NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival

Tripoto
4th Mar 2019
Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Missed the Hornbill festival ? Don't worry, there is a lot to see in Nagaland besides the Hornbill Festival : the quiet pace of their green villages, their ingenious self-sustaining life style, their beautiful art and culture integrated seamlessly into their daily lives and homes, delicious cuisine... all this and more in this mystical and beautiful hill state of Nagaland. Tucked away in the far north-eastern corner of India, Nagaland has a dissected landscape dominated by crumpled mountain ranges. This surreal terrain of towering peaks and deep gorges is interspersed with dense patches of vibrant semi-evergreen rain forests of breathtaking beauty and is populated by people who are proud and strong.

We hired Alder Tours and Travels for a week's trip to Nagaland and asked them to come up with an itinerary to suit our interests.

What are your interests ? Which aspect of Nagland would you like to see ?, Mr. Keja our tour operator asked us. 'A bit of everything', we responded, 'culture, wildlife, cuisine, the village life...'

Mr. Keja did not disappoint and came up with the following itinerary:

Day 1| Mar-04 : Dimapur - Benreu (97 Kms/3-4 hrs)

We were met by Asou Savino, our local guide for the entire tour, at Dimapur airport, from here after lunch  drove to Benreu village for overnight stay. 

After dinner and rice beer around a bonfire we spent the night at  Benreu Community Cottage.

Day 1

Interesting contraption to get piped water made from Bamboo, Dimapur

Photo of Dimapur, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

On the way from Dimapur to Benrue Village

Photo of Dimapur, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Winding paths among blue hills

Photo of Dimapur, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Day 2

Waking up to a misty morning in Benrue

Photo of Benreu, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Inside an abandoned shed in Benrue

Photo of Benreu, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

An old village door with Naga motifs

Photo of Benreu, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Flowers blossom in every nook and corner in the Naga villages.

Photo of Benreu, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Library office at Benrue

Photo of Benreu, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Morning shopping

Photo of Benreu, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

The beautiful wild flowers of Nagaland

Photo of Benreu, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Benreu, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Peach blossoms in Benrue village

Photo of Benreu, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Nagaland boasts of over 500 species of birds.

Photo of Benreu, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Day 2| Mar-05 : Benreu - Dzuleke (30 kms/2-3 hrs)

In the morning after breakfast we  explored Benreu, took a village walk visiting Morungs and  familiarizing ourselves with Naga culture.

Later in the day we  drove  to Dzuleke village, and visited  Dzulekecie gorge on the way. 

We reached Dzuleke by lunch time, checked into the Dzuleke Homestay and then went for a Nature trail with Asou around Dzuleke village.

We spent the night at Dzuleke Homestay.

View from Dzuleke home stay

Photo of Dzuleke, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Along nature trail in Dzuleke

Photo of Dzuleke, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Apple blossoms

Photo of Dzuleke, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A senior Naga couple taking a break from work

Photo of Dzuleke, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

These lilies are a common sight in the fields of Nagaland.

Photo of Dzuleke, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Monoliths can be seen everywhere around Nagaland.

Photo of Dzuleke, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Family at work, Dzuleke

Photo of Dzuleke, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

The beautiful lakes and hills of Dzuleke

Photo of Dzuleke, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Dzuleke, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A chilly evening by the fire at Dzuleke home stay

Photo of Dzuleke, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Day 3| Mar-06 : Dzuleke - Dzukou (30 minutes drive/2-3 hrs trek depending on speed)

Next day we were off to  Dzukou valley with Asou and a few other young men from Khonoma village to help us along. Dinner was prepared over the fire  by the expert team of climbers and the night was spent in camps in Dzukou. 

Dzukou Valley bekons

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi
Day 3

Exhilaration after the climb at Dzoukou. Photo credit: our guide, Asou Suvino

Photo of Dzükou Valley, Viswema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Camping site at Dzukou, photo credit - Asou Savino

Photo of Dzükou Valley, Viswema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Day 4| Mar-07 : Dzukou – Khonoma (2-3 hrs trek depending on speed/30 minutes drive)

The next morning we climbed down and trekked towards  Khonoma village, passing through Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary. hoping to  the  mighty pheasant – Blyth Tragopan, the state bird of Nagaland.

Unfortunately we could not spot the Tragopan but saw quite a few wild blossoms and birds of Nagaland. Among the over 500 species of birds found in Nagaland we managed to spot Spot-winged Grosbeak, Himalayan Black Bulbul, Red-headed Trogon, Crimson Sunbird, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, White-winged Redstart and Blue-throated Barbet besides more common species like Warblers and doves.

Later we checked into Pier Homestay at Khonoma village.

Day 4

Apple blossoms

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Bee hives of a different shape that we saw for the first time

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Wild blossoms of Nagaland

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Long- tailed shrike

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Hoary-bellied Himalayan squirrel

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Wild flowers of Nagaland

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Spot -winged Grosbeak, male on the right and female on the left

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Himalayan Black Bulbul

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Sage growing in the terraced fields

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Strange plants grow along with moss and ferns in the hills of Khonoma

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Day 5| Mar-08 : Khonoma

After some lovely breakfast at the Homestay  we explored Khonoma. Khonoma is reich in Natural beauty, culture and history . This village has developed remarkable innovations in sustainable terrace farming and jhum cultivation. (for details see my article - Nagaland I - The Land of Beauty and Valour)

The night was spent at the Homestay

Day 5
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

View from our home stay of an old Cairn circle

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Balcony of Pier Vintage Homestay

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

The Nagas love to grow flowers in and around their homes

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Photo credit : Bilal Abdi

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Morning mist

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Off to school

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Where is she off to early in the morning ?

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A shop at Khonoma

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

There are waste bins every where in this clean and green village

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Blossoms at the grave

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Place for burning plant waste

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

The beautiful terraced fields of Khonoma

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

The sun rays filtering through the terrace fields

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Terraced fields, Khonoma

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Monoliths dot the landscape

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Terraced fields

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A shed in the terraced field for the farmer to spend the night, with typical Naga motifs

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A huge ancient (oak ?) tree overlooks the terraced fields in Khonoma

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

After a day of back breaking work in the fields

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Women and men of all ages work in the fields

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Young Naga girls harvesting snails from the rice fields

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Pigs are a valuable source of meat and manure

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A unique variety of chicken with feather-less bald neck is found here.

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Apple pieces left to dry in the Sun, later made into candy

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Pumpkins drying in the sun

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Woman carrying dried garlic

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Garlic is an important ingredient of Naga cuisine

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Meat hung over fire place for smoking

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Meat hung from roofs for drying

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Dry Sage plant hanging in a Naga kitchen

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

An old Morung with Mithun motifs

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

View from inside the Morung

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Basket making is among the various handi-crafts the Nagas are skilled at

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Wood craft artisan at work with a mug of rice-beer !!

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

One of the many motifs that dot the Khonoma skyline

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A Baptist church sits atop a hill in the distance, Khonoma

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Ninety percent of Nagas are Christians

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A giant bean plant dried and hung over a pole

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

This giant bean if found growing in the forests.

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

The seeds of the giant bean were used as weights in the olden days in Nagaland.

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Beautiful orchid species growing in the front yard of a home in Khonoma village

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Succulent species considered rare by Cacti growers in big cities, growing effortlessly along village walls in Khonoma

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Even the humble house sparrow attains such richness of tone in this clean and beautiful land !!

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Even the feral cats are beautiful here !

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Beautiful lilies adorn a front yard

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

The stone that the spirits built !

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Monolith at the entrance of a Morung complex

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Nagas are skilled in wood carving

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Nagaland has many indeginous sports, including a form of Short putt

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Young Naga men would impress the girls by throwing these stones as for as possible

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A well maintained Cairn circle in Khonoma

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Steps build along the walls of a watch tower for the Naga warriors to climb in times of war

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A Naga family happy with the simple life

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

All right, so this is where you were headed, old rice-beer making barrels !!

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Day 6| Mar-09 : Khonoma - Kohima (20 kms/1 hrs)

In the morning after breakfast and with packed lunch we drove off to Kohima. If you wishe you can drive or trek  to Mt Puliebadze on the way (30 min trek one way). This is a hill where you can get a very good view of the capital city of Kohima from the peak. Mt Puliebadze is a legendary hill, it was also called 7522 hill by the Britishers and used by the Japanese as a strategic point in 1944 when the battle of Kohima took place. We drove straight to Kohima and to see the local market, WW II cemetery and the Kohima Cathedral.

Later in the day we checked into Sokhrie homestay which is situated outside the hustle bustle of Kohima city.

Day 6
Photo of Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Typical Naga hatchet motif can also be seen on the bustling streets of Kohima

Photo of Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

The typical Naga motif found on the roofs of Morungs in villages can be seen on an old gate in Kohima.

Same hatchet motif found on a Morung in Khonoma village

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

On our arrival to Kohima we went straight to the local market

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

A local market in Kohima

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Fermented soya beans, tasty and nutritious!

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Land mined salt along with the famed King chilli of Nagaland

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Dried mushrooms

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

The Nagas eat almost everything without inhibition or prejudice. Here honeybee grubs along with the hive are for sale

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Silk worm grubs

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Snails

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Along with white mice, guinea pigs and frogs are also for sale.

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Love in the times of war, a young Naga couple at the War Memorial, Kohima

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

The oldest catholic cathedral in Kohima

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Inside the Cathedral

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi
Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Kohima from a hill top looks very similar to the Favelas of Brazil, however these are proper houses and not slums.

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Our younger son wanted to try authentic Naga food and had lunch at Chingtsuong Restaurant at Razhu Point Kohima

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

While the rest of us ate at the Aurora Cafe, Kohima

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Khohima at sunset

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi

Day 7| Mar-10 : Kohima

 After breakfast and with some packed lunch from the Homestay, so graciously prepared by our host, Ms. Khrievi, we visited Kisama, the site for the annual Hornbill festival and later Kigwema – one of the oldest village in Kohima district. Many present day villages in the area are  believed  formed after migration of people from Kigwema village. Later we drove off of for a picnic lunch at Chida Lake and drove back to Kohima in the evening. We stayed overnight at  Kohima Sokhrie homestay.

View of Kohima in the morning from Sokhrie homestay

Photo of NAGALAND V: Beyond the Hornbill Festival by Rupa Abdi
Day 7

Entrance to Naga Heritage Village, Kisama

Photo of Kisama Heritage, P.W.D. Colony, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A Morung of Sumi tribe

Photo of Kisama Heritage, P.W.D. Colony, Kohima, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Khel implies a village quarter

Photo of Kigwema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Kigwema village

Photo of Kigwema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Women at work in Kigwema village

Photo of Kigwema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A local fruit getting dried in the sun

Photo of Kigwema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Traditional food storage baskets

Photo of Kigwema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Homes of an erstwhile tribal chief

Photo of Kigwema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

The Baptist church is doing some good work in Kigwema.

Photo of Kigwema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Kigwema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Kigwema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Colour my world ! Woolen threads dyed and hung out to dry at Kigwema

Photo of Kigwema, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Chida picnic spot

Photo of Loho Lake Chida, Khezhakeno, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Rolling hills of Chida

Photo of Loho Lake Chida, Khezhakeno, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

A family picnicking at Chida

Photo of Loho Lake Chida, Khezhakeno, Nagaland, India by Rupa Abdi

Day 8| Mar-11 : Kohima - Dimapur  Airport (74 kms/3 hrs)

On the last day we drove off to Dimapur to catch our flight home.

Photo credits: Rupa, Razi and Bilal Abdi

Contact details of Alder Tour and Travel:

http://www.aldertoursntravels.com/

Mr.Keja mob.no. 91 9402905046; 9436011266

(to see the above places on a map and for other travel details and pictures of Nagaland please check out my following articles :

NAGALAND I: The Land of Valour and Beauty

NAGALAND II: THE NAGA TRIBES- Our Own Game of Thrones

NAGALAND III: The Mithun and the Hornbill - Motifs and Wood Craft of Nagaland.

NAGALAND IV: The People of Nagaland-Proud and Honest

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