Changlang District covered with picturesque hills lies in the southeastern corner of Arunachal Pradesh, northeast India. It has an area of 4,662 sqr. Km and a population of 1,48,226 persons as per 2011 Census. According to legend the name Changlang owes its origin to the local word CHANGLANGKAN which means a hilltop where people discovered the poisonous herb, which is used for poisoning fish in the river.
Changlang District has reached the stage in its present set up through a gradual development of Administration. Prior to 14th November 1987, it was a part of Tirap District. Under the Arunachal Pradesh Reorganization of Districts Amendment Bill, 1987,the Government of Arunachal Pradesh, formally declared the area as a new District on 14th November 1987 and became 10th district of Arunachal Pradesh.
The legacy of Second World War, the historic Stilwell Road (Ledo Road), which was constructed during the Second World War by the Allied Soldiers from Ledo in Assam, India to Kunming, China via hills and valleys of impenetrable forests of north Burma (Myanmar) which section of this road is also passed through Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh and remnant of Second World War Cemetery one can see at Jairampur – Nampong road.
The District lies between the Latitudes 26°40’N and 27°40’N, and Longitudes 95°11’E and 97°11’E .It is bounded by Tinsukia District of Assam in the northwest and Lohit, Namsai and Anjaw Districts of Arunachal Pradesh in the north, by Tirap District in the west and by Myanmar in the east and south.
Except Miao, Diyun, Bordumsa and Kharsang circles and a few narrow strips of flat land in some parts of Changlang, Jairampur, Vijoynagar, Nampong and Namtok circles, the whole district is hilly area. The hills ranging from 200 to 4500 metre in height generally slopes down towards northwest. The highest peak in the district is Daphabum (4500 metre) above sea level.
Changlang district is having 362 Villages, 3 Statutory Towns and 17 Administrative Circles with a total population of 1,48,226 persons out of which 76,948 Males and 71,278 Females as per 2011 census. The sex ratio indicates 926 Females per 1000 Males. The literate population is recorded as 59.80 percent of the total population. The decadal growth rate of the population during 2001-2011 is recorded 18.18 % for the district.
During 1981 census population of the area was 62,211 persons. The figure has gone up to 95,530 persons during 1991 census and in 2001 census, it is 1,25,334 persons. This reveals an increase of 33,319 persons (53.56 percent) in 1981-1991 and 29,804 (31.20 percent) during 1991-2001. This is really an abnormal growth. The District in not predominantly inhabited by the Arunachal Pradesh scheduled Tribe population. Although during the fifties and sixties the indigenous tribal formed the majority, the ratio of tribal population to the total population has declined after seventies. The proportion of Arunachal Pradesh tribal population in 1981 and 1991 were 36.02 percent and 35.60 percent respectively of the total population. It is generally accepted that the abnormal growth of population in the district has been caused not by natural growth but due to sharp increase in non-tribal population by
immigration from Bangladesh, Nepal and Tibet. There has been influx of vast number of Chakma and Hajong refugees from Bangladesh, which remained a continuous influx till today. Other reasons for high growth rate are migration of labour forces from other neighbouring states and establishment of Government offices, institutions and industries in the District.
The district Headquarter, Changlang and Sub-Divisional Headquarter Jairampur and Miao are declared as urban and whereas, rest of the area of the district are still considered as rural.
Changlang district is home land of fascinating and interesting tribes such as Tangsa, Singpho and Tutsa, and also found Nocte, Lisu (Yobin), Deori and few Adibasi tribes.
The Tangsa tribe is comprise of a number of Sub-Tribes, namely Lungchang, Muklom, Tikhak, Jugli, Mossang, Ronrang, Kimsing, Mungrey, Lungphi, Pongthai, Havi, Sangkey (Sangkeng), Logri, Sangwal, Langching, Hacheng, Yangkuk and Thamphang. They occupy the southeastern hills of the district along Indo-Myanmar border and Namchik basin.
The Singphos occupy the plain foothills area of northern part of the district under Miao, Bordumsa and Diyun circles. Singphos believe themselves to be the descendants of Shapawng Yawng who was first born on this earth. He called himself as Singpho. Shapawng Yawng & rsquo;s son, Tingli Yawang wanted to get the blessings of father and the Mathum Matha, the creator of the world. So he organised the first Manau poi as praising of Gods (Bhikan Gundan Poi). Later, the festival came to be known as Shapawang Yawng Manau Poi in the memory of their ancestor Shapawng Tawng.
Traditionally, Manau dance originated from the birds while they were feasting. The dance was initiated by the human beings under the leadership of Ma Den Yau. In this festival, ethnic dance was performed to the rhythm of the drumbeats traditionally known as ‘Gongs’ and ‘Thongs’. The festival was solemnized for the first time in Miao, Arunachal Pradesh in 1985. Since then it has been celebrated on annual basis by the Singphos of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh which is supported by Shapawng Yawng Manau Poi Festival Celebration Committee. The annual congregation strengthens and upholds their unique culture with the participation of the Singphos residing in different parts of the world.
The Tutsas live in the western part of the district under Changlang and Khimiyong circles. Other tribes and dwellers in district are Nocte, Deori, Adibasi of Bordumsa & Diyun, Lisu (Yobin) & Nepali of Vijoynagar, and Chakma, Hajong and Tibetan came as refugees.
As far religion is concerned, each tribe has its own traditional religious belief and practices. The Tangsas and Tutsas belief in existence of a supreme being called ‘Rangfrah’. Besides they also believe in a number of deities and spirits. However recently many of them have came under the influence of Christianity and Buddhism. The Singphos are Buddhist by religion but they have not given up their own traditional beliefs of their ancestors as they had adopted the Buddhism as their religion.
The housing pattern of all the tribes and Sub-Tribes are similar. Platform (Machang) types of houses are generally preferred. The floor of the houses are elevated about four to five feet high from the ground. The houses are of single room system with two fire places (Chullas). They cook and sleep in the same room. However, in modern days some people construct house keeping separate provision for fire places and living rooms.
The Tangsas and Singphos have democratic form of social life. They do not have kingship system. All village disputes are settled by the Panchayat i.e. Gaon Buras.
The main occupation of the indigenous people of the district is agriculture and allied activities. They also rear domestic animals like Cattle, Pig, Goats and Poultry birds.
The most of the indigenous population lives in the villages. They are living through farming and allied activities such as government jobs, agricultural labourer, government contract works, casual workers under government departments, trade in local products etc. There is no direct interference in preservation of traditional customs. But with the spread of education and socio-economic development, aged old traditional customs and economic pattern of the inhabitants are changing gradually. Today, one can see many tribal youths particularly educated group instead of working in agricultural have switched over to business deals, contract works, government jobs and others, which offer them good income. However, majority of the population are living hand to mouth particularly in the interior areas where road communication and other developments have not yet reached.
Moh-Mol: Moh-Mol is basically agricultural related festival of Tangsas, which signifies end of an agricultural activity or beginning of crop season. Since life and activity of tribal people revolve around agriculture, they adhere to utmost important to this festival. It is a gala of pomp and show of traditional colourful costumes, ornaments, art and crafts that enriched the pride of Tangsa’s cultural heritage of the past. It therefore inspires younger generation every year to inherit, protect, preserve and continue it to the later generations further.
While some community of Tangsas observe it for beginning of agriculture activity in the field, some do it for sowing of paddy, and some other for welcoming new crop into home. That is why celebration is performed with religious fervor and devotion. People chant mantras for good harvest of their crops, prosperity of their live stocks and wealth, and disease free live of their family or village community to enjoy food and drinks year after year. So, the offerings, sacrifices, food, drinks, folk-songs and dances accompanied by rhythmic music of drum beats and gong reverberations highlight the festival.
As time of particular agriculture activity differ from village to village, time of their festival also vary accordingly. It is observed generally between April and July, but village community in the council as per their convenience decides exact date.
As Tangsas have no definite date to mark the New Year, the Moh-Mol festival is considered to be the end and beginning of the calendar. People of all ages, on this occasion, sing and dance with their best presentation in colorful attire. In a sense, they do it in order to shake off the shackles of old painful memories and fatigues, and to recharge their energy and enthusiasm, preparing to face reality of life in waiting.
This is also a wonderful occasion for people to exchange goodies, love and affection with their near and dear ones, especially, relatives who visit from distant villages or places. Bogged down by daily chores of their households, people usually look for “Moh/Mol” occasion to see those distant relatives.
“Moh/Mol” is also a forum for development of new friends and acquaintances. Many strangers come into contact on this day, and it may become a permanent relationship. Especially, it is common among young boys and girls who may knot their relation to grow into life time partner.
Some communities of Tangsa, on Moh-Mol eve or during, bid ritual farewell to departed soul of the family, if any member expired during the year. They believe deceased soul dwells in the family who needs farewell by offering foods and drinks for his/her peaceful rest in the ancestor realm.
Then there are prayer “ROM-ROM” to Godess of Crops “Tungaja Chamja” for blessing of bumper harvest, Godess of Prosperity for gain of wealth and “NONG” for longevity of the Nong Culture. All walks of people, irrespective of sex and age, lay down their hearts in enjoying food, drinks, songs, dances and music that filled the air of the ground with maddening effect.
However, with the passage of time, dedication, spirit and traditional costumes are seen continuously undergoing mark changes. The sensitive youths are, therefore, seriously concern over this fading and ever degenerating trend of traditional culture and colours of the society. They feel that it is high time for the society especially the youths to dedicate and mobilize resources for protection, preservation and propagation of tradition and culture for the future generations.
Pongtu Kuh: Pongtu Kuh is an oldest agricultural festival celebrated by Tutsas on the eve of rainy
season. The literary meaning of Pongtu is “Pong” means wind, “Tu” means retreating, “khu” means festival. The festival is celebrated after the harvesting of millet to welcome the New Year and to drive the old. Pongtu is observed to offer prayer to the supreme god Rangkathok for bumper harvest and prosperity and seek security of the crops from occurrence of natural calamities and other destructions like pests etc. The agricultural based Pongtu is celebrated in the month of April every year with pomp and gaiety. The festival is marked by several events like practicing of Rom-Hom a traditional chicken sacrifice for producing fire through rubbing a bamboo stick in hay in order to forecast whether the year would prove prosperous for them or not. It is believed that the sacrifice is given to the deity of the house and is practiced by only a section of the Tutsa tribe. Colourful Tutsa dance displayed by folks of energetic and beautiful youths are the major attraction of the festival.
Shapawng Yang Manu Poi: Culturally rich Singpho festival, Shapawng Yang Manou Poi is celebrated in the month of February every year. The Singpho youths in their traditional wardrobe display colourful dances with their usual tradition of drinking and eating. The prayers are offered to the almighty for peace and prosperity of the people and area during the festival.
Changlang district is one of the richest district in mineral resources and forest products among the districts in Arunachal Pradesh. The most important mineral deposits abundantly found in the district are Oil and Coal deposits. In year 1973, the Oil was first explored at Kharsang by Oil India Limited. Thereafter, Oil India started drilling of exploratory wells at Kunchai, Manabum, and Kherem. Coal exploration and mining had been started at Kharsang Circle of the district long ago and Coal is also abundantly found in other parts of the district such as Namdang area. Timbers and other forest resources also abundantly found in the district.
From vegetation point of view, the area is very rich in flora. Most of the plants are of tropical and sub-tropical wet evergreen and semi-ever green variety in the lower reaches, mixed deciduous forest in the middle and temperate forest in the hills. But most of the wooded area of easily accessible is not virgin forest due to frequent destruction of forests for shifting cultivation by the local people. The valuable timber species available are Hollock (Terminalia myriocarpa), Hollong (Dipterocarpus macrocarpus), Mekai (Shorea assamica), Jutuli, Dhuna, Michelia Champaka, Oak, Betula and so on. One of the rarest and endangered Orchids, Blue Vanda found in Namdapha.
Wild life of Changlang District is rich and varied. Among the important animals Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Elephant, Gaur, Sambar, Malayan Sambar, Hog Deer, Wild Bore, Lesser Panda, Slow Loris etc. The Hoolock Gibbon, the only ape in India is now found in the Namdapha National Park. Besides, there are a large number of arboreal animals, mainly 5 species of monkey and 6 species of squirrels including the giant flying squirrel.
There are a great variety of birds. The most common bird is the great Indian Hornbill. Other interesting birds are Kaleej pheasant, Fragopan, forest Eagle, Monal pheasant, Peacock, Bulbul, Wood Pecker, Dove, Pigeon etc. White winged wood duck, a rare and endangered species is also occasionally seen in the Namdapha forests. During winter, migratory birds such as ducks, gees, teals, swallows, wagtails, finches and others also visits the rivers, streams and pools.
NAMDAPHA, a National Park and Tiger Reserve and, a true wilderness and enchanting beauty of lush green vegetation, impenetrable pristine and virgin forests covered an area of 1985.23 square kilometres having diverse flora and fauna lies in the international border between India and Myanmar(Burma) within Changlang District in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast India.
Namdapha National Park is located at a few km away from Miao amidst misty blue hills along the turbulent Noa-Dihing river lies in the sprawling tropical rain forest. It was declared as Tiger Reserve by the Government in 1983.
The climatic conditions in this District vary from place to place due to mountainous nature of terrain. The altitudes also varies from 200 meters to 4500 meters over the peaks from sea level. Places like Miao, Kharsang, Jairampur, Bordumsa and Diyun, which are located in lower elevations and in the valleys, experience hot and humid climate in summer during June-August. In the hill areas the climate is moderate and pleasant. December to February months are cold. January is the coldest month when the average maximum and minimum temperature is about 22.0 degree Celsius and 13.0 degree Celsius respectively. August is the hottest month during which temperature may occasionally exceed 30.2 degree Celsius. The average maximum temperature is about 26.96 degree Celsius and minimum 18.63 degree Celsius.
Rainfall is also very much influenced by the terrain. There is sharp difference in the quantity of rainfall at different places. The annual rainfall ranges from 3800 mm to 4866 mm. The major rainfall is received during June to October.
The major Rivers are Noa-Dehing, Namchik and Tirap. Other Rivers are Namphuk, Dapha, Namphai,
Rima, Tissu, Tarit, Tara, Tikeng, and Tiging. Most of the rivers after winding through the hills and valleys come down to the plains and join Buri-Dihing River. The Noa-Dihing River, which originates from Patkai Range flows east to west through the entire northeastern and northern stretch of the District. The Tirap rises from a high peak between Laju and Wakka and flows Southwest to Northeast passing through the Changlang town ultimately meet Buri-Dihing near Lekhapani in Assam. These rivers become turbulent during the monsoon and cause a great damage to agriculture fields in the area but at the same time increases the fertility of the soil by depositing silt along their courses.