Nowadays, traveling has become an exit from the mundane life and the desire to explore new, unspoiled, unblemished and natural environment is peaking. But, people still explore places like Ladakh, Goa, Kasol, etc, making these places a tourist cliché. What I mean, is that there are places in India which are worthy of your utmost admiration and exploration. And recently, a place that has caught my eyes is Northeast India. With many scintillating states that beckons travelers, nature buffs and food connoisseurs, Northeast India must be explored once in a lifetime. One such place is Nagaland, called the state of ancient tribes is so colorful and the people are so in high spirits that you will want to visit this place again and again.
But to completely take in the grandeur experience, one must attend the most famous jamboree of Northeast, the Hornbill Festival. The display of celebration in Naga style and the infectious vibes lures people from all around the globe. The Hornbill festival also contributes expressively to the tourism of the state since tourists attend the festival and take joy in knowing the magnificent architecture, rich cultural heritage, and its ethnic cuisine. So make sure you save the date in December, as it is a treasurable month since all the 17 tribes of Nagaland come together to make this event a successful affair.
What to expect at the festival?
- The festival is held in the first week of December in the Kisama Heritage Village, which is nestled near to Kohima.
- You will be amazed to see the mélange of 17 different tribes, cultural performances, fairs and the multi-faceted music concerts.
- Feasting is an important aspect of Northeast festivals. Relish Naga cuisine ranging from spicy delicacies to sweet dishes. You will blown way with flushing flavors of these amazing cuisines.
- Another thing to notice about the festival is the colorful costumes of the Naga Tribes. The ornaments, feathers, caps and the entire tribal attire is so unique and different from each tribes present at the festival.
- For some fun, participate in games like Naga chilly eating competition, pork eating and other traditional games like archery.
- Try to interact with the locals, to know some stories and to gain some knowledge about their culture.
- Get your soul and spirit high with the rock music concert, and enjoy your evening some Blues! Look forward to some scintillating performances by Indian and foreign artists.
- Don’t forget to get yourself a souvenir from the exhibition of hand crafted items and traditional art.
Why and How is the Hornbill Festival celebrated?
Named after the bird Hornbill, this festival highlights the bird as a symbol of respect. As per the folklore by the natives, the symbolism is beautifully portrayed in the tribal dance where the tribes wear feathers on head to depict the bird. Initiated by Nagaland Government, the festival agenda is to bring the tribes closer and also to promote the cultural heritage of the region. The mélange of tribal performances, display of ethnic crafts, music concert, food, sports, fairs and games, all together unveils the authenticity of this place and the festival.
When and where is the Hornbill Festival celebrated?
This 10-day long festival enchants people to leave behind their office mails and switch on their enjoyment mode. Held in Kisama Heritage Village, at a distance of 10 km from the state capital, Kohima. The festival daily starts at 9:00 am, with an invocation to the religious deity through tribal dance.
How much is the cost of the festival tickets?
The cost of the festival entry tickets is nearly between Rs 10-50. You also need to pay for camera charges which is around Rs 50- 100, depending upon the type of camera you carry. Tickets are available at the gate entry so you don’t need to get worried about buying the tickets in advance.
How to reach Kohima and Kisama Heritage Village?
To reach the beautiful village of Kohima, you will have to take the roads. After reaching the airport of Dimapur or the railway station, a 3-4 hour drive will take you to Kohima. From here you will easily find taxis that will take you to Kisama Heritage Village. If you feel to take a road trip, you can also come from Guwahati. The winding roads will keep you hooked throughout the journey.
Tips to do Hornbill Festival the Right Way
- Kohima will be crowded so expect delays in traffic while getting to the biggest festival.
- Book your stay in advance as the hotels and guesthouses fill up fast. If you are planning for last minute, make sure you arrange everything for camping. Also, bring your own tent equipment’s as in the festival you will only get rented tent.
- The festival is pretty much free. You will need to pay only camera surcharge and for entry tickets that ranges around 10-50 Rs.
- Make sure you are carrying some warm clothes, as post sunset the temperature drops and it gets freezing.
- You will be meeting 17 tribes, spend a little time with them to get familiar with their culture. Some of the Naga tribes’ names are Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Dimasa Kachari, Garo, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Kuki, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sumi, Yimchungru, and Zeliang.
- Bring your own booze as the alcohol is ban since 1989. So you will either get rice beer prepared by the locals, or BYOB.
- Head to the festival in the morning as the colors lit up during the day. After 2 pm the sunlight goes away, making the environment gloomy, yet rejoicing.
- If you are a solo traveler, whether male or female, you are safe here. People are really respectful towards females, so don’t worry just enjoy the festival.
- Photographers must get up early to get the best shots for their Instagram feed.
Trekking in North-east is a growing interest of the young trekkers and the Hornbill festival offers an exclusive opportunity to witness distinct culture, communities located in remote locations however so incredibly beautiful, that it makes the trekking experience wholesome and worth it.