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Phawngpui Tlang - The Magnificent Blue Mountain of Mizoram

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Cloud-capped sky over Aizawl, Mizoram. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

One among the seven glorious sister-states of North-East India, Mizoram derives its name from Mi (people), Zo (a lofty place or hill) and Ram (land), loosely translating to “The Land of the Hill People.” Carved out of the erstwhile Assam territory into an independent Indian state in 1972, Mizoram is a melting-pot of cultures, cuisines, languages, religions, customs, dialects and natural diversity.

With 95% of its total population belonging to tribal groups, Mizoram has historically and particularly since the 16th century, witnessed large-scale in-migration of tribal groups belonging to neighbouring states within India as well as from faraway lands of South-East Asia.

Nestled in the heart of nature, Mizoram is home to a wide array of natural wonders ranging from rolling hills to a maze of rivers and lakes, to serpentine valleys and verdant plains. The Geological Survey of India has dubbed the Mizoram terrain as an immature topography whose physiographic expression consists of several (roughly) North-South aligned longitudinal valleys, a series of smaller and flatter hummocks that lie parallel to hill ranges and narrow adjoining valleys.

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Phawngpui Tlang or the Blue Mountain at sunrise, the majestic peaks are swathed in a scenic blue hue. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

While the state is dotted with as many as 21 major hill ranges and peaks of varying heights, the magnificent Phawngpui Tlang, popularly known as the Blue Mountain, stands tall in the South-Eastern part of the state, and marks the highest peak at 2157 metres. A part of the majestic Mizo hill ranges and located in the Lawngtlai district, Phawngpui overlooks the mighty Chhimtuipui River and the hill ranges skirting the borderlands of neighbouring Myanmar. Placed in a North-South alignment, the ridge is spread across 10 kms and is surrounded by an imposing semi-circular series of cliffs on the western side that collectively make up the spectacular Thlazuang Kham. The sharp precipices and deep crevices and falls make the topographical features of the cliffs a favourable home for mountain goats.

Phawngpui is a deeply revered peak and inhabitants of the neighbouring areas believe that it is the abode of several local deities. A seat of spiritual and cultural importance, Phawngpui is a critical site of folk religion and is consequently, a cradle of folk stories. One such folktale revolves around the deity King Sangau and the gifts that were exchanged between the royal families and villages of Sangau and Cherian when Sangau’s son was betrothed to the Cherian princess.

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The Phawngpui National Park. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Since 1992, both the Central and Mizoram governments have joined hands in conserving the natural heritage of Phawngpui. Due to its diverse flora and fauna, the peak has been declared a National Park that today covers an area of approximately 50 sq. kms. It is one of the two national parks located in Mizoram. Between November and April, the Mizoram government allows tourists to undertake eco-friendly tourism in the mountain. Trekking to the summit of the Phawngpui peak is a particularly exciting experience for trekkers and adventure enthusiasts.

Enveloped in dense bamboo groves, picturesque orchids and the vibrant rhododendrons that are spread across the valleys encircling the cliff, Phawngpui hosts a wide floral and faunal diversity ranging from gorals to plumed sunbirds, peregrine falcons to barking deer. Other wildlife varieties that populate the region include the rare Blyth’s Tragopan, Hume’s pheasant and the Dark-Rumped Swift, along with endangered mammals such as the slow loris, tigers, leopards, leopard cats, serows, Asiatic Black bears, Capped langurs and Stump-tailed macaques.

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Phawngpui Farpak, the sweeping grasslands at the base of the mountain. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The foothills of Phawngpui are covered in grassland vegetation and bear the name ‘Farpak’ which literally means “pine only.” In this grassland, one can occasionally catch sight of several birds, butterflies and wild colourful orchids. With its opulent natural diversity and pristine ecosystem, Phawngpui Tlang is a sacred and celebrated natural heritage of the people of Mizoram and an indispensable ecological asset to the people of India.