If you are looking for a winter holiday option that is peaceful, remote but also picturesque and quaint try these towns and villages nestled in the Eastern Himalayas
The scenic village of Hmuifang, south of Aizawl, is perched atop the Hmuifang mountain. Blessed with gorgeous vistas and unspoilt natural beauty, the village is ideal for picnics, trekking or a simple leisure holiday. The hill range runs from north to south and most of its western side is very steep and presents quite a challenge if visitors are interested in pursuing rock climbing. From here, one may also take a trek to nearby Mizo villages such as the Sumsuih (2km), Chawilung (5km), Thiak (6km), Maubuang (10km), Sateek (20km), Baktawng (30km) and Sialsuk (35km), to witness typical rural life in Mizoram. You could also ask the villagers to arrange for a folk dance performance. Trekkers are advised to contact villagers for guidance. There are many friendly villagers who have started homestays where you can taste local cuisine and get a glimpse of their daily life and culture.
En route to Phawngpui (15km) you can spot the mighty Chhimtuipui river, flowing through the valley, the mountain ranges in Myanmar, and breathe in pine-scented air since the route is flanked by pine-laden grassy slopes. Bright seasonal flowers also cover these slopes which are dotted by charming wooden homes. You could stop in between and walk alongside the river as you approach Phawngpui, which lies at an elevation of 2,157m. Phawngpui is also called the Blue Mountain, which is considered the abode of the gods.
Situated close to the state&rsquos south-eastern border, the Phawngpui Blue Mountain National Park was established in 1992. The park is geographically located in the Lawngtlai District, towards the southeast of Mizoram. It offers enthralling views of the surrounding hills. The park&rsquos floral combination includes several species orchids, rhododendrons and bamboos.
Animals such as the mountain goat, tiger, leopard, leopard cat, serow, goral, Asiatic black bear, stump-tailed macaque and capped langur also inhabit the park. Forest biologists spotted and documented the presence of the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) here for the first time in 1997.
Birdwatchers will find a treasure trove of avian life here. The variety of birdlife in this park include Blyth&rsquos tragopan, falcon, sunbirds, darkrumped swift and Mrs. Hume's pheasant, Mizoram&rsquos state bird.
For a taste of Mizo rural lifestyle, one could trek or take a ride to Sangau village, the closest settlement before reaching Phawngpui. During the course of the trek, one might be lucky enough to sight the goral, serow, sambar, leopard, hoolock gibbon, common langur or hear the call of barking deer.
Lunglei, Mizoram&rsquos second largest town and the headquarters of Lunglei District in southern Mizoram, is an excellent place to visit if you want to see the picturesque interiors of this far-flung state. The landscape here looks right out of a fairytale. At an elevation of 1,222m and higher than Aizawl, Lunglei is an ideal base for nature lovers who want to explore the surrounding areas that are rich in flora and fauna, hamlets and landmarks linked with myths and local legends. It is said that an engraved image of Buddha found near Mualcheng village, about 50km from the town, remains an enigma till date since no other Buddhist relic has been found elsewhere in the state.
Some of the places to visit in Lunglei are Serkawn, Theiriat Tlang, Nghasih stream, Lunglei &ndash the stone bridge after which the city is named &ndash and Kawmzawl. To Lunglei&rsquos west, at Demmagiri, awaits the ethereal valley of the River Karbafuli.
Then there&rsquos the town of Saiha &ndash a day&rsquos journey from Lunglei, which culminates in a ferry-crossing at the Chhimptuipuri river. About 45km further is Palak Dil or Palak lake, one of the largest natural lakes in the state. Covering an area of 1sq km, the lake is famed for its large number of wild duck and crab. Oval in shape, it is home to most of the common wetland birds and hill birds, and is believed to be a winter stop-over for migrating pintail ducks.
The lake is said to be the home of a serpent that wears a ruby crown. But even if you never get to see this mythical creature, there is always the tiger, bear, deer and wild pig in the surrounding forests. Though a road connects Palak Lake from Phura, care has been taken to maintain and preserve the area in its pristine state. For those who would like to travel into the interiors, Youth Hostels Association of India, Mizoram conducts trekking and caving expeditions every year in the month of November.
Saikuti Hall is another interesting place. This is where most of the concerts and celebrations of this town are held. A unique museum has also been established in the hall where local painters demonstrate their skill and exhibit their works.
Champhai District is small, yet magically beautiful with its pristine valleys resplendent in a carpet of rhododendrons and well-maintained vineyards, passion-fruit orchards and kiwifruit plantations around the settlements soaring over smaller hills. Its picturesque hills turn greener as one heads higher, towards the Myanmar border.
With River Taui flowing nearby and the fabulous view the rolling Letha mountain ranges present, Champhai promises stunning views of the hills in Myanmar &ndash reason why it is called the most attractive place in the state. The untouched beauty of this place makes it a great destination for a perfect summer getaway. Saitual town, located on the road to Champhai serves as a good stopover, though Champhai itself is a good base for trekking and camping especially during spring.
Champhai is 27km from Zokhawthar, the border township through which the Indo-Myanmar trade is conducted. Hence, shopping can be a rewarding experience here. The Murlen National Park, known for hoolock gibbon, is also nearby. The Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary near Murlen National Park abounds in flora and fauna and one can spot tiger, leopard, sambar, goral and serow here.
Five kilometres away from Champhai is the Ruantlang village where glimpses of the ancestral way of life of the Mizos can still be seen. Close by is the Rih Dil lake (situated in Myanmar), which is closely associated to Mizo culture. The many myths about this lake have been a source of inspiration for several Mizo writers and music composers.
Visit Hnahlan, a small village in Champhai District, which is famous for its production of grapes and grape wine called Zawlaidi (meaning the love potion). About 80 per cent of the families at Hnahlan are grape growers, and cultivations here are done under the aegis of Hnahlan Grape Growers Society.
For the adventurous tourists, caving can be done at Tluangtea Puk, located near Kawlkulh village in Champhai District. This is the second longest cave in Mizoram with a length of 119m, and its vertical range is 19m deep. The cave site can be reached by driving for a few minutes along the road towards Pawlrang and also by trekking for about 12 long hours on various overgrown footpaths and faint jungle trails. However, the cave is most likely to be accessible only in the dry season as there is great chance of it being filled during the rainy season.