Rahul Raj Manuel
NAGALAND: The ultimate factor in all of our travel is accessibility. There are several reasons why the Seven Sisters of India are left unexplored in contrast to the other states.
My friends and I always come along during our vacations and explore places. This time we planned to visit Nagaland which is a mountainous state in the North East India that borders the state of Assam to the west, Arunachal Pradesh to the north, Manipur to the south and Burma to the east.
A view of the beautiful valleys of Nagaland nelive.in
As a resident of the state it was easier for me to lead and navigate my friends throughout the entire trip. The reason we chose Nagaland was to learn about their various cultures and the rich flora and fauna of the state.
I landed in Dimapur, which is the largest city and perhaps the only plain tract of the hilly Nagaland. It is the economic hub of the state and is well connected both by airways and railways. We set off to Kohima the next day, which is two hours by road.
Kohima is the state’s capital which is located at the foothills of the Japfu range. On the first day, we visited the war cemetery which was a memorial dedicated to the soldiers of the Allied Forces who died defending the Japanese invasion during the Second World War.
After visiting the various graves of the martyrs, we decided to visit the cathedral of Kohima to witness its unique construction. The architecture of the church grabbed my attention as it had many elements found in the traditional Naga houses.
The next day, we drove to Viswema village in Jakhama which was 20 kms from the capital and is also the base to Dzukou valley. It was a visual treat with lush green forests. The valley looked as though covered with a green carpet. We started the trek at Viswema, which is scattered with stones and pebbles at the initial stage but gradually the journey unfolds to give us a panoramic view of the mountains, wild flowers, streams and landscapes.
Dzukou Valley, is considered as the ‘falcon capital of the world’ due to its inheritance of the rich and varid, flora and fauna. We headed back down to our end point Viswema. The entire trek was completed within 5 hours (uphill) and 3 hours (downhill) for about 34 kms. It was a well laid out trekking. We did not need a guide since it’s a well frequented trekking spot in North East India and the sign boards were an added help.
We drove back to Kohima to spend the rest of the night in our cozy beds. On the third day, we decided to explore the city after the long trek which had got us drained. We set off to visit the market to eat. The market was filled with a rare spectrum of snails, fresh water eels, king chillies, fat silkworms, honeycombs, frogs, spiders and dog meat for sale.
It was December and we had our eyes at the Hornbill festival which is held from December 1 to December 10 every year. It is named after the large and colourful forest bird and is used in the folklore of the state’s tribes. Nagaland is referred to as “The Land of Festivals” due to the distinct festivals of several tribes. The festival began on the fifth day of our trip.
The Hornbill festival is home to many foreigners and main landers as it holds a melange of 17 cultural displays of the state. It is held at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama with an aim to preserve the rich and diverse traditions of Nagaland.
The festival provided a colourful amalgam of dances, songs, crafts, parades, games, sports, food etc. A major highlight of this festival was the Hornbill International Rock Festival for the local and international bands which was held at the Indira Gandhi stadium.
Due to time constraints, we left the fest on the fourth day towards Kiphire, which was 254 kms ahead of Kohima. Kiphire, the ninth district has the highest peak of Nagaland called Mount Saramati. We went on a short trek which passed through a forest filled with Rhododendrons.
11 days of travel had us craving for more scenic luxuries but unfortunately our body did not comply. We returned back to Kohima the following day and due to the bad road conditions, we had to take a break.
It was the last day of our journey and travel log as we had to return to our respective duties. A passion for history was always there in me which led us in our quest to explore the Kohima museum, situated 2 kms from the city.
The museum exposed the vibrant culture of Nagaland and the various stages of evolution of the land. The journey was brought to an end on the 13th day with all of us having the memories of this beautiful state among the seven sisters of India which is never looked upon.