Meaning Dimasa Hills in the local dialect, Dima Hasao has very rightfully earned the sobriquet of ‘Switzerland of the East’, by virtue of its pristine and tranquil landscape. Whether you travel by road or take the century-old railroad, you will be treated to a misty terrain of undulating hills and luscious fields. The serpentine road with grasslands and hills on both sides, with barely a vehicle passing by, makes it apparent why this lesser known district is a favourite among the people of the Northeast.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Haflong

This picturesque town is the only hill station in Assam. Located at an elevation of 513 m, Haflong could easily be called the abode of the clouds. Still reeling under Colonial influence, this quaint little town overlooks a misty valley below. The drive here might make you believe that it has no seeming connection with the rest of the state. But the fashionable locals sporting t-shirts with their favourite bands and perhaps a Justin Bieber track blasting somewhere in the background will make you realise that it is not so different after all.

Haflong Lake, located at the centre, is the nucleus of the town. A stroll in the small park nearby and over the hanging bridge that is suspended above the lake makes for a very peaceful outing. After exploring the town, a good way to rest your weary legs is to head down to the lake and spend the remainder of the day here. Boating and angling facilities are also available. Like this lake, the Circuit House too, located about a kilometre to the left of the lake, is known for its beauty. Built when the British made Haflong their headquarters, it offers mesmerising views of the valley below and on a good day, you will be able to see the gradually proceeding mist sweeping past your feet. You could also take a trip to an orchard in Haflong. If you land up at the right time, then there will be pineapples and oranges growing in abundance here. Ask around about which orchard you can visit. Bag some fruit and relish its sweetness under the warm sun, intermittently punctured by gentle rain.

Swapan Nayak
Train steaming past thickly wooded hills, Haflong
Train steaming past thickly wooded hills, Haflong

Jatinga

An air of mystery has always surrounded Jatinga, located 9 km from Haflong. Around September thousands of birds arrive here and commit what has been dubbed as ‘mass suicide’. The surreal sight of birds spiralling down from the sky and crashing to the ground with a thud can only be left to one’s imagination. Nothing can prepare you for this unusual phenomenon.

Numerous studies have been conducted to find an answer to this strange occurrence, which affects a range of birds including kingfishers, Indian pitta, pond heron, little egret, tiger bittern and black bittern. These birds only come from the north and are attracted to only a particular strip measuring 1.5 km in length and 200 m in width. Even though nothing really explains this event, renowned ornithologists Salim Ali, S. Sengupta and A. Rauf explained that forceful winds disrupt the roosting birds and in their search for shelter the birds are attracted to sources of light from the villages nearby, where they are shot down by the villagers. The intrusion of villagers might dampen the ambience of mystery Jatinga has always managed to exude. But it still attracts numerous visitors who believe that this phenomenon occurs due to strange and inexplicable reasons.

WHERE TO STAY AND 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, Cell: 09957189229; Tariff: ₹ 4,499), a luxury option near the Haflong Lake. The hotel offers a multi-cuisine restaurant, bar and swimming pool. Hotel Elite (Tel: 237250; Tariff:  ₹ 600-1,100) and Nathao Lodge (Tel: 236112; Tariff: ₹ 600-1,800) are other options. Here meals are arranged 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.

When to go November to March Location Surrounded by lofty mountains, Haflong is located in the southern part of Assam Air Nearest airport: Silchar Rail Nearest rail: Haflong

THE INFORMATION

Meghalaya Tourism Developmen Corporation

Polo Road

Shillong

Tel: 0364- 2222731

Tourist Information Centre

Meghalaya House

9, Aurangzeb Road, New Delhi

Tel: 011-23015605/ 4417

NAGALAND

Directorate of Tourism

Kohima. Tel: 0370- 2243124

W tourismnagaland.com

Deputy Commissioner

Kohima. Tel: 2290355

Resident Commissioner

Nagaland House

New Delhi

Tel: 011-23012296, 23793673

Tip Inner Line Permit required

MANIPUR

Directorate of Tourism

Imphal. Tel: 0385-2421794

W tourismmanipur.gov.in

Tourist Information Centre

Manipur Bhavan

2, Sardar Patel Marg

New Delhi

Tel: 011- 26870122, 45750800

W assamtourism.gov.in

ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Tourism Director

Arunachal Pradesh Tourism

Itanagar. Tel: 0360-2006343

W arunachaltourism.com

THE INFORMATION

Resident Commissioner

Arunachal Bhawan

Kautilya Marg, New Delhi

Tel: 011-23010867/ 3915

Deputy Resident Commissioner

Govt of Arunachal Pradesh, Kolkata

Tel: 033-23341243

Tip Inner Line Permit required.

Pakke Tiger Reserve

Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary & TR

Seijosa, East Kameng District

Tel: 03778-200016/ 14

PCCF Wildlife Biodiversity & Chief

Wildlife Warden Govt of Arunachal Pradesh

Patumpore District, Itanagar

Tel: 0360-2212501

STD code 03778

MIZORAM

Directorate of Tourism

Govt of Mizoram, Aizawl

Tel: 0389-2333475, 2335677

W tourism.mizoram.gov.in

Resident Commissioner

Mizoram House, Chanakyapuri

New Delhi

Tel: 011-23015446

TRIPURA

Tripura Tourism Devp Corp Ltd

Kunjaban, Agartala

Tel: 0389-2333475, 2335677

W tourism.mizoram.gov.in

Tourism Information Centre

Tripura Bhawan, Chanakyapuri

New Delhi, Tel: 011-23015157/ 0968