Mizoram – Overview
Mizoram formerly known as the ‘Lushai Hills’, is an enchanting land endowed with pristine natural beauty and sociable, hospitable and fun loving people as well. Situated on the tip of the north-eastern border of India, Mizoram is bestowed with an endless variety of landscape that include steep hills and deep gorges and rich flora and fauna, criss-crossed by rivers like Sonai, Tlawang, Tuivawl, Kamaphul and Kolodine.
One of the seven sister states in north-eastern India, Mizoram is sandwiched between Myanmar in the south and east and Bangladesh in the west. It shares domestic borders with the states of Assam, Manipur and Tripura, while the Tropic of Cancer runs through its heart. Mizoram spreads over an area of 21,081 sq. kms and according to 2001 census report the population of the state stood at 888,573. The state boasts a literacy rate of 88.8%, the second highest after the Indian state of Kerala. Cultivation is the main occupation of the Mizo people and the main crops are lemon, oranges, passion fruit, papaya and pineapple.
On the whole, with its galaxy of natural beauty and ancient traditions, colourful fairs and festivals, folk dances and songs, Mizoram is a kaleidoscopic ‘pleasure trove’ for the discerning tourists. It’s true, Mizoram is a mountainous state, so travelling in the state is pain staking and little hazardous some times, but holidaying in the state has its own distinct charm. Hence, just plan a trip to this picturesque land and enjoy a memorable vacation in the lap of mother nature.
Mizoram – History
Like most tribes in the north-eastern India, the history of Mizos is shrouded in mystery. It is believed that the Mizos were part of a big Mongoloid wave of migration from China that later entered to India. Most probably the Mizos came from Sinlung or Chhinlungsan situated on the banks of the river Yalung in China. According to Mr. K. S. Latourette, great political upheavals took place in China in 210 B.C, due to that Mizos left China and shifted to Mizoram. They settled themselves in the Shan State around 5th century and lived for about 300 years, before they settled on the Kabaw Valley around the 8th century. The Mizos changed their settlement many times, moving from the Shan State to Kabaw Valley to Khampat in Burma (now Myanmar). In the early 14th century, the Mizos settled at Chin Hills on the Indo-Burmese border. Later they moved to Mizo Hills.
The history of Mizoram in the 18th and 19th centuries is marked by several instances of tribal raids and retaliatory expeditions. In 1895, the Mizo Hills were declared as a part of British India. In the year 1898, north and south hills were united into Lushai Hills district and Aizawl was declared as its headquarters. Further, under the 1919 Government of India Act, the Lushai Hills along with some other hill districts in the region was declared a ‘Backward Tract’. In 1935, the Lushai Hills were declared ‘Excluded Area.’ During the British rule a political awakening arose among the Mizos in Lushai Hills that take the shape of the first political party, the Mizo Common People’s Union on 9th April, 1946. Later the party was renamed as the Mizo Union. Although India got independence in 1947 but Mizoram was not given the status of state. On 21st January, 1972 the Union Territory of Mizoram came into being and it was declared a state on 20th February, 1987.
Mizoram – Tourist Destinations
Though Mizoram is small state but the state is home to a number of enchanting places which have been designated as ‘must see’ for tourists. The state capital, Aizawl boasts of several tourist attractions and it is also an ideal base to discover the magical offerings of the abode of the highlanders. Just 16 kms from Aizawl, Bung and Paikhai are popular picnic spots. Apart from these, many historic monuments and fabled caves are scattered across the state.
Mizoram – People & Culture
Majority of the state population comprised ethnic Mizos. The Mizos are divided into several tribal group, the Lushai is the largest group amongst them and comprises around two-third of the state’s population. Other Mizo tribes are Mara, Pawi, Hmar and Ralte. Beside, the Riang (a sub tribe of Tripuri) and the Chakma of Arakanese origin are non-Mizo tribes living in the state.
Around 87% of Mizoram’s population is Christian that includes almost all ethnic Mizos. Major Christian denominations are the Baptist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army, Seventh- day Adventist and Pentecostals. In last few decades some of tribes in the state have claimed themselves as Jews. This group is known as the Bnei Menashe and they believe themselves to be ethnically Jewish, descendants of one the Lost Tribes of Israel. Several hundreds of tribes have also converted to Orthodox Judaism. The Chakma tribe follow Theravada Buddhism mixed with elements of Hinduism and Animism.
Over the years, the social life in the Mizoram has undergone numerous changes. Broadly the Mizos are a close-knit society and there is no class distinction and no discrimination on grounds of sex. About 90% of the Mizos are dependent on cultivation and the villages exist like a huge family. In fact, in all the important occasions like birth of a child, marriage in the village or death of a person the whole village gets involved. Songs, folk and community dances are highlight of Mizoram and they provide a glimpse of the state’s rich culture. Some of famous dance are the Khullam, Solakia, Chheih Lam and Cheraw (bamboo dance).
Mizoram – Cuisine
Mizos are basically non-vegetarian and they love cuisine prepared from meat. Pork is extensively used in most of the Mizoram’s cuisine and eaten with boiled rice. Food of Mizoram is not much spicy and is cooked in such a way that nutritive values remain intact. People like bakery products like breads, cakes and Pizzas. Locally made wine is favorite among people, besides, Zu (tea) is a popular drink. In addition to these, Mizoram has many restaurants serving Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine.
Mizoram – Fairs and Festivals
Mizoram is a culturally rich state and the state’s people celebrate many fairs and festivals all through the year. The traditional repertoire of fairs and festivals offer visitors a wonderful insight into the tribal heritage of Mizo culture. Some of the most popular fairs and festivals of Mizoram include Chapchar Kut (March), Mim Kut (August/ September) and Pawl Kut (December). Chapchar Kut is the three-day spring festival marked by singing and dancing, while Mim Kut and Pawl Kut are harvest festivals. In addition to these, the state also celebrates the festival of Thalfavang Kut every November.
Mizoram – Wildlife
Mizoram is bestowed with variety of forests that include Sub-Tropical, Semi-evergreen forest and Sub-montage forest. The forests of Mizoram house some of the rare varieties of orchids which are found only here. Due to varied forest types, Mizoram is home to interesting range of floral and faunal species. Mizoram houses a number of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries namely – Dampa Tiger Reserve, Murlen National Park, Blue Mountain National Park, Ngenpui Wildlife Sanctuary, Khawnglung Wildlife Sanctuary, Tawi Wildlife Sanctuary, Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary and Thorangtlang Wildlife Sanctuary. In these national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, you can spot wild animals such as Tiger, Leopard, Tragopan, Elephant, Serrow, Ghoral, Sambar, Barking Deer, Himalayan Black Bear, Sloth Bear, Hoolock Gibbon and variety of birds like Humes bar-tailed pheasant.
Mizoram – Adventure
It is true that Mizoram doesn’t offer much in the name of adventure, but the caves, lakes, valleys and mountains of the state are enough to satisfy your adventure urge. Amongst the adventure options, the caves of Mizoram are quite popular, some of the noted caves are Pukzing Cave, Milu Puk, Kungawrhi Puk and Lamsial Puk. Mizoram has a number of picturesque lakes scattered in various parts of the state. Palak, Tamdil, Rungdil and Rengdil are the most important lakes of Mizoram. You can enjoy boating and fishing in these lakes alongwith the distinct and lovely sights.
Mizoram has many deep valleys endowed with spectacular surroundings, which offer excellent and exhilarating options of trekking. There are around 21 peaks in Mizoram varying in altitudes from 1,179 mts to 2,157 mts, above sea level. You can undertake climbing and mountaineering expedition across these mountains.
Mizoram – Shopping
Shopping constitutes an important part of any tour to the state of Mizoram. Like other north-eastern states of India, Mizoram encompasses a rich tradition of handlooms and handicrafts that make shopping an enjoyable affair for you. From ancient time, Mizos are known as great weavers. The age-old tradition is deeply rooted in their tribal consciousness, the influence of which can be found in certain pattern of designs and motifs. In addition to weaving, the Mizos are traditionally skilled in making bamboo products such as furniture, baskets, hats, utensils and flower vases.
Visit the famous Bara Bazaar where you will find a wide selection of handloom shawls, bags and bamboo handicrafts. If you are looking for variety and better quality crafts, then the State Government Emporium is an ideal place to start your shopping spree. New Market, Ritz Market, Thakthing Bazaar, Burma Lane, Bazaar Bungkawn and Solomon Cave are some of the famous markets of Mizoram. While you visit Mizoram taking home a water-proof Mizo hat (Khumbeu) made with bamboo and leaves, as a souvenir is a must.
Mizoram enjoys a pleasant climate, the temperature varies from 11oC to 21oC in winter and ranges from 20oC to 30oC in summer. Winter season begins from November and ends by February. Winter is followed by the spring season which starts by late February and continues till early April. In the month of April the summer starts and ends by the month of June. Monsoon arrives the state in late June and remain till October.
Best Time to Visit
From October to March.
Mizoram – Transportation
Airlines: Aizawl airport is the only airport of Mizoram which is connected to Imphal (30 mnts) and Kolkata (1 hr 30 min). Indian Airlines (Alliance Air) flights ply to and from Kolkata and Aizawl (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) and Kolkata – Aizawl – Imphal – Aizawl – Kolkata (Monday, Wednesday and Friday).
Railways: Nearest railhead is located at Silchar in Assam at a distance of 184 kms from Silchar. From Guwahati, reach Silchar by Barak Valley Express, Cachar Express or Tripura Passenger. The journey will take around 19 hrs.
Roadways: National Highway No. 54 connects state capital, Aizawl with rest of the country through Silchar (Assam). Buses are available from Silchar to Aizawl, the journey will take 6 to 8 hrs. Bus services are available during night too. You may also reach Aizawl by hiring a taxi. Aizawl is also accessible by road from Shillong and Guwahati. Road distances of some of the important destinations from Aizawl are Guwahati (506 kms), Imphal (374 kms), Agartala (443 kms), Shillong (450 kms) and Kohima (479 kms).