Travel Bucket List: India – Mizoram Part 3

Dampa Tiger Reserve
Located amidst deep and dense forests, the Dampa Tiger Reserve is located about 120 km southwest of Aizwal and is rich with a variety of flora and fauna. The wildlife sanctuary covers a sprawling area of over 500 sq km in the Lushai Hills at an altitude of between 800 to 1,100 m on the western side of Mizoram and touches the international boundaries with Bangladesh. It was declared a tiger reserve in 1994 and is part of Project Tiger. The name Dampa means lonely men and refers to a local narrative about a village, where a lot of the women died.

The protected area was initially established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1985 with an area of about 680 sq km, which was reduced to about 340 sq km. In 1994, it received the status of a Tiger Reserve with an area of 500 sq km and thus became part of Project Tiger. The jurisdiction of the reserve is under two ranges, namely the Teirei Range and the Phuldungsei Range. The hills around the wildlife sanctuary are known to be the bio-geographic highway that connects India to certain regions of Mayanmar and China.

The tropical forests of the Dampa Tiger Reserve are home to diverse flora and fauna consisting of forests interpolated with steep precipitous hills, deep valleys, jungle streams, ripping rivulets, and natural salt licks. The reserve is not easily accessible unlike other parks where one can ride on a four-wheeler but one has to walk through the forest if one wishes to sight animals.

Dampa is home to the sloth bear, the serow, the hoolock gibbon, the slow loris, the endangered Phayre’s leaf monkey, the India leopard and the clouded leopard to name a few. The Bengal tiger was said to be extinct here until very recently when in May 2021 a camera trap finally captured a definite picture of a Bengal tiger. The last such recording was seven years ago, and before that, tiger scat was the only proof of their existence.

The Blue Pitta which belongs to the Pittidae family and is one of the 30 species on Earth is one of the main attractions here. Studies suggest that only 6 out of these 30 species of Pitta are found in India. There are about 54 species of birds that reside in the protected area out of which only 25 species have been identified by biologists researching the fauna of the reserve. Out of these 25, two species are in the nearly threatened category, and one is on the verge of extinction.

Dampa wildlife sanctuary is famous for its Jungle Safari. A part of the Safari includes taking detours in the deep, dense forests of the reserve. During the safari, one can spot leopards and tigers. A large variety of deer and bears are a common sight around the national park. Apart from this, Dampa also houses an exquisite variety of birds. One can book safari tours in advance and also opt to stay at one of the guesthouses available nearby at Dampa Hills.

Dampa Tiger Reserveis the largest wildlife sanctuary in Mizoram, was notified in 1985 and declared a tiger reserve in 1994. It is situated in the western part of Mizoram state, on the international border with Bangladesh about 127 km from Aizawl. It covers an area of approximately 550 sq km. The tropical Forests of Dampa are home to rich flora and fauna. It consists of forest interpolated with steep precipitous hills, deep valleys, jungle streams, ripping rivulets, natural salts licks, with an altitudinal zone of 200 m to 800 m. Dampa Tiger Reserve is a part of Project Tiger funded by the Government of India

Situated in the south-central part of Mizoram, which means the bridge of rock got its name from a bridge-like rock found in the riverine area around Nghasih – a small tributary of the River Tlawng, the longest river in Mizoram. It is the largest town after the capital, Aizawl, and is located about 165 km south of Aizawl.

Lunglei was the capital of the South Lushai Hill Districts for 10 years from 1888, as was Aizawl for the North Hill Districts. The two were united in 1898. Until India’s partition, Lunglei had direct access to Chittagong, a big city in what is today Bangladesh which made Lunglei the commercial and educational centre. The first Jeepable road to Lunglei was made only in the 1950s.


Lunglei is famous for its scenic beauty and natural setting and is an ideal offbeat destination for those who love natural beauty and adventure activities bundled into one. Trekking, bird watching and camping are among the popular activities opted for by tourists visiting Lunglei. Lunglei is a biodiverse region, home to the Thorangtlang Wildlife Sanctuary and the Saza Wildlife Sanctuary. While the Saza Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for hosting migratory and endemic bird species, the Thorangtlang Wildlife Sanctuary is home to several animal species such as leopards, tigers, porcupines and leaf monkeys among others. Visiting the Lunglei Rock Bridge at the Nghasih stream is another popular activity while here.

On a rocky portion on the southern edge of Tawikhawthlir hill near Mualcheng village, about 65 km south of Lunglei, there are three figurines of persons in meditational poses which the local people call Lung Milem or the Stone Figures. It is not known who created them and it remains a mystery to date as no other relics of Buddhism are found elsewhere in the state.

Ui Lung is a monolith famous for its remarkably intricate carvings. It was erected in the whereabouts of 1800 by a certain Chinzah chieftain and his citizens in an expression of their longing for their fellow clansmen who perished in a severe famine. Their former village called Dawn is now in the Myanmar Republic. The stone features intricate carvings of animal heads, gongs, and human figures with spears and other weapons. It is a landmark in the historical wealth of the state. One may also visit Chhura leh Naa Vawk, a monolith with carvings portraying Mizo historical stories close to Ui Lung.

The District Museum at Lunglei is well-known as a storehouse of the ethnic culture and traditions of the state. There are exhibits of armour, jewellery, utensils, paintings, and other native art.

Lying about 84 km northeast of Lunglei, Khawnglung is a mountain situated near Pangzawl and a village of the same name used to be located on the ridge and was the scene of one of the bloodiest massacres during the days of internecine feuds between the Sailo chiefs in the middle of the nineteenth century. Intertwined with this event is the tragic love story of Chalkunga and Thanghniangi, a beautiful maiden who happened to be one of the many female captives taken by the raiders. Chalkunga later rescued her in a daring lone foray, only to lose her on the way home in the flooding Tiau river which swept her away from his grasp while they were attempting to cross it. With sheer cliffs on all sides, the mountain has always been a natural shelter for man and animals for ages. Declared a wildlife sanctuary in 2000, Khawnglung covers an area of 35 sq km and is rich in flora and fauna, particularly primates and birds. It however requires trekking for about 10 km to reach the sanctuary. The best time to visit is between October and March.

A bustling commercial town at the Indo – Myanmar border, Champhai is a beautiful place and a storehouse of ancient relics, monuments, legends and folklore. Located about 186 km east of Aizwal, Champhai is also considered the fast-emerging fruit bowl of Mizoram. Well-tended vineyards, passion fruit and the recently introduced kiwi fruit plantations in the surrounding hill slopes provide a kaleidoscope of colours. Champhai is believed to be the entry point and the settlement of the first Mizo migrants to India. At the base of the town, towards the Myanmar border is the Champhai Valley. Surrounded by undulating hills, is a wide expanse of rice fields, popularly known as the rice bowl of Mizoram. Because of Champhai’s strategically important location, it is the main business corridor for India and Myanmar in the area.

Champhai was the headquarters of Lalbura Sailo, the son of Vanhnuailiana, a Mizo Chief against whom the British Expedition of 1871–72 was directed. It was accorded the status of a fort during British colonial rule. The Champhai Valley was once a lake and was gradually silted to obliterate the lake. The soil of the plain was still uncultivated during the Lushai Expedition of 1872. Irrigated rice cultivation started in Champhai in 1898 encouraged by the British colonial authorities to supply rice to their soldiers and labourers.

Champhai has several tourist attractions mostly including natural settings, including Kungawrhi Puk, a cave, the river Tiau Lui and the Rih Dil lake. Adventure enthusiasts can indulge in some trekking at the Thasiama Seno Neihna which is about 83 km south of Champhai.

Hla Kungpui Mual is a monument to commemorate Mizo poets, writers, and composers. It was set up in 1986 at the southern edge of the Khawbung Village in the Champhai district. Here, the monuments of Mizo laureate poets and writers are erected at intervals of 10 years. There is a Mizo Poets Square Archive and Library within the compound where the belongings of the poets are preserved. Currently, a total of 36 monuments call the Poet’s Square home.

Once upon a time, on the legendary Lianchhiari Lunglen Tlang cliff, the love-smitten Lianchhiari used to look out for her lover, Chawngfiang, who had migrated to a distant village. With its idyllic view, this perilously protruding cliff has it has found a natural home in a plethora of romantic lore. It lies South of Champhai on the way to Khawbung.

Located to the northeast of Champhai, Mt. Lengteng and its surroundings have been declared a wildlife sanctuary. The second-highest mountain in the region is filled with broad leaf and tropical evergreen forests, and sheer rocky cliffs. It is home to the endangered state bird, Vavu or Mrs Hume’s Pheasant and hornbills and endangered mammals like the slow loris, the leopard, the leopard cat, the serow, the goral and the Asiatic black bear. The sanctuary boasts orchids of various hues and beautiful flowering trees like rhododendrons and cherries. The Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary is very close to the Murlen National Park which is spread over an area of 100 sq km with sub-tropical evergreen forests.

The Rih Lake is the largest in Mizoram and is often contested to be situated in Myanmar. It is a beautiful heart-shaped lake, believed to be the passage of souls to their eternal abode and is 14 miles from Champhai in Mizoram and 63 miles from Falam, Myanmar. Because it lies in a sensitive area, it cannot be visited without prior permission from the Deputy Commissioner’s Office.

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