The seven states in northeastern India are known for their unique flora and fauna, natural beauty and tribal culture. Being one of the most underrated travel destinations, North East offers great opportunities to create lifelong memories. Hornbill Festival is one such annual event that gives travel enthusiasts to explore the traditional tribal culture of North East India in its true form.
Among the many incredible colours in the world, Nagaland offers you those which will have you staring in awe. The festival of festivals, Hornbill is all you need to understand the rich and vibrant culture of Nagaland. The ten day festival is bound to make you capture every single detail on your camera because you will want to revisit the memories every now and then.
Also known as the Festival of Festivals, begun in the year 2000, the Hornbill fiesta celebrates & revives the warrior tribes of Nagaland, a myriad of tribal folk & cultural extravaganzas, encouraging inter-tribal relations & heritage of Nagaland & the neighbouring states. The festival spirit is enlivened by the music, the dances, the traditional ceremonial attire & elaborate set ups, the art & crafts displays etc. inspired by the widely revered Hornbill bird, in the traditional Naga culture & Folklore revolving around the agricultural traditions of the tribes, an unforgettable experience laden with folk culture, food, sports & so much moreÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Seated in the lush green eastern Himalayan hills, lies the land of brave warriors, where sixteen tribes resides in peace and uniquely represent their culture, tradition and dialect.
Welcome to Nagaland! Bordering Myanmar to east, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur to the north, west and south respectively, the state is home to the erstwhile headhunters.
The diversity among the tribes is vibrant and the culture of each and every tribe is fquite fascinating. During Hornbill festival Nagaland is the best place to visit. Hornbill is also known as Ã¢â‚¬Ëœfestival of festivalsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
The Hornbill festival is named after the state bird which is also respected globally and is an inseparable part of the Naga culture.
Most of the festivals celebrated by the tribal people are limited to their region or tribe, however itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Hornbill which brings them all together.
Showcasing the rich heritage and culture, the festival is organised every year by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments.
Venue: The seven day fest is held at Heritage Village (also known as Khisama) which is located about 12 kilometres from Kohima on the road that was used by the allied forces during the Second World War.
The venue is significant not only because it is a tourist spot, but it is model village resembling the shape of Nagaland in maps.
What is interesting to know about it is that there are tribal houses (murongs) built to represent each tribe pointing the geographical existence of that particular tribe on the actual location in Nagaland.
Hornbill festival gives the people of the state an opportunity to tell the world about their uniqueness. It also keeps their tribes bonded to their culture and history.
Starting from the first of December, the weeklong extravaganza not only showcases the Naga lifestyle but also serves as a platform for the locals to interact with the visitors and gives the tourist a chance to explore.
Naga tribals tour display their traditional art like paintings, wood carvings, hand woven shawls and artefacts for home decor.
The Hornbill festival starts with the opening address of the Tourism Secretary followed by the war cry.
Nagas as mentioned are warriors and hence each tribe have their way to announce the battle. The atmosphere turns electrifying. All the tribe people look stunning dressed in their traditional dress. They armour themselves with shield in their hands and carry a weapons (sphere or dao) with colourful headgear.
The festival is divided into activities like tribal dances, war tactics, local games, greased pole climbing, Naga chilli eating competition, pork fat eating competition etc.
People can also visit the permanent tribal houses (murongs) built around the venue and can interact with the tribal people, taste their cuisines and even dance with them!
As time flies by and dusk turns chilly, the Hornbill Rock Festival at the Indira Gandhi stadium back in Kohima heats up the winter evenings. It is also considered to be the biggest rock fest held in India where around 20 bands from around India and a few from abroad take part in the fest.
During the festival, the seven nights of KohimaÃ¢â‚¬Ëœs market comes alive with The Kohima Night Bazaar. Everything from traditional food to modern Naga music can be found here; from cultural handicrafts to home decor items.
If you are foodie and love to experiment with food then trying out the local food is a must. The variety served is wide and you can try bizarre food like silkworms, bamboo worms, boiled baby frogs, hornets, dried rats, eel fish and dog meat. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a popular joke in Nagaland that goes – Ã¢â‚¬Å“if you see a man walking along with a dog, he could be a vegetarian!Ã¢â‚¬Â
Usually the last two days are dedicated for North East Cultural Ensemble where other states of North East India showcase their culture and familiarise with tradition and colourful dance forms in turn also promoting tourism.
As every event, Hornbill festival too has a wonderful and a must-not-miss closing ceremony. The day is filled with dance and music where you experience drumbeats and dance steps that race against your heartbeats and rare is the chance where one is not tapping his feet. Not just drums but tribal musical instruments too will cast the joyful magic on you.
As the sun starts to set, huge heap of firewood is gathered in the center and smaller ones in front of every tribe on the ground. With the magical tunes of Naga beats and the final war-cry; all the tribes encircle and dance along the fringe of the festival ground slowly lighting up the fire.
As the sky turns dark, stars appear and beautify the darkness, down here at Khisama the bonfires appear to glorify each tribe not only reminding us how brave they are but pointing out how every tribe is distinctive and yet they stay in harmony.
How to Reach:
Air (Dimapur): Since Kohima does not have an airport one has to land in Dimapur, but flights are less and are only available from Guwahati and Kolkata. Guwahati is the nearest domestic airport connected by all major cities in India and Kolkata is the nearest international airport.
Rail: Dimapur is NagalandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only city connected by Indian Railways, a shared or a private taxi or state transport bus will take you to Kohima. Dimapur to Kohima is a 3 to 4 hour drive depending upon the road conditions.
Road: It is recommended to keep your base in Guwahati (Assam) since it is very well connected by air, rail and road. A road journey to Kohima is of 350 kms via Dimapur on National Highway 37 and 36 it may take upto 8 to 10 hours depending upon traffic, meal breaks and road condition.
The nomenclature of KISAMA is derived from two villages namely, Kigwema (KI) and Phesama(SA) and MA which means Village, on whose land the Naga Heritage Village is established and commissioned by the State Government of Nagaland.
Situated about 10 kilometers from Kohima, the Naga Heritage Village offers a panorama of natures, cheerful and hospitality of people. The objective of the Heritage Village is to protect and preserve all ethnic cultural heritages by establishing a common management approach and comprehensive data base for perpetuation and maintenance for promotion of tourism. It also aims to uphold and sustain the distinct identity of dialects, customs and traditions of all the ehtnic tribes of Nagland.
During the festivities of Hornbill Festival, the Heritage Village serves as a healthy sign, vision and encouragement for uniting the various tribes of Nagaland to showcase their rich cultural heritage and tradition under the aegis of “Hornbill Festival” in one platform where one could have a glimpse and experience into the Heritage Village, Kisama.
It also serves as a stage where different occasions and funcitons for various societies, unions are organized and taken place all round the year.
The Heritage Complex consists of a cluster of sixteen houses of each tribe created in the indigenous typical architectural designs and concepts with significance. The tribal house is also called “Morung or Youth Dormitory”. Colorful life and culture are a vital part of 16 officially recognized Naga tribes. They are different and unique in their customs and traditions. These customs and traditions are further translated into festivals. Songs and dances form a sould of these festivals through which their oral history has been pased down genrations. Nature has been kind to the Nagas and their land by virtue of natural and scenic beauty and making it a tourist hotspot.
The Heritage Complex also house a World War II Museum, Bamboo Heritage Hall, Bamboo Pavilion, Kids Carnival, Horti-Scape, Food Courts and Stadium for Live concerts, Naga Idol, Beauty Pageant, Fashion Shows, etc.