In 1998, with a backpack on his shoulder, a shivering Shah Rukh Khan looks through a foggy railway counter and asks “Bhaisab, yein Barak Valley Express kab chute gi? (elderbrother, when will the Barak Valley Express leave?”
The railway station, where Mani Ratnam shot the scene from his acclaimed movie Dil Se, was Halflong of the then narrow-gauge route. Halflong, located 280 km from Guwahati and 110 km from Silchar, is the only hill station in Assam.
The railway track has now been upgraded into broad-gauge and the station rebuilt at some distance and renamed New Halflong. Nevertheless, the charm of Halflong remains undiluted. In fact, the steep 3-km climb by car from New Halflong station to Haflong town is a thrill in itself, let Global Connection vouch.
Halflong is a small idyllic hill station spread over a large hill that rests on the banks of Diyungriver. The town has a mix population of tribal groups like Dimasa, Hamar, and plains communities such as Bengalis, Nepalis, and Assamese.
Of all things, a view of the sunrise from Halflong Circuit House offers a tourist the most memorable experience.
With Global Connection Siliguri making necessary arrangements, sit on the garden of the Circuit House and watch the sun come out slowly from behind the Borail Hill, as the Diyungriver flows below like tiny silver thread. The old wooden building of the Circuit House is over a century old.
Barley 100-metres from the Circuit House is a lake that runs almost to the centre of the town. There is boating facility for tourists.
Next should be a visit to the Halflong Watch Tower located towards the back of the town. It offers a bird’s eye view of the town. Although the distance is not much, because of the altitude, tourists cannot help but use a vehicle and Global Connection Siliguri is there to make the arrangements.
A stroll to the local marketplace is worth it for a peep into the diverse food habit and apparel of the various tribal people who come to sell their produce.
Some 9 km from HalflongliesJatinga village at an altitude of 2,600 feet. It stands facing the Borail Hill, whose highest peak is 7,000 feet high. Jatinga is famous for the “suicide”by migratory birds on dark moonless nights during September to November.
In recent years, due to the intervention by the forest department, the “suicide” of birds havecome down. Still, Jatinga remains a hotspot for migratory birds. There’s a watchtower at Jatinga that offers a mesmerising view of the Borail Hill and the Lumding-Silchar highway that runs along the foothills.
Around 3-km from Jatinga is the Ethnic Village located inside a deep forest on a foothill. It is a park cum exhibition centre on the lifestyle of the various tribes of Assam. There are real-life replicas of tribal houses standing on the sprawling campus. The adjacent park offers ample space for children to play around and elders to get lost in the natural beauty.
If it is winter, then on the way back you must buy a dozen Jatina oranges famous for its taste.