Lunglei is a hill district and the second most populated of the seven districts of Mizoram. The district headquarters of Lunglei lies in the town with the same name. Lunglei means a ‘Bridge of rocks’. It was named after an actual bridge of rock found in the riverine area surrounding the Nghasih river, which is a tributary of the longest river in Mizoram, the Tlawng. Although it is still developing, it has an impressive literacy rate of 88.86%, much higher than the national average.
Lunglei may not be as popular as some of the other tourist places of the North-East, but it is an upcoming tourist destination that you should visit. You will surely be mesmerized by this quaint and beautiful place and will find a lot to explore. Further, it is a treat for nature lovers and is filled with rich vegetation and wildlife, beautiful towns and villages and enriching culture. So, without further ado, let us dive right into Lunglei and know a bit more about this wonderful place.
In the pre-Independence era, Lunglei (then known as Lungleh) was an important commercial and educational centre of the North-East and had direct trade connections with Chittagong (now in Bangladesh). Also, Captain J. Shakespear of the British army led the Lushai Military Expedition with 3 officers and 250 soldiers in March 1889 from Chittagong to Lunglei. They built a fort here, called ‘Fort Lungleh’, thereby placing Lunglei under the control of the British Raj. Lunglei was also the capital of the South Lushai Hills district from 1888. But in 1898 the north and south Lushai hills district were joined into one district called Lushai Hills district and placed under Assam, while a subdivisional officer was posted as the administrative head of the district in Lunglei.
Lunglei district is one of the 7 districts of Mizoram, with its headquarters at the Lunglei town, the second-largest town in Mizoram after Aizawl. The Lunglei district covers a total area of 4538 square km. This district also shares its borders with two countries, Bangladesh on the west and Myanmar on the east.
How to reach Lunglei?
The nearest airport to Lunglei is the Lengpui airport, but it is at a distance of 193km from the district headquarter. The Lengpui airport has flights from cities like Imphal, Agartala, Guwahati and Kolkata. There is also a helicopter service by Pawan Hans between Lunglei and Aizawl.
There is no railhead in Mizoram. So the nearest railway station to Lunglei is at Silchar, Assam.
Lunglei is well connected by road to other parts of Mizoram. Roads are the major mode of transportation here. Lunglei is connected to National Highway 54 via Serchhip and Thenzawl. The distance between Lunglei and the capital of Mizoram, Aizawl, is 175 km if you go through Sialsuk and 235 km via Serchhip. The district also has regular bus services (Mizoram State Road Transportation ( MST) bus), cabs, jeeps and private car services to different towns and cities of Mizoram.
When to visit Lunglei?
Lunglei enjoys cool, pleasant weather throughout the year since it is a hill station at an altitude of 1222m. However, the best time to visit will be in the summers or winters, from around November to April. It is best to avoid the months of May to September since it rains very heavily, thereby making it difficult for travelling.
The official languages of Lunglei are Mizo and English. Other languages spoken here also include Bengali (21.63%) and Tripuri (2.94%).
- Hot months/Summer: Average temperature- 20°C to 29°C
- Cold months/Winter: Average temperature- 7°C to 21°C
Lunglei receives an average rainfall of around 350 cm per year
Fairs & Festivals in Lunglei
Although most people in Mizoram, including Lunglei, has embraced Christianity as their religion, they have still maintained their tribal cultural heritage. The different tribes have their customs and celebrations, and the festivals and dances have a unique tribal flavour. However, the main festivals celebrated here are:
The main festival in the religion of Christianity, held on 25th December every year, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.
New Year’s Day
An event celebrating the first day of the year according to the Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar
It is a festival held during the first week of March. It marks the end of the clearing of forests for that year’s cultivation.
Mim Kut is one of the oldest festivals of Mizoram held in memory of the deceased. It is usually celebrated during August or September after the maize is harvested. It involves feasting, drinking, singing and dancing, but without any cheerfulness.
This festival is a post-harvest festival. The festival happens in December for two days.
During these festivals, the local people indulge in some dancing, and the dance forms include Cheraw, Khuallam and Chheih Lam
Accommodation/Stay to prefer
You will find private hotels in and around Lunglei which offers both lodging and fooding options. There are also a few government tourist lodges in and around Lunglei, including, Tourist Lodge in Lunglei town, which has 18 rooms, and meals can also be arranged; a Tourist Lodge in Saiha and a Tourist Lodge in Hrangchalkawn (a village in the Lunglei district).
Places to visit in Lunglei
It is a hall in Lunglei which organises most of the concerts and celebration. The hall also has a museum that showcases the works and skills of the local painters.
Memorial of Chhingpuii
This memorial has been erected in the memory of Chhingpuii, a woman renowned for her beauty. The memorial is around 4 km from Lungpei town. Chhingpuii lost her life during the second civil war between 1877 to 1880. This place is worth a visit because of its natural beauty and architecture. Many people also visit this place to pay tribute to Chhingpuii.
It is a big monolith in Ngharchhip, Lunglei District, near the Myanmar border. The monolith is around 8.5ft in height and 11 ft in girth and is filled with intricate carvings of animal heads, humans with weapons and gongs. A Chinzah chief erected this around the 1800s as an expression of them missing their fellow clansmen since they were driven apart due to a severe famine that affected their previous village of Dawn
This is a memorial stone present in the village of Tlabung, Lunglei District, right next to the Bangladesh border. The memorial was erected in the memory of British Captain T.H. Lewin, whom the local people fondly called Thangliana. It means ‘Man of Great Fame’. Captain Lewin signed a peace treaty with the then Mizo chief, Rothangpuia of the Thangluah clan, and mingled well with the local people. He even married a Mizo girl while in Tlabung and wrote some books about the Mizo people.
Lung Milem, which means ‘Stone Figures’, are three mystery figurines of persons in Buddhist meditational poses. It is present on a rocky portion of the south part of Tawikhawthlir hill, near Mualcheng village, 65 km from Lunglei. The knowledge of the origin of these figurines are not yet known, and it is a mystery since no other Buddhist relics has been found in Mizoram to date.
Bungalow of pioneer missionaries
These two bungalows were constructed by the two pioneer missionaries Rev F.W. Savidge and J.H. Lorrain, who arrived in Mizoram in 1894 and after some travelling in the neighbouring areas and states, settled at Serkawn, Lunglei. J.H. Lorrain’s Bungalow is reserved for the BCM General Secretary and Rev F.W. Savidge’s Bungalow is reserved for AGS i/c Mission. The Christian missionaries helped in educating the local people and popularise the religion of Christianity among them. These bungalows are thus a place of religious importance for Christians.
Kristian Hmasate Thlanmual
This is a Christian cemetery located at Theriat, a village near Lunglei. Even before the works of Rev. R.A. Lorrain and Rev. F.W. Savidge in Lunglei, a Khasi Officer named Sehan Roy had converted some Mizo labourers and around 40 families to Christianity. They were harassed and ostracised, and hence the new converts came together and set up a Christian village in Theiriat. Later, when the pioneer missionaries arrived, the villagers approached them for help and education. It is the gravestones of these early villagers of Theiriat which lies in the cemetery. These gravestones have quotations from the Bible and beautiful inscriptions in English.
Darkhuang Tlang, literally meaning the “Gong Mountain”, is in the village of Pukpui village, 7 km from Lunglei. Legend has it that Darphawka, a Mizo prophet in the late 19th century, used to connect and converse with spirits here. The spirits are even thought to have shown him the arrival of the Christian missionaries, years before the locals knew anything about Christianity. This hills thus has a prayer house on the peak for the visitors.
Khawnglung Wildlife Sanctuary
Khawnglung is a wildlife sanctuary situated on the Khawnglung mountains, near Pangzawl in the Aizawl – Lunglei road. The sanctuary covers an area of around 35 square km and has a rich diversity of flora and fauna, like primates and birds.
It is a village within the Lunglei district and is only 1km from the Lunglei town. It is a smooth, green hillock with the rich vegetation of grasslands, fir and banyan and a serene view.
How can you miss visiting the stone bridge after which the district is named! It is in the riverine area around the Nghasih stream.
It is a beautiful hill in Lunglei which gives you the entire panoramic view of the Lunglei town from the top, except the west side.
It is a natural landmark composed of rock and hard soil in the vicinity of Rualalung village, 91 km from Lunglei. Lungding means “a stone that stands upright”, and is quite a fascinating structure, with 60 ft in height, 120 ft in girth at the base and tapers to a small flat top. The surface of the rock being covered with shrubs and climbers, you can climb to the top of the stone.
It is the highest mountain peak in Mizoram at an elevation of 2157m above sea level. It also covered with numerous orchids and rhododendrons.
The Saza Wildlife Sanctuary
It is a famous wildlife sanctuary under the Lunglei District, spread over 15 square km. The sanctuary has diverse fauna like the barking deer, leopard, and a large variety of birds. Lush green hills surround the sanctuary, making it a perfect place to visit for both wildlife and nature lovers.
Some other places to visit
Zobawk Sports Academy, Dampa Tiger reserve (the largest wildlife sanctuary in Mizoram), Murlen National Park, Vantawng Falls, Thorangtal wildlife sanctuary, Palak Dil, Tam Dil, Thuamluaia Mual ( the second football stadium in Mizoram with artificial turf), Demmagiri (a beautiful valley of the River Karbafuli), Phunhnawma Lungpui (a large rock which offers an excellent panoramic view of the hill ranges of western Myanmar).
Cuisines to taste in Lunglei
Mizoram is famous for its unique food and has some great cuisines you must taste. The dishes are simple, but has a great flavour and blend of fresh herbs. Rice is the staple food here. Although you will be getting both vegetarian and non-vegetarian common Indian food options in Lunglei, you should dive into some authentic Mizo foods while you are there. Some dishes include Vawksa Rep (smoked pork dish), Bai (steamed vegetables with spinach and bamboo shoot, and pork; vegetarian option also available), Bamboo shoot fry, Chhum Han (a vegetarian dish made with mixed steam vegetables), Koat Pitha (deep-fried fritters along with banana and rice flour) and Mish Mash Poora (shrimps, coriander, onions, peppercorn and lime juice).
Things to do in Lunglei
Other than the variety of tourist places for you to visit, Lunglei offers a plethora of activities you can do while you are here. Lunglei is the perfect place for those who just want to have a relaxing holiday among the lovely hills and mild weather. For the adventure junkies, Lunglei offers a lot of picnic spots, adventure sports and trekking options to explore. Also, the Youth Hostels Association of India in Mizoram organises caving and trekking in the surrounding hills in November. Other than these, do not forget to savour some Mizo delicacies and indulge in their rich cultural tradition while you are here.
Souvenirs to buy in Lunglei
The district of Lunglei has many cottage industries that make handlooms, bamboo and cane carvings and artefacts, furniture and woven textiles. Hence, you can visit the local markets and buy some of these products with the unique artistry of the local artisans.