Friday, December 10, 2021

Hornbill festival in Nagaland - detailed diary

03.12.2021(Friday) Kolkata (CCU) – Dimapur – Kohima – Kisama – Kohima

We (Mohua and I) were planning for a long time to go to Nagaland during Hornbill festival. A little nudge from Sudipto did the trick – since he is also coming with his team from Culture Monks. Hornbill festival is held at Kisama village,  which is near Kohima. Most people stay in Kohima.


Day 1: CCU (0550 hrs by Air India)-Guwahati- Dimapur (0830hrs hrs) to Kohima… Half day at Hornbill Festival venue, Kisama.

Day 2: Full day at Hornbill Festival venue, Kisama

(In the Morning one can start the day by exploring Kigwema village – 4 Km from Kisama and get some idea about the village life where you’ll come across huge wood carvings in front of rich men’s houses.  After which one can spend the rest of our day in the Hornbill Festival.)

Day 3: Khonoma village, Dzuleke and Kohima city sightseeing (Kohima Night Bazaar - You shall see people selling different items from Christmas decorations to chicken barbecue/Pork skewers/dog meat. One of the most interesting aspects of the carnival is the whole street being flooded with people taking their family and friends for fun and dinner).

Day 4: Kohima- Dimapur -CCU

ILP for Nagaland: Indian tourists need inner line permits (ILP) for Nagaland. (Foreign tourists do not require permit to travel in Nagaland. But they have to register at the local police station within 24 hours of their entry into the state. They must keep extra photo copies of their Indian visa and passport page to submit at the police station.) You can get the permit online or at designated offices in Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati or at Dimapur on arrival.  If you could not make it earlier, the best way is to reach Dimapur and visit the DC office as early as possible, so that you get sorted by noon. You need valid ID and photographs. We have done it online - It takes only 30 minutes.

The process is not very strict for tourists and I have seen that they become lenient during the festival. In the airport they were only insisting the Covid Vax report. They did not check ILP for most people.

There are various ways you can reach Kohima

Air: Kohima does not have an airport of its own. The only airport in Nagaland is in Dimapur - which operates daily flights from Kolkata and other cities like Delhi, Bangalore and Guwahati. Dimapur has a major Army base. From there, Kohima is at a distance of 74 kilometers -it is a 2-2.30 hours Taxi ride. Now the road is much better, than what it used to be. We left Kolkata by 5.55 am flight to reach Dimapur (via Guwahati) at 8.30 am. The Shared Taxi costs Rs 350 (standard rate) from Dimapur Rail station. But in that case you have to back track. It is better to hire the taxi from Dimapur airport to go to Kohima to save time. For this you need to talk to co-passengers who are also going to Kohima. Unfortunately due to pandemic there are not too many tourists. You can expect to pay around Rs 500-600 per head from the airport by shared Taxi /Van, unless, you want to waste precious time to go back to the town (Taxi stand at Rail station) in Dimapur. We hired an Alto with another person and paid Rs 2500 for the car.

Train: Kohima does not have a Railway station. (Elevation of 4738 ft). The nearest one is in Dimapur, which has direct connections to Kolkata and Guwahati. The journey to Kohima from Dimapur is of course quite picturesque. The Dimapur taxi stand is adjacent to the railway Station.


By bus

By bus Kohima is connected to ImphalDimapurGuwahatiTinsukia and other major cities of North Eastern India. The bus journey from Kohima to Dimapur is 2.5 to 4 hours (depending on the bus). The Dimapur bus generally drops you at old NST bus stand.

By Road: NH 39 connects the major North-Eastern states. However NH 29 connects Kohima to Dimapur.

On the way to Kohima, we had Pineapple. Pineapple in this region is very famous. It was really good. We also took a short tea break too. We finally reached the resort at 1130 hours.


Oking hospital (or nearby TCP point) is the heart of the City (where we stayed - in Tipfu lodge). To the South of Oking Hospital is War Cemetery (250 metres), BOC (take a bus from Oking by paying Rs 10, to reach BOC - from there you get Share Taxi to go to Kisama) & Kisama (12 Km) and to the North is NST Bus Station (300 metres) and from there further 300 metres is Naga bazar. Most of the resorts are near TCP Gate/Oking hospital.

Understand Hornbill festival and Nagaland

The Hornbill Festival is named after the hornbill – the birds widely respected and depicted in the Naga folklore and songs. Ironically, the bird is almost extinct in Nagaland due to excessive hunting and killing, a culture that is deeply ingrained. The feathers of the hornbills were used as decoration in the headgears of the Naga warriors and people. The government had tried to persuade the tribes to use fake feathers instead of killing the birds for long, but did not quite find success. Naming the festival as Hornbill Festival was one of the steps in the process. Nagaland is known as land of festivals. The Hornbill Festival runs from December 1, which is also the Nagaland Formation Day. Hornbill Festival is a 10 day cultural extravaganza held every year between 1-10 December to encourage, nurture and promote the rich, vibrant and diverse culture of Naga tribes and people.

It is the land of folklore and fables and of the brave warriors and hunters who have been eulogized by the folk songs of the land.  Hornbill Festival is the celebration of all these and more. The festival celebrates the 17 tribes of Nagaland through music, dance, art, food, attires, traditional sports and more. Conceptualized by the Government of Nagaland, the festival first started in the year 2000.

During the festival, you can get up close and personal with 17 major tribes of Nagaland – all in one place – instead of visiting 17 places.  And then there are around 66 sub-tribes as well. The sub-tribes also have their own dialect. All are having their own languages, culture, apparels and more importantly head gears. The ethnic and cultural diversity here is mind blowing; they live in different parts of Nagaland. They have significant populations in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.


The names of the tribes are:

Angami – Ao – Konyak – Lotha - Sumi – Sangtam - Chakhesang – Chang – Dimasa Kachari – Garo – Khiamniungan –– Kuki –– Phom – Pochury – Rengma –– Yimchungru – Zeliang 


Among these Angami, Sumi, Lotha, Konyaks are dominants tribes. The so called seven sisters are very different from each other. While in Nagaland you come to see different tribes with their unique cultures. In Maipur Vaishnavite culture is predominant. Again  Meghalaya is famous for being a matrilineal society. 

Ulupi, the daughter of Kauravya, the king of Nāgas, she was among the four wives of Arjun. Arjun has another wife from Manipur - Chitrangada.  Ulupi married Arjuna when he was in exile, and with whom she bore his son Irāvān. She played a major part in the upbringing of Babru-vāhana, Arjuna's son with Chitrāngadā. So the history of Nagaland and Manipur is part of folklore of ancient India. Interestingly there is a community called Bishnupriya in Manipur, who consider their lineage from Arjun/Babru-vāhana.

Interestingly there was a very famous Naga footballer called T Ao, who played for East Bengal in 1950s. Everybody seems to know him. Possibly because a tournament is named after him.


Post noon, there is a lunch break. This is the perfect time to try some local delicacies and better understand the culture of the North-Eastern tribes. At  1:00 p.m., the order of the day resumes, and there is a plethora of Talent Hunt and shows.

Nagamese is the common lingua franca in Nagaland among different communities - who all have their own unique dialects - untelligible to others. Nagamese is almost like Assamese. So as a Bengali it is not very difficult to understand.


Tourist in Nagaland is in nascent stage. The domestic tourist inflow in 2017 is only 1 Lakh. International tourist inflow is only 4% of that.

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Hornbill Festival







I think because of bad road condition and ILP, not too many tourists travel Nagaland.

We were tired and after some rest, we left for Kisama village at 1.45 pm. We took a bus (Rs 10, no tickets were given) just in front of our hotel and got down at BOC (auto stand).

It is around 12 Km from Kohima. The shared Taxis to Kisama and other nearby villages are available from BOC. The shared Taxis (Maruti Alto) will take Rs 70 per head. You can also get Share Taxi to Kohima from BOC or NST (which is near Oking Hospital). On the way we were stopped by Nagaland Police, since our Taxi did not have permit to go to Kisama. The Police came to us and said something, which I have never heard in my 20 years of travelling from a man in uniform – India or abroad. “You must be very upset, that we have stopped the car. Actually he does not have the permit. We will get another car for you!” In fact they were not rude even to the Taxi driver!

Venue of Hornbill Festival: The designated Hornbill Festival venue is the Kisama Heritage Village. Daily performances begin by 1000 hrs till 1200 hrs and from 1300 hrs to 1430 hours. You have to buy entry tickets daily, for Rs 50 and for digital camera (non DSLR Rs 50) at the gate and pass through the security check. One may feel little hot during the day, but it is always advisable to carry the jacket/sweater, since the day ends by 4.30 pm and is quite chilly.

We reached the venue at around 2.30 pm. By that time the programme for the day is over! But generally the festivals are more or less same every day. So there is no special day !

But there were lot of actions at the Morungs, which is still going on. Tourists are welcomed warmly to the traditional huts (Morungs) of each of the 17 tribes, where you can sit with the elderly people of the tribe and interact with them. One should explore the Morungs of each tribe, which is just behind the amphitheater/ stadium (you have to go uphill). There are traditional shops at the Morungs, from where you can buy items produced by the tribals. However items on sale are prohibitively expensive.  We hopped from one Morungs to another. Although the programme has ended in the stadium, it was still going on in different Morungs or Akhras. We spent rest of the time over there.


Make sure to feast on traditional food of Nagaland. Staple food served is the aromatic brown rice and slow-cooked pork. They normally serve Naga chilies (bhoot jalokiya) with rice. You can also get slow-cooked pork accompanied with bamboo and beef pickles and of course the rice beer and superhot Naga chili chutneys. The most popular cuisine is probably Sumi cuisine. Alcohol is banned in Nagaland. It is more of an underground activity.

Nalga coffee is quite famous. It is exported to many countries. Unfortunately I could not try Naga coffee.

Then we had our lunch beside Konyak Morung. There are some vegetarian stalls too (there is even a Gujarati stall, from where Mohua had her lunch). I had bamboo with rice and smoked Pork (small portion). The rates were fixed - Rs 300 ! Very expensive.

Also, music is an integral part of the festival. Western music has always been very popular in the entire Northeast in general and a Rock Concert is always expected here with a lot of bands from all over the region taking part.  Generally it is held during evening after the daily performances are over.


After that we went to the 'Bamboo pavilions', where various tribal artifacts were displayed. They are prohibitively expensive. Hardly anybody bought anything. Then we went to the organic food stall and had kiwi juice. Kiwi is surprisingly cheap in Nagaland. After that we left for Kohima. After reaching Kohima (BOC stand) we came to our hotel by bike Taxi, by paying Rs 50 each. Normal Taxi would could cost Rs 100. Then we had dinner at the Night market at NST, which is very near to our hotel.



04.12.2021(Saturday) Kohima – Kisama – Kohima

We reached the festival ground at 11.15 am by Share Taxi. In the Taxi we met two young Naga students – one of them is an Anthropologist. I learnt lot of things from her. We reached the ground at the right time. All the tribes congregated for a photo shoot. It was a great opportunity for me to take the photos. After the photo shoot was over, it was lunch time; we went to the Morungs and spent some time there. We skipped the lunch.


After the lunch break the programme started at 1 pm at the venue and continued till 2.30 pm. Different tribes performed their traditional sports/games of tug of war, high jump etc.

From there I went to another venue, where Naga wrestling was going on.  After the programme was over, I went back to the Morungs to have lunch and spent some time at the Morungs. After the days programmes are over, activity shifts to Morungs. I also had rice beer and some Eri-worm from Garo Morung.
I really liked Rice beer from Garo Morung. Thankfully Rice beer is not banned ! The rice beers are served in a bamboo cup (Rs 100).

Then we went to see the Naga art at Artsy Naga. I was really impressed by their art. I chatted with the curator of the make shift Art gallery. He was so happy talking to me, that he gifted me a small canvas – which was actually reserved for a bureaucrat!

 Then after spending time at 'Bamboo pavilions', where Mohua bought some handicrafts, we left for Kohima.


Where to Stay near Hornbill Venue?


During Hornbill Festival tourists from all over world flock Kohima and it can get crowded. Also, Nagaland in general is costly. There are many hotels and home stays in Kohima city but they will be pretty expensive. But the most popular stay option is to camp around Kisama. These are not permanent places but various camping companies set up these tents during the festival. Also, a few local guesthouses or home stays have come up in the nearby areas of late. I personally stayed in one called Vicha Paying Guest in Kigwema and had a good experience. In general, it can get expensive unless you are in a group.

05.12.2021(Sunday) Kohima – Khonoma – Kohima

We went to see the WW II cemetery and see the nearby village of Khonoma village. It is called the Asia’s first green village. 

The WW II cemetery in Kohima is pretty famous. You will find the names of soldiers -English, Indians – Hindu, Muslim and Gurkhas in the cemetery – all in separate designated zones. The Battle of Kohima was one of the most epic battles during World War II. Kohima War Cemetery is on Garrison Hill. The cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Commission. For over a month, Japanese troops (along with INA) battled British Indian troops at a small bungalow (The Deputy Commissioners Bungalow.) in Kohima. The battle, known as the Battle of the Tennis Court, was the turning point in the fight against Japan (with INA) and the bungalow still stands in this state capital. The Tennis Courts are now a part of the Kohima War Cemetery. 

Fought in one of the world’s most inhospitable terrain, it took a huge toll in terms of men and resources wherein more than 150,000 people died on the Indo-Burma frontier as a direct consequence of the war. In the course of the war, the Nagas gave a mixed reaction where it participated on both sides of the camps. The Nagas living in proximity with the administrative centre of the British government had greater involvement with the British and those farther from the administrative seat, who felt lesser influence of the British, were drawn more towards or had developed stronger intimacy and relationship with the INA-Japanese. Although it is considered as a victory for British India, it is actually a defeat of Indian National Army. I do not find any reason why we shed tears for this memorial.

To know more read -

We did not have time to visit Kohima Zoo, where you can see the rare Tragopan bird - which is also the state bird of Nagaland. And Mithun, the state animal.  We did not have time to go to Bara Basti - supposedly the second largest village in Asia.

Most of the Nagaland shuts down on Sunday. (So there is no Naga Bazar on this day. You can find nearly anything that is living and moving here in Naga Bazar on sale. Nagas have a wide-ranging cuisine encompassing the entire spectrum of living things). I am told most of them go to the Church onSunday. Different tribes go to different Churches – since the language spoken in Baptist church of Angami tribe will not be understood by Baptist from Ao Tribe. Similarly follower of Seventh day Adventist denomination of Angami tribe, will not to go to a Baptist Church. Most of the Nagas are Protestants.


 We hired a Taxi (Alto) for Rs 1400 to go to Khonoma (and back to Kohima) from the War cemetery. It is around 20 Km from Kohima. The road surface has completely eroded. Various small villages around Kohima have become tourist attractions. Villages like Khonoma (Dzuleke – which is further away from Khonoma) located in the 20 Km radius of the city and are must for all travelers. But ( Touphema - another tourist hot spot is on the other side) it is difficult to cover both Khonoma and Touphema in one day. So we settled for only Khonoma. Khonoma is an Angami Naga village. This quaint village is located near the Indo-Myanmar border. It  has approximately 600 households. The fierce Angami warriors of Khonoma made a name for themselves in the history of the resistance to colonial rule in the 19th century. Agriculture is organic and people mostly practice terrace farming.

After spending some time in Khonoma, I decided to come back, because of dearth of time. In the meantime I made new friend in this village, who works in BRO –Border Roads as Security officer. People generally understand English. There was no time to go to Dzuleke- which is further 19 Km from Khonoma. While coming back we stopped at a view point - where I found this. I found Nagas extremely courteous.

After some time, while we were half way to Kohima, we had a flat tyre and we got a lift from a person resident of Kohima, who works in Municipal Corporation – he was coming from Khonoma.

After dinner we went to the night market for dinner. Mohua had her lunch from Dominos and I had lunch with Pork/Chicken skewers/ Kebabs. We had some Phucka/Pani Puri at Night market. It is certainly different from the one we have in Kolkata. Before we could finish our dinner, Police closed the night market, since there is a killing of 14 civilians from Konyak Tribe at Mon District by Indian army. It is a case of mistaken identity and there will be candle light procession. We were planning to visit our good friend – Phejin Konyak in Mon district on the last day of our tour – which we later dropped, since it is quite far from Kohima. She has a wonderful resort in his village, which is highly recommended by Lonely Planet.


06.12.2021(Monday) Kohima – Dimapur – CCU (Kolkata)

We did not understand the gravity of the situation the previous day. We have just heard about some death. A Band was called by Konyak Students Union. The Manager of the hotel said, nobody will go before 12 noon! Somehow we managed to come to Dimapur, after reserving a Taxi near our Hotel. We were stopped number of times. The driver would stop at several places and said he will not go any further. We finally got hold of a black flag and attached it in front of the car. After lot of persuasion, the Taxi driver finally agreed to drop us at Dimapur. We had to pay Rs 3,000! Our flight is at 1220 hours.


Accommodation ( )


Name of the Accommodation


Contact  no /Email address


Pusa Homestay 

Near VIP Guest House , Minister Hill Kohima 



Imchen Guest House 

Above Monkhola Bridge, New Minister Hill, Kohima 



Sun view Homestay 

Lower lerie colony near Sashi Temjen Fair price shop, Kohima 



Sapu’s paying guest house 

Aradura hill near state mental hospital Kohima 



Pienyu Homestay 

D Khel Kohima Village near Khedi Baptist Church Kohima 



I.K Homestay 

Below youth Net main office  Billy graham Road Kohima 



West view Homestay 

Pereza Colony,Near Directorate of Fishery & Aquatic 



Gen-teel Homestay 

Middle PWD Colony below chief engineer office Kohima



Visa Homestay 

Near VIP Guest House Minister Hill 



Nu Hamdi 

H.NO 94 Upper Agri Colony near Stella .School Kohima 



Sasukini Homestay 

Lower Forest Colony ,Kohima 



The Morung lodge 

Opp Oking hospital Kohima 



Explore Nagaland 

Opp Oking hospital Kohima



Punyu Paying Guest 

Lower bayavu Hill, Kohima 



Capital view paying guest 

Pezhu hill near science college Kohima 



Central guest house 

Daklane, below NST ,Kohima 



Eco stay Hostel 

TCP Gate Kohima 



Home lodge 

New Minister hill, Kohima 



Sichi bed  &  Breakfast

Krouliezou Colony



Neo residential Guest House 

Lower bayavu Hill,Kohima 



South view Homestay 

Kipfuzha ,KigwemaVillage near Naga Heritage Village 



Greenwood Villa Homestay 

Kipfuzha,Kigwema Village 



Lalhou’s Homestay 

Kipfuzha,Kigwema Village 



Vale’s Homestay 

Kipfuzha,Kigwema Village 



Pine Homestay 

Kipfuzha, Kigwema Village 



Dawn Homestay 

Kipfuzha,Kigwema Village 



Vilano Homestay 

Kipfuzha,Kigwema Village 



Japfu Homestay 

Kipfuzha Kigwema Village 



Cedar homestay 

Kipfuzha Kigwema Village 



Abhi Homestay 

Kipfuzha,Kigwema Village 



Vicha Homestay 

Kipfuzha, Kigwema Village 



Kezie Homestay 

Kipfuzha, kigwema Village 



Sobu Homestay 

Kipfuzha,Kigwema Village



Hills Homestay 

Kipfuzha,Kigwema Village 



Ura Cottage 




Meru’s Cotttage 

Khonoma Village



Savino Homestay 

Khonoma Village 



Megoki Homestay 

Khonoma Village 



Alder cottage 

Khonoma Village 



Iralu’s Homestay 

Khonoma Village 



Hill view Homestay 

Khonoma Village 



Pier’s Vintage 

Khonoma Village 



Ecotone Homestay 

Khonoma Village 



Tuse Homestay 

Dzuleke Village 



Zevino Homestay 

Dzuleke Village 



Kevisono Homestay 

Dzuleke Village 



Keviletono Homestay 

Dzuleke Village 



Sotuno Homestay 

Dzuleke Village 



Sokhrie Homestay 

Science college,Jotsoma



Camp Dazϋk  and Homestay

Chuchosu Jotsoma 



Uvie Homestay 

Phezhϋ Jotsoma 



Beth – haran homestay

Lerie Colony Sector 

 House No 696 Ward -16 



Longchen  Homestay 

House no  75 Sector B Near Old airport  Aoyimti Village  



Jungjung Homestay 

H.NO 27 Darogapathar, Dimapur 2 ½  Mile 



Trinity Village 

Kuda C Khel , Half nagarjan 



Hesso villa Homestay 

Nepali bosti Dimapur 



Weaver’s Place 

Diezephe Village 



India paying guest House 

Purana Bazar  Police point 



Marvel Guest House 

Pentacostal Church  Alongmen War,

Tongdentsuyong Ward  Mokokchung 



Zunhebo  Homestay 

D.C Hill west Zunheboto 



Rezeu Residency Guest House 

Nokzai Colony below Govt.High Secondary School, Peren 



Campsite Yedikha 

NH2,Campsite Yedhika,Zakhama 



Vinnogi Resort 

Block  colony new site Mon Town 



Beth Harachah 

Kacharigaon Village Dimapur 



Nicky home 

Suhoi village 



Liaki Homestay 

Forest colony 




What to see around Kohima apart from the Hornbill Festival? ( )


There are several things you can do around Kohima apart from the festival.  Dzukou Valley & Japfu Peak Trek : Dzukou is probably the best short treks in the entire Northeast and the trekking point is barely 20 KMs from Kohima city and barely 10 Kms from Kisama Hornbill venue. It has one of the most unique landscapes with no parallels.




Chronological order