A hidden beauty, a sparkling diamond in a throne of coloured gems, Mizoram is one of the finest treasures of India and its best-kept secret. Nestled amid the Seven Sister States, in the southernmost point of East India, landlocked between Tripura, Assam and Manipur and the countries Bangladesh and Myanmar, Mizoram is a unique blend of virgin forests, rolling hills and quaint village communities. But what makes Mizoram truly special is its stature as one of the safest destinations to visit, especially when it comes to safety for women, whether travelling alone or in a group.
With a culture based on the spirit of community, social work and united labour, and one that sees little differentiation between women and men, Mizoram is one of the safest destinations to visit in India. Most businesses are owned and run by women… local girls whether in their teens or older are free of any restrictions and venture out freely even in the middle of the night to meet up with their friends for rock concerts… and solo women travellers are neither frowned upon nor talked about.
Visitors require a special permit to enter the state, even domestic tourists. Infrastructure is not as good as in the major metropolitan cities of India. Yet, Mizoram rocks! It more than makes up for the lack in contemporary luxuries with its exquisite beauty, wonderfully hospitable culture and love for life.
Begin your acquaintance with the beauty of Mizoram at its state capital Aizawl, where you can experience Mizo in a nutshell with a visit to the Mizoram State Museum – a primer to Mizoram; visit the model Mizo Village at the Reiek Tourist Resort; and revel in the serenity of Solomon’s Temple, a beautiful church in Aizawl.
Tourists can even plan a short trip to Baktawng Village, a village some 70 kilometres from Aizawl, where you can visit Pu Ziona, a local man who heads the largest family in the world – 39 wives, 94 children, 14 daughter-in-laws and 33 grandchildren at the time of writing. The sect to which he belongs allows polygamy and he is looking forward to marrying again!!!
Experience a stay at his guest house and get a glimpse into the life the family leads.
One can also visit the town of Champhai, the main trading centre of Mizoram courtesy its location close to the Indo-Myanmar Border. Goods such as clothes, Silver artefacts and electronics make their way from Myanmar and China into Mizoram through this town. The town of Champhai also serves as a great base to explore Hnahlan, an important grape growing region with many vineyards; the Murlen National Park and the Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary; and Reh Dil, a scenic lake in Myanmar, which is believed to be the passage of departed souls to the eternal abode.
The Murlen National Park is so dense that only 1% of the sun’s rays penetrate the forest canopy on sunny days – making it comparable to the Amazon forests in South America. With 350-year old trees and wild animals like tiger, leopard and Himalayan Black Bear, the Murlen National Park offers great adventures. Parts of the forest are hailed as Land of no Return as not even 1 % of sunlight is able to penetrate the canopy in these regions, so caution is advised.
The Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary is sprawled across the second highest mountain in Mizoram and offers a tamer experience of wildlife in Mizoram and a complete experience of nature – with many birds, orchids and much more.
To know more about how to explore Mizoram and for customized holiday packages in Mizoram, contact Jetways India holiday planners at +91-011-44112230/33/36. Alternatively, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Capital of Mizoram
History of Mizoram
Like many other North-Eastern states of India, Mizoram too has a history of being an attractive destination for explorers with eventually migrant settlers, arriving at the hilly tracts of land in large numbers from the neighbouring countries in waves, from as early as 1500 CE. According to popular legend, the Mizos emerged from under a large covering rock known as Chhinlung (literally “rock cover”).
Over the years, the tribal settlers formed clans and sub-clans with tribal chiefs under the political jurisdictions of the Maharajahs of Manipur, Tripura and Burma. They fought amongst themselves and had tribal raids and head-hunting practices, which involved cutting off the heads of the enemy and displaying it at the village entrance.
The British referred them to as “irreclaimable savages” and had no interest in adding their land to the British Empire. However, the constant raids by the tribal groups on British-occupied areas that resulted in deaths and even taking of prisoners did not go unanswered – the British fought back. When a six-year old girl was snatched from the clutches of her dying father and taken prisoner, the British organized an expedition – the Lushai Expedition to rescue her and defeated the tribal groups once-and-for-all.
In 1895, the Mizo hills were formally made part of British-India. Head-hunting practices were banned and missionaries arrived to preach the Gospel of Jesus.
The state of Mizoram is now a state with a major Christian population and a state where the culture is now of assistance and community help. The people of Mizoram have come a long way from a generation of violence to a time when safety is not a concern at all. Hardly anyone locks their doors, everyone practices Christianity devoutly, with Sundays being a day of worship – hardly any business is open. On other weekdays, all businesses open early and shut down by 6 PM.
As for the tribal chiefs, their hereditary rights were abolished after the Independence of India and village courts were set up under the governance of Assam. In 1972, Mizoram broke away from Assam and was given the status of an Union Territory and in 1987, it became a full-fledged state.
People of Mizoram
Holidaymakers in Mizoram will find that much has changed since the era of tribal clans and Mizoram has successfully transformed itself into a peace-loving serene state with the second highest literacy rate in India. The people of Mizoram embody the spirit of living in its true sense.
A culture of selfless service, social work, community effort and peace, with church in Sundays and a lifestyle that includes beginning a day early in the morning and closing shops by 6 PM, and a night of partying at the rock concerts – all make a holiday in Mizoram one of the best experiences of India. It is how life should be led – with simplicity and the joy of a healthy balance between play and work.
With Christianity as the main religion, social life and culture revolves around the church. There is no distinction or bias on the basis of classes, professional seniority or social status, with even the most junior employees given the opportunity to chair a social event attended by higher officials. Visitors will not find a single beggar or poor person asking for alms in the streets of Mizoram, as they are automatically taken care of by the people of Mizoram – no one is left unaided and thus no one has the need to resort to begging.
Music, Dance and Football are widely enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Music, especially has a special place in the lives of Mizos, with guitar, drums and choir music becoming a part of everyday life. The native tribal culture and way of life is practised only by a handful.
Tourists visiting Mizoram will find the people warm and welcoming, hospitable and ready to greet them. A wonderful holiday in Mizoram is thus assured.
As a land of rolling hills and valleys, with as many as 21 major hill ranges across the state, Mizoram is a wonderful destination for hill station getaways and family holidays in the summers. The temperatures even in peak summer vary from the mild 20 degree to 29 degree Celsius, a far cry from the 40 degree Celsius of Delhi plains. In peak winters, the temperatures dip to 7 degree Celsius. Monsoons are from May to September and the heavy rains often result in landslides. Cyclones are a common occurrence as well.
The best time to enjoy a holiday in Mizoram is between September and April.
Fairs & Festivals:
Tourists looking forward to a holiday in Mizoram can plan their holiday to coincide with the vibrantly mesmerizing fairs and festivals of the state. The unique status of Mizoram, as a tribal state with Christianity as the main religion and Agriculture as the main source of income, makes the culture of the Mizos a wonderful blend of traditions and rituals, with tribal dances and music, Christian traditions and agricultural festivals.
Experience this pot-pourri of cultural sights and sounds with the perfect holiday coinciding with any of the following festivals. Each festival celebrates something different and gives you a new insight into the many facets of Mizoram as a holiday destination.
Plan your holiday in Mizoram to coincide with Pawl Kut, the annual harvest festival of Mizoram. Held for two days in the month of December, Pawl Kut is a time of thanksgiving to the Lord for the bountiful harvest. Visitors will find entire communities rejoicing and celebrating with music, dance, and indulging in food and rice beer.
The Mizoram harvest festival Pawl Kut originated several centuries back, when the Mizos occupied just the Eastern bank of the River Tiau, a region now in Myanmar. According to folklore, there was once a great famine with no rain for over 3 years. The Mizos prayed to God and when it did rain, it resulted in a bumper crop. The Mizos rejoiced, celebrated and gave their thanks to the Almighty. Since then, every year, the harvest is celebrated with great pomp and fervour.
A unique element of the Pawl Kut Harvesting Festival of Mizoram is the Chawnghnawt, a special ceremony during which mothers feed their children a special meal of egg and meat; the children too feed their respective mothers while the other members of the family and community witness the celebrations.
Another amazing part of this harvest festival is that no one goes hungry, as the community donates to the poor and ensures they are well-fed. The financially well off also hold parties, in which rice beer or Zu is consumed by everyone in attendance.
Pawl Kut is followed by a day of rest, when no businesses are open and everyone relaxes.
Tourists can also plan their holiday tour in Mizoram to coincide with the Chapchar Kut festivities. Held annually in the month of March, the contemporary Chapchar Kut festival celebrates the resting period between agricultural activities – more specifically the time, when the bamboos and other trees have been cut and laid out to dry in preparation for jhumming / clearing of the land. (It is only after jhumming that the land is ready for the next planting season.)
However, the reasons for its origins were quite different. In the 15th to 18th Century A.D., the Mizos lived a very different life, hunting in the forests for booty, killing animals and making jewellery and other items from its hide, ivory, bones and teeth. Once a hunting expedition returned empty handed from the forest to find the entire village waiting expectantly with barrels of rice-beer and preparations for a feast to celebrate their successful return and a huge booty.
Upon seeing the expectant faces and the preparations, the chief of the village ordered an impromptu celebration with animal slaughter and rice-beer, and thus, he masked the failure of their mission. The celebrations were such a success that it became an annual event. When Christianity was introduced, the missionaries felt that paganism such as animal slaughter would not bode well with the teachings of the gospel and hence banned it.
However, education and exposure to the outside world convinced Mizos that they could very well continue with their tribal traditions by simply leaving out the rituals that were at odds with Christianity and retaining those events that serve as a means of celebrating life and strengthened community relations. Thus Chapchar Kut was established again and 1960 onwards the festival was once again celebrated on a large scale.
After a few hitches across the years, which involved smuggling in of rum for intoxicating the dancers and other incidents, the festival was once again withdrawn. In 1972, the Government of Mizoram reintroduced Chapchar Kut once again to boost the spirits of Mizos reeling under the effects of insurgents. It was a success and since then, there has been no going back for the festival organizers of Chapchar Kut.
Contemporary Chapchar Kut celebrations sees the natives dressed up in traditional finery, dancing away to the lively beats of the traditional folk music. Traditional dances such as Sarlamkai, Cheraw and Chai are performed by different tribal groups; events such as costume parades, on-the-spot painting competitions, and rock concerts are held; food, music and dance are aplenty. Natives from different tribes and Mizos from as afar as Manipur and Assam come together in the merry-making festivities, with no distinction between class or creed.
In the recent past, tourists visiting Mizoram during Chapchar Kut festivities have been warmly welcomed to the celebrations, with many even joining in the fun-filled Chai dances and other events. In the 2010 celebrations of Chapchar Kut in the city of Aizawl, the largest bamboo dance (Cheraw Dance) was performed with 10,736 dancers resulting in a Guinness World Record.
If Chapchar Kut marks the beginning of the phase of Jhumming, Thalfavang Kut marks its end. The process of Jhumming or the burning of all trees, saplings and leaves, and the weeds is such an important and laborious process that in Mizoram, all the natives rejoice the completion of the work with music, dance and feasting.
During Thalfavang Kut, different tribes come together and display their dance forms to visitors and natives of other tribes. The festivities of Thalfavang Kut are so colourful and enjoyable that the Government of Mizoram uses it a focal point to promote tourism to the state. As a matter of fact, the state government organizes grand carnivals in known tourist areas, especially the state capital – Aizawl and the Hmuifang Tourist Resort and promotes them as the Mega Winter Festivals.
Visitors enjoy shopping at the Christmas Bazaar, Hot Air Balloon Rides and adventure activities such as paragliding, Archery, rifle shooting and much more at the carnivals. Folk dances and music from different parts of Mizoram add to the overall enchantment of Thalfavang Kut.
Christmas is the most important festival in Mizoram. As the majority of Mizos follow Christianity, the festival of Christmas has particular significance for them. Every year, the state transforms into a magical place right from the beginning of December with each district and lane decorated with beautiful light formations, Christmas trees and Christmas Bazaars. Shops are alive with shoppers buying new clothes and Christmas gifts for family and friends and for donating to the poor.
Rock concerts and musical festivals become commonplace and in every city and village, youngsters bring alive the spirit of Christmas with soulful Christmas Carols. The actual Christmas Festivities last 3 days beginning from December 24, which is known across the world as Christmas Eve and ending on December 26, which is celebrated in Mizoram as a day of feasting and resting. In fact, December 26 is known as Feasting Day in Mizoram.
Christmas Eve, i.e. December 24 is celebrated as in every other part of the world – with feasting and preparation for the big day – Christmas. Food and gifts are donated to the poor keeping with the tradition of community help and selfless service of the Mizos.
Christmas Day is considered a day of sanctity, hence, there is no feasting on this day. Instead, all the Christians visit the Church for prayers and church services. The next day, December 26, is celebrated as feasting day with elaborate community feasts at the church. Preparation of the feast is a communal affair with equal division of work.
Overall, the people of Mizoram celebrate Christmas in its true spirit – with love and fervour for God and their fellow citizens.
Domestic Tourists visiting Mizoram are required to apply for an Inner Line Pass or Permit to enter the state. The Inner Line Permit or ILP can be obtained from the Liaison Officer, Government of Mizoram at New Delhi, Kolkata, Silchar, Shillong or Guwahati. ILP cannot be issued at Check gates upon entering the State. However, tourists arriving by air can obtain their permits from the Security Officer at the Aizawl Airport.
Employees of the Indian Government are exempted from the requirement of a permit if they are visiting Mizoram on official work. However, they are required to carry their photo identification card at all times.
Two types of ILP can be issued :
Duration: 15 days at a time which can be renewed once for another 15 days.
Cost of Application Form: Rs.20 Application Form
Cost of Processing Fee: Rs.100
Requirements: 4 passport size photo and a photo ID (Driving License/Voter ID/Department ID)
ILP Renewal Fee: Rs.20
2. Regular: Sponsorship from a local resident or a Government Department is required.
Duration: 6 months at a time which can be renewed twice for another 6 months each.
Cost of Application Form: Rs.20
Cost of Processing Fee: Rs.200
Requirements: 4 passport size photo and a photo ID, 2 passport size photo of the sponsor
ILP Renewal Fee: Rs.100
For tourists originating from the state of Tripura, or the Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj Districts of Assam State, Electoral Roll details are required due to porous international boundary with Bangladesh. Tourists entering from Bairabi and Vairengte can obtain ILP from Sub-Deputy Commissioner Bairabi and Sub-Divisional Officer Vairengte respectively.
Foreign Tourists :
In addition to obtaining an ILP, all foreign nationals are required to register themselves at the office of Superintendent of Police (CID/SB) Mizoram, the designated Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) of the State within 24 hours of their arrival in the state.
Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals having their origin in these countries require prior approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India for entering the state.