The land of Highlanders
Literally its has a very simple meaning while historically it has one of the most confusing story of origin among the eight states of North-East India. Mizoram means ‘land of the Mizos’. This beautiful northeastern state of India, share its borders with Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Assam and Manipur. Like those of many other tribes in the North Eastern India, the origin of the Mizos, is shrouded in mystery. The generally accepted as part of a great Mongoloid wave of migration from China and later moved out to India to their present habitat. Today the most significant lake in Mizo history Rih Dil is ironically located in Burma, a few kilometres from the India-Burma border.
The entire territory is mostly mountainous and hilly with precipitous slopes forming deep gorges culminating into several streams and rivers. Almost all the hill ranges traverse in the North-South direction. As many as 21 major hills ranges or peaks of different heights run through the length and breadth of the state, with plains scattered here and there. Phawngpui Tlang also known as the Blue Mountain, situated in the south-eastern part of the state, is the highest peak in Mizoram at 2,210 metres (7,251 feet).
The rivers are important geographical aspect of the state and the Indian government has also invested millions of rupees to set up inland water ways along Mizoram biggest river Chhimtuipui to trade with Burma. Some of the other important and useful rivers are the Tlawng, Tut, Tuirial and Tuivawl which flow through the northern territory and eventually join the Barak River in Cachar District. The Tamdil lake is a natural lake situated 85 km (53 mi) from Aizawl. Legend has it that a huge mustard plant once stood in this place. When the plant was cut down, jets of water sprayed from the plant and created a pool of water, thus the lake was named Ţamdil which means of ‘Lake of Mustard Plant’. Today the lake is an important tourist attraction and a holiday resort.
The state is famous world wide for its traditional ‘Bamboo Dance’ where people use long bamboo staff for this dance. Besides the dance, the state also has rich cultivation of bamboos. The great famine of 1959 known in Mizo history as ‘Mautam Famine’ had devastated the state beyond measure. The cause of the famine was attributed to flowering of bamboos which consequently resulted in rat population boom in large numbers. After eating up bamboos seeds, the rats turned towards crops and infested the huts and houses and became a plaque to the Villages. Today there are at least 20 identifiable species of bamboo indigenous to mizoram. Some 30% of the state is covered with wild bamboo forests, many of which are largely unexploited. Mizoram harvests 40% of India’s 80 million-ton annual bamboo crop. Currently research is underway to utilize bamboo more widely such as using bamboo chippings for paper mills, bamboo charcoal for fuel, fertiliser, manufacture of pressed wall panels and utilised bamboo as substitute for timber.
The agro-climatic conditions of Mizoram having both temperate and semi tropical climates with tropic and temperate zones, is conducive to a wide variety of crops. More than 70% of the total population is engaged in some form of agriculture. The age-old practice of Jhum cultivation is conducted by most people living in rural areas. The state today face the challenge to wean away the jhum cultivators from the unscientific practice and to settle them on permanent occupation such as horticulture, sericulture, pisciculture, permanent agriculture, floriculture, piggery, poultry and cottage industry. Recently, Godrej Agrovet Limited has entered into a new venture wherein Oil Palm and Jatropha cultivation, for bio fuels is being promoted. A low calorie sugar substitute, Stevia rebaudiana, known as ‘sweetleaf’, has also recently been grown to improve economical agricultural diversity.
During the regime of Village Chieftains the forests were well protected as removals of forests produce was restricted to meet the barest need for domestic consumption. However, after the Chieftainship was abolished and the British regime, took the reign, commercial exploitation of forests started in accessible areas depleting the rich tropical forest. The traders virtually made inroads into virgin forests. Further the Mizoram (Forest) Act of 1955 framed for Lushai hills allowed petty permits which also resulted in selective removal of valuable trees leaving behind only the trees of miscellaneous and inferior quality.
The state is very rich in wildlife because of its salubrious environment. Many Parks and Sanctuaries here are a home to exorbitant beasts and birds, herbs and shrubs, plants and climbers. Some of the important sanctuaries are Ngengpui Wildlife Sanctuary, Khawnglung Wildlife Sanctuary, Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary, Thorangtlang Wildlife Sanctuary, Phawngpui National Park and Dampa Sanctuary. Animals like Tiger, Clouded leopard, Elephant, Guar, Barking deer, Sambar, Wild boar, Hoolock Gibbon, Rhesus macaque, Leaf monkey, Common langur, Barking deer, etc form the wildlife population in Mizoram. The state is also very rich in exotic flora. Besides the densely thick bamboo forests, it has lavish orchids, and garden of rhododendron of arboretum and veitchianum species. It has more of Epiphytic orchids than the terrestrial orchids.