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Old 7th May 2017, 19:37   #1
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Default Mizoram - A 9 day family vacation

Dear all

I am writing this post from Aizawl on the penultimate day of my 9 day Mizoram trip with my wife and daughter.

We are basically residents of Thane near Mumbai and the key driver in choosing a location for travel was to find a place that would give us some relief from the heat of Mumbai and would not be crowded with locals or tourists. A tough ask for sure. While searching for such locations, an youtube documentary on North East inspired me to look at Mizoram. A quick Wikipedia read on Mizoram confirmed that the population density of Mizoram was less than 100 people per square km. Any guesses on what is the number for Mumbai? A quick internet search also confirmed that Mizoram was not very popular with tourists yet and so that became another factor that worked in favour of Mizoram.

We booked our return tickets from Mumbai to Lengpui via Kolkata. With the tickets booked, I got down to planning the trip. The first step was to collect information on Mizoram. I realized that most of the travel books including Lonely planet just scratched the surface of Mizoram and did not go much beyone Aizawl. I then turned to blogs and other web forums to get more information on Mizoram. I pretty much read up every piece of information available on the net on Mizoram over a weekend. We realized very soon that Mizoram was pretty much unexplored ( a fact that got validated over the last 8 days of my trip).

We wanted to explore as much of Mizoram as we could over the 9 days so I decided to stay in a new place everyday .

This is what the last eight days have looked like

Day 1: Land in Lengpui Airport and travel to Aizawl - We landed in the beautiful Lengpui airport and the first step to enter Mizoram was to get our inner line permit. We were prepared for the same and had carried our identification documents as well as passport photos. Our Xylo driver was at the airport to pick us up. Mizos are extremely friendly folks and we got a first taste of Mizo hospitality when our driver stopped his vehicle a couple of kilometres from the airport to buy us a pack of Jalebis . The other thing we noticed about Mizoram was its immense beauty. Lengpui should be a very strong candidate for the most scenic airport in India. Barely a KM from the airport, we stopped at a waterfall to click our first pictures of Mizoram. The road conditions from the airport to Aizawl were quite good. We reached Aizawl in an hour. We were keen to understand Mizo culture and hence had chosen a home stay in Aizawl. After resting for some time, we stepped out to see some local sites of Mizoram. The day being a Sunday all of Aizawl was practically closed.

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Day 2: Travel to Hmuifang from Aizawl - We left for Hmuifang from Aizawl on the next day at around 10 am in the morning. We passed through a busy market as we headed out and impulsively decided to stop over for a couple of hours in Aizawl to do some local shopping. The road to Hmuifang was quite good and the traffic in Aizawl was extremely disciplined. Another interesting part about the traffic in Aizawl was that inspite of the heavy traffic and the hilly terrain, everyone followed lane driving rules and there was absolutely no honking. The rest of the country has a ton to learn from Mizos on driving discipline.

We crossed the Tropic of Cancer on the way.
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Here are some pictures from the park in Hmuifang. This park was right next to the resort we stayed in. Also a few pictures of the views from the hills near the park
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Day 3: Travel to North Vanlaiphai via Sialsuk and Thenzawl - The next day we left Hmuifang for North Vanlaiphai. Most tourists at this point of time travel till Sialsulk and Thenzawl and head back to Aizawl. They then head towards Champhai to visit the Rih Dil lake in Myanmar. This basically means that you travel in two straight lines one from Aizawl to Thenzawl via Sialsuk and Hmuifang and Aizawl to Rih Dil via Champhai and Zokhawthar. But I was keen to not travel on the same road twice and hence decided to draw a circle on the map of Mizoram. Hence post Thenzawl instead of returning to Aizawl and then moving to Champhai. We headed eastwards in the direction of North Vanlaiphai. We stopped at Sialsuk to enjoy the magnificient views of the neighbouring hills. We then left for Thenzawl for Mizo handloom shopping. The roads till Thenzawl from Hmuifang were again quite good. But this was the end of good roads in Mizoram for a very long part of our trip. The roads from Thenzawl to North Vanlaiphai were pretty much non existent. The scenic beauty of the route however provided some very good compensation for the bad roads. The road from Thenzawl to North Vanlaiphai and beyond to Champhai passes through some dense forests that had a million shades of green. This was true of our roads on Day 4, and Day 5. The only good roads we found were in Myanmar on Day 5.

The views from Sialsulk. Sialsulk was one of the most scenic places in Mizoram. The views from the hills was amazing. The local government has put up swings on the hill for tourists to enjoy while they soak in the natural beauty.

Also, notice the blue dustbins in the pictures. One more thing remarkable about Mizoram is the focus on sanitation and cleanliness by the local Mizos. Every part of the state we went to was spotlessly clean.
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Day 4: We started our day with a nice breakfast made by Ms. Pui at the North Vanlaiphai resort. We then did some local sight seeing in Vanlaiphai. This included a very beautiful park near North Vanlaiphai and a hospital in North Vanlaiphai that was bombed by the Japanese in second world.

Some pictures of the view of North Vanlaiphai from the Mizoram government tourist lodge. the park in North Vanlaiphai and the hospital.
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The park in North Vanlaiphai
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The hospital that was attacked by the Japanese. The hospital staff was surprised that we were aware of the incident. They rarely got any tourists to visit them. The attacks had happened in the old block of the hospital that was constructed around 1915 by the Britishers.
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Travel from North Vanlaiphai to Champhai via Chawngtlai - As mentioned earlier, the scenic beauty on this route was immense. The roads however ensured that we paid a price to enjoy this beauty. Our Xylo handled the bad roads very well.

Some pictures on the way from North Vanlaiphai to Champhai
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We also stopped at an interesting village of Chawngtlai on the route. Chawngltai is a very special village where the entire village takes the visit by any tourists as a matter of pride. There is a school teacher who is appointed as the tourism guide. We just reached the village and requested for information on some tourist attractions. Immediately the head of the village was called. He in turn called the tourism head of the village. The tourism head who was a retired school teacher took us on a two hour tour of the village which included tales of their king's bravery, the sehlam tree where enemies heads were cut off and hung and the graveyard where memorials have been built for their brave fighters.
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We left Chawngtlai after spending 3 hours with the hospitable villagers. We were overwhelmedwith warm feelings of respect for these simple kind villagers. We then headed to Champhai. The road to Champhai was again in urgent need of repairs. We reached the Mizoram tourist lodge in Champhai and got some much needed sleep. The next day was a highlight of our trip as we would cross India's borders and enter Myanmar.

Day 5: Travel to Zokhawthar and Rih Dil in Myanmar (there is an easy way to cross over into Myanmar and visit Rih Dil without a visa) - We travelled from Champhai to Zokhawthar on Day 5 and the quality of roads was consistent. By now we had given up hope of finding good roads in Mizoram. We reached Zokhawthar by 1 pm and dropped our bags in the hotel. We had a quick lunch and then headed for for Myanmar to see the magnificient Rih Dil lake.

Here is a picture of the India Myanmar Border from our tourist lodge in Zokhawthar
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Some of the pictures of the trip to Myanmar Rih Dil lake
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Day 6: Travel to Rabung - Now Rawbung was added impulsively to my itinerary. We were actually supposed to travel to Khwalkhul on Day 6. But we happened to pass a forest office on the road from Zokhawthar to Khawzal. I went 100 metres ahead of the office. But then stopped the Xylo and reversed it. The driver by now had become a good friend and had allowed me to drive in stretches when he was tired. We went into the forest office. We got the number of the divisional forest officer and called her to check if we could see the Murlen Forest Park. My wife was keen to the see park and I had done some quick research to find out that the best way to access the park was from Rabung. The call with the forest officer confirmed that and she also informed me that we could stay at the Inspection hut owned by the Forest office in Rabung. Another sign of Mizo hospitality, a forest officer who not only guided me on the route but also agreed to host us in the inspection hut in Rabung. once we reached Rabung we found that the inspection hut was locked and the lady who kept the keys had locked the hut and had gone for Jhum cultivation. A quick call to the friendly forest officer and the lock was broken! The forest field officer kindly invited us to his home as the village of 300 families did not have a restaurant. we carried our maggi into his home and cooked it and shared the maggi amongst 10 of us (four of us including the driver), the forest field officer and his 5 children.

The inspection hut in Rabung - our home for the night:
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Day 7: Visit Murlen National park and travel to Khwalkhul - This was the day our Xylo stood idle as the journey from Rabung to Murlen national park had to be done on a four wheel drive. This was a Mahindra pick up truck that was rented from a villager who typically used it for transporting villages for Jhum cultivation. The 15 km ride took 1 hour 30 minutes in the 4WD. I need not write much about the roads besides telling you that the driver carried an axe with him. He got down atleast three times to cut tree branches that were coming in our way. After reaching the park, we went for a 5 KM trek within the park and then returned back to Rabung.
Our 4WD that took us to the forest and got us back.
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We then left for Khwalkhul. This was a 80 KM drive from Rabung to Khwalkhul via Khawzal. The road conditions again reminded us of hell and the scenic views reminded us of heaven!

Day 8: Travel back to Aizawl - Khwalkhul again like the rest of Mizoram was dense green and very beautiful. On the way back from Khawlkhuk to Aizawl we took a detour and visited the beautiful Tamdil lake. We again experience Mizo hospitality and honesty. The last day of our trip was a Sunday and the Tamdil lake was closed on that day. But a kind gentleman who managed boating at the lake realized that we had come from Mumbai. He not only got his boat out for us but took us on a 30 minute boating trip through the lake. I committed the mistake of trying to tip him for his kindness and was strongly rebuked by him. Again a lesson on kindness from the Mizos.

Here is a picture of the Tamdil lake:
Mizoram - A 9 day family vacation-img_1239min.jpg

We stayed there overnight and headed back to Aizawl.

As I write this it is 11 pm in Aizawl and I am all set for my return back to Mumbai via Lengpui tomorrow. We thank all the Mizos for their hospitality and warmth. This vacation has turned out to be one of our best vacations in a very long time and I will love to come back for another one!

Regards
Amit Sethi

Last edited by Aditya : 17th July 2017 at 07:51. Reason: Spacing
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Old 17th July 2017, 07:54   #2
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 17th July 2017, 12:16   #3
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Great that you enjoyed Mizoram. Though my experience in Mizoram is somewhat not that good. They have immense potential for tourism but they have not done anything. There is hardly any tourist infrastructure and the Enchanted Forest at Hmuifang and the sheer cliffs were our best sights in Mizoram.
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Old 18th July 2017, 07:14   #4
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Wanderernomad agree that the tourism infrastructure is still getting built. Also agree that they have immense potential for tourism. Our plan was to go to a place that did not have too many tourists and so in a purely selfish we were happy. The natural beauty of the place was mesmerizing for sure. I will share a couple of tips over the next few days on how do you maximize the use of whatever infrastructure is already there.
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Old 18th July 2017, 09:57   #5
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Hi Amit
Hills have a beauty of its own. The simple yet honest writeup along with beautiful pics. I did my studies in Bangalore and we had friends from mizoram and i can vluch for their honesty and discipline. Enjoyed reading your travelogue.
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Old 19th July 2017, 10:51   #6
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Although I haven't checked myself, I think this is the first travelogue on Mizoram. And it takes a lot of courage and research to chose a place like this which is on the extreme NE part of India with all the stigma that it has in the minds of a common man.
I am from the NE, but have never visited Mizoram because it's the same old mindset - what is there to see; that would be just the same as the place I belong to.
Well described and illustrated; thanks for sharing.
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Old 19th July 2017, 13:29   #7
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Excellent travelogue. Good on you to pick a part of the country that not many travel to. The pictures look great and am quite impressed with some of the things you mentioned about Mizoram. It must not have been very easy to travel with your family to places that do not see many tourists.

How was the accommodation facilities at all the places you visited? And covering all those remote areas by road, am assuming it was safe enough.
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Old 19th July 2017, 14:42   #8
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Beautiful pictures, North east is really very beautiful. I have read blogs about other NE states too and every time I am amazed to see the natural beauty of NE area. Did you indulge in local food culture too? what is the typical food for Mizos? and what is their special cuisine ?
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Old 19th July 2017, 20:24   #9
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Way too short a travelogue Amit. When your thread popped up, I settled down for a long read and was literally salivating . You tantalised us with a lovely portrait, but it ended all too quickly.

Would have loved a full post on just Rih Dil. Did you taste the wine in Champhai ? Any Hoolock gibbon sightings ?

But you captured the essence of a very intriguing state. Must be the first travelogue on Mizoram outside of Aizawl in this forum. As Wanderernomad, who is an authority on this region says, if they improved the infrastructure a bit, it would attract a lot of people. The roads are awful, but not as bad as Arunachal, which would beat it in the horror stakes.

You have to go back (this time driving all the way) and then write a loooong travelogue
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Old 20th July 2017, 17:37   #10
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Thanks for sharing this.
How did you book the car and driver and how much did it cost you?
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Old 22nd July 2017, 09:14   #11
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Originally Posted by sunny310c View Post
Excellent travelogue. Good on you to pick a part of the country that not many travel to. The pictures look great and am quite impressed with some of the things you mentioned about Mizoram. It must not have been very easy to travel with your family to places that do not see many tourists.

How was the accommodation facilities at all the places you visited? And covering all those remote areas by road, am assuming it was safe enough.
Yes the state is incredibly beautiful. It was not easy to travel. But a couple of things helped us. Firstly, We had a driver who knew Mizo and English. Secondly, we rented a Xylo which handled the Mizoram roads very well.Thirdly, we stayed in Mizoram Tourism Properties in most of the places except for the first night in Aizawl and Rabung. In Aizawl on the first night, we stayed in an AirBnB rented homestay. The Mizoram tourism properties in all places were clean and well run. The managers of the properties were overall helpful and welcoming. The only exception was Champhai where the property was not kept clean and the reception staff was not co-operative.

To set the context, on the accommodation, Mizoram tourism properties are functional, clean and serve hygienic food. Anyone looking for luxurious resorts and five star luxuries will be disappointed. The properties are situated in scenic settings, surrounded by a million shades of Green and that is what we were looking for.
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Old 22nd July 2017, 09:57   #12
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Beautiful pictures, North east is really very beautiful. I have read blogs about other NE states too and every time I am amazed to see the natural beauty of NE area. Did you indulge in local food culture too? what is the typical food for Mizos? and what is their special cuisine ?
Hi We could not explore local food much. We were in Aizawl only for 1.5 days and so most of the time was spent out of urban settings far from restaurants. Pork is considered to be a delicacy in Mizoram and nearly every village home had a pig sty near its entrance. Also the food is cooked with less spices than mainland India and generally the food is closer to South East Asia. The other thing that we noticed was that in Mizoram folks have a very heavy breakfast and a light lunch.
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Old 22nd July 2017, 10:37   #13
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Wow!! Very informative about Mizoram which is very hard to find. I did cover few areas of Mizoram in Dec 2016 when I was on my bike trip covering all 7 States. What I liked about this place is about the people who are super friendly. You do not feel you are actually away from your near ones. Also did you notice those small shops around villages which are unmanned. There will be items in the shop for sell, cost mentioned on each of it and small box kept beside it too. You just need to pick the items, drop the money into the box. I have a video of it too. Let me find that and post it.
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Old 22nd July 2017, 20:56   #14
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My dad took me to Assam when I was 3 months old and thereafter I spent close to 20 years in North East India and I can vouch that all 7 sister states combine are one of the most beautiful places on earth. Apart from the scenic beauty, the people there and the simple lifestyle make it more beautiful. Hats off to you and your family to go from Mumbai to Mizoram and visit. Superb photographs is like "sune pe suhaga".

I hope reading your travelogue will encourage more people to visit the so called hidden places in the Northeast.
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Old 23rd July 2017, 20:20   #15
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Originally Posted by rk_sans View Post
Wow!! Very informative about Mizoram which is very hard to find. I did cover few areas of Mizoram in Dec 2016 when I was on my bike trip covering all 7 States. What I liked about this place is about the people who are super friendly. You do not feel you are actually away from your near ones. Also did you notice those small shops around villages which are unmanned. There will be items in the shop for sell, cost mentioned on each of it and small box kept beside it too. You just need to pick the items, drop the money into the box. I have a video of it too. Let me find that and post it.
Yes remember reading about the shops somewhere. We did not see them though. But beyond these examples there were ample examples of kindness, honesty and simplicity.

The Mizos have a strong sense of community. They actually have a word for it - "Tlawmngaihna". The word essentially means putting the welfare of others ahead of our own welfare. There were ample demonstrations of care for the community when we were in Mizoram.

I had a first hand experience of Tlawmngaihna on the first day itself. We had just reached Aizawl and had checked into the Homestay around 2 pm. I stepped out to find a restaurant to get some food packed for my family. The restaurant was probably 1.5 kms away so I decided to walk. But 100 metres into the walk, I realized that it was going to be difficult to find the place as I could see a decision point right in front of me and I did not know where to go. I looked around and saw two girls who were sitting outside their home and chatting. I asked them for the direction to the restaurant. They initially told me the directions which was a couple of right and lefts till I reach the restaurant. I tried memorizing the directions, thanked them and started walking. Another 200 odd metres ahead, I heard someone call me from behind. When I turned back, it was the same girls. They had decided to walk with me down a hilly slope to help me find the restaurant as they had realized that I was completely new to the place and would need help. So for the next KM or so they walked down with me till we could see the restaurant! How often does this happen in our other cities?

There were multiple other examples of Tlawmngaihna. Whether it was the traffic sense, the multiple well executed NREGA projects in the villages, the forest officer who allowed us to come into his home to cook Maggi as the Rabung village did not have any restaurant or the Senior Forest officer who asked the guard to break the lock of the inspection hut so that we could have an unplanned stopover at Rabung.

To summarize, the rest of the country needs to learn a ton from this "land of the hill people".
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