as a showcase for their rich traditions and cultural heritage. At least 2,000 exhibits are arranged into five galleries; ethnology, textiles, anthropology, history and natural history, with objects of archeological value displayed on the terrace. The life styles of different ethnic tribes are represented in authentic artifacts and tribal paraphernalia like headgear, footwear and dresses, as well as musical instruments, ornaments, paintings, carvings and other works of art. You can lose yourself for hours, gazing at fascinating objects like smoking pipes, calcites and other rare minerals, and excavated inscribed rocks dating back to 1076. If you are interested in the regional wildlife, walk through the exhibits of stuffed indigenous animals, including a racket-tailed drongo, yellow-bellied weasel, flying lizard, giant flying squirrel, flying fox, clouded leopard and green pigeon.
 

Interesting Information

You have heard of the Tropic of Cancer. Well, now you can literally stand on it. This imaginary line runs right through the hamlet of Maubuang Lungsai, Aizawl. So if you are a geography enthusiast, have your picture taken at the stone that was set up to pinpoint the site.
Do make sure you try the Mizos’ favorite delicacy, Chhangban, delicious sticky rice cakes. It is the perfect accompaniment to that cup of steaming tea. By the way, they absolutely love pork, so now you know what to order for your next meal.

A small church similar to Mizo Taj Mahal in traditional architectural style, another monument telling the tale of eternal love

A small church similar to Mizo Taj Mahal in traditional architectural style, another monument telling the tale of eternal love © Hirokjyoti Pathak


Durtlang Hill Vantage Point

Sunsets from Durtlang Hill are spectacular. Stay on a while, watch the darkness descend, and the lights of the town slowly light up until the mountain slope looks like a twinkling miniature universe. If you look closely, you will see the uncanny resemblance between the town lights and the map of India. The viewpoint is situated in the beautiful grounds of Aizawl’s Theological College. Driving back, stop at KV Paradise, the three-story mausoleum erected by Mr. Khawlhring for his beloved wife after she succumbed in a tragic car accident. Spending his entire savings, the result is a grand marble tomb popularly referred to as the Mizo Taj Mahal.

A narrow, stone-paved walkway in the mountains of Reiek near the city of Aizawl. Setting forth on hidden jungle trails is a must do experience in Mizoram

A narrow, stone-paved walkway in the mountains of Reiek near the city of Aizawl. Setting forth on hidden jungle trails is a must-do experience in Mizoram © Balajisrinivasan


Trekking up Reiek Peak

Reiek, about 18.5 miles/30 km from the state capital, was constructed by the tourism department as a template of what a village should look like. Striving for a litter-free environment, the roads are spotless, the houses neat and colorful, garden hedges look manicured, and there are flower pots everywhere. Reiek lies at the foot of the 5,000 ft./1524 m high peak. The trek leads you through Reiek Resort, a popular gathering place for the locals during the weekend. You will need energy for the hike up the peak, so indulge in some pork momos at the resort, or in one of the village shops.

Starting out on the trail, a gravel road winds past open-ended caves and dense foliage. You can continue on through the forested mountain or take a short cut laid out with stones along the cliff edge. Iron benches on the climb afford welcome respite, and a chance to savor the surroundings. Mountains bring us back to earth; they inspire awe, make us humble, and show us just how small a part we play in the universe. We become spectators of nature’s slow eons-long drama, overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and grandeur around us. All mountains are special, but some are more special than others, and trekking up Reiek Peak only proofs that.

Tuirihiau Fall is one of the few unique waterfalls in the world that allow the glimpse of gushing water from behind the curtain of the flow

Tuirihiau Fall is one of the few unique waterfalls in the world that allow a glimpse of gushing water from behind the curtain of the flow


Behind Tuirihiau Falls

Every trip you make to a distant land leaves its echoes in your memory, but some places and experiences get lodged in your very being, never to be parted with. Those are the images that keep on recurring, the stories you always choose to tell. A little gem of a waterfall called Tuirihiau Falls near Thenzawl is such a place. The River Vanva gently flows over a broad stone cliff in a wide watery curtain, splashes over flat rocks and tumbles down a few feet lower into a beautiful pool. The entire waterfall is only 20 ft./6 m high. But what makes this waterfall stand out from most others, is not only its front view. At its back the hill caves in to allow ample space for travelers to stand behind the water curtain without getting wet. A hundred-year-old banyan tree, holding on to the earth with its gnarled aerial roots, adds to the quaintness of the scene. Thenzawl village itself is an enchanting little place, four hours from Aizawl by road, with the falls close by and within easy reach. There is an entrance fee, and the falls close at 5:00 p.m.

5 kilometres south of Thenzawl are the Vantawng falls, the highest uninterrupted waterfall in all of Mizoram at a height of 229 metres

5 kilometers south of Thenzawl are the Vantawng falls, the highest uninterrupted waterfall in all of Mizoram at a height of 229 metres © Denny George


Vantawng Falls

Named after the Vantawnga, said to be an excellent swimmer, at 750 ft./228.5 m, this waterfall is the highest in the state of Mizoram, and best viewed during monsoon season. You can view it from a vantage point constructed by the department of tourism some distance away, or if you are the adventurous type, undertake the difficult two-hour trek to the foot of the falls. For this you will need a guide, as you will wade though knee-deep waters, dense vegetation and rough boulders. Nevertheless, viewed from closer up or further away, the waterfall is a breathtaking site.

Sialsuk peak provides an unmediated panoramic vista of the rolling Mizo Hills

Sialsuk peak provides an unmediated panoramic vista of the rolling Mizo Hills


360˚ Panorama at Sialsuk Tlang

Sialsuk village lies 41.6 miles/67 km from Aizawl, and has a singular kind of entertainment for its inhabitants. Sialsuk Tlang is the highest mountain area in the vicinity, and since there are no clubs, movie theaters, or malls for the youngsters to hang out, they take their music, and maybe a picnic basket elsewhere. Especially over weekends, the hilltops are dotted with the cars of Mizos of all ages, having fun and enjoying themselves. You may even see a wedding party, having their pictures taken in this amazing setting. Find a bench at one of the viewpoints and enjoy the all-round views. However, a four-wheel vehicle is recommended to take the road up, or better still, pack a backpack with food and drinks, and do the trek up on foot, if time allows.

Mizo Girls performing a folk dance in traditional dress of Mizo tribe

Mizo Girls performing a folk dance in the traditional dress of Mizo tribe © Mr. SMS


Mizo Munificence

They say that people living in cold climates have warm hearts, and that is definitely the case in Mizoram. You will experience hospitality and friendliness everywhere you go. Try to befriend some of the locals, like your taxi driver or hotel manager. They might just invite you into their homes for a meal. Expect shop owners, and people in the restaurant to inquire about your travels and experiences.

Mizoram stands out as an interesting, welcoming region. A potpourri of various cultures, their hospitality, and the stunning spectacle nature puts up, all add up to its charm. Largely undiscovered by the tourist mobs, now is the time to add Mizoram to your bucket list, before modernization creeps up with its developments and spoil the virgin forests, hidden waterfalls, secret trails, and immaculate little villages. Here you can still find nourishment for the soul on mountain peaks, and rolling hills.

The Chapchar Kut festival in Mizoram is celebrated after cutting down bamboos and trees to be burnt for jhum (shifting cultivation)

The Chapchar Kut festival in Mizoram is celebrated after cutting down bamboos and trees to be burnt for jhum (shifting cultivation)


NAVIGATOR:

How to get there: Daily flights between Guwahati and Kolkata and Lengpui can be booked. The airport is one hour’s drive from Aizawl. The nearest railway station is at Silchar, 81 miles/130 km away.

When to go: If you plan to travel extensively and do treks, the winter season between November and February is the best time. The waterfalls are magnificent during the monsoon, between June and September. Unfortunately, road blockages and landslides might occur due to heavy rains. Trekking might also be perilous as many reptiles and snakes come out.

Where to stay: In the center of Aizawl, the Grand Hotel has decent rooms, efficient service and good food. It is an intimate business hotel. Hotel Regency on Mac Donald Hill, Zarkawt is your only option for luxury accommodation. Reiek Resort, run by the government, lies 18.6 miles/30 km outside Aizawl. It has private cottages in beautiful green settings. Book here if you plan on doing the Reiek trek or explore the quaint village of Reiek.

A local church in the city of Lunglei surrounded by a panorama of misty mountains and a view of the valley

A local church in the city of Lunglei surrounded by a panorama of misty mountains and a view of the valley © Balajisrinivasan


What to do and see:

• Establish your base in Aizawl, then spend a day enjoying the sights and tastes in the capital. Visit the State Museum to give you a better understanding of the culture and traditions of the people.

• Visit the largest church in the state, Solomon Temple, just outside Aizawl.

• On the road to Durtlang Hill, stop at Mizoram’s’ own dedication to love, the Mizo Taj Mahal. Catch the early sunset and stay until dark to watch the light spectacle as darkness descends on the city.

• Set aside one day for Reiek and the trek up the peak. Sit down to pork momos at one of the cozy restaurants. Then, if you do not suffer from claustrophobia, continue on to Ailawng and explore the Khuangchera Puk Cave near Reiek.

• Take a drive to Thenzawl, a beautiful town surrounded by meadows, waving grasslands and small pools of water.

• Visit the two stunning waterfalls, Tuirihiau and Vantawng, and stroll through the villages of Sialsuk and Hmuifang in the mountains, to admire the wonderful scenery.

Traditional Mizoram drum dancers performing at the National Art and Crafts Mela at Chandigarh, Punjab, showing their unique dance form to the visitors

Traditional Mizoram drum dancers performing at the National Art and Crafts Mela at Chandigarh, Punjab, showing their unique dance form to the visitors © Picstudio


Some Images From Our Trip To Mizoram


A pile of snails for sale in the Bara Bazar in Aizawl, which offers many delicacies unique to the state

A pile of snails for sale in the Bara Bazar in Aizawl, which offers many delicacies unique to the state © Denny George


A serving of Pork Chow, a dish made of lightly fried noodles, some vegetables, and fatty but juicy pork at the Champhai Market

A serving of Pork Chow, a dish made of lightly fried noodles, some vegetables, and fatty but juicy pork at the Champhai Market © Denny George


A small shop selling knives, spades, and other blades, as well as offering repairs and sharpening for locals at a market in Champhai

A small shop selling knives, spades, and other blades, as well as offering repairs and sharpening for locals at a market in Champhai © Denny George


A view of the moon shining over the city of Lunglei, Mizoram in the dark night as the buildings turn into silhouettes and their lights add to stars in the never-ending sky

A view of the moon shining over the city of Lunglei, Mizoram in the dark night as the buildings turn into silhouettes and their lights add to stars in the never-ending sky © Sayan Nath


A walkway paved by constant use amidst the mountains covered in green grass, somewhere near the city of Lunglei in Mizoram

A walkway paved by constant use amidst the mountains covered in green grass, somewhere near the city of Lunglei in Mizoram © Balajisrinivasan


A young woman from the Zomi tribe of Mizoram dressed in the traditional garb of the community

A young woman from the Zomi tribe of Mizoram dressed in the traditional garb of the community © LSS_Photo


Girls dressed in red school uniforms and their teacher sport a smile for the camera at their school in Lungdai, Mizoram

Girls dressed in red school uniforms and their teacher sport a smile for the camera at their school in Lungdai, Mizoram © Michal Knitl


Reiek village is considered the symbol of Mizoram’s efforts towards cleanliness

Reiek village is considered the symbol of Mizoram’s efforts towards cleanliness


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