This mountainous state of Mizoram on the southern tip of India’s North East isn’t a frequented destination. Which is a shame given the scenic locale – blue hills, sheer cliffs, thick bamboo groves, tranquil lakes and quiet villages filled with houses built on stilts. While Christianity is the predominant religion, most Mizos cling to their rich cultural heritage, colourful customs and lively traditions. For instance, the state-wide festival of Chapchar Kut held in spring celebrates the end of a long season of jhum (the traditional practice of clearing forest land for agriculture) through song and dance. Dances include the highly-skilled Cheraw or Bamboo dance which is performed by a group of women dancing between crossed bamboo sticks that are rhythmically moved by men holding them at either end, close to the ground.
If you happen to be in Aizawl over the weekend, there is a Saturday street market where village women sell fruit, vegetables, fish, poultry and even live pigs in takeaway wicker baskets. Further afield, lies The Murlen National Park in the scenic Champhai district – thickly forested, it is said that only one per cent of the sun’s rays penetrates through the jungle on a sunny day. An easier-to-access point of interest would be Mizoram’s largest lake, Tamdil Lake, where one can go boating.
Aizawl seems rather precariously perched on almost vertical mountain ridges. This sprawling hill city and its interesting topography is best viewed from Durtlang Hills, situated in north Aizawl. It is the political, religious and cultural heart of Mizoram. The different Mizo resident tribes here are cheerful and welcoming hosts.
Largely Christian, the Mizos are heavily influenced by the West. But their tribal traditions are still intact and celebrated through their many festivals. The most vivid example of this are their dance festivals, particularly the spectacular Cheraw or bamboo dance. These festivals are often accompanied with music, unique games, flower shows and a not-to-be-missed traditional feast.
If you want an insight into the traditional Mizo life, take a ride to the Falkawn Village. Conceptualised as a model Mizo village, it gives the first time visitor an intimate look into the Mizo people’s culture and lifestyle.
Just over an hour’s drive from Aizawl through winding hillside roads, stunning waterfalls and verdant greens is Reiek. It offers a perfect vantage point to the flourishing valleys and hills of Mizoram. On a clear day you can see the plains of Bangladesh. The surrounding forests are home to the rare Peregrine falcon
Nearby is the Heritage Village showcasing a typical Mizo village with a traditional chieftain’s house, a bachelor’s dormitory and some modern homes. In September the village celebrates the Anthurium Festival. A cultural extravaganza, the festival also features the hypnotic and energetic Mizo dances, traditional games and a fashion show!
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