Aizawl is the capital and largest city of the state of Mizoram, India. It is situated on a ridge 1132 metres (3715 ft) above sea level, with the Tlawng river valley to its west and the Tuirial river valley to its east. In the summer the temperature ranges from 20-30 degrees Celsius, and in the winter 11-21 degrees Celsius.
This 112-year-old citadel-like city, with its timber houses is set on a ridge at approximately an altitude of 4000 ft above sea level. The city is spread over several mountain ridges with most houses built on 60%+ inclines. Aizawl is a religious and cultural center of the Mizos. Aizawl lies just north of Tropic of cancer.
With a population of approximately 300,000, it has cloudless blue skies, dewy mornings and sunlit days. These help to ensure the enjoyment of unforgettable holiday pleasures practically all year round. Even the monsoon months are pleasant and gentle.
Buses, Sumos or aircraft provide access.
Buses run between all the capital cities in the North East states, Guwahati, Shillong and Silchar being the main routes. Mizoram State Transport lists services throughout the state and to Silchar but their schedule is always subject to change. Network Travels has luxury buses from Guwahati. The new bus terminal is located in the suburb of Thuampui area. There is frequent city bus service from the centre but may take up to one hour. Taxis cost ₹200 and up.
Sumos are ten-seat SUV's and provide intra- and inter-state transportation. They depart from various parts of the city, depending on the destination; the Guwahati-Silchar route starts at the Zarkawt area.
Air India flies between Lengpui Airport and Kolkata and Guwahati.
Aizawl is centred around a mountain ridge which means the roads run more or less parallel to the mountain side. This means if you need to go vertically up or down it will be faster to take a foot path than to go by road. The mountainous landscape also means that the cost of driving a relatively short horizontal distance can be quite expensive and this is reflected in bus and taxi rates.
There are numerous buses routes that connect the various localities and most will run through the town centre (Dawrpui - North to South and Civil Hospital South to North). Bus fares vary and best is to ask the conductor though a relatively short trip of 1 km cost around ₹5 (Jan 2012). One thing to note is that there are no buses that run between the airport and the city.
There are nearly 5000 taxis licensed to ply the roads in Aizawl and are readily available. Rates are extremely high compared to the rest of India. Though there are official published rates, no taxi runs by these rates. The main contention from taxi drivers is that 1 km uphill costs more to run than downhill and with inclines being frequently 30% or more. A relatively short distance of 1 km will cost you around ₹50. A taxi to or from the airport will cost you around ₹800 (July 2012) to/from the central areas of Aizawl. However, the price is liable to go up if petrol prices rise or if a landslide blocks the main road (requiring a longer alternate route).
There is a taxi firm called Sure Taxis that offers a service to find, negotiate rates on your behalf and dispatch taxis to your location and they don't charge anything to you. They also offer rental cars (comes with a driver) such as Altos, Boleros and Scorpios. Their numbers are: 0389 232 2833 & 0389 232 1494
- 1 Mizoram State Museum (MacDonald Hill, near the Chief Minister's Bungalow), ☏ +91 389 234 0936. The visit should serve as a primer before you explore Mizoram. Nominal entry fee of ₹5/-..
- 2 Solomon's Temple. Large church that has quickly turned into a tourist attraction.
- Visit Hnam Chhantu Pawl. It has local handicraft items for sale at very reasonable rates. This shop is run by an NGO and is located in Electric Veng, Near Grace Hospital And Nursing, Aizawl. Ask for Champai Sumo counters, the shop is close by, on the second floor of a building. It is a very famous store, so you can ask local people and they will guide you. Alternately, you can reach the store at email@example.com.
- The main shopping centres in Aizawl are Bara Bazar, Millennium Centre and Solomon's cave. In these centres, you'll find all kinds of wares available––from garments, cosmetics and shoes to vegetables and poultry. These are the main city shopping centres. For handicraft, Zohanco in Zarkawt has shawls, puan, bags and furnishing materials. For bamboo works such as baskets and khumbeu the finely mizo woven bamboo cap, these are available at MKVI, Sales Emporium, Zarkawt. However, the prices may not be very different from Mumbai or Delhi.
On Sundays and holidays, almost all stores and restaurants shut their doors closed. Several street venders set up and sell fried vegetables and pakoras during the day. David's kitchen and Hotel Millennium in Zarkawt Main Street may be open in limited hours with limited menu.
- Curry Pot, Upper Khatla. One can avail of Indian and Chinese food at this restaurant. Food is reasonably priced. Curry Pot also has a branch at Lengpui Airport.
- David's Kitchen, G-16 Chanmari. One of the most popular restaurants in Aizawl. The food is decent and the service is good.
- Pemarin Corner, 1st Floor, Shop No.40, Millennium Centre. Pemarin Corner is one of the higher end restaurants in Aizawl and is located in the Millennium Center building which is right in the heart of the city. Millennium Centre itself also hosts some other small eateries which server momos and Chinese dishes.
- 1 Chopstyx Restaurant, F-78, lower chanmari (below New Life Hospital), ☏ +91 97746 64490. Only Tibetan restaurant in town.
The alcohol ban in Mizoram has been lifted, but there are no bars of any description. Licensed wine called Zawlaidi is available for purchase in various departmental stores, though.
Neither has the cafe culture really caught on yet, so there are very few places to have a casual non-alcoholic drink. There are two cafes, both part of a Zote Bakery outlet. One is in Dawrpui near the church and another in Electric Veng. Don't expect a wide range of drinks: It's either milky tea or milky coffee out of a Nescafe machine.
- Riak Maw Inn, K. Lalhluna Building, A-25, Zarkawt Main St, ☏ +91-389-230-6976, firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean, efficient hotel near the offices of Sumos from Silchar and the Millenium Center. The owner is most helpful and knowledgeable about Mizo life and culture. Food is available and includes typical Mizo dishes. Good value.
- Traveller's Inn. Zarkawt Main Street, Aizawl. Has Single rooms partitioned with plywood walls and shared bathrooms for ₹250. Staffed with young, friendly people.
- Hotel Regency, B/49, Zarkawt Main St, ☏ +91-389-234-9334, fax: +91 11 0389 2349371, email@example.com. This was the first officially recognized 3-star hotel in Mizoram. It has adequate parking facilities and modern amenities. Listed rates (with photos): Rs sgl 2,576 twin 3,136 up to 9,558 for the presidential suite, including taxes and breakfast.
The government of Mizoram operates tourist lodges throughout the state, including 2 in the Aizawl suburbs. They are good value starting from ₹600.
- Pick a picnic basket and head out for Tamdil (Tam Lake). This natural lake is reputed for its fish and prawns and is an 85 km drive from Aizawl. The drive gives you an excellent opportunity to see some of the prettiest areas of Mizoram. Go for boat rides (if they are not closed because the boats are in bad shape) relax by the tranquil waters, and, if you can, take a drive into the nearby jungles, which are home to an assortment of fascinating flora and fauna. You can also stay here overnight. The resort village of Saituai is 10 km away.
- Surrounded by a vast stretch of thick bamboo forests close to Thenzawl hill station is Mizoram's highest waterfall Vantawng (750 ft high). This popular water body, 152 km from Aizawl, is worth a visit. You can even stay overnight as it has a cafeteria and a cottage for hire.
- Drive along the fertile plains of Champhai, about 200 km from Aizawl, to enjoy the stunning vista of emerald rice fields bordered by the smoky hills of Myanmar. Champai has the biggest stretch of plains in Mizoram, which are used for rice cultivation. The road from Aizwal to Champai is not very good in some places and it takes about 8 hours one way by a shared SUMO. A privately hired car may take about 6-7 hr; a top speed of only 40 km per hour is possible. But the raw and yet scenic beauty one enjoys along the winding, turning road which goes through thick forests, makes this a memorable experience.
- One of the finest encounters with Mizoram's splendid vistas is Phawngpui, its highest peak, extremely popular with trekkers and adventure enthusiasts. The Blue Mountain, as it is often referred to, is 300 km from Aizawl and close to the Myanmar border. Fragrant herbs and rare species of orchids and rhododendrons are found here.
- Saiha is an angler's paradise on the Chhimtuipui, Mizoram's biggest river, 378 km from Aizawl.
- Dampa is a tiger reserve located in West Phaileng district and is 127 km from Aizawl. It is better to book the government lodge well in advance. You need a permit from the forest officer staying in West Phaileng to enter the Dampa forest. This can also be obtained from forest department in Aizawl. You should be careful while visiting the forest on a rainy day as it is infested with leeches. This Sanctuary has different types of birds and animals, like tigers and elephants.
- Reiek- This is a very nice place near Aizawl and is a must-see. If you hire a full taxi (Maruti 800/ Alto), it would cost you about ₹1300-1400. A hired non AC small car (you never need an AC car in Mizoram!) like Wagon R, Indica, Santro etc., will cost you approximately ₹1800.
Reiek has a model Mizo village. Entry ticket is ₹20 for adults and ₹10 for children. Ask the ticket clerk for someone to show you around, otherwise you won't understand the exhibits––there is no extra charge for such a guide. In December, especially at Christmas time, this place is full of festivities with live music shows atop the mountain, and there is a small stage built especially for the festivities.