DIMA HASAO DISTRICT
Anyone who happens to make a trip across the tiny picturesque district of Dima Hasao through the cliffs and curvatures, raptilic paths, rails with innumerable dark tunnels, is bound to feel the thrills of quiet and serene beauty that pervades all around. The changing panorama of a misty heaths and vast expanse of deep green valleys instantly capture the imagination and extends a hearty, welcome to the nature’s bosom. Whistling currents of wind bouncing on the fog-whisper, as if `the hills are calling`. It keeps on casting a captivating spell as it gradually begins to unfold its exquisite charm. Such is the lure of the hills.
The story of the Dima Hasao District presents a very chequered history. As it were, the district passed through periods of stress and strain before it acquired the present socio-political identity.
Before the British occupation, the Dima Hasao district was a part of Dimasa Kingdom that extended at the time upto the whole area of Cachar District, the present Karbi Anglong District, a major portion of Nagaon District and parts of Nagaland including Dimapur right upto Nichu Guard on Dimapur-Kohima Road. The Dimasa Kings had their capitals at Dimapur (Nagaland), Maibang (Dima Hasao), Khaspur and lastly at Haritakhar now in Cachar District.
The Kingdom was annexed to the British Empire under the Doctrine of Lapse on the 15th August,1832 after the assassination of last king Maharaja Govinda Chandra Narayan in 1830 AD.
Of course, even after the death of last Dimasa king the territory North of Barail Hills was ruled by the last Dimasa General named Tularam. His sovereignty over the territory was also acknowledged by the Britishers. But with his death in 1854 AD, succession to this Kingdom by his son was denied and the entire territory was annexed to Nagaon District. Later on the portion now occupied by the Dima Hasao District was attached to newly created Naga Hills district. In early eighties of the last century an administrative Unit with its headquarters at Asalu was established. Shortly after that Dima Hasao was separated from Naga Hills and tagged to District of Cachar as its Sub Division. In 1880 AD the Sub Divisional Headquarters was established at Gunjung. And finally in 1895 AD the Sub Divisional Headquarters was again shifted to Haflong. Since then it remained as Headquarters.
Since its amalgamation with District of Cachar, Dima Hasao was a Sub Division of that District and was administered as an Excluded Area till India attained independence in 1947. This is how the name of the district came to be known as Dima Hasao. Later, in 1951, it was amalgamated with Mikir Hills (Present Karbi Anglong District) and formed a separate Civil District of United Mikir and Dima Hasao. Dima Hasao remained as a Sub Division of that district until February 2, 1970 on which date it attained its present status as a full-flagged Civil District.
The Dima Hasao District is an Autonomous District constituted under the provision of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. On the 29th April,1952, the District Council, as an autonomous body came into being which marked a new era in the history of Dima Hasao. Initially the District Council got on the saddle of autonomy with 12 elected members, 4 nominated members and a Secretary; with the provision of Chief Executive Member and its 2 Executive Members. The Sub- Divisional Officer (Civil), Dima Hasao Sub Division occupied as Ex- Officio Chairman of the Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council at that time for 6 years as per provision of Assam Autonomous Districts (Constitution of Districts Council) Rules 1951.
Since then it went through a process of tremendous expansion in both in its structure and content. During the Second District Council 1957-1962 and the third District Council 1962-1968, many shapes of administrative set up to the machineries of Council establishment have been moulded by creating different departments in the Counci9l, such as PWD, Forest, Primary education, Planning & development ( now Rural Development ), Market, Transport & Workshop etc. ; though Revenue, judicial, Legislative department were initially started during the first District Council as envisaged under Paragraph 3 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
In the Fourth District Council, 1968-1973, the strength of public representatives to the Council was increased to from 16 to 24 including 4 nominated members. And one more seat of Executive Member was also sanctioned. Thus, the total number of the Council had been raised to 4 in 1970.
Again, during the Fifth District Council1974 – 1980, the Provision of Rule 19 (1) of the Assam Autonomous Districts (Constitution of Districts Council) Rules 1951 was amended and increased the seat of Executive Members in the Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council from 4 to 7.
In the Sixth District Council 1980-1987, the strength of the Council was further enhanced from 24 to 27 members including 4 nominations in the Council.
The Seventh District Council 1987-1996 was termed as the longest District Council life, which lasted for almost 9 years. Within that period, the Provision of Rule 19 (1) of the Assam Autonomous Districts (Constitution of Districts Council) Rules 1951 was again amended; and increased the post of Executive Member from 7 to 9.
The term of the Eight District Council was from 1996-2001. One of the great landmark achievements of the Council was major entrustment of Government Departments to the Council, which was a long standing demand of the Council. Now under Para 6(2) of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India altogether 30 development Departments are placed under the direct control of the Dima Hasao Autonomous Council. The most fortunate Council amongst the terms of above Councils so far was the Ninth Autonomous Council, 2001, whose life began from 21-12-2001 with formation of Executive Committee in January, 2002. As soon as they entered the Council they were welcomed and embraced by the Golden Jubilee of Dima Hasao Autonomous Council on 29th April, 2002. It has now on its fold 23 elected and 4 nominated members with the provision of Chief Executive Member and 12 Executive Members.
The Dima Hasao Autonomous Council may be described as a “State in miniature” having all the paraphernalia of a Govt. like Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. It has full autonomy to legislate and administer the subjects like land, revenue, primary education, customary laws etc. assigned to it under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
The Deputy Commissioner who on the other hand runs the Civil Administration including the law and order is the head of the District.
The formations are made up of metamorphic rocks with a fringe of cretaceous and tertiary deposits. In the Northern part of the district, the Pre-Cambrian Shillong groups of rocks over lies the Archaeans formations. The tertiary sediments resting over the weathered platforms of the Archeaeans comprise successively the jaintia group and Disang group of the tertiary sequence and the over lying Borail, Surma and Tipam groups of upper tertiary sequence. The Jaintia group is met with in the Garampani area in the western flank of the district. The Sylhlet sandstone in the Garampani area is in thick beds with inter stratified shale, carbonaceous shale and thin coal seams. The overlying Shillong limestone in Garampani area is also thick and consists of thick foraminiferal limestone with minor shale and mearl bands. The Disang group is restricted to a narrow strip near Haflong in the central part. The geosynclinals faces of the overlying Barail group successively include the Laisong, Jenam and Ranji formations that are exposed in two different strips in the Southeastern and Northern parts of the district
The Surma (Lower Miocene) group covering the large area of Dima Hasao uncomfortably overlies the eastern part of the district from vicinity of Haflong north eastward up to the Northeastern boundary. The Surma series is poor in carbonaceous matter in contrast to the coal bearing Barails below and lignite bearing Tipam above. In general, topography is a confused mass of rugged hills and valleys and owes its origin to the harder conglomerates of Surma and Borail series. The generalized succession of tertiary works is as follows-
Geological formation in the district:
Soil in the north part is sandy loam and gradually becomes latertic towards the south. The upper slopes have coarse and gritty soil, which shallow in depth. Middle and lower slopes have alluvial soil. The red forests soils are deep and fertile and slightly acidic with PH ranging between 6 and 7. Though the main features of soil and rocks have been described above, there are local variations depending on micro climatic factors.
The district can be divided into three distinct Zones South to North. The Southern face of Borail Range receives considerable high precipitation. The northern face falls in the rain shadow of the Range and consequently precipitation is much lower. The northern part of the district around Langting is one of the driest and hottest parts of Assam. The central part has a cool and equable climate. Cyclonic disturbances and storms occur frequently in Surma valley but seldom visit Dima Hasao district. This is due to shielding effect of Borail Range. Thunderstorm is quite frequent during summer months. Mist and fog occur the winter months. Frost is unknown, even in depression. Light to moderate winds blow from North or northeast, expect during monsoon when the wind blows from southwest.
Winter starts from middle of the November. Both day and night temperature starts falling. The mean maximum and minimum temperature are 25.9’C and 17.5’ C respectively at Haflong January is the coolest month with maximum and minimum temperature being 20.7’ C and 10.7’ C respectively. The lowest temperature recorded at Haflong is 5.4’ C. The summer starts from March onwards and day and night temperature rising. The average temperature in summer month is 27. 7’ C, with highest recorded 34. 7’ C. August and September are the hottest month of the year.
The typical sub-tropical monsoon climate prevalent in the area is characterized by the excessive moisture content of air throughout the year. The area receive pre monsoon shower during April, which is accompanied by thunder storms and hail force winds. This spell of pre monsoon shower is followed by a brief dry days and monsoon starts from the end of May or beginning of June. The amount of the rainfall is highest in the month of July and August. Southernmost part of the district gets the highest rainfall in the district. Rainfall and the number of rainy days decrease from south to north. Average rainfall and average number of rainy days in different parts of the district are:
Rainfall pattern in Dima Hasao
The mean annual relative humidity is 34.25% and 77.75% in the morning and afternoon respectively. During monsoon the relative humidity is about 80% and above; and between February and April relative humidity in the afternoon is about 60%.
Nature has endowed the hill tracts of the district with flora and fauna of great variety. The evergreen, semi-evergreen and deciduous forests growing in harmony with a host of other herds, shrubs, climbers and grasses which impart unique vegetative features to this region. Some of the plant species are frizzed commercially; some have aesthetic value, while other are used for making dwelling huts by local people. Many plants have been used for generations in either curing ailments, as species in curries, in making local brew, in colouring clothes or in religious ceremonies.
Favorable climate conditions, rainfall, temperature, humidity, topography have helped the tropical vegetation to grow luxuriantly in the area. The characteristic vegetation of the area consists of tree species of evergreen. Though a large part of the area is covered with vegetation, only a small fraction of it has constituted into Reserved Forests of proposed Reserve Forest (16%) still vast tract remains as Unclassed State Forest cover N.C.Hills district is 87% (State of Forest Report 2003-FSI) Depending upon the pre-dominant species, the natural forest of the Dima Hasao, fall under the following category of subtypes-
1. Cachar Tropical evergreen Forests (IB/C3)
2. Cachar Tropical semi-evergreen Forest (2B/C3)
3. Northern Tropical, Sub-tropical Broad leaved Hill Forest
4. Tropical Moist Mixed Deciduous Forests- 8B
(Ghogra, Oak Type)
5. Cane Brakes
6. Secondary Moist Bamboo Brakes (2B/C a)
Cachar Tropical evergreen Forests type is generally found on the lower slopes of the northern and eastern aspects. The Forest are largely composed of evergreen species. Cachar tropical semi-evergreen occur in hill tops, ridges and the upper slopes and in the forest areas affected by Jhum in the past. The forests have both evergreen and deciduous species. Northern Sub-tropical Broad leaved Hills Forests, originally forest cover of Board leaved evergreen species have mostly been cleared and altered by repeated felling, burning and Jhum cultivation. These are now considerable areas of open grasslands with scattered trees. In some patches almost pine, oak forests and found along with schism wallichii species.
The tree growths in these Forests are three different storeys, though they look monolithic from distant. The top consists of species like Artocarpus Chaplasa (Cham) Michelia Champaca (Titasopa), Mansonia depikae (Badam), Schima wallichii (Makrisal), Phoebe goalparensist (Bonsum), Adina cordifloa (Galdu), Gmelina arborea (Gamari), Duabanga species (Khokan) Bhelu (Tetrameles mudiflora), Albezzia procera (Koroi), Terminalia (Bohera etc.), Middle storey consists of trees like Eugenia species (Jam) Callicarpa species (Kum), Emblica officinalis (Amla) Albezzia species (moj), Holarhena antidysentrica
( Dudhuri) etc.
The under storey consists of Eupatorium, Odoratum (Asom Lota),Imperata Cycindrica, Flemingia species, Leea species, Lantana camara , Zizyphus species (Bonbogari), Clerodendron species ( Dhatpat titu ) Litsea species, Phrtninum species (Kaupat) Murraya koenijii (Narsingha), Cnes etc. Besides these, the forests are made impregnable with multitude of tree climbers. Dima Hasao Forests is rich in non-wood Forests products (NWEP). NWEP are Forest products of human consumption, other timber, firewood etc. These products include oil-bearing seeds, leaf edible fruits, bark yielding tannin and dye, bamboos, medicinal plants etc. These products not only meet the commercial requirements but are an important source of employment to people living in and around forest.
The Bamboo forests occurring in the area can be classified as under 2B/la and 2B/251. The first type occurs under tree forest as a secondary storey. The main Bamboo Forests falls under the category of secondary moist bamboo brakes. This type occurs over an extensive area almost as a pure crop, either of Melocanna baccifera (muli) or Oxytenanthera parviflora (hill jati).
Approximately, 307,900 ha out of the total area of 489,000 ha of the district are covered by Bamboo and miscellaneous tree forests. 20 species of bamboo out of 33 species reported from whole of Assam are found in Dima Hasao. Some important species found in the area are-Dendrocalamus amiltonii (kako/pecha) Bambusa tulda (jati)Teinostachyum dulloa( Dalu), Melocanna bacciferra (muli), Oxytenanthera parviflora (Hilljati), Bambusa arundinacea (kata), Pseudostachyum polymorphum (Bajal/Bijullee), Bambusa pallida (Makal0, Oxytenanthera nigrocilliata ( Kalisundi) Gigantochloa macrostachya (Terai) etc. Out of these, Oxytenanthera parviflora, M.bacciferra and D.hamiltonii are found in a vast tract of varying area and topography. Bamboo mostly forms the secondary storey in the forests of Dima Hasao.
The Bamboo Forests Management is done as per three approved Management Plan. The estimated growing stock of Bamboo as per Bamboo Management Plan is approximately 24, 09, 56,000 MT (G). The estimated prescribed annual harvest is 2, 74,774 MT (G).
Bamboo is the most commonly used materials in Dima Hasao and finds multifarious as basic material for low cost housing bamboo hut, bamboo fence, fuel, bridge. It is also used for erosion control structure in many hilly areas, Apart from this, bamboo is also used as utensils, furniture’s, agricultural implements, bows and arrows, decorative items, handicrafts, blinds, rods, ladders, also support for many vegetables. It is also components of many traditional musical instruments and in traditional weaving machine etc.
The major bamboo species found in Dima Hasao can be broadly categorized into commercial and industrial bamboo, depending upon the usage and demand in the market. The commercial bamboo is mainly used for house construction and other handicraft and day-to-day requirement by the local people.
In the Industrial Sector, the Cachar Paper Mill, Panchgram and Nagoan Paper Mill, Jagiroad, two units of Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd. are the major user of the Bamboo of the district. Bamboo is the major source of revenue earning of N.C.Hills Autonomous Council. One of the most serous factors contributing to the destruction for bamboo wealth in the district is the shifting cultivation. Large tract of Bamboo Forests are being cleared for shifting depletion every year. This has resulted in the cultivation of some of the valuable Germ Plasm in natural habitats.
The most interesting phenomenon is the gregarious flowering, when bamboo flowers simultaneously are large tracts at long intervals. Gregarious flowering usually starts from one locality and spreads out in waves covering whole rang of distribution. Last known gregarious flowering of bamboo is this areas occurred during 1957-1961, when all important species eg. Muli, hill jati, pecha etc.were affected. Gregarious flowering Bamboo Muli and Hill jati etc. already started as expected, in 2004 in the hill tracts which will likely to continue for 4 to 5 years. All Bamboo species of Pecha (D.Hamitonii) is dead after gregarious flowering during 2003-2005.
The economic life of the tribal communities living in the rural areas in the district is still closely linked to surrounding forests and its produce. The medicinal plants from forests are an important component of the Minor Forest Produce; otherwise know as Non Timber Forests Produce (NTFP). The district is rich in medicinal plants both reported and reported. They are principal health care resource for majority of rural people. The N.T.F.P. including medicinal plants may play more than a subsidiary role in supplementing household income. Some of the Medicinal tree, herbs and shrubs, which grow naturally in some of our forests have great potential economic value. The demand for medicinal plants is increasing within and outside countries. There is depletion of medicinal plant resource in the district due to over exploitation as well as for practice of Jhum cultivation. The Medicinal Plants are mostly harvested from wild resource i.e. forest land and only a very few of number of species are cultivated. Some of the important Medicinal Plants species found in the district are-Azadirachta indica (neem), Emblica Officinalis(Amla), Terminalia chebula (Hilika) T.belerica (Bohera), T. arjuna (Arjun) Aegle marmilos(Bel) Cinnamomum tamala (Tejpata) Crataeva magna (Sibidokti) Oroxyhum indica (Bhat ghila) Aquilaria,Agallocha (Agar), Taxus. Walliciana etc.Other important herbs & shrubs etc. are-Similax macrophylla (Chopchini), Rowlfia serpentine (Sarpagarila) Aspargus racemosus (Satamul)Homolaen species (Gandhi), Tinospora cordifolia (Hagunilata) Discorea alata (Bonkapahi) alatita(Kath Alu) Acalypha indica (Bishohory), Jatropha curcus (Bongali Ara/Bhotera) Swertia tita (Chirata Tita) etc.
Dima Hasao district which is considered as ‘Nature’s Treasure Trove’ is gifted with lush green hills, valleys, rivers, fresh streams, forest abounding with flora and fauna along with beautiful verities of orchids blooming here and there to add gaiety and colour to the existing landscape making it wonderland. In Dima Hasao there are as many as eighty varieties of orchids, which add colour and gaiety to the existing greenery. The orchids grow on the branches of trees, on rocks and on the ground. On account of their unusual shaped flowers which in most cases very attractive, orchids are very much sought for by Botanist, and plant lovers all over the world. Most of the orchids bloom with the advent of monsoon i.e. during spring season. Some of the important varieties like Vanda Coerulea (Blue venda) flowers during winter, Acrides Odonatum, A.multiferum, Rhyncho stylis retusa bear beautiful inflorescence which know as “Kopow phul” in Assamese. Among various other common orchids of N.C.Hills reference may be made to different species of genus”Dendrobium”-D.Muschatus, D. Pieritic, D.Devonianum are found in this hills range. Besides Dendrobium, there are orchids belonging to the Genus, Cymbidium, Cypripedium, Aerids, Coelogyne and terrestrial orchids like Arundina, bamsifolia, Thuniaalba, Phius etc.
Demands of orchids is universal, therefore if orchids are cultivated and existing one is preserved in forests, it will be a great source of earning including foreign exchange for all time to come.
The Favorable topographical climatic and edaphic conditions have caused forest to grow luxuriantly in Dima Hasao district. The forest in the hill tract is habitat for great variety of wild animals and avifauna, which are representative of wild life of the oriental Zoogeographic realm.
Among the larger forms of mammals’ elephants, wild buffaloes, tiger, leopard, various kinds of deers, sambhar, wild dog, capped languor and other primates deserves special mention. Many of these animals Groups are representative of wild animals typical of the eastern par of sub Himalayan Zoological zone and few of them represent the animals to life in the far east.
In addition to the large animals also found in the area Himalayan Black Bear, sloth bear, many varieties of lesser cats, mountain goats, wild pigs, jackal, many variety of squirrel, including flying squirrel etc. As many as even varieties tortoise have been identified within Hajong Lake in Langting Mupa Reserve Forest.
The avifauna includes many colourful birds living in forests and in swamps. Birds frequently spotted in the area are-Great Himalayan Horn Bill Imperial and great pigeon, Emerald dove, Hill partridges, Jungle flow, Hoope,Pheasants,king fisher, white breast water hen, Heron, Egrets Paradise fly catcher etc.The Forests ate home of variety of reptiles including python, king cobra, monitor lizard, tortoise and host of other snakes and several insects and butterflies.
With increase in population and consequence expansion of shifting cultivation with increasing short period, there has been considerable degradation of these prime wild life habitats. There is an urgent need of creation of protected area for protection of habitat and wildlife in the district.
About 7 Kilometer from Haflong is a place called Jatinga village of the foot hills of Barail Range which is a halting place for many migratory birds. The phenomenon which has attracted Ornithologists world over is suspected suicide committed by birds during the months of September-October. Birds are trapped by “Bird Lighting’’. They are attracted by artificial light on dark moonless night. The phenomenon occurs only when certain climatic conditions are fulfilled i.e. apart from moonless night, the direction of the wind should be South West to North East. Along the valley of Barail there must be thick fog or mist and light drizzling. The Southern wind carting mist, when passes over this place, birds make their appearance in locations which one illuminated. The Birds sighted during the phenomenon at Jatinga are Indian Ruddy, king fisher, Indian pitta, Green pigeon, Black drongo, Grey heron, Spotted dove, Quail etc.
Curiously, most of the doomed birds do not attempt to fly away after they land near the lights. They look dazed and disheveled, perhaps due to the trauma of the whole shocking experience. Such birds fall easy prey to the villagers. Some of the birds hovering around the light sources are brought down by a vigorous swing of the bamboo poles. Catapults are also used to bring down the birds in flight as well as those perching on the trees and bushes near the light sources. However, contrary to the popular belief, birds do not commit suicide. Under circumstances not yet fully explained, these birds get caught in the fog and wind, get disoriented and seek solace of the light sources put out by the villagers. They hit against trees or other objects and get injured in their flight towards the light source. The villagers hit the hovering birds with bamboo poles or catapults to bring them down
Various studies have been conducted to unravel the causes behind this phenomenon. The record maintained show that 44 species have been attracted to the light sources. It has been established that the birds are not attracted to the entire Jatinga Ridge but only to a well-defined strip, 1.5 km long and 200 meters wide. Invariably the birds come in only from the north and attempts at placing the lights on the southern side of the ridge to attract the birds have failed. Another interesting fact has been brought out is that no long distance migratory bird gets attracted to the light traps. The victims are resident birds of the adjacent valleys and hill slopes.
The unusual behaviour of the birds seems to occur due to the peculiar weather conditions at Jatinga. There also appears to be a correlation between the breeding period of the birds and the Jatinga phenomenon. Studies also reveal that the flight of water birds to Jatinga may be attributed to heavy rains and floods and submergence of their natural habitat in the surrounding areas. It has been observed that there was a high congregation of birds at Jatinga during 1988 which happened to be a year of high floods. Renowned ornithologists Dr. Salim Ali, Dr. Sudhin Sengupta, A. Rauf have carried out researches on this subject. However, no single hypothesis comprehensively explains the Jatinga mystery till date. The problem deserves deeper scientific study from various angles.
Economic scenario of Dima Hasao district is not very encouraging. Geographical remoteness coupled with poor communication, as well as infra-structural facilities are the main factors behind the low level of development. However, in spite of the gloomy scenario, prospects of Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry are bright.
Agriculture: Entire rural people of the district are dependent upon Agriculture. A distinctive feature as regards to agricultural practices of the tribal people in the district is jhumming which is the traditional way of their life. This is in fact a shifting process of cultivation in cycles. About 70% of the total cultivated area is jhumming area. This cultivation is done in autumn season either as a single crop or sometimes as mixed crop along with Maize, Zinger, Turmeric, Chillies and Vegetables etc.
Some horticultural crops cultivation, viz. pineapple, orange, papaya and banana occupies a vital role in agricultural economy of the district.
Winter paddy cultivation in flat lands mostly in river valleys is done only in Rabi season. Efforts have been made by the departments of Agriculture, Soil conservation and Irrigation to boost up the agricultural economy by some modern methods. Though economic impact of Jhumming can not be ruled out at present, it has many drawbacks. It turns the hill slopes barren by soil erosion and it is less productive and does not commensurate with time, labour and investment. Keeping this in view some private sector and some public sector undertaking has taken up Coffee and Rubber cultivation in different localities of the district. Some Agro-based industries are being established so that cultivators become interested to new types of cultivation that feed industries.
Farming : Livestock and Poultry occupy an important place in the rural economy. Buffalo, pig etc are the most common livestock animals while hen and duck comprise the poultry birds.
Forestry : The major forest products consists of timber, cane, bamboo etc. Other minor forest products include Agar, Chalmugra etc. Boulders and gravels in the river beds along with stones are also available.
Industry : Cement factories, saw-mills etc. are the private organized sector industries in the district. There are four Cement Plants in this district. Also, NEEPCO has established Kopili Hydel Project at Umrongso which produces sizable quantity of electricity. Apart from these, weaving is also considered to be a household industry in this district. Large areas have been covered by Eri & Mulbarry farm.
Mines and Minerals : The region has rich deposits of important minerals some of which are being commercially exploited while potential of other is yet too be prospected. Limestone and coal in small quantity are found in the neighbourhood of Garampani i.e. from Khorangma to Gorampani which are exploited by Assam Mineral Development Corporation, Guwahati. The main user of the limestone is the cement factories located at Umrongso. Carbonaceous shale is available in Bagha area. Good quality of limestone, low in magnesia and suitable for cement manufacturing is also available. The major rivers like Kopili, Jatinga, Diyung and Langting are rich in minor minerals like stones, gravels, sand etc. and are extracted for construction of Roads, Building etc.
This is certainly the …
Paradise the God …
Has mistakenly left on the earth …
She takes away your …
Breathe with scenic beauty …
Some call it a magic land …
Some call it a Paradise …
And some the God’s Picture Book …
Each place of the district has something
Celestial & amazing to offer …
Journey through this land means to stir
Up your mind & kindle your imagination …
Let’s discover this wonderland …
“The Dima Hasao”
The Dima Hasao District of Assam is a land of sensuousness. The mountains float in the distant sky. The clouds descend and snugly lie bellows your feet. The summer rains drench the hills and the playful sun showers its gold from behind the imposing Barail range and warms up the wintry dawn. You drive through the reptilic paths and all the way the panorama changes with unbelievable frequency. From lofty heights to vast expanses. The trains whistle into dark tunnels which open out to breathtaking landscapes. The small and serene villages shelter the lovely people -warm and fascinating – and as colourful as the land itself. The hills are calling – the beautiful hills, the virgin hills, the hills that softly lie in your tender dreams.
Beyond the trail of the golden triangle traversed by tourist in great numbers, far off in the North-east lies a virgin Shangrila that offers the traveler a far more fulfilling experience. This is the Dima Hasao District, a dreamland of undulating hills and valleys, gently flowing streams and waterfalls, where the very breeze that wafts across the paddy fields and the bamboo forests is redolent with the fragrance of the land in which man and animal live in perfect harmony with nature.
The Dima Hasao district, a rugged hilly country constituting the Eastern flanks of the Jaintia Hills and Northern flanks of the Barail range has common boundaries with three North-Eastern States and three other Districts of Assam. On its eastern side are the States of Nagaland and Manipur. Cachar Districts of Assam is towards the south. On the western side is the State of Meghalaya. Nagaon and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam are located towards its north.
A part of ancient Dimasa Kachari Kingdom, the Dima Hasao District still retain the scattered ancient ruins and remains – memories of the past glory.
The Dima Hasao constitute a Mega diversity area from the point of view of genetic wealth. This region has proved to be a veritable paradise of valuable genes in a wide range of economic plants and animals.
A picturesque rail track of the N F Railway also enters Dima Hasao from Nagaon district and zigzags through the entire length of the district from north to south along the courses of Mahur, Diyung and Jatinga rivers. This century old railway track is a tourist’s delight. The beauty of the Haflong Lake, the orange orchards of Jatinga, the Hill Railway are all sights to experience in a life time.
The Dima Hasao have the potentiality of providing adventure tourism events like trekking, hang gliding. The green valley and the hilly treks are most suitable for these events, which are exciting games in modern tourism. Other attractions are exciting trekking in Barail Hills, visit to Orchid garden, traditional dances of the Tribal.
Dima Hasao emerge from the heart of Assam like a chorus of silent hymns and rise up to the sky like crescendo of music. The sportive clouds play around the cliffs like gleeful children. The limitless green rolls away to distant horizon in a beautiful rhythm. The limitless green rolls away to distant horizon in a beautiful rhythm. The mountains float in the distant sky. The clouds descend and snugly lie below one's feet. It is blue and green all around. The fragrant breeze silently embraces everyone and whispers love to the beautiful springtime flowers. The summer rains drench the hills and spread an unfathomable mystery. Besides being the “Cradle of Nature” the Dima Hasao District has a number of places which bore the stamps of hoary past and bewitching beauty.
With breathtaking natural beauty, abundant flora and fauna and rich cultural heritage, Dima Hasao attracts admirers from different countries of the world. In Dima Hasao tourists spots are no less fascinating. Haflong, Jatinga, Maibang, Umrongso and Heritage Village near Jatinga are some eminent tourists’ attraction.
Quite up in the rugged terrains there stands out the queen town of Haflong, the district’s headquarters, located in the midst of natural artistry offering a unique look. Because of its wonderful natural settings one might get tempted to call it the `Switzerland of the East`. The garland-like Barail Hill or the `great dyke` extending right from north to east builds-up an impervious wall almost all around Haflong. This very topographic freak gives and impression that the town itself is embedded in a natural fortress. Haflong is often referred to as the land of blue hills.
Many infer that the name Haflong was derived from the word ‘’HANGKLONG`’ meaning enriched land. Some others say that the name is drawn from the Dimasa word “HAFLAU” which means ant-hill. Whatever may be the background, the fact remains that it is now the only Hill Station in the state of Assam and it bears all the promises of being further developed into an attractive Tourist Resort. This hilly part of State abounding in natural wealth and resources, is still crying to see the flowering of life to its fullest bloom.
Haflong, a word that almost brings the cool air with it is a secret hide out of the tourists. Prettily laid out with shady paths and artificial waters and located on the spur of a narrow strip of Barail range about 3117 feet above the sea level, Haflong, the district Headquarters has almost divine charms. The total area of Haflong is around 12.79 Sq. Km. From different points in the town like Missionary Hill, the Lovers Leap, Upper Bageter, PHE Tank, Synod Point and many other such vantage points, magnificent changing views can be had of the mysterious looking river valleys of the Rubby and Diyung rivers lying far bellow against the dark backdrop of cloud-caped peaks. The Hill Section of the N F railway line almost surrounds the town at the lower ridge and there are three Railway stations in chain at Lower Haflong, Bageter and Hill Haflong. Abounding in splendid ‘colonial style’ Bungalows like Gumaigajo, Summit, Dalshangie, Limit, Taradevi, Hurst Lea, Groveland, DC’s Bungalow- all are facing the main Barail range, the town’s history is inextricably linked with its past European residents.
A flash of tartan, the scent of heather and tendrils of mist clinging to the hillsides; houses with Tudor-style framework, church steeples and lakes in the middle of this dreamland town one should be pardoned if one fancy himself to be in some small hamlet in heart of England. Up in the Terrains, lie the queen town of Haflong, the district Headquarter of Dima Hasao, where one can see the rainbow down below. In the midst of natural artistry, it offers a unique look. The garland like Barail hills, extending from the north to the east build up an impervious wall almost all around Haflong.
Haflong is a land of pleasing blue orchards and pera, pineapple and oranges. Add to it the picturesque beauty of Haflong Lake and Boat House situated within the heart of this hill town. Haflong Lake is one of the two lakes on the only hill station of Assam. This large and beautiful lake adds a celestial beauty to the hill station which is regarded as the 'Scotland of Assam'. The lake with a total area of 5,097,60 Sq. feet and length of 3020 meters was constructed by Engineer Bayajen and J C Carting during their stay at Haflong for the construction of railway track. The lake is a place of amusement and recreation.
Through the vignettes of evening emerges Haflong, its houses shining like nuggets of gold in the twilight. The placid waters of the lake reflect the sky painted with a million hues of red by the setting sun. Amore enthralling introduction to God’s own land is hard to imagine.
As night descends and lights start twinkling in town, Haflong looks like a piece of starlit sky resting at the foot of the Borail range. Very little happens here at night. There is hardly any traffic to speak of and people huddle back to their homes before dark. All that one hears at night is the rustle of leaves or the occasional flutter of a nocturnal bird seeking its prey or shouting its protests at those intruding into its domain.
The Saturday market of Haflong is the biggest Hatt of Dima Hasao. People from far-off villages start pouring into town from Friday evening. At daybreak the market looks like a festival, complete with colour, ethnic diversity, wares and noise. It is an event few people miss.
Blessed with a salubrious climate and landscapes of natural beauty, Haflong has its beautiful lake, museum, view points, lovers point, churches, parks, hilly rivers, sun rise over Barail from Circuit House, seasonal festivals and beautiful orchids to offer the tourist an enjoyable break from routine life.
As fog comes on a moonless night…
When the wind blows in direction right…..
Jatinga turns into an island of search light,
& birds appear like ghosts from nowhere.
Just 9 kilometers from Haflong in the east there stands a tiny village called Jatinga on a spur of the Haflong ridge which itself is an offshoot of the main ridge of the Barail range. The mysterious behaviour of the birds flying over Jatinga from September to November has made this beautiful tiny place famous over the world. Here the mist and fog lie like a veil around the beautiful face of the damsel from September to November. When there is moonless dark night, the breeze blowing from the south to north, the sky is moderately foggy and it’s raining slightly, the birds over flying Jatinga use to come down towards powerful lights lit on the ground.
There is poetry in the word Jatinga, the pathway of rain and water in the Zeme Naga terminology. Jatinga was first inhabited by the Zeme Nagas in 1890. They were the first to witness the mystery when their camp fires attracted the birds. This frightened them as they believed that the birds were evil spirits swooping down from sky. Eventually they deserted the settlement. The Jaintias, who moved in, in the year 1905 under their leader Lakhanbang Suchiang, stumbled upon the mystery while venturing into the valley at night with lighted torches to round up stray cattle. The bamboo torches attracted showers of birds which the Jaintias regarded as ‘Gift of God’.
Jatinga is well-known for its horticultural produces and it is rated as the most prosperous, literate and ideal village in the entire region. The villagers are perhaps the best horticulturists in the state and they grow oranges, pineapples, papayas, jack fruits and pan etc. abundantly. Jatinga oranges are famous for its tastes and size.
Located on the bank of river Mahur, 53 KM from Haflong and almost in the middle of the District, Maibang once flourished as the capital of Dimasa kingdom in the later part of the 16th century.
As you travel through the thickly-wooded Mahur Valley, Maibang appears on the windscreen like a cinemascope picture. A vast green open carpeted with paddy fields unfolds before your eyes. And coursing its way through the middle, Mahur River bifurcate the town into old and new segments.
The word Maibang in Dimasa means abundance in paddy. This is true even today as Maibang stands out to be the granary of the entire district. This sub-divisional town of Dima Hasao has seen some glorious days in the past when it was the seat of Dimasa kings. Today most of the relics of that era lie buried under the green foliage that race with the seasons to cover every inch on earth. The monolithic stone temple of Goddess Ranachandi ( One stone house) hewn by Dimasa King Maharaja Harishchandra Narayan on the banks of Mahur river and two stone inscription by Dimasa King Maharaja Meghanarayan on 12 July 1576 in the City Gate of ancient Capital Maibang are the only mute testimonies of its historic past.
The Dream Valley Umrongso
Another exotic destination in Dima Hasao. Umrongso, the only industrial town of Dima Hasao, is 112 km from Haflong and 224 km from Guwahati. The huge Hydel plant has came up under North east Electric power corporation (NEEPCO) with dams in the Kopili River.
The road to Umrongso unfolds like a dream. A procession of hills stretching upto a distance where shapes merge into the misty horizon. Valleys are filled with surrealistic castles of floating clouds. A gentle breeze whistles its way through the young pine plantations like an enchantress leaving traces of fragrance behind, while far off in the distance the setting sun calls it a day. Its rays touching the water bellow like a magic wand turn the lake into molten gold. This is Umrongso, a dream come true in the lap of the silent hills.
The visitors in this area can enjoy both hot and cold bath and fishing in the river Kopili. A few meters away towards the east there is a reserve forest abound in wild animals.
The manicured green cover on the undulating slopes here represents the dawn of a new era. The Kopili Tea Estate is a pioneering plantation project in Dima Hasao. Limestone deposits near Umrongso have prompted another industrial activity in the region. Three cement plants are there in Umrongso.
Situated at the extreme west of the district end on the Eastern bank of the river Kopili, Garampani is famous for its hot springs and captivating views of water falls. It is about 124 kms away from Haflong and a good place for holiday makers and sight seers.
About 120 km away from Haflong and 8-10 km from Haflong Tiniali, the Kopili River turns into a thrilling waterfall, rolling over the rocks of Panimoor. The Dimasa people consider the place as a pilgrimage and on every Magh Purnima, they take a holy bath at the falls.
The place is singularly known for its tunnel, the longest one in the Hills section of N F Railway line. The No. 11 tunnel near Mahur has 1192 feet running length. The coffee grown in Mahur area is said to be the best in India. Mahur is the headquarters of Jatinga Valley Development Block. Mahur bazaar is famous for the hill produce like ginger, cotton, chilies, sesame, potatoes etc.
From 1853, it was the sub-divisional headquarters of the Dima Hasao which was then within the Nowgong district. In 1880, the Sub-Divisional headquarters were shifted to Gunjung. There still stands a old broken fort of stones.
About 29 km off Haflong and up on a plateau of height 2500 feet Gunjung was the sub-divisional headquarters till 1895. The name Gunjung was derived after the name of a Zeme Naga whose name was “Gunjung”. It was where a fierce battle was fought between the Dimasa freedom fighter Sambhudhan and the British in which English army was completely routed. After this battle the British thought it fit to move out to a safer place like Haflong for its headquarters. Moreover Halfling’s proximity to the railway line also prompted the British to shift the headquarters as such not much was left behind at Gunjung after the British moved out.
It is the coldest place of the district and about 110 km from Haflong via Sangbar road and only 13 km from Harangajao on foot. One can experience snowfall there during the winter. For trackers it is quite tempting. Moreover the hospitality of the villagers is unforgettable. Thuruk is the abode of Biate tribes.
From Maibang a road leads to Semkhor. It is the only Dimasa village situated in a hilltop and not near the river like the others. The word Semkhor is a combination of two words ‘Sem’ and ‘dikhor’ which means salt and well.
As legend goes, a Dimasa Kachari king had stationed his elite warriors at this vantage point to guard the saline water wells here. By boiling the brine of these wells salt could be made. The people of Semkhor are known as ‘Semsa’ which means ‘son of salt’ or the salt people. After the fall of Maibang and subsequent departure of Dimasa king to Cachar, the Semkhor people continued to live in this self-contained village without much contact with the outside world. Even today things have not changed much although the saline water wells have fallen to disuse.
Semkhor is 29 km from Maibang. The village administration of Semkhor is truly democratic. Semkhor has not only historical importance but it has also provides scope for studying the structure of Dimasa society.
Located on Maibang-Hajadisa road, Hajong is famous for the abundance of rare variety of hill terrapins. Hajong Lake is located in the Langting-Mupa reserve forest. Seven rare varieties of tortoise have been identified here. Only in winter one can visit the place.
It is the largest Zeme Naga village cultural centre. It is situated 110 km from Haflong. The biggest traditional dormitory for Zeme Naga boys ‘Hangseuki’ is situated here. Preservation of culture and tradition is the sole objective of the dormitory.
It is situated along the border of the district, only 46 kms from Haflong. The word Harangajao is a Dimasa word meaning ‘slope of red soil’. It is the largest producer of pineapples. The river Jatinga is flowing, bisecting the land into two, once it was known as a cultural centre of Dima Hasao.
Heritage village near Jatinga
A new attraction for the tourist in Haflong is the Heritage Village near Jatinga. Here the tourists find traditional houses and dormitories of all the tribal communities of Dima Hasao. A unique place which reflects the combined picture of tribal tradition, culture, heritage and harmony. The Heritage Village is now a popular picnic and sight seeing spot maintained by the Forest Department and constructed under the Rastriya Sama Vikash Yojana (RSVY).
Jagannath Bari: The oldest Hindu temple of Haflong built by Jnanendra Kumar Das in the month of January,1911. It draws a very large number of devotees in festive occasions. It is one of the cultural centres of the Bengali Hindu people and located in the Main Road near Lal Field.
Kali Bari and Shiva Temple: The Temple was built by Mahant Samhar Giri in the year 1915 -16. This temple is surrounded by trees and a perfect place for religious exercise. It is the cultural centre for the Nepali population and located besides Haflong Govt. college.
Devisthan: It is located at Upper Bageter and a place of worship.
Shiv- Kali Mandir: Built by Samarendranath Bannerjee and some Nepali devotees in March 1943.
Govinda Ashram: The place for religio-cultural congregations of the Bishnupriya Manipuris was inaugurated on February,1969. The temple is dedicated to the religious ideology of Sri Chaitanya and is located behind the PWD Colony.
Namghar: The main cultural centres for the Assamese community located near the Deputy Commissioners office was inaugurated on August 7, 1983.The Namghar was dedicated to the religious and cultural ideologies of Sri Sankardeva.
Shiva-Parvati Mandir: The temple was opened in the month of March of 1994 near the Haflong Namghar.
Ardhangini Kali Mandir: Situated in the Sarkari Bagan Road and was founded by Anantalal Sarma in the year 1981.
Sibarai Temple: In March 13, 1995 this temple was established near Haflong Lake with an intention to assemble the Dimasa devotees under a religious banner.
Ramkrishna Seva Samiti: Initially started in the Jagannath Bari complex in the year 1945 but later-on in 1955 it was shifted to the present site Located at a beautiful hillock in the west of the town. A place of attraction for all the people.
Satsang Vihar: The main cultural and religious centre for the devotees of Thakur Sri Sri Anukul Chandra situated near the Railway Field. It was inaugurated on April 15, 1984.
Apart from these several other places of worship for the people of Hindu community are there in Haflong like Akhanda Mandali and Ramthakur Mandir, Bazar Kali Bari, Mahadev Tilla Kali Bari.
Haflong Mosque: The Haflong Mosque was constructed and donated by Khan Bahadur Hazi Samsuddin Khan and situated in the heart of Haflong Bazar. It was first housed in a thatch-roof opposite to the present Jagannath Bari. Prior to 1913 it was shifted to the present site. This Mosque is the main religious centre of the Muslim population in the town.
Syed Baba Mukam: A place of worship for all the communities. Syed Baba Dargah is located at Banjang near Mahadev Tilla and was established in the early part of the twentieth century. One Masque is also situated in the Mukam complex.
Apart from this, two other Mosques are at Haflong. One at Lower Haflong and another at Mahadev Tilla area.
Presbyterian Church: the old chapel was established in 1912. This church is the parent church of several churches of Haflong. The first Presbyterian Church was established at Haflong by the Wallesh Mission. The Missionary was Rev. Garland Williams of Wales in the first decade of the twentieth century. It is situated on a hillock in the vicinity of Synod High School.
Roman Catholic Church: This beautiful Church is the only Catholic Church in Haflong and is centrally located on the Main Road of the town. This church was established by the Holy Cross Father Monseigneur Brown. The new building of the church was inaugurated 1978. This Catholic Church is under the diocese of Diphu. Catholic Church is a must visit for every tourist.
Apart from this two, Evangelical Free Church of India, Independent church of India, United Pentecostal Church, four Square Church, Church of East India are some of the notable worship place of Christian community. Every Christian village in and around Haflong town also have their own churches.
Circuit House, Haflong
Dak Bunglow, Haflong
Hotel Elite, Haflong
Hotel Joyeswari, Haflong
Hotel Valley View, Haflong
Hotel Eastern, Haflong
Hotel Rahmania, Haflong
Dial:03673 – 236363
The Little Homes Lodge, Haflong
Where to stay at Maibang
Irrigation IB, Maibang
Dial : 03673-282451
Where to stay at Umrongso
NEEPCO Guest House, Umrongso
Forest IB, Umrongso
PWD IB, Umrongso
Lily Hotel, Umrongso
Where to stay at Mahur
PWD IB, Mahur
Where to stay at Panimoor
PWD IB, Diyungmukh
Forest IB, Panimoor
Air: Airport at Silchar and Guwahati. Both the places are connected with Haflong by
Road and Rail
ASTC Day Bus service daily from Guwahati (6.30 AM)
Rail: Haflong is covered by three Railway Stations of NF Railway Hill Section Meter
Gauge. The Stations are Lower Haflong, Hill Haflong and Bageter Station
From Guwahati via Lumding to Lower Haflong Station (285 Km)
Barak Valley Express in the morning
Cachar Express in the night
From Silchar via Badarpur to Hill Haflong Station (92 Km)
Barak Valley Express in the morning
Cachar Express in the night
Blue Bird Tour & Travels, Haflong
Lamagalao Travels, Haflong
LG & Zet Travels, Haflong
Network Travels, Guwahati
Network Travels, Haflong
Orient Travels, Haflong
Railway Enquiry, Guwahati
Railway Reservation, Guwahati
Railway Enquiry, Hill Haflong
Railway Enquiry, Lower Haflong
Railway Enquiry, Maibang
Railway Enquiry, Mahur
Perhaps nowhere in India, such a spectrum of people representing a number of distinct ethnic groups reside within so small a geographical periphery like Dima Hasao, which only underlines an inner harmony in the sphere of emotional integration. The different tribes as colourful as they are in their attires, customs and traditions, though they speak in their respective dialect, have adopted a common link language called as “Haflong Hindi” with peculiar overtones of phonetics for communicating among themselves. It can very well be compared with the “Nagamese” as spoken by the different tribes of Nagaland. On the other hand, most of the urban based people like Dimasa, Hmar, Jeme Naga and Karbi etc. understand Assamese and Bengali and can carry on conversations in their own characteristic styles.
While nature has showered her blessing with unwithdrawing hands on the Dima Hasao district, the colorful and warm-hearted inhabitants have contributed much to the State’s brilliant socio-cultural mosaic. The district is the home of several diverse tribes, each with its own rich social and cultural traditions. The inherent genius of the beautiful people blossoms into a wide range of crafts while their zest for life finds its echo on their heart-warming songs and soul-stirring dances which are marked by the unalloyed honesty and spontaneity of pastoral life.
As a people they are generally soft-spoken, simple and peace-loving in nature. Hospitability is the key-note of their character. They are proud of their culture and heritage. They are however very meek and shy.
The main constituents of the hilly tribes living in the district are the Dimasas, the Zeme Nagas, the Hmars, the Kukis, the Biates, the Karbis, the Khasis, the Harangkhols, the Vaiphes , the Khelmas and the Rongmeis. Besides, a sizeable number of other non-tribals like Bengali, Assamese, Nepali, Manipuri, Deswali and others have also chosen Dima Hasao as their abode. On each market day i.e. on Saturday at Haflong one can easily have a glimpse of the colourful life as obtaining in the far flung hilly district of Dima Hasao.
The Dimasa Kacharis
The Kacharis are the most widely spread tribe in northeast India. They are said to be the earliest inhabitants of the Brahmaputra valley. The Kacharis belong to the Indo Mongoloid (Kirata) group which includes the Bodos and their allied tribes. They have prominent Mongoloid features with high cheek bones, slit eyes and a slight growth of hair in the body and scant beard. They call themselves Bodo or Bodofisa in the Brahmaputra valley and Dimasa or Dimafisa or ‘Sons of the great river’ in the Dima Hasao.
The Dimasa Kacharis greatly inhabit the northern half of the Dima Hasao and ravines of the Jatinga valley and the adjoining tract.
The Dimasas believe in the existence of a Supreme Being Madai – Under whom there are several Madais including family deities and evil spirits. The religious practices of the Dimasas are reflected in their Daikho system. A Daikho has a presiding deity with a definite territorial jurisdiction and a distinct group of follower known as Khel. Every Dimasa Kachari family worships its ancestral deity once a ye3ar before sowing the next paddy. It is known as Madai Khelimba. This is done for the general welfare of the family; a Misengba is for the good of the whole community. They cremate their dead. The dead body is washed and dressed in new clothes; the corpse is placed inside the house on a mat. A fowl is thrashed to death and placed at the foot of the deceased so that it might show the deceased the right path to heaven. The widow does not tie her hair till cremation. The dead body is cremated by the side of a river or stream
The Dimasas have a tendency to build their houses on hill slopes with a river or streamlet flowing nearby. The dwelling houses are built on plinth of earth – in two rows facing each other with a sufficiently wide gap in between.
An important institution of the village is Hangsao. It is an association of unmarried boys and girls of the village. It is organized for the purpose of working together in cultivation and lasts only for one year. Throughout the year, the members of the Hangsao work together in the Jhum cultivating by rotation an area of land at every member’s field.
Music and dance play an important role in the day-to-day life of the Dimasa Kacharis. They sing and dance expressing their joy at the youth common houses ‘Nadrang’ or at the courtyard of the ‘Gajaibaou’s house in popular common festivals like Busu or Hangcheo – manauba. The female owner of the house, where the Busu festival is held, is called ‘Gajaibaou’.
By using their traditional musical instruments like Muri, Muri-wathisa, Supin Khram, Khramdubung, they present their traditional dances named – Baidima, Jaubani, Jaupinbani, Rennginbani, Baichargi, Kunlubani, Daislelaibani, Kamauthaikim Kaubani, Nanabairibani, Burunjala, Kailaibani Homaudaobani, Rongjaobani, Dausipamaikabani, Daudingjang, Nowaijang, Dailaibani, Narimbani, Rogidaw bihimaiyadaw, Maijaobani, Maisubani, Richibbani, Michai bonthai jibani, Homojing ladaibani, Berma charao paibani, Mangusha bondaibani, Madaiklimbani etc.
The males put on the traditional dresses like richa, rikaosa, paguri rimchau and rimchauramai to perform the folk dances. The females put on Rigu,rijamfini,rijamfinaberen, rikaucha, rikhra, jingsudu etc. and wear ornaments like Kaudima, Khadu, Kamautai, Longbar, Panlaubar, Chandrawal, Rongbarcha, Enggrasa, Jongsama, Ligjao, Jingbri, Yausidam etc.
The dance forms of the Dimasa Kacharis are complex in character. They are strictly dependant on instrumental music. No songs are used. Khram (drum) follows the rhythm of the Muri (fife) and so also the dancers. Though one may fine the music trilling from a muri to be monotonous, but there are variations with noticeable microtones for different dance forms. That is why young men practice dancing at the Nadrang during leisure hours and the village kids follows the rhythm and stepping at a distance from an early age.
The Zeme Nagas
The Zeme Nagas are distributed in Dima Hasao and parts of adjoining Manipur and Nagaland states. They are classified by the anthropologists as one of the sub-tribes of the Kacha Nagas. The Zemes living in Nagaland call themselves Zeliang and those of the Manipur borders are known as Zeliangrong.
Originally they migrated from Nagaland via Manipur and settled down in the north-eastern part of Dima Hasao and south of Maibang, the ancient capital of the Kachari kings. They also settled as far as the bank of the river Kopilli, with the decline of the Kachari power, the Zemes became easy victims of the depredations of the mighty Angami Nagas in the neighborhood. As a result some of the Zemes migrated to the west and settled in the hills beyond the Diyung valley. They speak their own Zemi dialect and are living peacefully along with the other tribes like Dimasa Kachari, Kuki, and Hmar for more than two centuries. The Zemes are well built, strong and healthy with thick black hair and a fair complexion.
The Zemes have six clan – Npame, Nkuame, Heneume, Nriame, Sogame and Panme. Of them Napame and Nkuame are considered as belonging to the same clan and marriage between these two clans is not encouraged. The clans are exogamous. There is a system of bride price which is paid in terms of Mithuns by bridegroom to the bride’s parents.
The Zeme Nagas are animist and they believe in the existence of one supreme God and eight other Gods under him who are associated with health, water etc. They believe in witchcraft and black magic. They also believe in the existence of a spiritual world. When a man dies, they believe, he takes a journey to this spiritual world and provisions of food etc. are made for this occasion by keeping aside a share in a basket from the feast to the departed soul held by the relatives of the deceased. The dead body is put in a coffin and buried. A flat stone slab with some markings is placed on the grave as a symbol of identification.
The Zeme villages are on the breezy hill-tops. Each village has dormitories for young boys and girls. The boy’s dormitories are called Hangseuki and the girls are known as Langseuki. All the young unmarried boys and girls spent the night in their respective dormitories. As soon as one is married he or she ceases to be a member of the dormitory which is considered as centers of learning as well as village recreational activities. The girls are taught weaving, spinning, singing and dancing etc. and the boys are taught wrestling, hunting and making of handicrafts. These dormitories also serve as guest houses.
Though a small section of the Zemes have been converted to Christianity, the larger section still honour their traditional festival connected with agricultural activities and other social institutions. They celebrated some six important festivals during the year.
Youth dormitories play an important role in celebrating their festivals. The main festivals are – Heleibame, Sangbambe, Fokfatmi, Engkramngi, Siami and Kahagaba – mostly connected with agricultural activities.
Of the folk dances of the Zemes the popular ones are – Haripivelim, Johumpeselim, Kanguibelim, Kerapsaplim, Hakalim, Nbzchuinelim etc.
In their songs and dance performances they use their traditional musical instruments – Inchum, Hembeu, Inlubai, Kebuike, Metiyah, Inar, Kumtoi, Into etc.
The Zeme traditional male dresses are named as Injingni, Heni, Mopaphai, Lauhepai, Khampefai etc. The young boys decorate their legs with rice powder paste and tie cane ropes just below the knee. The girls wear Mini, Hegiangnine, Faimang, Faitik, Limfai and ornaments made of silver, brass and colourful bird feathers for the earlobes.
The Hmars migrated from Burma and Manipur and settled in Dima Hasao. They are of Mongoloid stock. Though the tribe is divided into exogamous clans but they do not strictly adhere to exogamy. Monogamy is strictly followed and cross cousin marriage is preferred.
The system of bride price is still prevalent and the youngest daughter is usually gets a higher bride price. Earlier they practiced animism and their God was “Pathien” and sacrifices were offered for his appeasement. Now almost the whole of the tribe is converted into Christianity and they have built churches in their villages and religious rites are performed according to the tenets of Christianity.
The Hmars built their villages on hill tops and the houses are constructed on wooden planks. Slash and burn system of agricultural practices are still at large amongst the Hmars.
Even after long years of migration from their original abode, the Hmars still adhere to their traditional festivals connecting with the agricultural cycle and other community rites and practices. Their cultural traditions are best reflected in their folk songs and dances.
The Hmars are divided into twelve clans. They are Pangamte, Rengsate, Pazamate, Phenate, Khawbung Lungthrawle, Lungtau, Leiri, Zote, Ngurte, Khelte and Khawlhring.
The chief of the village council is called ‘Lal’ He is selected from amongst the elderly ones. He is all powerful and every body follows his leadership and directives. But he must not do anything that may go against the welfare of the society. Otherwise, the people will scrap of his powers and elect a new leader.
The Hmars womenfolk are great weavers in their tiny loin looms. They dye their home-spun yarns into different colours and weave exquisite cloths for the family. Men and women wear different kinds of cloths. Hmar-am is finely woven cloth for the aristocratic womenfolk; Tawulo-puan is a breast cloth never to be touched by a man, Tharlai Kawn is a body wrapper with coloured stripes on the back for women.Ngo-tlong is a white wrapper for women, Thangsuo-puan is for the great hunters and heroes who have earn the title “Thangsuo” for valour, Rukrak-puan is along wrapper for village aristocrats, Hmar-puan is a common cloth with black and white stripes. Daraki is a dhoti for the male folk , Paihar is a chadder for men, Lukawm is a soft cloth for men’s headgear, Puandum is a chaddar for menfolk and Puan-kerne is the finely breast wrapper for the village maidens.
The festivals highlighting agricultural practices are Sikpuiruoi and Butukhuluong. They express their happiness in Darlam and Partonlam dances by rhythmic beating of drums. To honour a great hunter they performed Pheiphit lam dance accompanied by melodious tune trilling from their flutes. To perform Fahrel Tawklam, They use bamboo poles like the Mizos (in their famous Cheraw dance).
The Hmars perform a number of dances – the harvest dance is called Chawnlam, the hunting dance is known as Salulam and a privately organized festival dance is popular as Thangkawng-vailah. The dancers, both boys and girls put on their traditional colourful dresses and the boys wear on their head Tamtairang made of bird’s feathers or Lukhum made of bamboo and the colourful shawl Hmarpuan. The girls adorn themselves with ornaments like Kutbun, Nabe, Thi etc and wear exquisitely embroidered puans, puanbil and jakua. They rejoice in drinking ‘Ju’ (rice beer) and the old men and women smoke in their ‘tuibur’ pipes at their heart content.
The Hmars are great hunters and while returning with precious games, they dance Salulam to mark their victory.
The Hmars love dancing so much that the very thought of the dance arena brings out the dancers in them. And the dances Chomlamlan top the arena.
The Karbies belong to the great Tibeto-Burman race. They are divided into three groups called Chinthong, Ronghang and Karbi. These names in all probability refer to their habitats.Amri seems to be a Khasi river name and Ronghang is the legendary site of the Sot Recho capital. The real tribal exogamous division is called Kur(a Khasiword). The five principal Kurs are- Ingti, Teron, Lekthe, Timung and Terang. Each of these Kur is further sub-divided into a number of sub-groups. All the Kurs are socially on an equal status.
In religious beliefs and practice they have borrowed much from the Hindu mythology. Elaborate death ceremonies are performed so that spirit of the dead gets admittance to the abode of the dead. They cremate their dead. Funeral ceremony is the most elaborate, costly and important of all the ceremonies in the Karbi society. This can be held either at the time of cremation or afterwards when the relatives are financially able to undertake it. The ceremony known as Chomangkan is observed for several nights in succession by drinking, singing and dancing
The Karbis have their own traditional dress and ornaments. The man wears a turban on his head and a dhoti of cotton on his loins. The coat is a sleeveless striped jacket with long fringe covering the buttocks and coning round in front. Thick eri-silk shawl is used in winter as wrapper. The females use. Pini (petticoat) of white and red striped eri-silk, secured round the waist by an ornamental girdle called vankok. The upper part of the body is covered with ji-so, a wrapper passing under the arm and drawn tight over the breast.
The head remains uncovered except in funeral dances when it is covered with a black scarf. Only women on attaining puberty tattoo. There is only one perpendicular line with indigo down the middle of the forehead, the nose, upperlip and chin. The women wear Kadengchinro, a large silver tube in their ear lobe, besides necklaces made of gold, silver and coral beads.
The Karbi villages are small and scattered. The build their houses on stilts on the hill top. Villages are generally named after the Sarthey (headmen). The Karbis are known for their migratory character. They are prone to shift from place to place on pretexts like outbreak of diseases, failure of crops and mauling of village by tiger and in search of new pastures for jhumming. Their migratory habit has proved to be a bane in consolidation of their economic life. For when a village shifts, the schools, wells and roads build are left behind, never to be used again.
The Karbis are great lover of dance and music. Their traditional musical instruments are pongi (flute),muri(life), cheng (drum) and kum (one stringed fiddle). The beginning of the cultivation is celebrated with a great festival Fongkher. Goods are invoked and goats and fowls are sacrificed. It is a festival of the men folk only. The harvest festival is known as Hachakekan. The whole village mutually co-operates in bringing the crops in and feasts together. Hunting and fishing ate the other past-times of the village life
The Kuki is a generic term for a number of mixed groups of people who have migrated into India through Burma from central Asia. In Burma they are called Chin and in Indian frontier states they are the best identified as Kukis.
From Old Census reports and other ethnographic notes it is difficult to get a correct picture of the exact number of bribes that are included in the generic term ‘Kuki’ as these reports were based on the information furnished by the informants rather than on the basis of actual field study carried out.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India lists 37 numbers of tribes in the Kuki group of people. They are -
Being of Mongoloid stock the Kukis are strongly built in features and are stout. They are patriarchal in social organization and the sons inherit the property. Marriage among the Kukis is monogamous and cross cousin marriage is preferred. Though the Kukis are described as animist by religion and sacrifice animal to propitiate different spirits at the time of sickness and calamities, now a great majority of them have embraced Christianity as their prime faith.
The Kukis prefer to live on the hill tops and their villages are cluster of houses closely constructed to protect from alien raiders. Each family has one house without any inside partition. The village headman wields considerable power in their day-to-day life affairs. Dewan is the village Court where cases are tried by the headman assisted by some Wiseman called Siemang and Pachong.
Though Christianity has brought considerable changes in the socio economic life of Kukis, yet the Kukis still adhere too much of their old customs, laws and habits, which their illustrious forefathers adopted from time immemorial.
The Kukis grow dwarf cotton and spun yarns for their own use. They use vegetable dyes in a myriad of hues and weave dreamlike designs mostly geometric in nature. The men folk prefer colourful Sangkhol, a jacket and wrap a chaddar which is sometimes embroidered like a snake skin, and a dhoti hanging up to the knees fashions a man.
The women adorn themselves with full-sleeved white blouses, an open skirt in black and cover the body with a chaddar. They split their tresses into two and wrap them over their heads into fine knots.
Both men and women enjoy smoking from their intricately crafted pipes named differently. Those made from stones and brass-metal is Sum-eng guolong, only made from brass-metal is Sum-thih guolong and those carved out of wood with a brass spout is called Guo-jung guolong.
After the harvest is over, the Kukis observe the Jangchalam festival at the courtyard of the village headmen. They perform traditional dance like Jangchalam, Molkanglam etc. to the tune of their traditional musical instruments – Khuong, Dahbu, Chiki, Pheiphit, Goshem, Sihemthsi etc.
The participating families wear their traditional dresses Sangkhol, Khamtang, Ponmongvom and the male folk adorn them with Sangkhol, Delkop etc.
The harvest season is always a time for festivities, dancing and singing. The Kukis express the farmer’s happiness in Jangchalam by body breaks and rhythmic steps. And when the days of hard toil in their Jhum fields are over, the Kukis rejoice while dancing Molkanglam. Saguolpheikhai is a dance to express victory in war or in successful group hunting.
Believed to be an off shoot of the Lushai-Kuki-Chin group, the Biates migrated from Central China and entered India to settle in northern part of Mizoram from where they were pushed by later immigrants to present day Dima Hasao in the early 19th century.
The Biates, have their own dialect and cultural traits which are expressed through many a festivals in different occasions. Among them the agricultural festivals like Cemchoikut, Pamcharkut, Lahangkut: harvest festival Favangkut: and a minor festival observed by families separately Jolsuak and Salulam to honour the brave hunters of ferocious animals.
During the festive days they consume liberal quantities of Zu (rice beer) while dancing and singing their traditional dances likeBuantumlam, Kolrikhelam, Rikifacholam, Partonlam,Sulribumlam, Thingpuilethluklam, Meburlam and Darlam in tune with their musical instruments named Dar-ribu, Jamluang, Rosem, Khuang etc.
Both the boys and girls wear their traditional dresses and ornaments during performance of these dances. The girls put a decorated cane ring as a head gear and drape their favourite Jakua, Choipuan, Puanbomzia etc. The boys wear Lukom Jakua, Diarkai etc. The girl’s ornaments include Rithai, Kuarbet, Bangun, Ritai etc.
On the first day of broadcasting seeds in their Jhum fields, the Biate women perform Meburlam dance to please ‘Bupathien’, their God for crops and bounty. They dance with bamboo tubes in their hands and touch each other’s in a rhythmic way.
After they return from the fields the women sometimes gather in a courtyard and dance Rikifachoilam, imitating the wild parrots pecking grains from their Jhum fields.
In winter, almost all Biete women go to a nearby stream or rivulet and dance Tuipuilen thluk in praise of the legendary mermaids. They break their bodies like waves in an ocean in tune with the accompanying flute.
Differently described by the ethnographers as Hrangkawal, Romngkhol or Hrongkhol, this tiny group of people of the great Kuki tribe is scattered thriving in the Dima Hasao. Mainly agriculturist, they practices Jhum cultivation and built their houses on wooden stilt and use bamboo profusely for the floor as well as the walls and thatch for the roofs.
The women folk use puans dyed in black and relish smoking from tiny but elaborate smoking pipes like those used by the Mizos of the southern districts.
The Hrangkhol observe the harvest festival called Rual Safak and invite the spring season through Parangat festival.
‘Parangat’ means flower. When the spring comes, flowers bloom everywhere. The Hrangkhol observe Parangat on a full moon day. The festival begins in the evening and continues till next morning. Except the main entry to the village, all other paths are closed for the day. The young men collect wild flowers from the nearby forest and offer them to the oldest man of the village in a decorated basket. And thereafter they greet each other and welcome the advent of spring. They sing and dance the whole night with drinking bouts of rice-beer in the silvery moonlight.
Like other hill tribes, fish is a symbol of prosperity to the Hrangkhol. They6 imitate community fishing in their Soksolkirlam dance. It is a rhythmic expression of their prayer for health and happiness.
The Hrangkhols present a special dance ‘Bhailam’ to welcome respectable persons into the village. The male dancers wear Churia, Kamis, Lukom, Changkaltak and the female participants wear Ponbomtak, Ponamnei, Kongkhit, Thepbop etc. They use ornaments called Jakcher, Chumhrui, Lirthei etc.
In these festivals the performance of songs and dances are the main attractive items. They participate in their folkdance known as Darlam, Doinkini, Rochemiam and Soksollam. They play on their traditional musical instruments like Dar, Cheranda, Rochem, Theile etc.
The Sakachep (Khelmas)
Among the inhabitants of Dima Hasao district, the Sakachep also known as Khelmas are one of the smallest community. Racially, the Sakachep have close resemblances to the Hrangkhols and the Baites.
This community is entirely dependent on agriculture, which is the age-old traditional shifting jhum cultivation.
The traditional outfits and ornaments of Khelmas are very interesting. The women are wearing a many string of different beads and coins round the neck. Now a day, majority of young boys and girls of the villages have put on pants, shirts and traditional Mekhela. The old men’s dress is simple, generally they wear a dhuti.
The Khelmas bear close resemblance to the Hrangkhols and the Biate, in language, customs and tradition. The Khelmas cremate the dead like the Vedic Hindu.
The main traditional Gods and deities of the Khelmas are Angera, Debi Maka saichkri Rajaram Mokolraja.
The traditional social administration of Khelams knows as Chep Halam, which is headed by Kalim and Kabur.
In Khelmas community, the young man has to serve his father-in-law3 for four years before allowing him to take home his wife. This system is called Maksa.
The Khelmas also celebrate different festivals, which are connected with worship of different gods and goddesses during a year. Rabu-khat, Parsem, Inmathung, Rabuthum are such festivals. Rabuthum is the most important of all the ceremonies of Khelmas.
Khelmas have a good number of folk songs for different occasions. The songs are generally slow.
The Vaipheis are a small community in N.C.Hills district. They mostly inhabit in the Ditochera-kai-eng River valley, consisting of about eight villages. Though small in respect of their population, yet the Vaipheis are good in the field of arts and crafts so as in education too.
The family of the Vaipheis is patriarchal family, every Vaiphei villages has a youth organisation known as ’Laem’ which means a labor cooperative organization of the youth.
There are different types of festivals celebrated by the Vaipheis. In the month of April, Just after the seeding and sowing of cultivation is completed young boys and girls make a merriment festival which is known as Lawmkivak.
Like the other hill tribes, the agrarian Vaiphei tribes have festivals mostly connected with cycle year long cultivation. The festival namely ’Gawichawkik’ is one of them. Besides these, Lawnzunek, Lawmisaltha, Khawhaosa are the other festivals celebrated by the Vaipheis.
The Vaipheis have some common cultural dances namely, Salu-lam, Saipikhupsukh, Pheiphit lam etc. These dances are associated with different occasion and they have a particular song for each dance. The dances are performed with the traditional music. The musical instruments are all made by themselves except Dakbu and Dakpi (gongs and symbols) which have been brought down from their ancestral homeland china. The musical instruments made by the are awsem (clarinet, made from dry gourd widh seven reeds).Khuang (drum), Pheiphit (small bamboo pipes) etc.
The Vaipheis have a large collection of fold songs which they sing during the different respective festivals.
The Pnars or Jaintia tribe of Dima Hasao popularly known as Khasis mainly inhabits the valley of the river Jatinga.
The Pnars follow matrilineal system, which means that their descendants carry on the family’s name after the mother’s title.
Regarding the traditional Pnars ritual ceremony, betelnut occupies an important place in all their ritual ceremony. The Pnars used betelnut as the first item of sacrificial article.
The Pnars of N.C.Hills are mostly agriculturists. Unlike other hill tribes of N.C.Hills, their cultivation is permanent, it does not comprise of the old method of shifting cultivation. Their main agricultural product area oranges, pineapples, ginger, litchis, lemon, plum etc. they have made fame and name specially by producing Oranges. Pnars are not only hard working people, but are skillful horticulturists.
The festival ‘Behdeinkhlam’, mainly observed by the non-Christians Pnar during the month of July every year.
The Pnars perform different kinds of dances. Laho dance is usually performed after the harvesting. Hence it can be termed as the harvest dance. The Pnars are music loving people.
The Rongmei Nagas
The Rongmeis, one of the Naga tribes formed a small community in N.C. Hills. This tribe is found only in proper Haflong under the jurisdiction of Haflong town. They are mainly concentrated in Kaphunlong (Hagjer Nagar) Bazaar area. The Rongmeis of this Hagjer Nagar is said to be among the old inhabitants of the Haflong Bazaar.
Ethnically the Rongmei belong to the Tibeto-Burma group having considerable similarities of language and cultural traits to those of the Zeme tribes of Dima Hasao District.
Traditionally, the Rongmeis are animals. The Rongmeis are the riches in gods and goddesses so far the tribal religion is concerned.
As the Rongmeis, are found only in the urban areas of Dima Hasao, mainly in the Haflong town area, they construct their houses and live as that of the other urban inhabitants. But, they posses their own traditional ways of living, especially in dress and community administration or institution.
The village Council of Rongmei is called paikai and the young mans house is called Khangchu. The house of young girls is called Kailu. There is a highest authority council called Agangmai Pai.
Gaan Ngai is the biggest festival of the Rongmei Nagas. It is generally celebrated in the month of December or January, which is the season when all the crops and paddy had been gathered. During this festival girls perform a dance called Tamchan Lam. Besides this festival, some other festivals like Ringkai, Nanu, Naphun Ngai etc. are
observed by the Rongmeis. There are traditional dresses for the boys and girls.
Khunangpui (big drum), Kunangna (small drum), Siammu (brass gong), Nra (violin) etc. are the musical instruments that played during song and dance.