4/15/2011 to 6/5/2011 | India , Mizoram

Do It Yourself, Mizoram

I haven’t really put much practical information in my journal posts but since I do get a number of people asking about more practical details. This is the second installment of “Do it Yourself” segment for destinations where there isn’t a lot of info out there.  Of course much of this information may eventually go out of date like any guidebook but it was at least actuate at the time I visited Mizoram, May 2011.

Journal Entries with Photos from Mizoram

Red Tape

As of 1/1/2011 a permit was no longer required for foreigners visiting Mizoram, however foreigners are required to register at the police station in Aizawl at the edge of town you may need the help of a local to find it.  But once registered there is no limit on your stay other than your Indian Visa.  This was technically a temporary lifting of the permit, a one year trail period, while it is unlikely it will be changed back you should check for sure before you go.

Aizawl and around.

Reiek is definitely worth a trip Sumos from Aizawl leave at 10am 12pm 1pm 2pm 3pm from Khatla Church it takes about 1 hour.  The tourist lodge is a nice convenient place to stay doubles 400 singles 250.  From the lodge to the peak is 2 km about a half hour for a fast walker.  Its worth staying at Reiek to climb the peak at sunrise, and or sunset the most scenic times, plus you can wander around the village.

Views of Aizawl:

Actually the best views I found of Aizawl were both from Hospitals, the Presbyterian Hospital has a great view of Aizawl from next to the outdoor bathrooms, so the atmosphere is not so great.  Near the parking lot there is a good view as well.  There is a bus that goes to the hospital from the city center.

The other and probably best view of Aizawl was from near the TB Hospital in Zemabawk.  See pic:   If going by public transportation you can take the city bus to Zemabawk, then either walk or take taxi from there.

The view along the road past the bus station is very good as well reachable by city bus.

Actually I found the view from Aizawl Theological College (ACT) was not so great.  It could have been good but there are large High Voltage power lines right in front of the view of Aizawl spoiling the view, making the Presbyterian Hospital better for a similar view and even a slightly better angle.


The Saturday Morning markets are interesting to browse, when street venders from neighboring villages are allowed to set up along the roads.  The biggest one is in Mission Veng.

Places to stay:

Full disclosure I know the owner and helped her with her website, but the Riak Maw Inn is a newly renovated hotel in central Zarkawt it has clean rooms and free wifi, the owner has a large collection of Mizo handlooms that she uses to decorate so it has more of a local feel to it.  She also is knowledgeable about Mizoram and has a lot of contacts around the state.


Southern Mizoram

Saiha is capital of the Mara Autonomous region and well connected to Aizawl by daily sumos ~12 hours and slower overnight bus which leaves at 3:00 pm and gets in around 8:00 am.  Though not particularly that interesting in its self, it is good base to explore the area because of transportation connections and a tourist lodge (400 rupee doubles, one 250 rupee double).  Palak Lake is the most famous “site” in the district it’s a day long journey on bad roads from Saiha and judging by the pictures I decided it wasn’t worth the effort, though Mizos all said it was great, they don’t exactly have a lot of lakes to compare it too.

Pawngpui (blue mountain), the highest mountain in Mizoram at a lowly 2158 m sits near the Burmese border and is a national park.  It’s a nice hike from Sangau (~3 to 4 hours by Sumo from Saiha) to Vonbuk via the peak.  You must take permission the Forest Department at Sangau.  The entry is only 10 rupees but it is also 100 rupees for a Camera, 500 rupees for video, in addition you must take a forest department guide with you 200 per day + 100 per overnight.  The tourist lodge in Sangau can help you organize it by putting you in touch with the forest department.  I hiked from Sangau to Vonbuk in a day but if you have time it would be worth spending a night at Farpak where there is a new forest resthouse currently under construction, to enjoy the sunset and early morning views from there.  Hiking times taken from picture time stamps, granted I hike a bit on the fast side,  Sangau to Farpak ~2.5 hours walking time, Farpak to the peak 1.5 hours walking time, peak to Vonbuk 1.75 hours walking time.  I left at 7 am and reached Sangau at 3:00 pm total including resting time and time to hangout and enjoy the view.  There are also two villages in route that are nice to poke around in.  Vonbuk has a tourist Lodge and is also nice village to look around in and meet and great the Li people.

Lawngtlai (pronounced long-cly) is headquarters of the Lai autonomous region though it seems to be basically a mizo town you’ll find more people speaking Lai in Sangau and Vonbuk.  It’s not particularly interesting but has a tourist lodge should you want to use it as a transportation hub.

Lunglei is the second biggest city in Mizoram it has nice views and more amenities. The tourist lodge is on the far northern edge of town a more central option is the Elite Hotel (double starting at 400) also with good views.  There are other private hotels as well.

Tlabung (pronounced claboong) is an interesting place near the Bangladesh border on a large (by mizo standards) river.  Try to visit on a Bazaar day Saturday and Tuesday are the best but there is a smaller one on Thursday, go early in the morning.  Tibes people from Bangladesh and the surrounding Chakma villages come in to town (mostly by boat) to trade.  Reachable by boat are a view Buddhist Chakma villages that are interesting to see.  Since it is down in the valley it is very hot in the summer when I visited in May.  Also Malaria is particularly bad there the locals I spoke to said many people get Malaria there so take precautions.  It is also the location of the first British out post in Mizoram so is home to the first police station, first post office, and circuit house, all constructed in the late 19th century and standing in mostly original condition.

Chongte is the headquarter of the Chakma autonomous region, Kamalanagar is the name of the Chakma area of Chongte which is split between 3 districts.  The large Bazaar day is on Saturday and starts near dawn winding down by 7:00 am so get up early. There may be others as well someone told me, Monday and Wednesday, but I was also there Monday morning and it didn’t look nearly as busy as Saturday.  Also like Tlabung very hot in the Summer and very prone to Malaria.  Interesting place to see Chakma culture there are two monasteries in Kamalanagar and a few villages in walking distance it may also be interesting to check out the villages over the small chain of hills on the Bangladesh border though transportation back the same day may be a problem as Sumos usually come in the morning and return in the afternoon.


Champhai District

Champhai –the government tourist lodge is about a 15-20 minute downhill to from the main market near the top of the ridge, there are also periodic city buses that go right past the tourist lodge.  Rates (for 2011): 300 single occupancy double, 400 double, 500 for a cottage.  There is also a hotel near the market but I heard it was 600 for a room.  It’s a 15-20 minute walk down hill from the tourist lodge to the patty fields which are interesting to walk around when there is work going on there.  It wasn’t the season yet when I was there but when green it must look nice.  The near by village of Zote has nice views back toward Champhai and small not particularly impressive holes (Mizos call them caves) where allegedly children used to hide from a giant eagle.  There is a winery in Tlangsam served by bus from Champhai that may be interesting to visit when it is in operation, when I was there it was closed for the season.  Zokhawthar is about an hour by Sumo from Champhai (also a tourist lodge there should you want to stay the night).  If you are Indian you can cross the border to visit Ri Lake (the largest lake in Mizoram as Mizos will tell you but it happens to be few km inside Burma) if you are a foreigner there is no chance of the Burmese letting you across.  The village of Zokhawthar is a mildly interesting place to wander around and you can see a golden Burmese stupa on the ridge in the direction of Ri lake no doubt built by the Burmese military given that the area is heavily Christian.  Moreh in Manipur is a bit more of an interesting border town, if I had to compare the two.  Over all Champhai is a nice enough place, and when the paddy is green I’m sure its more scenic but I think a more interesting area of the distinct is about 4-6 hours south of Champhai.


Farkawn– is a pretty village near the Burmese border (~6 hours from Champhai).  They are constructing a new tourist lodge it was not yet operating when I was there but it is finished.  I stayed in the PWD inspection bungalow.  Lurh is a 1936 m mountain behind the village and can be hiked in a few hours from the village though I wasn’t able to go up due to bad weather.  But it supposedly has great views towards the Chin Hills of Burma.  The area is quite scenic with high mountains and deep valleys.  Farkawn has a number of sites around it connected with Mizo folklore, and Mizo history.  This area was one of the first regions settled by the Mizos when they migrated from Burma.  Far Puk is a series of over hangs in the cliff side (locals call them caves) there is a small waterfall too, and the area is quite scenic it’s where the villages used to hide and fortify themselves from their enemies.  Down from the hospital in Farkawn is a flat stone with a bunch of pre Christian carvings in it.  There is also a cave I didn’t get two that used to have human bones in it but all that is left now is apparently one skull, the place is called Lamsial Puk.


Vaphai– is a village near Farkawn about 30-40 minutes toward Champhai by road.  The principal attraction here is Tan Mountain.  1927 m Tan mountain is regarded as the principal home of the lasis (like the drink), which are pre-Christian fairies or spirits believed in by the Mizos.  There are two approaches to the peak a very steep one from the Vaphai side and a more gradual and safer one from the Farkawn side.  Though the views are a bit obstructed by trees from the true peak there are plenty of very good views along the ridge.  One of the best is on the Vaphai side of the mountain just before the trail starts a precarious decent down the cliff side, if its wet its best to go up and down from the Farkawn side.  Between Vaphai and Farkawn is a cliff or outcropping of rocks associated a story about a cow and a Lasi (Mizo fairy) that kept the cow safe there.  There are good views from the steep outcropping called Tasiama se no neihna thang.


Dungtlang is another village about 2-3 hours from Farkawn toward Champhai.  It is the site of the Mizo equivalent of Romeo and Juliet.  There is a cliff above the town known as Lianchhiari’s Cliff  (Lunglen Kham).  It was here where the daughter of a chief sat and composed poems about her commoner lover who was forced to move to a village across the valley, since they were forbidden to marry by her father the chief.  So from this view point she would look down at him in his new village.  While the village is no longer there the views are nice from this perch high above the valley.  The nearest lodging is the tourist lodge at Khawsung, about 30 minutes drive away.


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