Tiddim and the Sial Lum Fort

TiteeBy Kaung Si Thu

Calm and cool Chin State cozily lies in the far away northern part of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar enveloped with fine weather in the midst of beautiful green mountains luring globe trotters to come and enjoy a place to remember.
Tiddim or Tedim is a town in and the administrative seat of Tedim Township, Chin State, in the north-western part of the country. The town’s four major boroughs are: Sakollam, Myoma, Lawibual and Leilum.
Due to difficult and skeletal transportation to be there for large crowd of visitors, the landscape of the area remains amazingly and exceptional natural beauty deep rooted with China traditional culture symbolizing and reflecting the awesome characteristic of Chin State.

The beautiful Tiddim Town is the second largest town in Chin State. Going westward from Tiddim, one can stepped into the land of Mizoram State of the Republic of India. Rising up in the sky, the town stands out above 5667 feet above sea level, and a mountain named “Htwan Won Mountain” scaled up to 8871 feet.
Methodically constituted with (130) villages, it has (55) village tracts. During the British rule, Tiddim area had been administered in (3) sub-townships. Interestingly, the early Tiddim Town was first founded in AD 1550 according to the records.
Believe it or not, Tiddim Township has no flat plain space but forest covered mountains and steep valleys. Among the rivers in the State, the Manipur River is the famous watercourse.
The most famous and uniquely shaped like a heart “Rih Lake”, a tourist attraction, is in Tiddim Township. Rih Lake, a natural lake is located in Rihkhawdar village, northwestern Chin State, in Myanmar. It lies at about 3 kilometers from Zokhawthar village at an Indo-Myanmar border. The lake is about one mile (1.6 km) in length and half a mile (0.8km) in width. It is about 3 miles (4.8km) in its circumference and the depth is about 60 feet.
Looking deep into Tiddim Township, it is learnt that direct descendants of local Chin tribes of ruling class, warriors, and royal courts ministers had resided there.
By nature, Tiddim Township is the home for motley assortment of woodland and rain forests mingled with rare species of wild animals.
Fine apples and aromatic tea plants (green tea) are grown in many places of Chin State, and that Tiddim is the trading center for these products. Over the last few years, ground nuts and onions are grown and exported to the Republic of India through border trade centers.

Tiddim and domesticated wild ox
In Tiddim Township, many households raise farm animals such as buffalo, cow, pig, goat, sheep, chicken, duck and domesticated wild ox from five head counts to fifty head counts. Chin nationals calculated and valued their wealth on the number of ownership for domesticated wild ox. The animal is being termed and valued as wedding gift to local marriage ceremony. Ironically, the domesticated wild animals are not confined in ranch, but released freely in the open wide space just by marking them on the body. The owners went to the valley of grazing grounds to collect their animals back when required for trading or selling. Some time at the collection, they find it difficult to identify the animals and arguments and quarrels cropped up. Eventually, they settled the matters amicably.

The Sial Lum Fort
The visitors who arrived at Tiddim Town never failed to visit the heart shape beautiful Rih Lake and the historical Sial Lum Fort.
The Department of Historical Research and National Archives under the Ministry of Religious and Culture have been undertaking the responsibility of maintenance, care and renovation of ancient and historical sites and structures across the country. The Sial Lum Fort in Tiddim Township is among the list of maintenance and care.
However, the historical sites such as the Fort White in Khaw Sa Village; the historical Residence of local Tribe Chief in Sai Zan Village and the old Air Port are yet to be included in the list for maintenance.
In the language of Siyin Chin dialect, the “Sial” means the “head of wild ox” and the word “Lum” stands out as “Fort”. Therefore, the word “Sial Lum” could be literally interpreted as “The Fort in the shape of Wild Ox”. The fort is situated in Tiddim Township at above sea level (4000) feet.
The British invaded and annexed the upper Myanmar in 1885, and attempted to occupy Chin Hills region. Intense fighting ensued between the invaders and the Chin nationals in many areas and that the Sial Lum Battle was the heaviest. A story about the battle between British invaders and the Siyin Chin people of Myanmar was interesting. The native Siyin (Sizang) fought the British viciously and 28 warriors lost their life.
In 1887, Chindwin Political Officer Captain F. D. Raikes had a discussion with Falam Council Head Bo Sun Pet and other Chin tribe leaders. The discussions involved on the topics such as that the Chin nationals to refrain from attacks on the lands being annexed by the British, and to establish the trade and business route to India from that area.
However, the Chin nationals had suspicions over the intention of British. In March 1888, the Chin nationals attacked the areas namely Inn Dinn (Now called Ann Tan); Kalewa; Kalemyo; and Kabaw Valley.
Shwe Gyo Bhyu Prince and the followers were fighting and revolting against the British government and therefore, the Chin nationals provided them with safe shelters. In the year 1888, they revolt and fight against the British.
In February 1889, Sir George White and Major Rakes arrived at Khaw Sa Village belong to Siyan Chin tribes, and established a military brigade in Htoke Hlaing Village. With the intent to fight and crush the British, (37) warriors of Siyan Chin tribe started digging a trench and built a fort at Sial Lum Village, which was later named as “Sial Lum Fort”.
The stronghold had all the required basic structures of warfare such as main fort, trench for the women warriors, pathway around the trench, lower trench, and look-out trench. Moreover, three-foot high sharp spikes were erected around the fort. As for the safe shelters inside the fort, separate spaces for the children and women, for the local tribal chiefs, and for the spiritual lords. As the site of the fort had been chosen at the edge of a downhill deep valley, the fort remained safe at the rear.
The war fought on 4 May 1889 by the Chin tribes against the British troops at the Sial Lum Fort turned out to be the most daring battle and left many soldiers dead and injured. The war resulted with the death of (28) Chin patriots and warriors including brave women. Total of (11) patriots suffered injuries.
In the year 1965, the renovation of the fort was carried out and the pillar bearing the name of the stronghold was erected. The triumphant and jubilant ceremony to mark the resistance against the British troops by the Chin tribes is held each and every year at Waw Lar Village where over (300) Siyin Chin tribes are residing.
It is our duty-bound honor to maintain and preserve the historical site and structure of Sial Lum Fort in Chin State that stands out for over 120 years where the Chin national resisted against the British colonialists with fiery battle holding the head high with patriotic spirit.

Translated by UMT

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