JATINGA: The Valley of Mysterious Bird Suicide Point In Assam
Jatinga, a tribal village in Assam’s Dima Hasao district and is famous for the phenomenon of birds ‘committing suicide’! The phenomenon is credited to disorientation caused by high altitudes and fog and simple-minded folks who see these falling birds as evil spirits. The death valley of Jatinga is no less than a horror movie. Here the birds do not chirp, they do not fly, play with the wind or dance in the rain- they can’t sing, can’t fly, can’t even enter the wide open sky above the green land. Because death is waiting for them! Bird experts believe that magnetic force is the cause of this mysterious phenomenon. However, it is not even fully solved yet.
Why Do Birds Commit Suicide
The tendency to commit suicide is common in humans, but it is rare in case of birds. In this village, birds fly fast and hit a building or tree, killing them. The strangest thing is that birds do this from 7 pm to 10 pm, while in normal weather these birds tend to go out during the day and return to the nest at night.
Approximately 44 species of local and migratory birds,like, tiger bittern, little egret, black bittern, pond heron, Indian pitta and kingfishers are involved in this race of suicide. Jatinga remains isolated from the outside world for nine months due to natural reasons. Not only this, entry into the village at night is prohibited. Jatinga, a small and scenic village nestling among the Borail Hills Range, approximately 3,000 people – this bizarre Bermuda Triangle of avian death remains largely unexplained, despite studies by India’s most prestigious ornithologists.
Is There An Influence Of Evil Spirits
The local villagers believed it was evil spirits trying to terrorise them. It became so popular that people would come here to see this phenomenon and the story of the place being haunted spread far and wide. Birds swoop down towards the light and are killed upon landing in collision with bamboo poles. Curiously, most of the doomed birds do not attempt to fly away after they land near the lights. What is most mind-boggling is that most of these bird species are diurnal and there’s no explanation why they would be flying at night. Jatinga’s bird suicides occurs when the air current flowing from South-West to North-East, reverses its direction over Borail valley. This horrible event usually happens during the late monsoon as most of the water bodies in Assam are flooded by that time. The birds lose their natural habitat. They have to migrate to other places. Jatinga falls in their migratory path. However, the birds are not attracted to the entire Jatinga Ridge but only to a well-defined strip, 1.5 km long and 200 metres wide. Invariably the birds come in only from the north and attempts at placing the lights on the southern side of the ridge to attract the birds have failed. And most interestingly, no long distance migratory bird gets attracted to the light traps. The victims are resident birds of the adjacent valleys and hill slopes.
Villagers of Jatinga get the opportunity to trap the birds and consume them for meals, as the arrival of birds is considered a “gift of Gods”. The superstitious Naga inhabitants of Jatinga started the Annual Bird Catching Carnival in those months, and all the villagers would have plenty to eat during that time. The villagers set up huge lights to attract the birds and they would knock them down to the ground. For most of the year, about 1200 Jantia tribes of Jatinga live in obscurity, tending to their crops on the slopes of the Jatinga ridge or raising poultry and livestock. Jatinga is not about birds alone. It has lovely people, lovely oranges and pineapples, and breath-taking natural scenery all around. It is a little paradise on earth. There is an elevated watchtower for bird watching. The phenomenon has captured the interest of wildlife circles and tourists, making the village of Jatinga world famous. The birds alone are responsible for a boost in tourism during the monsoon months.
Jatinga is situated at a distance of 9 km from Haflong town. The train ride to Jatinga is itself an adventure, as it is one of the scariest routes in the entire world. The nearest airport and railway station to Haflong or Jatinga is Silchar. Silchar is the second largest city in Assam with numerous transport facilities but the drive from Silchar to Halflong via NH 54 will take hardly 4 to 5 hours only. Tourists also prefer to stay in Haflong or Silchar which have a number of hotels in various budgets, and pay day trips to the Jatinga village.
If you are planning a trip to this mysterious place and need local support you can contact NomadLawyer volunteer Mr. Jahid
Contributed by: Jahid Ahmed Choudhury
Entrepreneur/ Community Health and Travel Blogger/ Social Worker/Member, Team Nomad Lawyer
Edited by: Imtiaz Ullah
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