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Sunday, 27 December 2015

 

From Aizawl, a 35-km drive through lush green mountain-side leads to a not-to-be-missed tourist destination…Reiek Hill. And that’s where I’m headed for this Sunday morning at 9:15am in a hired Santro which costs me 2000 rupees. Only taxis and private vehicles are available for the one and a half hour journey to Reiek.

After ten minutes’ drive, I catch a faraway glimpse of this mystic mountain. It’s the one in the centre surrounded by hills and valleys…

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Mizoram’s most popular festival and successful tourism promotion venture, the Anthurium Festival is held every year at the tourist resort in Reiek Village at the foothills of this mountain. The festival is a three-day colourful extravaganza showcasing Mizo culture and traditions during the peak season of the beautiful and exotic Anthurium blossom in September. However this year, as the driver tells me, the festival was held somewhere near Lengpui airport.

Twenty minutes further, we stop at the bridge over Tlawng River. This river, one of the longest in the state, supplies water to Aizawl. The pumping station is nearby.

The gushing water of Tlawng River…

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Watch my video: Tlawng River near Aizawl

The road bridge over the river…

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The narrow mountain road climbs up the hills again, offering picturesque views of the surroundings.

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Everything around is quiet and peaceful. No vehicles on the road. And no activity except for a few migrant labourers doing road work, and a few bird-hunting with slingshots. But no locals. It being Sunday, everybody is blissfully relaxing at home.

The narrow road to Zopar, which is where the Anthurium Plantations are located, is in a bad shape. Anyway, the flower season is over.

Some time later, we reach Reiek village. It looks deserted. A little above is the Reik Tourist Resort. Having read about a model Mizo village called Zo Khua in its vicinity, I had thought about giving it a look. But it’s not to be found. Surprising. And this is Christmas time. A little further, we find this…

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And there only two Mizo huts. The rest are under construction, says one of the migrant labourers, busy chopping wood.

From here, the rough road continues ahead…

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Driver says it’s a motorable road, but I doubt it. The small Santro jumps up and down the rocky path. A flat tire is the last thing I want in this deserted place. He parks it in a corner and we proceed on foot. I would have liked to be alone but the fellow says that it’s a tricky path. Besides, all the sign boards that I have seen till now were in Mizo language.

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It’s a thickly forested area, but eerily quiet. Not a single bird sound to be heard. Perhaps, they are resting. Whatever, it’s a delightful walk through the forest…

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Watch my video: A forest walk on the way to Reiek Peak

Fifteen minutes later, we reach this cave entrance where the sun’s rays beam through the trees…

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Watch my video: Cave on the way to Reiek Hill

Yours truly basking in the rays of sunshine…

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Against the backdrop of the cave…

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There are plenty of caves in this hilly region with well-preserved natural forest cover. Ten minutes further, a path opens out of the forest offering picture perfect views…

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The strong wind makes the golden grasses dance to its tune. Right next to me stands a memorial for a school boy who fell off this cliff a few years ago. There is a short cut through steps built along the edge of the hill.

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Watch my video: View on the way to Reiek Peak – I

Watch my video: View on the way to Reiek – II

But it’s risky in gusty winds. So I retrace my steps into the forest. A few minutes later, we are out in the open walking over the golden grasses swaying in the strong breeze. Behind me, whatever lies faraway in the horizon is covered in mist…

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The viewing tower is right ahead…

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Twenty minutes ago, I was enjoying my first glimpse of the scenic landscape from somewhere above this prominent rocky cliff…

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Watch my video: At Reiek Hill

Driver tells me that a picture of this rocky cliff is displayed at the airport. The entire landscape doesn’t fit in the frame, so I take the rest in another photo. The steep rocky cliff with golden grass on one side and lush green hills and valleys extending beyond…

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And then, we are right on top of the peak where this large rock juts out from the precipice…

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It’s the sunset point. Perhaps it’s been here since the time of the Mizo warriors. Or maybe much older. There are quite a number of legends and folklores associated with Reiek Hill, which is considered sacred to the Mizos. Ancient legends are interesting. And the rock, it talks about someone in ancient times who would sit on it facing the sunset, remembering the departed loved one.

The wind is blowing crazily, but I manage to crawl over the large rock. And a few minutes later, I slide down.

Yours truly on top of Reiek Peak…

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At an elevation of 1548 metres, Reiek Tlang (Tlang is “Hill” in Mizo language) offers a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and valleys, including Aizawl. But due to mist, the visibility is poor. Not that I’m disappointed. Instead, I’m awed by the beautiful views.

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Watch my video: View from Reiek Peak

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Existing since ancient times, the luxuriant forests surrounding the mountain have remained intact till today. It feels nice to be the only one on top of the mountain. I imagine the powerful Mizo warriors in tribal gear standing on this same spot, looking around just like me. Gee, how thrilling…

I venture close to the edge for a few pictures of the scene below.

Watch my video: Peering over the edge of Reiek Peak

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Yours truly at the viewpoint indicator…

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The viewing tower…

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Watch my video: From the viewing tower on Reiek Peak

Yours truly atop the tower, against the backdrop of the prominent rocky cliff…

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Soon, there are new arrivals…locals carrying food baskets and water bottles. Well, this is the most idyllic picnic spot in the lap of Mother Nature. Breathtakingly beautiful views, pure, pristine air and lots more… It is 12:15pm. The sun is directly overhead and there is no other shelter except for the viewing tower. That’s where they camp.

On the way back, a few more friendly locals pass us by, followed by a young white couple. Surprising, because Aizawl doesn’t attract foreign tourists. The guy with his tiny tot sitting atop his shoulders sees me crawling towards the edge for a picture against the backdrop of the prominent rock face and warns me to be careful. I think he’s gone, but no…he’s standing right there, keeping an eye on me till I move away from the edge. So sweet!

Yours truly against the backdrop of the prominent rock face…

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And then, it’s back to climbing down the hill and into the forest…

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The forest is now filled with the sounds of birds. Late risers! I’m glad I started early in the morning. Perhaps I should have started out a bit earlier around 8:00am. Mid-day isn’t the right time for panoramic views. It’s 1:00pm already. A large group of male tourists is on its way. They aren’t accompanied by a local, so one of them asks me for the distance to the top…and whether it’s good up there.

Good? It’s simply fabulous up there!!!

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