Many times over the years I have heard about this small hill town called Jatinga nestled somewhere on a ridge of the Borail hills in the Dima Hasao district where, on dark moonless nights, birds come to kill themselves! To be honest, whenever I heard anything about the bird suicide in Jatinga thing, I always took it with a pinch of salt until one day, I decided to google it up. To my surprise I found that all of it was actually true and even more surprising was the fact that quite a few renowned ornithologists too have tried to actually find out the reason behind the birds committing suicide there.
I felt like an idiot for having never believed anything about a phenomenon which has been happening since the past 100 years!! I always wanted to go there to find out more about this phenomenon and as luck would have it, one fine day on a solo ride to Haflong, I took a detour to visit the Jatinga village. I liked the quaint little village as soon as I entered its boundaries. Too bad, I had no camera on that ride apart from my smart-phone.
Just as you enter the village (from Silchar side and towards Haflong), there is the bird-watching tower which has a lot of photographic as well as textual records detailing the phenomenon, a lot of photos of different species of birds. The sentry there gave me a tour of the place and answered a lot of questions of mine.
During the dark and moonless nights of September and October, just after the monsoons start making way for the cold and foggy winters, between 6.30 and 9.30 PM (not sure how true these are), some 44 species of local birds become strangely disoriented and plunge to the lights of the houses below, he said.
Why do they do so, nobody knows but what I did not know until I talked to the caretaker of the bird-watching tower was the fact that not all the birds that come swooping down attracted by the lights actually commit ‘suicide’. In reality, on landing, most of the birds are just disoriented and not dead, it is the locals who actually do the killing because of their superstitious beliefs.
Before I came here, I somewhere inside me, wanted to actually see it happening, the birds flying in and smashing themselves over a very small area of 1.5 x 2 kms but after being there and listening to things first hand, I don’t think I would ever want to see that. The poor birds flying disillusioned falling on the ground and then people instead of helping them, killing them off. No, I would definitely never like to witness something like this!
How to reach Jatinga?
Located in the North-Cachar Hills of Assam, Jatinga can be reached by road and rail. Below are the ways to reach Jatinga.
By Road: Jatinga falls off the East – West corridor, very near to Haflong, the only Hill-station of Assam. The nearest major town to it’s south is Silchar (98 kms) while the nearest major town on the North is Guwahati, both well-connected by the East-West corridor. From Haflong, you can easily take an auto-rickshaw to Jatinga.
By Train: Jatinga has its own station and is part of the North-East Frontier Railway network. There are multiple trains daily that connect it to Silchar, Lumding and Guwahati. Guwahati is well-connected to the rest of India.
By Air: Jatinga does not have an airport of its own. The nearest airport from Jatinga is at Silchar which is around 98 kilometers. There are multiple daily flights from Silchar to Kolkata and Guwahati. The distance between Jatinga and the Guwahati airport is around 320 kms.
“As fog comes on a moonless night
When the wind blows in direction right
Jatinga turns into an island of search light
& birds appear like ghosts from nowhere!!” – Website of Dima Hasao
Did you know about this place before, ever heard about it? Do you know about any other such mysterious phenomenon and would like to share?
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