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Wokha’s Vanishing Mountain
November 25, 2010 | By: Renchano Humtsoe
Nagaland’s Mount Tiyi is a key environmental and cultural feature for the local Lotha people. The mount, more clearly defined as a large hill, stands at 1969.91 meters above sea level. At one point, Mount Tiyi was well known for its fabulous lushness. Local Lothas recall the colorful Rhododendron flowers that once dotted the hill and the robust variety of bird and plant species that once thrived there.
The mountain’s beauty inspired both songs and spiritual beliefs. Over time, the Lotha developed a register of songs specifically relating to Mount Tiyi. Local tribal people’s fascination with the mount resulted in a growing number of legends. According to local folklore, there is a concealed orchard on the mount, which can only be found by the most fortunate of souls. The hill has also been referred to as, “the mountain of life, “ a name given in reference to the life-giving water streaming from Tiyi’s summit. Perhaps the most compelling association—and one that runs through much of Nagaland—is that Mount Tiyi is the abode of departed souls. This haunting image has fueled the sanctity surrounding the mount for as long as living memory allows.
However, in recent times, carelessness by both locals and outsiders has contributed to the degradation of Mount Tiyi. Mismanagement in cultivating the local jhum crop has worn down the hillside. External contractors fell trees at reckless rates. Locals have pushed housing up the hillside. All of these factors and more have contributed to a noticeable loss of biodiversity.
This physical loss has been accompanied by a loss of the cultural practices bound to Mount Tiyi. As Mount Tiyi’s flowers fade and die, so too have the bright songs once sung to celebrate it. Many fear these cultural traditions are in danger of extinction.
In this video, Renchano reports on how Mount Tiyi has changed over the years: from its important historic significance to its present status.
Ankush Sharma / October 18, 2021