Started as a short spanned event, over time, the Hornbill festival of Nagaland has turned into a ten-day-long extravaganza. For the last few years, this tribal festival of Nagaland has stormed the tourism circuit of North East India and has been able to attract thousands of visitors year after year.
Every year, the festival becomes even more attractive justifying the ever-increasing numbers of attending travelers. If you are planning to visit this festival anytime soon, you have stumbled on the right guide. The following tips will help you to know more about the festival and plan the trip properly. Let’s have a look.
Why Visit the Hornbill Festival?
Nagaland is home to hundreds of aboriginal tribes. Each of these tribes has individual festivals that they celebrate throughout the year. While most of these festivals are intertwined with harvesting, some are celebrated in other seasons.
The hornbill festival does not celebrate the festivities of a single tribe. It blends different festivals of separate tribes of the land to formulate a massive celebration. That’s why the hornbill festival is also known as the festival of festivals.
The Hornbill Festival displays the diverse culture of different tribes of Nagaland. It celebrates the uniqueness of Naga tribes and showcases their unparalleled lifestyle to the travelers.
Decoding the Hornbill Festival
Hornbill festival offers a novel opportunity to take a peek into the lives of the tribes of plains and mountain regions of Nagaland. However, to understand the lifestyle of the tribes, you have to know about the morungs.
Now, what is a morung? It is a traditional dormitory system of the aboriginal people of Nagaland. It is the place where tribal youths come to learn different skills and life lessons. From the art of war to the virtues of humanity, the morungs teach them everything.
The moment you step in the festival ground, all you will see is morungs of different tribes around you. These are not the actual morungs of the tribes. They are the replicas of the morungs that various tribes used to have in the past.
The heritage festival ground has seventeen different morungs. Each of these morungs represents a separate tribe. During the festival, each of the tribe decorates their morung using tribal handicraft, weapons, and traditional dresses. The people of different tribes cook traditional dishes inside these morungs and sell these dishes to travelers. The tribal people sing and dance outside of the morungs which you can enjoy while visiting the festival.
Name of The Festival
The Hornbill festival got its name from the bird of the same title. The hornbill birds are considered sacred in Nagaland. Naga people do not hunt the hornbills. Instead, they protect these birds. Honoring this unique relationship that the bird and the people of Nagaland share in mind, the authorities have named the festival.
Time of The festival
Naga people celebrate the hornbill festival every year from 1st to 10th of December. The festival takes place in the Kisama heritage village of Nagaland, which is located just outside Kohima, the capital of Nagaland. As you enter the heritage village, you will notice the words Window to Nagaland written on an arched gate. The Hornbill festival follows this motto precisely. It offers the travelers a sneak peek into the unique history and culture of the Naga tribes.
Don’t get scared if you hear inhuman howls while exploring the festival. The tribes often shout the battle cry that their ancestors used to shriek while waging war on another tribe. This war-cry starts with a high pitched sound and end with a low pitched ‘hai’.
What to expect?
There is an exhibition of different arts and crafts in the festival ground. You can check it out and even buy some of the showcased items. Other than that, different tribal people often sell various indigenous flower bouquets to travelers. You can check out artefacts, paintings, ornaments, dresses and local cuisine in the small shops scattered throughout the festival ground.
You can visit the morungs to listen to the folk song of the tribe and enjoy the traditional dances. Other than that, the festival also hosts different competitive events. You can take part in events like oiled bamboo climbing, chilli eating, stone pulling competition etc. You can join half marathons, try your hands in shootings, or join the best chef competition. All in all, if you are ready to explore, the hornbill festival would not disappoint you.
How to Reach the venue
You have to reach Kohima to get to the Hornbill festival. Travel to Dimapur by air, road or train. From there, you can take a private car or a bus to reach Kohima. The Nagaland state transport buses charge a reasonable fare for the journey. However, the tariff of the shared taxis and private cars can fluctuate depending on the road and weather conditions. As the demand for private vehicles soars during the hornbill festival, you might have to pay some extra amount to get a private car.
After reaching Kohima, you have to change the bus and board another to reach the PR Hill junction. From there, you can take a shared taxi to reach the festival grounds. If you are traveling through the private cars, then your driver would directly take you to the festival grounds.
Places To Stay
As there are several hotels and homestays in Kohima, it is always better to stay there. However, you should book a hotel or homestay before the festival.
If you love adventure and are ready to enjoy the beauty of nature, then you can opt for camping as well. There are a couple of professional companies that specialize in these sort of things. To make your camping comfortable, you should bring your tent or camping equipment.
The Hornbill Festival of Nagaland can surprise people who have never been to the North-Eastern Parts of India. The innate charm of the tribal culture and lifestyle is enough to marvel the city-dwelling travelers. Add the abundant beauty of the untouched nature to that, and there is no doubt that the hornbill festival would become one of the best travel experiences that you ever had.