Assam acquired its sobriquet ‘Land of Blue Hills’ from Haflong, which is located in Dima Hasao district. This pretty town is tucked between the hills of southern Assam, which are primarily inhabited by the tribes of Dimasa, Jeme-Naga, Hmar, Kuki, Biate, Hrangkhol, Khelma, Jaintia, Karbi and Vaiphei. Here you will find blue hills, scenic rivers and rumbling waterfalls, and best of all, it is still relatively undiscovered. Haflong’s people are friendly, and happily tend to their orange orchards and pineapple gardens.

Swapan Nayak
A pineapple seller on his way to the local market
A pineapple seller on his way to the local market

Things to See & Do

The advantage of being off the beaten path is that the drive into Haflong is a quiet one, which gives you the chance to enjoy the scenery– hills rise up on one side while the other side drops into a valley. The town is small enough to be discovered on foot. Walk through the narrow alleys leading to the little villages guarded by the bamboo canopy or follow the orchid trails without worrying about getting lost. There are numerous small treks here and one can also try paragliding. And if you are a birding enthusiast, then this place might just prove to be a treasure trove. The town sits around Haflong Lake. Chances are you will be staying right next to it, in which case, the first thing you’ll see every morning when you wake up, and the last every night before you go to sleep, is the lake. The sweeping views of the valley from the Circuit House, which sits on top of a hill, will leave you breathless and wishing that you could see such beauty everyday. Here, the clouds hang low and surround you in a gentle mist. If you time your visit to Haflong well, the orchards will be ripe with fruit. Orange, pineapple and ginger are produced in huge quantities here. Ask around about which orchard you can visit. Explore an orchard, eat the fruit, and then relax on the sweet-smelling grass under the mellow warmth of a pale sun.

Haflong Lake

This picturesque lake will almost make you feel like you’re in the gorgeous Lake District in England. One of the largest water bodies in Assam, Haflong Lake is great for boating and there are watersports on offer as well. If you’re not excited by the prospect of physical activity, then simply take a relaxing stroll along the lake’s periphery. The hanging bridge, which stretches across the waters, is the perfect spot for a photograph.

Where to Stay & Eat

Haflong has the best accommodation options in Dima Hasao and it is wise to visit the surrounding places from here. You can stay at Hotel Landmark (Tel: 03673-239009; Tariff: 2,500–4,500), a luxury option located near Haflong Lake. The hotel offers a good multicuisine restaurant and a bar. Hotel Elite (Tel: 237250; Tariff: 900– 1,320) and Nathao Lodge (Tel: 236112; Tariff: 1,000–2,500) are other options. Meals are arranged here on request.

A few small restaurants near the main market will serve you a confusing meal of chowmein, chicken curry, rice and roti. Be a little adventurous and ask around for places to try local cuisine.

Swapan Nayak
Mist-shrouded hills and lush greenery are synonymous with Jatinga
Mist-shrouded hills and lush greenery are synonymous with Jatinga

Around Haflong

Jatinga (10km)

Jatinga is a short drive south of Haflong and is famous – or rather infamous – for the mysterious bird suicides that happen at this village. Like a story out of a horror novel, on a moonless monsoon night, when the air is heavy with mist and fog, the bizarre phenomenon of this place commences. From the higher perches, with their wings closed, birds jump towards the tiniest sliver of light. Some hit the ground or a tree with a thud, while others fall prey to the bamboo poles and catapults of the local villagers. Various studies have revealed that at least 44 species of birds are attracted towards light within a particular stretch of the forest of Jatinga. Researchers attribute this phenomenon to various reasons, from the peculiar weather of this season to the breeding habits of these birds. Whatever it is, it does evoke a sense of mystery, and nature enthusiasts and tourists alike flock to this place to witness these ‘suicides’. On a lighter note, Jatinga is also an outstanding place for orchid lovers. There is also a Bird Watching Centre here where accommodation can be provided on prior intimation.

Thuruk (38km)

Thuruk is the only place in the district of Dima Hasao to witness snowfall in winter. It is a must-visit and a trekker’s paradise. This village is very well known for the hospitality of its villagers.

Alamy / Indiapicture
Picturesque landscape of Maibang Valley
Picturesque landscape of Maibang Valley

Maibang (50km)

About 50km away from Haflong, on the banks of the River Mahur, lies the ancient town of Maibang. It was once the capital of Dimacha Kingdom of the Kachari rulers (16th–18th century).

Maibang is now one of the regional headquarters of the Dima Hasao District.

Maibang is blessed with a picturesque landscape, ornamented with the ruins and monuments of its erstwhile rulers.

Its most famous attraction is the Ramchandi Temple. This two-roofed monolithic temple is a marvellous architectural wonder, having been chiselled out of a single rock. It bears inscriptions dating back to 1761 CE.

Umrangso Valley (110km)

The undulating Umrangso Valley falls between Shillong and Haflong. About 110km from Haflong, Umrangso’s beauty can rival any village in Europe. There is a hot water spring in the River Kopili, believed to have curative powers. The Kopili Tea Estate is also a great place to visit. The beauty of this place warrants a stopover of a day or two. There are a few accommodation options here including the NEEPCO Guest House, PWD Guest House and DC’s Inspection Bungalow. The cement factories here also own a few guesthouses.

Panimoor (120km)

Lying at a distance of 120km from Haflong, Panimoor’s main attraction is the surging waterfall formed by the River Kopili. It is also a sacred site of the Dimasa tribe. Every year during the winter, on the day of Magh Purnima, people of the Dimasa tribe take holy baths in the river.