Dima Hasao – Dreamland of Assam

By Bhudeb Chakrabarti

The Birds Mystery

Jatinga, a scenic village nestled among the Borail Hills range in the Dima Hasao District of Assam, is known for a strange eerie phenomenon. During misty and foggy days in the months of September to November, each year, thousands of birds come to this valley and crash to their death. As the sun sets, huge number of birds descend on the village and fly full speed, smashing against buildings and trees, to drop dead.

Jatinga Birds Mystery
Jatinga Birds Mystery | Image Source :sify.com

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People from all over the world come to see this mysterious annual phenomenon of suicide by disoriented birds, which lies unexplained so far. The renowned ornithologist Dr Salim Ali had noted,

“The most puzzling thing about the phenomenon is that so many species of diurnal resident birds are on the move when, by definition, they should be first asleep.”

This weird mass suicide phenomenon of birds has earned Jatinga the name of Death Valley for Birds.

Dima Hasao District

Besides being known for the Jatinga Bird mystery, Dima Hasao, in the heart of Assam, is beset with breath-taking natural beauty. With Nagaland and Manipur to its east, Meghalaya to its west, Cachar District (Assam) to its south, and Karbi Anglong and Naogaon Districts (Assam) to its north, this magical land, full of hills and valleys intersected by rivers, and abundant in flora and fauna instantly casts a captivating spell on the visitors.

Dima Hasao District
Dima Hasao District | Image Source : travelokam.com


My first visit to this hill district of Assam was way back in 1953, The train journey on a hill section from Lumding to Badarpur and back through the cliffs and curves on metre gauge rails with consecutive long tunnels, had mesmerized me so much that I harboured a dream to revisit this paradise on earth again.

In 2010, I got a chance to see this dreamland again, after this District was designated as Dima Hasao Autonomous District. I boarded the Barak Valley Express for Lumding from Silchar. Haflong the hilly District Headquarter town of Dima Hasao, encircled by the lofty and imposing Borail Hills Range, served as the base for my stay.

Haflong | Image Source : hoparoundindia.com

Cultural and ethnic diversity

During my stay in Dima Hasao, I found many diverse ethnic groups living together harmoniously in the small geographical area. They communicated among themselves with ease and warmth in a dialect commonly known as ‘Haflong Hindi‘.


Maibang was the first place on my itinerary. Maibang, located on the bank of Mahur River, presents its picturesque landscape with its green carpet of paddy fields. It is a historical place that served as the 16th century capital of the Kingdom of Dimasa Kacharis, an Indo Mongoloid group that had settled in the northern half of Dima Hasao. Maibang still retained the position as the granary of the District.

Dimasa Dancing Group
Dimasa Dancing Group | Image Source : heritagefoundation.org.in


The Zeme Nagas migrated to Dima Hasao from Nagaland, settled in the south of Maibang on the breezy hill tops and developed their own customs and culture. The Kukis and Hmars of the Tibeto –Burmese stock migrated from Burma to Dima Hasao and settled in the high Borail Hills Range. They retained many of their traditional ways of life in their new homes of Dima Hasao. The Hmar women turned out to be dexterous weavers in their indigenous loin looms.

The Khasi-Pnars, a matrilineal Jaintia tribe, settled in the lush Jatinga River Valley to the south of Haflong. Unlike some other tribes of Dima Hasao they practise permanent cultivation and grew luscious fruits like oranges, lemons, plums, litchis and pineapples.


My next travel plan was to go up to Garampani (Hot spring), the water of which is believed to have medicinal value. The Dimasas , Karbies and Biates generally lived in this part, which is the western most place on the border with the Jaintia Hills, District of Meghalaya.

Karbi dance
Karbi dance | Image Source : kaac.nic.in


The Karbies, a Tibeto-Burmese race, are unique because of their migratory character. They practised ‘jhumming’ (shifting cultivation) in which the whole village is involved and harvesting ís done in a cooperative manner. The Karbies would often leave behind a whole village with schools, roads and wells, never to be used again, for new pastures.

I found from my visit to Dima Hasao that each group of people whether tribal or non-tribal who migrated to this serene land and made it their permanent abode had a great love for Nature, a desire to live and work in harmony with the fellow human beings, an independent spirit and a keenness for innovation.

Jatinga Valley

I concluded my sojourn of Dima Hasao by a visit to the picturesque Jatinga village on a clear summer day. The village overlooking the Jatinga Valley, hardly a few kilometres to the east of Haflong, is on a spur of the Haflong ridge, which itself is an offshoot of the main ridge of the Borail Hills Range. The lush Jatinga Valley made so green by the heavy rainfall lay in all its splendor before my eyes.


A board of the Forest Department at the quaint Jatinga village read:

Welcome to the Coming Birds

Let Them Live and Add Attraction

To The Jatinga Valley.



Reference :

Incredible N C Hills: Through Lens , Zahid Ahmed Tapadar, Department of Information and Public Relations



This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti, Dy IG (Retd) CRPF. He has commanded several Operational and Administrative functions in the force and has imparted training to gazetted officers of CRPF and other central & state police forces.

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26 thoughts on “Dima Hasao – Dreamland of Assam

  1. I am grateful to you for your kind words about my blog on Dima Hasao .I have not been able to visit all the places of Dima Hasao and there may be many other places equally beautiful . Regards .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely post and very informative, I will surely check youtube to know more of the phenomenon. Haven’t been to Northeast yet but your post gives a glimpse of the serene beauty. thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful descriptions! North East is very beautiful and also more intriguing because of so many indigenous people and their different culture and traditions.

    Real reasons for the Jatinga birds’ suicide phenomenon can’t be confirmed as the researchers have cited different reasons. Also, such weird stories are reported from Mizaoram, Philippines and Malaysia.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bhudeb Chakrabarti Kolkata 19February 2015
    Many thanks for your encouragement on my post about Dima Hasao. You have truly said that the North East of our country has acquired a special distinction on account of the diverse ethnic groups with their characteristic customs and cultures . I am enlightened to know about the mysterious phenomena in Mizoram ,Philippines and Malaysia similar to Jatinga Valley of Dima Hasao .

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The blog reminded me of the numerous visits to Silchar travelling by Barak valley from Guwahati to Silchar. Many readers will be surprised to know that the distance between Guwahati to Silchar is only 213 km and it takes 11 hours to reach destination either way. It is a long hilly track and the train is pulled by one engine and another engine pushes it up the track on the mountains. The surrounding is heavenly and we never mind this long journey as kids. The winding railway tracks, hundred of small rivers crisscrossing the entire length and the deep forest through which the train passed. Amazing North East…!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderfullllll to read this!

    Till date, of all the train journeys I have made, the one I made from my hometown Silchar to Lumding, undoubtedly remains the most beautiful to me.

    In case you don’t know, the ‘pahad line’, as it was called has been finally converted to BG from MG. The first engine to Silchar reached tomorrow!

    A section of the MG line will remain operational, for the tourism aspect.


    Liked by 1 person

            1. You are welcome🙂 . I would like to point out that I am not the author of the posts pertaining to NE (except for the post on Darjeeling). The author of the posts Mr B Chakrabarti has toured extensively in the NE during his service time and has penned down his experiences in Dima Hasao, Mizoram & Manipur so far. Have requested him to write about other areas as well.

              Liked by 1 person

  7. Rajiv I would like to convey grateful thanks to you for your kind appreciation of my Blog on Dima Hasao .As you are from Silchar you know much more about Dima Hasao than me. I had my first train journey by the Hill Section Train from Lumding to Badarpur and back in1950’s when still in College which remains my most memorable train journey in my life .I travelled last by the quaint Hill Railway in 2010 from Silchar to Haflong and back. The Broad Gauge Railway line was under construction at that time . I am happy to know that it is now complete and Broad Gauge Trains will run for convenience of the people in the region I am glad to learn that the Metre Gauge line will be continued for Tourism purpose .I long to travel by the romantic Metre Gauge Railway line cutting through the green hills negotiating tunnels after tunnels Again many thanks to you . Regards .


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