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   Mizoram, predominantly a Christian populated state forms the southernmost tip of the North-Eastern states, sharing borders with Manipur, Assam, Tripura then jutting out between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The word Mizo means highlander, a collective name given by their neighbours to a number of tribes which settled in the area. They are originally believed to have come from North-Western China and gradually pushed themselves towards their present homeland, less than 300 years ago. The state has thick bamboo forests. Rivers run in narrow ribbons that seem to be challenging onlookers to plunge in for some adventure and excitement. The hill ranges running in a north-south direction are resplendent with green vegetation throughout the year. The highest peak, Phawngpui (meaning vast meadow) is also known as Blue Mountain. The 2065 mts. (7100 ft.) peak is a veritable garden of the arboreum and veitchianum species of rhododendron. The average height of the hills is around 1000 mts. There are a number of a hilly streams and rivers which murmur through the idyllic scenario.

The Mizos boast of a number of folk and community dances that have been handed down over the generations. Through these dances a visitor can get a glimpse of the tribal heritage of the Mizos in all its exotic hues. Most important of these dances are Cheraw (the bamboo dance), Khuallam, Solakia and Chheih lam. Interestingly, none of these dances were intended for the stage - they evolved through community involvement and participation.

With nature being so generous in its bounties to the state, it is also natural that the Mizos love flowers. Every house seems decorated with orchids and pots of geranium, begonia and balsam apart from over a thousand varieties of medicinal plants which grow wild here.

The state capital Aizawl is located at an altitude of 4000 ft. above sea level. It is accessible from Shillong, Guwahati and Silchar by bus, by road and by car. Standing on a high ridge surrounded on the east by the deep green valley of river Tlawng, with its lush green deep valleys, and protected on the north by the beautiful high craggy hills of Durtlang, it stands like a high citadel. An ideal hill station for those looking for the freshness of a crisp mountain air, and for solitude.

Places of interest in Aizawl include the Mizoram State Museum at Macdonald's Hill. The Museum is small but is a rich treasure house of historical relics, ancient costumes, exquisite artefacts and traditional implements. Then there is the mini Zoological Garden, and Durtlang Hills, which are at the northernmost part of Aizawl.

Excursions From Aizawl

Bung (15 kms) and Paikhai (16 kms), adjacent to each other, are cool breezy places for a day's recreational jaunt.

85 kms. from Aizawl, near Saituai village, amidst virgin forests lies a natural lake, Tamdil. An ideal picnic spot, the lake has boating facilities to add to its appeal. Just 137 kms. from Aizawl and 5 kms. from the idyllic town of Thenzawl are the Vantawng Waterfalls. The waterfall is 750 feet high and is surrounded by a lush green tropical forest filled with bamboo groves.

Travel 204 kms from Aizawl to the other end of Mizoram and reach Champhai, the sub-divisional headquarters. From here you can get an ideal view of the Myanmar hills, standing in formation, like an Army drill line-up.

Even Lunglei, a district headquarters town of south Mizoram, 235 kms. from Aizawl, has its own natural beauty.

Wild Life
The Dampa Sanctuary of Mizoram is home to a variety of species like swamp deer, tiger, leopard, elephant and hoolock gibbon. The sanctuary was established in 1976, at the north-western tip of the Mizo hills. Accommodation is available at Govt. guest houses. The best period to visit the sanctuary is between November to March.

Shopping Pleasures
A must-buy in Mizoram is the Khumbeu ceremonial bamboo hat that is made of waterproof wild Hnahthial leaves. Bara Bazar is the main shopping centre of Aizawl, where all the handicrafts and handloom articles (shawls, textiles, bags and fine bamboo) are available. To ensure the genuineness of your purchases stick to the State Govt. and Handloom Emporium. You can buy traditional Mizo handicrafts and other utility items here. Apart from this are New Market, Ritz Market, Bazar Bungkawn, Thakthing Bazar, Burma Lane and Solomon Cave.


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