TODAY -

Beau Benreu

By:- Robert Lanky *



"Benreu" created by human beings in the lap of "Mother Nature" is nestled on the ridge leading to the Mt Pauna - the third highest mountain in Nagaland. Originally, Benreu village inhabited by Zeme-Naga of Mongoloid origin, under Peren district of Nagaland, is now the home of Zeliangrong and Kukis. It is an epitome of nature's untouched beauty as it retains most of its age-old charm and simplicity with nature and man in perfect synchrony.

The meandering hills and paths leads to the lush green grassy village nestled along the ridge is abundant with wild life, fauna, birds and edible shrubs. It's not at all required to venture into the jungles to hear the birds and animals as it can be heard in the village itself. This mystic village is the unexplored, non commercial, God's own creation complete with nature's paradise and reality.

Distant view of benrue village


This 'God's own creation' is located 120 kms away from state commercial capital 'Dimapur' at a height of approx 7000 ft with Mt Pauna over looking the village & surrounded by virgin forests. At Benreu, the rare experience of being close to the mother's nature can be felt.

Benreu with approximately 122 houses and less than a thousand people is the home of Zeliangrong and Kukis and interestingly with higher female ratio than men. The village Chairman, Mr Tingbanbe proudly mentions that literacy rate of the village is 95% courtesy the "Government Middle School" in the village.

He also proudly claims that every house of the village is electrified and the Village has a Primary Health Centre and Community Church as well. On inquiry he says the main source of living villagers are farming and cultivation of oranges and mangoes.

He has lots of hopes about the development, employment and revenue of the village with the likely increase in the tourist inflow in coming years with construction of Tourist Lodge to the south of the Village along the Pauna ridge by the Nagaland Government.

The 'Mt Pauna Tourist Village Resort'has eight double bedded cottages fitted with all modern amenities constucted beneath natural trees of different varieties, making the occupant feel the closeness with nature. It also has one Morung and a three storied restaurant .

Above all, the hospitality and care extended by the staff at resort is heart felt and admirable more so, the personal touch which gives the feeling of closeness. Benreu can be reached by two buses plying from Dimapur and Benreu daily. But the road is prone to landslides during monsoon and remains closed, paradoxically preserving and conserving this paradise from outsiders.

To conserve wild life and to maintain ecological balance, ten years ago, villagers had banned hunting of wild animals in the forest above the road, but allowing hunting in the jungle below the road.

Elderly Zeliang woman of Benreu


Besides giving the fresh lease of life to the Blythe's tragopan, the ban has placed the Benreu among the most biologically vibrant areas in Nagaland, which otherwise the local populace are (in)famous for eating 'anything that moves on the earth' and could have left nothing in the vicinity.

Benreu has another treasure: the oldest Morung. There is nothing like feasting and getting high in the traditional dormitory inside the Morung where 'khel specific male' Nagas gather for community feasting and recreation .The wooden benches and beds with skulls of bears, wild boars and deers hanging over head, add a touch of eeriness to the Morung's dark interior.

The villagers claim that they also have one of the highest concentrations of the highly prized semi wild Mithun. And the wealth of a villager is gauged by the number of the Mithuns he or she owns.

The animal earmarked for special feasts is allowed to roam in the wilderness unless it's time to come home for addictive salt. Any one can offer salt to the Mithuns, but only the owner has the right to sell or kill.

But, alas! Benreu despite being God's own creation in a lap of mother nature and with tourist facilities has very minimal flow of tourists. Reasons, one may surmise are ILP, RAP , bad road conditions, fear psychosis of Big Brothers camp (to Athibung camp), inadequate publicity & information and lack of good transportation.

Ethnic cottage at Mt Pauna Tourist Resort


Although the village has been declared as 'Mt Pauna Tourists Village' but a cursory glance of the visitors book reveals as a low tourist destination .It is only the govt officials who have frequented the resort and enjoyed the hospitality of the village as they can afford.

The author, with heavy heart would like to make a fervent appeal to concerned Govt agencies, PWD or Border Roads for providing good communication, tourist buses to enable commuters to visit this beautiful place safely and comfortably and to explore the mystic beauty of Benreu and carry with them nostalgic memories of the Village.

See then full gallery of this trip here.




* Robert Lanky is freelancer based in North East India and writes on generic topics, which pertains to social issues of various states of the region. He contributes regularly to e-pao.net. All views are the author's and He can be contacted at robertlanky [AT] gmail [DOT] com. This article was webcasted on May 14th, 2009.

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