HAFLONG: Dima Hasao, often referred to as the Switzerland of the Northeast, is making efforts to utilize its breathtaking natural beauty to attract tourists and establish itself as the cleanest district in India.
This hill district in Assam, formerly known for its insurgency issues, is striving to transform into one of the most serene and exotic tourist destinations in the region, according to officials from the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC).
As part of their initiative, the council, which governs Dima Hasao, unveiled a draft tourism policy on World Tourism Day. This policy aims to create five distinct circuits for travellers, catering to various interests.
NCHAC's Chief Executive Member (in-charge), Hen Samuel Changsan, highlighted the district's shift towards recognising the potential of its natural resources, particularly for the youth who were previously unemployed. He explained, "For that, we have streamlined the tourism policy. This is a draft policy, and we have to pass it in the council session. We will have our own mini circuits. We will also integrate with the greater Assam tourism circuit."
Dima Hasao, with its headquarters in Haflong, situated approximately 330 km from Guwahati, is the only hill station in the state of Assam. Addressing concerns about decades of insurgency affecting tourism, Changsan emphasised that peace forms the foundation for development and that the district is currently peaceful.
He also noted improvements in basic infrastructure like roads, water supply, and telecommunications in recent years.
Changsan highlighted the importance of education in developing the tourism sector, noting that students from Dima Hasao consistently perform well in Assam's Class 10 board exams.
Zed Nunisa, a tourism advisor, shared NCHAC's vision of making the district entirely plastic-free and positioning Dima Hasao as the cleanest district in India. He expressed confidence in garnering support from government bodies and stakeholders to achieve this goal. Nunisa explained that the council plans to establish five tourism circuits: adventure, eco and rural, agriculture, cultural, and festival. Notably, Umrangso has been developed as a destination wedding tourism spot with a golf course.
Monjit Naiding, an NCHAC member in charge of tourism, stated that the draft policy aims to standardize homestays, lodges, and hotels, ensuring a comfortable stay for tourists.
Dima Hasao enjoys good connectivity with the rest of Assam and the country through road and rail networks. The region's scenic beauty and rich cultural heritage make it a potential gem for tourism, and efforts to promote responsible and sustainable tourism are expected to attract travelers from various parts of India and beyond.
The district boasts attractions such as Jatinga, known for its unusual bird phenomenon, Hajong Lake, Laisong, Maibang, and Umrangso, offering opportunities for mountaineering, trekking, rafting, water sports, and eco-tourism. It also serves as a hub for botanical and zoological studies and educational purposes.
Dima Hasao's tourism potential has received a boost with the introduction of Vistadome Tourist Special Train Services between Guwahati and Haflong in August 2021. The region's history as a favored destination during British colonial times, its weather, and scenic beauty continue to draw visitors.