Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mystique Mizoram Aizwal , Reiek and Hmuifang Circuit

Text and Photographs 
By
Abhishek Neogi

Abhishek  is a young corporate in his late thirties, travelling is his stress reliever, he is a naturalist with immense passion for nature and wildlife photography. This time he shares his experience from his Mizoram trip , which according to him is a pristine place to unwind oneself. Mizoram , one of the famous "Seven sisters " state of North East India, but very little explored by Indian travelers, of compared to popular travel destination states like Sikkim or Uttarakhand. Here Abhishek  describes his experience of Mizoram exploration which he accomplished along with his fellow members , across the State. Hope his inputs  would surely help the readers to plan for future trips for sure. In the 1st part he covers Aizwal , Reiek and Hmuifang Circuit.


Prologue:


Planning to go for a vacation is an easy sail but to choose that one destination within this wide stretched amusing world is no cakewalk for any nature lover.

 Our Mizoram trip was no exception to the above travel law. The brainstorming sessions started with the “Truly Asian Country”, Malaysia then dived to the pristine beaches of Andaman Islands & swam across the sultry shores of Goa. Our flight of imagination took off & reached the North East India. The two among the seven sisters Nagaland& Mizoram were the places we talked about… &finally we zeroed down to Mizoram.
Planning the trip was an arduous job as we had limited information over the travel forums or any printed journals about our chosen destination.  But where there is a will, there is a way, my close acquaintance Mr. Ashokendu Sengupta & Mrs. Arpita Sengupta had  been to Mizoram couple of years back .They were the richest source of information and infact,the reason we glued to the decision of Mizoram. The practical input, their shared experiences along with information gathered from “Mizoram House” of Kolkata formed the backbone of our entire plan.




Setting out for Aizwal
  On 4th October 2014, we started our journey- a small team comprising of four adventure loving people … Madhumita Basu, Priyam Sinha ,Suraj Shankar Bose and myself. The flight from Kolkata was at 11.20am, but was delayed for an hour; it was 2 hours flight with a stopover at Imphal.The aerial view of Lokhtak Lake from the flight was just a prelude of what was waiting for us.. The Lengpui airport (15km from Aizwal) happens to be a small airport looks like a picture postcard surrounded by hill all around with security men guarding the base.


Lengpui Airport



 We walked across the runway for exit where our driver Mr. Tama was waiting with his Bolero and a welcoming smile .He drove us through the meandering roads with lush green rolling hills all around. We crossed couple of waterfalls, some interesting hanging rock edge. However, just before Aizwal there was a big traffic jam. We were bit anxious, as we had to travel further from Aizwal to a place called Reiek (35km from Aizwal).  The deadlock was for diesel given in rationed quantity from a filling station, a truck full of diesel had just arrived from Assam after a week due to roadblock for Puja and Duserra. The clock said that we were running 2 hours behind schedule and so the hungry stomachs were on a call .After a while Mr. Tama finally managed his way out of the mess and we felt relieved.  


The Traffic Jam


We found that the Aizwal was nice and clean with lot of two wheelers moving around, people here are fond of motorbikes.Mr Tama took us to a restaurant called   “Curry Pot” which was a decent North Indian restaurant serving Vegetarian food & they served us hot & tasty veggie delicacy, the quantity was good enough and so was the price. We sealed the hunger with brewed coffee and had it with the sunset in the backdrop that surely was an experience of lifetime.


Motor bike of the owner of  Curry Pot restaurant


  

Journey to Reiek Mountain ; a mix-bag of  confusion and thrill

Before leaving for Reiek Mountains, we bought some cookies from a local bakery and did not forget to stock sufficient bottled water for our days ahead.  Reiek was an hour’s drive, by the time we left for Reiek it was already dark and roads were isolated. The Mizo people are in sync with daylight and hardly move around after 6.30pm .However our team of four along with Mr. Tama decided to travel in a deserted road through the forest in an unknown place when it was already dark.  We went over a discussion whether it was a proper decision to leave for Reiek then. The condition of the road was not that good, which made our journey bit bumpy & clumsier. We were constantly tracking our position in GPS so that we get exact information and direction about the place we were heading for. Mr. Tama kept us entertained with his “MIZO” numbers playing on his music system.  Music is an integral part of their culture and you will get many Western influences in their local compositions. So the music finally dropped us to  Reiek at around 7.30 pm. Wow!!!Was the constant expression following from four of us but hardly affecting any nerve of Mr Tama. What a place!!!  Thrilling …nobody was there just four of us .The caretaker allotted   us two adjacent cottages; the rooms were spacious with attached bath fitted with hot water supply.  Each room leads to a sitting place where one can sit and have a lecherous view of the virgin beauty.

 

Reiek Tourist Lodge

 
 The call for dinner broke the intoxication prevailed in the air.  We quickly assembled in the adjacent dining hall. It was  going to be our first proper meal in Mizoram , we all were anxious about the taste … the second local character we met after Mr. Tama was Pradip (the cook)who served us rice (this is the main food for Mizo people) dal, mixed vegetable ,green salad and chicken curry which was really good  we all relished  every bit  & grain of it. After dinner,  went for a walk around the campus and I am falling short of words to describe the tranquility…a moonlighted night between the woods nobody around & with only the chirping of the crickets making us feel their presence.



Exploring Reiek

          Next morning we woke up early and fresh as we had a sound sleep previous night and we must have used mosquito nets after ages. I, being an extreme reader of nature’s poetic creation geared up myself with my camera and set out to venture the place. The tourist resort was located half way up the mountain, had around 6-8 cottages and couple of dormitory to accommodate guests. The cafeteria was located centrally .The entire area was surrounded by natural forest with some trekking trails going here and there. There was a typical mizo village set aside highlighting their rich customs and tradition. Reiek is famous for Anthurium(a typical flower) which people cultivate in huge numbers.  Every year the last  week of September, the  people of Mizoram celebrates Anthurium festival and Reiek happens to be the centre for it, there was a big open amphitheater just few yards from the Resort, which was interesting. 

open amphitheater at Reiek




 After a grand breakfast of Aloo Paratha we set out for our trek to Reiek Talang (top) at a height of about 5400ft above sea level. The trekking trail through the forest had hidden surprises at each bend; Mr Tama was our guide as he was here before. At some places the forest was so dense we could hardly see proper day light & there were some stretches where the rock surface were  too slippery to have a proper grip. Going uphill is always a daunting task; we came across a prayer hall & rested for a while. In our way, we came across an interesting cave formation named after the great Mizo warrior “Khuangchera” of 19th century who was famous for his unsurpassed heroic deeds and his stubborn resistance towards British army. The legendary Mizo hero used this caves and ravens as his hideout. 



 

the cave in name of Mizo warrior..on our trekking trail






the cave in name of Mizo warrior..on our trekking trail



 

The final stretches of the trail was almost an acute angle climb with strong winds blowing all around. The view from the top was awesome, sprawling mountains running all around with the spectacular ridges. The Aizwal city looks great from the top and on a clear sky; one can see the Bangladesh plains as well. The cliffs were the home for Peregrine Falcons but we were not that lucky to find them.


view from Reiek top




  After spending an hour on the top, we started descending down. By the time we reached our tourist, lodge lunch was ready; in the afternoon, we sat on the garden and relaxed. The rest of the evening we watched movie, had an early dinner and went to sleep.  


Onward Journey to Hmuifang

Next morning we had our breakfast and checked out from Reiek – our destination was Hmuifang, had to come down to Aizwal and then continue upward journey. We stopped by the bridge over river Tlawng that happens to be one of the longest rivers in Mizoram, the rapid flow of the river downhill through the boulders with lush green mountains around was a panorama worth viewing. 

 

Tawang River



There was hardly any trace of locality in our way back in daylight; we just kept imagining that we had traveled this entire stretch a couple of night ago, which sounds thrilling but not at all advisable. 

Hmuifang   was an hour drive from Aizwal (50km) situated at height of around 5300ft; the road was excellent with lot of sharp hairpin bends. On the way, we came across some typical Mizo habitats, street side vendors (mostly female) sitting beside the road selling fruits and vegetables. 

Market Place



The Mizo society looked to me highly matriarchal where women were running from the stores in malls to selling basics on street side, we saw the actual face of equality, no gender biassness and literacy in action. We moved ahead. The Bamboo shoot was the most common thing that was up for sell and according to Mr Tama, it’s the most common vegetable cooked in a Mizo household. 

Bamboo shoot


 
 
Getting Settled in Hmuifang resort

 Hmuifang was an ideal tourist resort for a scheduled weekend in the midst of scenic beauty. The resort is situated on the top of the peak with thick virgin forest hemming on all sides. The cottages were beautiful; independent with green roof lay dispersed around neatly maintained lawn. We got the best accommodation, a suite with two bedrooms and a big common drawing space with comfortable sofa and rocking chairs to sit back and relax. The rooms were spacious with all modern amenities; the best part was the attached balcony, which opens to the thick woods in the backyard.We ordered for noodles in the street side cafeteria but we did not like the preparation much, probably they prepared it too hastily or this may be the diversity of taste.

tourist lodge of Hmuifang






tourist lodge of Hmuifang



 Just beyond the resort, there was a park, which was an amazing place to spend some quality time, we were told that it was a holiday there and even the Mizos  were the day tourists who came to visit the place with friends and family. Just beyond the park was the forest, and it was kept just as it was during the time of Mizo chiefs. Forest was dense - we walked along the forest trails, spent our time sitting on the watchtower, crossed the ridges with the help of hanging bridge, we thoroughly enjoyed the pristine nature.


 

 Hmuifang





watchtower inside Hmuifang forest



 
Apart from the beautiful forest, there were steep cliffs on the west, which gave stunning views of the surrounding mountain. We spent rest of the evening watching spectacular sunset and a stream of rain from a busted cloud atop a hill far away- a frame, which we would remember for the rest of our life .  




Sunset at Hmuifang






Sunset at Hmuifang


It, was already dark & quiet cold by the sun set and we crept back to the to the resort. We got acquainted with the manager on duty a very young lad Mr. Thengla (if I remember his name correctly) who was energetic and adventurous. He was thrilled to know we came here to explore Mizoram; he shared his knowledge regarding people, their rituals and traditions, which helped us to know Mizoram in a different perspective. He showed us astronomical stars through his amazon.com brought telescope.Mr thengla suggested some inputs on our plan, which really helped us in the later part of our trip. We thanked him, moved to our cozy rooms, and found the dinner served, they served us rice and chicken curry along with some side dishes, the food was good and we enjoyed it. The night was quiet cold with couple of quick shower, which bought the temperature further down, after dinner we had coffee, discussed about next day’s plan and went to sleep. 



The Sialsuk Village

Next morning we had a bright clear sky, I ventured the forest beside the park for birding but could not see much and a team member watched the sunrise. We all were in action… after breakfast, a Mr. Thengla suggested us to visit a nearby village called Sialsuk (5 km from Hmuifang), the villages was nice and clean with most of the houses were using solar energy for running their house hold. They were quiet surprised to see strangers visiting their place.

Typical Mizo village



 

bachelors dormitory in Mizo village

 

 We  passed the village and Tama drove us to a hill top which was unbelievably beautiful , a green meadow surrounded by sprawling hills with perfect clear blue sky above our head. We crawled, we jumped, we screamed we did what not to express our excitement underestimating the age group we belonged to, the women of the team were swinging over a swing laid at the top of that hill wow!!! What a scenery!! .We spent almost an hour on the top and came back as we need to return to Hmuifang and continue our exploration of amazing Mizoram.  

 

Sialsukh






Points to be noted

“Mizoram” means “Land of Hill People” a state which was formed in 1986 (was part of Assam, known as “Mizo Hill district” before that) with Aizwal as the State Capital Mizoram happens to be the 2nd most literate state (as per 2011 Census) in India , English is well accepted and used language ,interestingly over 91% of the State is forested. As it shares international boundaries with Myanmar& Bangladesh, traveling to Mizoram needs an Inner line permit which is easily available from Resident Commissions office. 

Inner line permit (Kolkata) available from Liaison officer, Government of Mizoram
Mizoram house,24 old Ballygaunge Road, kolkata 700019
ph..03324756430/24757887.

Documents required is passport size photograph, photocopy(carry the original)of ID/address proof and a nominal fee of around Rs 60.
  
Going
We decided to avail flight, as it would save time. The nearest railhead was at Silchar , from where one can travel by road  to Aizwal  (184km, via NH54, takes around 6-7hrs).


Stay


We booked Government Tourist Lodges (other than Aizwal) the price range was 800-1200/day over phone. People were so humble that they did not asked for any advance payment instead, just requested to inform them in case we were not coming.

Phone number for booking rest houses
REIEK..0389-2567334/9436144947
Hmuifang 9436360574/8731966056

The cost of travelling trip to Reiek and Hmuifang by Bolereo (ac) is 3000 each..Airport pick up is 2500..the rates are almost fixed..
Vehicle should be booked in advance... we booked it From Sure Taxi...contact person Elizabeth Fanai...8415901306.

 

11 comments:

  1. Very narrative and detailed write up.The pictures of the verdant hills and clear blue sky beckons for a visit.The posted info will assist me in planning my trip in advance.Appreciate further updates on your future trips to other exotic destinations.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very narrative and detailed write up.The pictures of the verdant hills and clear blue sky beckons for a visit.The posted info will assist me in planning my trip in advance.Appreciate further updates on your future trips to other exotic destinations.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very narrative and detailed write up.The pictures of the verdant hills and clear blue sky beckons for a visit.The posted info will assist me in planning my trip in advance.Appreciate further updates on your future trips to other exotic destinations.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks. .your appreciation matters a lot

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks. .your appreciation matters a lot

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks. .your appreciation matters a lot

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jayanta ChattopadhyayOctober 15, 2015 at 10:34 AM

    Very infotmative write up. Will be usefui for future visitots. Pics r awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Congratulations! Your blog post
    was featured in our Collective 10 Amazing Indian Destinations For Summer 2016
    Feb 25, 2016 at Blogadda.

    Please find it here:
    http://blog.blogadda.com/2016/02/25/best-indian-destinations-summer-2016-blogadda-collective

    ReplyDelete