This 130-year-old city is the capital of Mizoram. The quaint city started off as humble hamlets that popped up around the British Aijal fort. Today, Aizawl is the cultural and financial centre of the Mizos and is often called the Jerusalem or the heartbeat of the Zo community (Chin-Kuki-Mizo). Aizawl is the capital of the Indian state of Mizoram in Northeast India. The city has gone through a famine, bombardment, multiple earthquakes but has stood the test of time. What we now call Aizawl was nothing but a piece of flat land on top of a random hill somewhere in the then Lushai hills. After the British took hold of Lushai Hills in the 1870s there was a need to establish a barrack deep within the Lushai hills, and a tiny flatland in the middle of Lushai Hills was designated as the headquarter of British command in the Lushai hills. A fort was constructed on this hilltop and soon small hamlets developed around it. The name Ai-zawl comes from the Ai plant, which is a type of rhizome plant that grew around this fort, passerby's would often call the place Ai-zawl which means "Ai plain", the name caught on and Aizawl became the official name of this small British administered village. It was back then spelt 'Aijal' which is an anglicised version of the name 'Aizawl'.

Aizawl started off as a humble village

Soon, Aizawl became the headquarter of the administration and religion of the Mizos after the Welsh Mission society also establishes a headquarter in Aizawl. People started to flock into Aizawl as Aizawl Bazar became the commercial centre of Lushai Hills. What was once a small village located on a flat hilltop became a rugged uneven village as settlement expanded. More people in search of food and opportunities moved into Aizawl as the Mautam famine intensified in the Lushai Hills by the late 50's. Other neighbouring villages such as Chaltlang and Durtlang were soon absorbed into the now large village and Aizawl was starting to take its modern shape by the early 60s. However, the expansion of Aizawl was abruptly halted by the Mid '60s as Mizoram was reeling under the Mizo independence movement triggered by the Mautam famine where the Mizo National Front was in an open war with the government of India. And then on March 1965, something unthinkable happened to Aizawl. On that day, In an attempt to stop the MNF advances, the Government of India bombarded Aizawl and adjoining areas with heavy bombs, scores died but at that point, Aizawl was already a ghost town as many have already taken shelter in the Jungle. This was one of the few instances in Indian history where the government dropped bombs on its own civilians, in civilian areas. Although the Mizos have made peace with the Indian Government and are now participating members of India, the scar of the Aizawl bombing and its denial by the government of that day still lingers. This old wound would need more time and effort to be completely healed.

many parts of Aizawl were levelled in this bombing

However, this city of the Mizos, beloved by every Mizo was not going to give up, it had mouths to feed and culture to nurture. So like a Pheonix, from the ashes, it rose up once again to become the beautiful albeit congested modern city. The city is located in a seismic zone and experiences at least 10 mild earthquakes every year, but that hasn't stopped the Mizos from building up their city. Due to its rugged terrain and frequent earthquakes, there have been several proposals to shift the capital to a more 'suitable' place but so far such mega plans have failed to gain momentum, and Aizawl will remain the beloved capital of Zo people worldwide, at least for now.

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The Mizos

The Mizos is a one-man team news blog, that brings you news and stories from Mizoram, Northeast India and the rest of the World.

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