Chasing The Mystical Land [Day: 01]

Puruliya The Land of Mystical

Puruliya is an exciting travel adventure and well suited for family holidays. It was difficult for me to make a plan for a short time. It is enriched with heritage and mystical places made of natural beauty, folk culture connected by mythological stories and friendly people. One must visit Puruliya once in a lifetime and add in a bucket list for an adventure trip. Mythological stories add a lot of vigour needed for tourists visiting the place.

A walk through the forest of Sal, Tamal, Sonajhuri and Palas will rejuvenate you with its rare aroma. My first night was planned in the jungle at the foothill of Joychandi Pahar. The hooting of the owls breaks the silence of the night and the giant inactive volcanoes standing tall beside youth hostel is a thrilling experience. My first day began at Joychandi Pahar.

Joychandi Pahar

Throughout my childhood, I heard stories about this place. Those days, climbing to Joychandi was quite difficult without stairs. But now there are well maintained 490 stairs to reach the top of the hill making it much more convenient for travellers. It is famous for rock climbing and it was also the location of the famous film Hirak Raja Deshe directed by Satyajit Ray. The hill is now an inactive volcano surrounded with jungle and is named after a beautiful temple of Ma Joychandi located at the top.

It is about 3km from Raghunathpur and a small Joychandi station at the foothill is well connected. The best time to visit is during Charak Mela and Makarsakranti. It is easy to travel to attractive places but it’s difficult to find a perfect spot. I decided to stay a night at the Youth Hostel which is at the foothill of Joychandi. Online booking is available for Youth Hostel which is a place at a very cheaper cost to stay a night in the mids of the jungle that gave a thrilling and adventures experience.

Next day, I left early in the morning to reach at the top to catch the first glimpse of sunrise. I took a shortcut from Youth Hostel through the jungle to reach the base of stairs. The well-maintained stairs will guide you to the top of the hill. I took a break at one of the main locations of Hirak Raja Deshe, which is a disintegration of the watchtower.

After spending a few moments at the top with a beautiful view of a wide range of hills, plain field and ponds, I took blessings from Ma Joychandi. Now it was time to get down. As the temple was closed I left offerings for the temple at the tea stall at the foothills. The jolly man with his various types of stories was entertaining and uncovered some new facts to learn about the place.

Panchet (Panchakoot) Dam

With a splendid sunrise at the Joychandi Pahar, I moved to the next spot. Thanks to my new friends from Raghunathpur, who accompanied me to cover a few other spots. Our trip began from a massive Panchet Dam under Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC). It is the 4th oldest dam in India inaugurated in 1959. The reservoir shares the border of Jharkhand and West Bengal on the foothills of Panchet hill, one of the favourite tourist destination among the locals. A small beautiful park near the dam is a place to move around for a better view.

The nearest Kumardubi railway station is at the distance of 10kms from the dam. Due to lack of communication facility, it is comparatively less populated than Mython Dam. With heavy breakfast, we left from Raghunathpur for the Panchet dam. The countryside view of Panchet hill on the way will enrich you with calmness. You may also try the famous beverage of date palms in the village. On the way, we tried the seeds of Khesari, a type of pulses from the field.

The scenic beauty will force you to stop for a moment and gaze upon the simplicity and integrity of the locals. They always have time to help and query about you with a cheerful greeting. It took around one and a half hour to reach by bike from Raghunathpur including the recess that we enjoyed. The great reservoir can be enjoyed in months of monsoon as the water level is higher and can be seen in the full flow. The backdrop view of Panchet hill with a small amusement park makes a nice relaxing spot for the traveller.

Garh Panchakoot

Our next destination Garh Pachakoot. As the name suggests Garh which means fort in Sanskrit. The relics of the fort is frozen in time bearing the witness of the plundering of Marathas speaking for the ambushed dreams of Kashipur King’s defeat on the foothills of Panchet. It is said that the King fled away leaving back his 17 wives which later committed collective suicides.

The interesting fact is that it is made of all huge stone labs in area of around 500 square meters. The hollow gate of the palace is the only entry point from where the entire palace was watched. The distance view of the temple at the entrance of wrecks will make you forget all the tiredness in the journey and will greet you with new nirvana.

The roadways along vast fields with friendly people give you a feeling of comfort away from home. The amazing fact about Garh Panchakoot is the natural resources used by people to build and protect the palace. The most important part of the history of Bengal, unfortunately, documentation about this beautiful place is missing from our book.

The grand temple is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu’s avatar, Shri Chaitanya a protector of Vaishnuism. The temple is a masterpiece of stone blocks used in the architecture. It is said that the palace was once surrounded in a semi-circle by a defensive ditch and to enter the main gate the people have to cross by a boat.

Baranti Lake

Sunset view from Baranti Lake is mind refreshing. Spending a few hours in the relics of Grah Panchakoot and rehydrating ourself with fresh sugarcane juice, we moved for the lake. It is around 12kms from Garh Panchakoot with favourable roadways. It is located at Santuri and the nearest railway station is Muradi which is well connected by local trains. The landscape from Baranti Lake makes it more special. The view of two mountains merging at the horizon of the lake makes it a perfect sketch of countryside view.

The lake is well-bounded with stones and few places add immense beauty for the tourist however there are a number of cottages available for the peaceful stay. I was fortunate enough to get so many friends in Raghunathpur with their great company and visiting these many places in one day was an incredible experience. We moved down to the rocks of the lake near the water to grab our perfect sit for the perfect sunset.

My friends had carried some soothing musical instruments, the evening became more colourful with the beautiful view of the sunset on the horizon. Some of the other tourists were residing near cottages, they grabbed our attention with a few interesting stories and facts. It’s so truly said, “you get out from home as a solo traveller, sooner or later you are surrounded by friends”. It was time to get back to the town, as we had only breakfast and no meals in between, we decided to move back to the famous Dhabas of Raghunathpur on the way and cherished the day spent.

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The Land of Red Soil- Puruliya

After wandering in some of the offbeat places in India, I always had a soft corner for Purulia, which is also one of the most awaited destinations I ever wished to cover in my life. The sub-tropical part of our country Puruliya is also known as the Land of Red soil of West Bengal has gained its popularity among the tourist of this state. This is my homeland and as a traveller, I decided to bring out some of the best places in Puruliya.

The Land of Red Soil "Puruliya"

The geographic Surroundings of the place is carved by hills, forests and beautiful streams. Amid jungles, Puruliya also is known for inactive volcanoes that have not erupted in years, and the fact, the Arms Dropping happened in Puruliya back in 1995. Although Puruliya was famous during the Maratha period for their raids and plundering of the palace.

Joychandi Pahar

However, The name Puruliya was first mentioned in the Jaina Bhagwati Sutra. A few remains of Jaina temples also states its presence. It was during the British reign when it came under Jangal Mahal. Later on, 1st November 1956, it was declared as a separate district. The lush green, dense sal forest with blossoms of Palash flowers in spring gives a rustic ambience to Puruliya district.

The Land of Red Soil "Puruliya"

The remains of the archaeological sites in dense forests unwind its pioneer mystery. The mystic charm of different tribes enriches the region with tribal ethos. The famous martial dance Chhou and song Jhumur are an inherent part of the lives of tribal people. A short trip to The Land of Red Soil in a serenity of nature is also pocket-friendly with a challenging adventure.

My Tour Itinerary

Chasing The Mystical Land [Day: 01]

Early morning I left for mountain climbing in Joyachandi Pahar. Later we went to Panchet Dam and took hold near the relics of Garh Panchakoot. Shortly we went for the sunset at Baranti.

Recline of Abandoned Temples [Day: 02]

Spending a night at Purulia town, we left for our next destinations. The day began with a long-journey covering, Cheliyama block’s Telkupi and Banda Deul (Jaina temple).

The Artists Behind the Scenes of Chhau Dance [Day: 03]

Early morning I left for Balrampur by local bus from Purulia town. After one-hour I reached Balrampur. Taking a few minutes to halt in Balrampur we went for trekking to explore Jharnakocha cave. From there we moved to look for the Jharnakocha cave after half an hour climbing through the dense forest. with few accomplishments, we moved to Chorida.

How to Reach?

Purulia is well connected by airport, railways and roadways. The new aerodrome at Andul is well connected by flights from all over the country. Regular available buses and trains are cheap to travel from one place to another. The main town has Totos for local travel, which is very cheap and affordable.

The Relic Fort of Ramnagar

I caught a glimpse of the Ramnagar fort before crossing the river Ganges, a magnificent structure of sandstone standing tall along the bank of the Ganges. Ramnagar is a small town on the eastern bank of the Ganga. It is another peaceful place besides Sarnath with a half-day excursion tour from Varanasi. The fort was built during the 18th century by Kashi Naresh Pelu Bheru Singh. It is now resident of the present members of the royal family.

The Relic Ramnagar

Only some parts of the fort are open for tourists, which include a museum that holds a rare collection of antique cars, palkis, palanquins, medieval costumes, ivory, and many more others. You can walk around the fort and can notice some of the oldest big astronomical clock, carved balconies, pavilions, open courtyards, Durbar hall, and reception room. There are two stunning temples in the fort, one is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the other one is built to venerate Veda Vyasa who wrote the great Indian epic, Mahabharata.

How to Reach?

Varanasi is well connected by tuk-tuks (auto) and totos for the local city tour. Tuk-tuks are available for Durga temple near BHU from Varanasi railway station. From there, shared tuk-tuks are available for Ramnagar town.

A Day in The Ramnagar Fort

I started my journey from the lodge near Varanasi railway station. The easy accessibility of transport makes the travel very smooth. Though you need to change the transport to reach Ramnagar Fort, I got share tuk-tuks for the Ramnagar fort which is affordable. I reached my destination after covering a distance of almost 10km by crossing the river Ganges on a pontoon bridge.

The Relic Ramnagar

There is an entry fee to visit the museum of the sleepy palace. As I entered the beautiful courtyard decorated with garden and antique cannons drifted me to another time zone. The museum is famous for its different vintage weapon collection like revolvers, guns, knives, swords and daggers from different countries.

The Relic Ramnagar

The museum’s grand collection from vintage palkis and cars to ivory carvings, precious jewels and various artefacts amazed me. They look grand even under a thick layer of dust covering with low maintenance. My most vivid memory of the museum is of the palanquin of a Royal Bengal tiger which was hunted by the Kashi Naresh.

The Relic Ramnagar

Riverside view from the palace is worth to spend a few moments. As I sat there looking at the passing boats and a flock of birds flying with the hissing of the breeze blowing through bushes. The time moved so fast at this amazing place, I almost forgot to visit the temples of the fort. Interestingly Vishnu temple is inspired by the Mughal architecture and Ved Vyas temple is based on the primaeval story.

The Relic Ramnagar

Though the fort is not maintained and the littering by visitors makes it sully, I still found this place to be very interesting and peaceful. The unexpected collections will surprise you with grandeur antiques. The impressive courtyard captures the different time and phases of the palace. It is a tour you will surely like to add on while in Varanasi.

Sarnath – In The Esteemed Preachings Of Lord Buddha

Sarnath - In The Esteemed Preachings Of Lord Buddha

The following day towards Sarnath-Esteem Preachings of Lord Buddha. It is a prominent Buddhist site in the world as Lord Buddha sermoned his first batch of disciples after his enlightenment. His first preaching, Maha Dharmachakra Pravartan, was in religious language Pali which means set in the motion Wheels of Dharma at this very holy place.

Sarnath - In The Esteemed Preachings Of Lord Buddha

Chinese scholar Hieun Tsang has mentioned in his scriptures about this city of its magnificent Stupas and monasteries built by Emperor Ashoka. This city was excavated and rediscovered in 1863. The ruins of the temples and monasteries speak many stories of themselves and their glorious past.

After an adventurous day in the main city, I spent the night in a hotel at Varanasi and early morning I reached for the shared auto heading towards tranquillity of Sarnath. It is a magnificent place with various sites and temples scattered all over the places. I spent a lot of time visiting various sites there and the time was well spent. I was mesmerized by the ancient remains of the legendary collection of the artefacts.

Sarnath - In The Esteemed Preachings Of Lord Buddha

Even though guides are available in plenty it is worth mentioning that nothing pleases one’s soul more than being your own guide. Once you reach Sarnath, it is easy to explore on foot. A green and calm village named, Sarnath in Varanasi, is now the house of temples from all over the Buddhist countries. Sarnath is an important tourist attraction from around the world, especially on Purnima (Buddha’s birth anniversary), when Buddha’s life, death and enlightenment are celebrated( April/May).

How to Reach?

Sarnath is at a distance of 10km from Varanasi. It is easily accessible by auto and buses. Share autos are cheap to reach Sarnath. You may also hire an auto to reach which may cost up to ₹ 100.

Chaukhandi Stupa

Chaukhandi Stupa - Sarnath - In The Esteemed Preachings Of Lord Buddha

The first spot on the left side when you head towards Sarnath from Varanasi is the Chaukhandi Stupa. The lofty brick structure is one of the important architectures, it was constructed during the Gupta dynasty. It was named Chukhandi Stupa as it consists of four corners with a terraced Buddhist Stupa. The tower on top of the stupa depicts the Mughal architecture.

Chaukhandi Stupa- Sarnath - In The Esteemed Preachings Of Lord Buddha

It is believed to be constructed in the 16th century to mark the visit of Emperor Humayun. This is well surrounded by the park and benches around it. The place is less crowded compared to other stupas and temples. The image of Buddha in Dharamachakra Pravartan mudra and leogryphs with swordsmen was excavated at this place. There is no entry fee for this place and photography is allowed.

Wat Thai Temple

Wat Thai Temple-  Sarnath - In The Esteemed Preachings Of Lord Buddha

Wat Thai Temple will surely leave you with the peace and calmness that you always long for. It might look like a small temple but this very small temple took almost a decade to be built. Before the main temple on the right side, there is a picturesque statue of Lord Buddha delivering his sermon to his disciples and there are three more statues of Buddha in different postures.

Watt Thai Temple-  Sarnath - In The Esteemed Preachings Of Lord Buddha

On the other hand, there is a huge standing statue of Lord Buddha around 80m, which is surrounded by a clean park with a variety of colourful flowers and running fountains. Remains of Ashoka Chakra and pillar around the temple asserts its historic presence. I spotted a few monks in their traditional orange robes around the temple. There is no entry fee for the temple and photography is allowed.

Dhamakesh Stupa

 Sarnath - In The Esteemed Preachings Of Lord Buddha

Lord Buddha had sermoned his first disciples at this stupa. The red brick constructions of the stupa and the ruins of 243 AD is a perfect slot for time travel. The beautiful park with the fragmented pavements will give you a glorious view of the temple and its ruins. According to Buddhism always start your trail from the left to right.

 Sarnath - In The Esteemed Preachings Of Lord Buddha

People from all over the world visit stupa to pay homage to the great spiritual leader and feel spiritual perfection. This place is busiest during holidays, people from the city and surroundings gather for picnic and get-togethers. Yet the place is quite big to find your peace and connect with history. There is an entry fee for visitors, the charges depend on the nationality of the tourist.

Archeological Museum

It’s another time capsule with four sections in it. It was built for the protection of the ruins safely near Wat Thai Temple. Many of the statues and the important structures of stupas are well preserved in the museum with all the details mentioned on it. Photography is strictly prohibited in the museum for the preservation of its arts. There is an entry fee for the museum. It is open from 10 am to 5 pm and is closed on particular days of weeks.

5 Important & Famous Ghats In Varanasi That You Should Not Miss!

The Ganga Ghats in Varanasi

The ‘spiritual’ capital of India-Varanasi is beyond what one can imagine. The 88 ghats of Varanasi showcase periods of life-cycle as a melting pot where both life and death come together, which are interconnected in a rhythm. You can be wafted around the inter-connected ghats with the flow of Ganga and its essences of holy aroma. It concatenates to the strong metaphysical soul of yourself.

Ambrosial Ghats of the 'Spiritual' Capital of India- Varanasi
Image source: Google

The holy saints’ bathe in Ganga for purification, meditating at the bank, serving other pilgrims for salvation along with the ghats marks a great outpouring of artistic revelation. Different eras merging at the ghats are well portrayed on the street walls. Narrow maze-like lanes and by-lanes give an instant plot with mystification. Every lane will make discover something new about the place.

How to Reach?

The Ganga ghats in Varanasi are interconnected with each other. To begin your trails for the ghats you can have share tuk-tuks to Godowlia. The easy availability of tuk-tuks is cheap to travel. No vehicles are allowed beyond a certain point at Godowlia.

Dashashwamedh Ghat

Dashwamedh Ghat- Ambrosial Ghats of the 'Spiritual' Capital of India- Varanasi

I started wandering around the ghats from Dashwamedh Ghat with a large crowd puller. The succession of shops along the streets has touts trying to drag you to their shop. It is believed that if you take a dip in Kashi’s Ganges with a patient prayer, it can purify the tainted soul. The vibrancy of Varanasi with the hymn of pilgrimage and aroma of delicacies makes every visitor a devotee.

Dashwamedh Ghat- Ambrosial Ghats of the 'Spiritual' Capital of India- Varanasi
Image source: Google

People of any religion or from any corner of the world can find solace in the place. The boat ride around the river along the ghats gives you a perfect picture of the Holy Varanasi. According to the story from Purana, the ghat was constructed by Lord Brahma to welcome Lord Shiva in the Earthly adobe.

Dashwamedh Ghat- Ambrosial Ghats of the 'Spiritual' Capital of India- Varanasi

Dashashwamedh Ghat is the most important and colourful ghat of Varanasi. The baroque street towards the ghat is embellished with colourful shops around and the people from all over the world rendezvous towards the ghat. The holy temples with pandits waiting under the round umbrellas highlights its archaism and devotedness of the people serving there for ages.

Dashwamedh Ghat- Ambrosial Ghats of the 'Spiritual' Capital of India- Varanasi

The city comes to a standstill during the famous Ganga aarti in Varanasi which takes place in the evening at Dashashwamedh Ghat, a ceremony of immense grandeur and prosperity. The pandits line up to perform rituals which is no lesser than a performance of devotion with the light-up of flaring lamps along the river bank. You can take boats that are lined along the ghats to get the front view of Ganga Aarti.

Manmandir Ghat

Manmandir Ghat- Ambrosial Ghats of the 'Spiritual' Capital of India- Varanasi

I sauntered to the next ghat which was Manmandir Ghat. Adjacent to the ghat is an overlooking Jantar Mantar built by Maharaja Man Singh. The ornamental palace grabbed my attention in seconds. I later discovered a fine observatory on the palace. It gives a glimpse of the tradition in astronomy of the stars and planets towards which our country has significantly contributed. I found out that the 400-year-old palace is a big laudation for multifarious architecture lovers.

Manmandir Ghat- Ambrosial Ghats of the 'Spiritual' Capital of India- Varanasi

And so it is the artefact pillars, windows, and doors of the palace which will leave you in admiration of the work of the creator. Raja Man Singh of Amer built a bewitching palace along the ghat during the 16th century, which is known for its ostentatious windows. Thus this ghat was re-named after him as Manmandir Ghat from Someswara Ghat. You will get the panoramic view of ghats and the mighty Ganges from its balcony.

Manmandir Ghat- Ambrosial Ghats of the 'Spiritual' Capital of India- Varanasi

The observatory which is popularly known as Jantar Mantar can be witnessed from the roof of the palace. A huge stone made instrument which attracted me in the observatory is said to be used for studying heavenly bodies. This palace is overlooked due to its silence but it is fruitful to explore how the architecture amalgamates with history. The palace is now preserved under the Archeological Survey of India. Few devotees also come to pay respect to shiva lingam a popular avatar of Shiva’s Somweshar.

Manikarnika Ghat

Image source: Google

I moved from the historic architecture of Raja Mann Singh’s fort which signifies the role of India in astronomy with the beautiful carved balconies and windows. The panoramic view of Ganga swiftly instructed me to proceed for my next ghat. Walking along ghats of Varanasi is delightful with plenty of unfoldings which attracts people from different regions. As I mentioned earlier, the city is defined as a melting pot, so my next destination was the ghat where life stops. After a while, I picked a boat to appreciate the view of the ghats from Ganga. You can clearly find the turn of scenario while moving towards Manikarnika Ghat.

Manikarnika Ghat- Ambrosial Ghats of the 'Spiritual' Capital of India- Varanasi

The journey of a man’s life is like a rollercoaster, and when the journey ends we forage for a place for salvation which can be found in Varanasi’s Manikarnika Ghat. It is the most auspicious place where it showcases you the reality of the life cycle. This is the holiest place for Hindu cremation with huge piles of firewood stacked along the top of the ghat with the smoke of salvation coming down from the ghat. As it is the oldest ghat of Varanasi, it carries along with it many mythical stories. Photography is strictly prohibited; it is the place for salvation and this should be respected in every manner. After praying for the peace for the soul I moved back to Dashwamedh Ghat for the Ganga Aarti.

Assi Ghat: 

Image source: Google

The visually entrancing and architecturally impressive ghat features a photogenic favourite! Assi Ghat is the heart of Varanasi and a famous spot among the tourists to enjoy the amazing view of the sunset. It is at the confluence of the rivers Assi and Ganga which is 30min of walks along the south of Dashawamedh Ghat. The Ghat has immense religious importance in the Puranas and various legends. The large Shiva lingam under the peepal tree esteems a pilgrimage place for Hindus. To experience the true spirit of Varanasi, travel from Assi to Dashaswamedh Ghat in the evening by boat. The less crowded ghat compared to other ghats of Varanasi,it is the best place to stay in the city for a prolonged interval. The Ganga Aarti is also conducted here every evening with a splendid outlook.

Scindia Ghat:

Image source: Google

According to Hindu mythology, Scindia Ghat is considered to be the birthplace of Agni “The God of Fire”. The ghat is estimated to be 150 years old and well known for its peaceful and clean environment. The attraction of the place is partially the submerged Shiva temple which is believed due to its weight it is sinking in the shore since its inception. The narrow maze of alleyways above is more lively in its atmosphere than any of other ghats of Varanasi. If you have spare time in your hand, you can book for temple circuit tour along the alleyways. The tourists gather for the early morning meditation at the serenity of the ghat to have an unforgettable experience.

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Colourful Hornbill Festival of Nagaland

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

The reckless trek in the valleys of Dzukou will remain forever as the treasure in my memory. It was time to witness the grand ceremony of the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland. I changed my plan due to time constraint as I had only one day in hand to be the part of the “Festival of Festival”. The colourful festival, displayed by the inter-tribes of Nagas, fascinates the tourists from all around the world.

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

Legendary folk dance, songs, and other interesting performances are organised in the carnival that emphasizes the aesthetic legacy of Nagaland. Even the night street of Kohima is decorated by colourful stalls with the fragrance of varieties of food. The celebration and concerts of the carnival will surely tempt you to be in Nagaland with a sense of being closer to our Nation.

Night Carnival of Hornbill festival

The Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland Tourist Department and Nagaland State Government. It is held at Kisama Heritage Village for 10 days in the first week of December. The village situated below the range of Mount Japfu is designed to give an authentic feel of ancient Naga. The carnival is entitled in the name of a large and colourful Indian Hornbill bird. This forest bird is a part of the customs for the common theme of Naga tribes.

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

This celebration unites the people of Nagaland to promote their rich cultural diversity. The lively folk dance and traditional songs engross the whole arena. The occasion of this inter-tribal interaction provides us with the opportunity to understand the food and custom they exhibit during the festival. Such efforts result in a big achievement of dignifying North East states at the global outline.

How to Reach the Venue?

About 12 km from Kohima lies The Heritage Village ‘Kisama’. Shared and hired taxis are frequently available from Dimapur junction area that will take up to 3hours to reach Kohima town. Further, Kohima is a well accessible town with more reliable road connection which will make the journey easy for the travellers to reach Kisama village.
NOTE: The nearest airport and railhead is in Dimapur.

Understanding the Festival of Festivals

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

My trip to Nagaland came to an end with the grandeur ceremonial of Naga heritage. The colourful Hornbill Festival begins with a parade starting from the arena of Kohima town to Kisama Heritage Village. You can feel the vibrant spirit of the participants representing the grand event of North East. Unfortunately, I left my camera back at the dorm as we were unaware of the event happening in the town.

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

However, the day one of the events was an introductory part ensued by the gradual course of ten days. So, we decided to skip the first day of the festival and visited the main event on the second day. While we were wandering around, with the little break of twilight the Night Carnival pumped us with new zeal. During A night Hornbill Carnival the whole street is decorated with beautiful gimmick lights and local delicacies.

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

The street is filled with exotic food that includes dog meat, roasted silkworm/locust so before going any further deep into exotic items I decided to start with Jalebi and as the time passed I had tasted all. One who doesn’t want to be a part of the exotic evening can go for rice cakes, boiled eggs roasted millets or if you are a vegetarian, you can still relish regular food options available in the streets.

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

We left for Kisama Heritage Village next morning in a shared taxi. The Hornbill Festival is a glorious festive of India and is also called the Festival of Festivals. The crowd starts occupying the best seat at the Amphitheatre. It is convenient to reach beforehand to avoid a long queue for the entry ticket as the cultural show begins at 10:00 am.

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

One of the most authentic features of the Hornbill festival of Nagaland is the folk dance, followed with musical performance, sports, crafts and culture that are performed in the main arena of Heritage Village. It was time for lunch, we tried some of the lip-smacking local food of different tribes with luscious rice beer and explored heritage tribal huts which exhibit the primaeval lifestyle of Nagaland with traditional log drums, wooden carvings and costumes.

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

We returned to the Amphitheatre at 2:00 pm for more exciting performances that continued till 4:00 pm in the afternoon. The cultural programme came to an end with an artistic display of primitive life of Naga people in the village. We turned towards the main highlights of the festival for the traditional artwork, woodcrafts, sculptures, flower displays and the traditional Naga Morung Exhibition.

Hornbill festival is organized every year by Nagaland

After the mellifluous musical concert with a cup of tea and snacks, the programme of the day two came to an end. It was an inspiration for me to be a part of such an energetic culture. Travelling to Headhunter Basti, Through The Land’s of Ao, Exploring Beautiful Kohima and making new friends, it was something more than accomplishment.

Trekking in the Valleys of Dzukou

It’s not just about travelling unless it is full of adventure. So come along with me to the streams of Dzukou valley trek, the best trekking route in Nagaland

It’s not just about travelling unless it is full of adventure. So come along with me to the streams of Dzukou valley trek, the best trekking route in Nagaland throughout the calendar surrounded with endless bamboo thickets and beautiful seasonal flowers. You may also experience snow if you travel during the months of December-January.

dzukou valley trek first from rest point

The offbeat set of the track is Dzukou Valley trek, a treat for the trekkers and wanderers in the lap of nature. It is an isolated place at 2438m above sea level between the two North Eastern States of Nagaland and Manipur, with no network coverage. Dzukou valley the name was probably given after a river in the region meaning cold water.

dzukou valley trek

Unplanned trips are always full of excitement and here I am to share the experience of most desired trek-route in Nagaland. I was accompanied by one of my neighbour from Kolkata. The journey began from Kohima and the time I reached I was overwhelmed by the tradition and culture of the place and friendly people.

The real adventure of trekking starts

The experience of the heartland of Nagaland will leave you spellbound with some of the amazing sights. The trekking in Dzukou valley is categorized from easy to moderate. The total distance to cover in the trek from the Vishwema Village is 18km. Jhakama Village and Vishwema Village are two sources to start your trek from Nagaland to the pristine valleys. The valleys will surely leave you bewildered in this dreamland.

Beautiful sunset at Dzukou Valley

How to reach Dzukou Valley?

Railway station and airport is in Dimapur. You have to reach Kohima for trekking in the valleys of Dzukou. Kohima is well connected by local transport. The regional taxis for Jhakama and Vishwema Village are available from BOC stand. It costs Rs.50 per person. You may also hire a taxi from Vishwema Village to drop you at the starting point or hitchhiking can always stand a chance. I assure you will get this alternative option of hiring a taxi from Vishwema Village up to the starting point, which may cost you Rs.1,500.

Things to Carry for Dzukou Valley Trek:

  • A sleeping bag is a must.
  • Carry sufficient water. As purified bottles are not available at the Base Point.
  • Carry torch or spotlight.
  • Nice trekking shoes.
  • Power bank
  • Extra pair of socks

Unplanned Journey in the Valleys:

Trek with me to Dzukou Valley through narrow lanes

Our Unplanned Journey in the Valleys started from Vishwema as it is was the easiest route to start your trek. We left early in the morning from Kohima, unaware that the local city buses services start at 9 am. A splendid morning walk with sunrise on the horizon was the first inspiration of the day. We stopped at the butcher shop to get some meat for the night during the bonfire.

After 20-30 mins of walk, we reached BOC stand. It was too early as we had to wait for more than an hour to get our transport. Our excitement to start the trail held us to wait for those long 1 hour. Finally, we left from Kohima for Vishwema village with a little extra cost. The journey was smooth, it took around 30 mins to reach the village. The poster of the beautiful Dzukou valley with its seasonal flowers welcomed us at the entry point.

Viswema Village the entry point of Dzukou Valley

The trekking begins after completing the formalities to keep the environment plastic-free zone and signing up a form which costs Rs.100 per person for the Indian citizens. The distance from the entry point of Vishwema Village to the base point is 18km, and almost 8km were covered by local transport. After 40min of the bumpy journey, we made to the starting point.

The way to Dzukou Valley

We caught up a few breaths to restore our energy and prepared ourselves for the journey. The trekking began with steep walking for a few minutes in the jungle. Then the real challenge began where we climbed the hills, the path was full of mud and rocks, however, most of it was shaped like stairs that made easier for the climbers, but a few big boulders rocks made it more competitive.

The challenging route from Viswema Village for Dzukou Valley trek

The first 90 minutes of climbing is the difficult part of this trekking. Climbing further gave the most beautiful views of the valley that I had ever seen in my life. The first resting point is at the top of the hill that gives you the best panoramic view of the valley. The jungle trail is also visible once you reach the top of the point. After rehydrating ourselves we moved towards Base Point of Japfu Peak from the valley of burnt trees.

Beautiful scene with burnt trees at Dzukou Valley

The narrow trail between the valley is marked with signboards. At one point of time, we lost our track and wandered around however It took 4 hours to complete the trail, with few small breaks we made up to the base camp. It isn’t an ordinary camp, the entire location is surrounded by forest with a small wooden house as a Base Camp with most friendly people.

The Dormitory is available to take rest at Night in Dzukou Valley

It was almost sunset, I already made new friends. Together we put a bonfire and realized that there is some meat that can be grilled so we tried our hands on a primitive style of cooking, but we failed. As time passed the temperature was dropping constantly the cold breeze was blowing through my face, the burble of small streams.

dzukou valley trek the night astrophotography

The glittering stars that suddenly appeared in the sky and the lightning of firewoods in small pots made me a saint for a narrow period of time. Stargazing has always been one of my hobbies and this was the perfect time I implemented it. After spending a chilling night in the dormitory. With the break of dawn, we left to the near helipad for a better view of sunrise.

sunrise at dzukou valley trek

We explored with the break of sunlight and a thin layer of snow melting in the valley is a treat for the eye. Every good thing comes to end with beautiful memories and a good experience lasts long. We climbed down to the starting point along with a few new friends. We shared the last few moments in a van till Vishwema Village.

Snow at Dzukou Valley at first week of December

As our destinations were different, we separated at Vishwema Village and we hitchhike to Kohima. The Dzukou valley trek is a test of endurance for avid trekkers and adventure seekers. The expedition of the captivating view along the special trail will be carved in the memory forever.

Exploring Beautiful Kohima

Exploring Beautiful Kohima

I reached my next destination, Exploring Beautiful Kohima, after 6hour long journey from Mokokchung. Both of these districts compared to other towns have the highest inhabited of Nagaland. I couldn’t take my eyes off from the beautiful scenic beauty and floating clouds and playing one of my favourite Lil Dicky’s song, Earth, which made my journey more pleasant. The preservation of nature is a critical issue at the present time. The roads are being broadened up for more smooth traffic which is leading to deforestation and destruction of mountains. Being a nature lover, it worries me sometimes to see them getting destroyed.

Kohima capital city of Nagaland

Kohima is a mixed bag for tourists seeking to explore the diversity of landscapes and beautiful culture. It is endowed with hilltops, ridges, surrounded with rainforest, and villages of Angami tribe. The capital city is wrapped in the history of brutal World War II between the Axis Powers and Allied Forces. A lot of brave soldiers were martyred during the battle of Kohima in 1944.

Kohima city view from World War II cemetery

Today, the town has retrieved with positive vibes. Now it is a prosperous place with warm-hearted and helpful people. English as a language is understood by most of the local people which makes easy to communicate. Food is all we want so the local street food with delicious varieties will surely tempt you to come on the street during night hours. Comprehensive details of the places to venture Exploring Beautiful Kohima is mentioned in this post to help you.

How to Reach?

Kohima is well connected by local transports. Regional taxis and NST buses are available. The town even has the railway station as well as the airport. If you are planning to reach Kohima from Dimapur, the buses and regional taxis are available from the railway station.

Where to stay?

Kohima has plenty of options for hotels and lodge. Homestays and dormitories are also
available. You may enjoy the bunk-beds in Kohima, which are more common. Even hostels are available if you are looking in low budgets. It’s convenient to look for accommodation near TCP gate, war cemetery and NST bus stop.

World War II Cemetery:

World War II Cemetery in Kohima Nagaland

The peaceful tombstones of veteran war heroes of World War II rest at the centre of town. The cemetery is in the memory of the Britishers along with 917 Indians who were Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs waited earnestly for their return by their loved ones. Some are encrypted with the quotes, names and ages.

Exploring Beautiful Kohima World War II Cemetery

The cemetery is on the slopes of Garrison hill used to be the residence of District Commissioner which was then turned into a battlefield and later into a memorial. There is a big cross at the centre of the cemetery where you will still find the mark of a tennis court as a part of DC’s residence. A well-trimmed lawn with beautiful pavements around it is a perfect pictorial place. The serene of World War cemetery is well maintained with the calmness in the aura and a panoramic view of the town.

Cathedral Church:

Exploring Beautiful Kohima Cathedral Church

The beautiful structure of the Cathedral Church is visible from almost every part of the town. The Church is perched at the top of the hill with the sentiments of the lost soldiers of World War II. The architecture was funded by Japan in the memory of the Battle of Kohima. The traditional Morung style of the church blends with the intricacy of Naga tradition. The interior of the church is inspired by the local lifestyle, decorated by paintings and furniture.

Biggest Jesus Christ cross at Cathedral Church of Kohima

The transparent roof and stained glasses provide ample light throughout the daytime. The church is known for its 16 feet crucifix, biggest in Asia. The stairs to the church are illustrated with 21 important life events of Jesus Christ. The campus is filled with ornamental flowers and is headed through four gates in all the directions. To reach the place you have to come along BOC stand and then 20-30 minutes’ walk uphill.

Bizzare Kohima Market:

Exploring Beautiful Kohima Bizzare Market

Walking along the narrow lanes of the market with some of the bizarre shops around gives you the insight delicacy of Nagaland. The bazaar of Kohima is overwhelming for the tourist with a wide range of street food including veg and non-veg. Pork and beef are common. However, if you want to go deep into exotic food then dog meat, caterpillars, frog, bee larvae might change your perceptions towards food.

Sudden change in daylight with the onset of dusk brings the market more alive. The mouthwatering smell of flavoured barbeque grilled chicken and plenty of other dishes in the night market will surprise you. The small stalls settle around the main town of Kohima. Exploring Beautiful Kohima stand far from incomplete without Bazaars of Kohima, for which you need to experience on your own.

Through The Land of Ao’s – Mokokchung

The Land of Ao's "Mokokchung"

After a complete tour of Mon district, I left for The Land of Ao’s “Mokokchung “. Travelling in the time of dawn is always a pleasant idea. However, very few Regional Taxis are available for Mokokchung so pre-booking is a better idea. During the time of my journey, I met a police officer and as a stranger, he helped me to find accommodation in few places of Nagaland at a cheaper rate. The beautiful scenic valleys lead to small halts for marketing and refreshments where you may make new friends.

The Land of Ao's "Mokokchung"

The local companion will never let you feel the stress of the journey. It took around 6 hours to reach Mokochung town. The people greet tourists most warm-heartedly, which makes the place wonderful. People who wish to explore North-Easts should plan for Mokokchung, the cultural and intellectual district of Nagaland.

Mokokchung Town

Mokokchung, a small but beautiful town is out of chaos, which will leave you spellbound. It is surrounded by the lush green forest with serpentine roads and dangerous slopes with a few dotted houses in the landscape. It is stated that Mokokchung has some of the oldest villages in Nagaland. This district is known as the Land of Ao’s “Mokokchung” where you will find their descendants and culture.

Mokokchung Town Nagaland

The land has witnessed atrocities on Naga people by Assam rifles which later forced the whole community to revolt. The panoramic view of small villages from Town-Park makes a perfect picturesque that can be hung on the walls of your room as a canvas. You will feel as if you are travelling to the heavenly kingdom filled with fresh mountain air.

How to Reach?

Travelling to The Land of Ao’s “Mokokchung ” is well connected with other towns through National Highway. Most of the route goes via Assam. Nagaland State Transport buses run regularly from the main town. Regional Taxis are also available to reach other towns of Nagaland and Assam.

Where to stay?

There are many options for lodging in Mokochung town. You may contact them for booking or go for spot booking. Almost every lodge and hotel have dormitories. Circuit house may also be available for tourists only when it is not booked by government officials.

Longkhum Village:

The Land of Ao's "Mokokchung" Longkhum Village

You may hire a local cab from Mokokchung to reach Longkhum village. The village is surprisingly clean and dust-free, beautiful small houses decorated by flower pots and an altitude where you see yourself above the clouds. The mesmerizing 360-degree view from Jubliee Tower of the entire village with backdrops of the mountain range. This is an offbeat trip to the land of Nagas with vivid landscapes.

The Land of Ao's "Mokokchung" trekking route in Longkhum Village

You may trek through the natural rock-formations and search for the footprints of Jina and Etiben, the famous love birds of Ao tribe. The stone trail is surrounded by trees on both sides leading to a small jungle trek where you may also witness nest of eagles inside the caves. The trek is simple and easy with an idyllic view of surroundings far from the monotonous and boring urban life. The trails of the hidden village with blue hills were very fascinating.

Ungma Village:

The Land of Ao's "Mokokchung" Ungma Village

A 30 minutes’ walk from Mokochung will take you to the oldest and biggest Ao village of Nagaland, Called to be yet another historic basti “Ungma village”. Ungma is one of the most frequently visited popular places having tradition mixed with modernity. The village excites more about Ao tribe’s tradition, customs and their myths.

The Land of Ao's "Mokokchung" logdrum at Ungma Village

One of the main attractions of the village is a traditional drum which was used to inform and alert the villagers about meetings, deaths, warning of impending dangers. Enjoy the breathtaking and outstanding landscape from the top of the watchtower. You will also find a sacred pillar in the middle of the village where people used to worship. Communicate with extremely warm and kind-hearted local natives of the village, it will give you a clear perception of their tradition.

Mopungchuket Village:

The Land of Ao's "Mokokchung" Mopungchuket Village

After a satisfying meal at Mokokchung town, I hired a cab and left for Mopungchuket. It is one of the cleanest villages of Nagaland with beautifully decorated houses and well-maintained dustbins around the corner, which shows the way how to lead a clean environment. The clean landscape area with colourful seasonal flowers in almost every household, the sacred pillar, the cultural museum and the park are some of the main attractions.

The Land of Ao's "Mokokchung" Park at Mopungchuket Village

Enjoy boating at Sungkotenem park if you are lucky, you may get a glimpse of deer suddenly appearing from the jungle nearby. The park is decorated with giant artefacts created by the local artist. The cultural museum holds the historic importance of the village showing the barbaric sufferings of the locals by outsiders. While you are in the village, don’t forget to learn about the great love story of Jina and Etiben!

The Land of Ao's "Mokokchung" Jina and Etiben lovestory Nagaland

Travelling to Headhunter Basti – Mon

Travelling to Headhunter Basti Mon

It gives goosebump when we hear about travelling to Headhunter Basti “Mon” of Nagaland although we consider them as ‘uncivilised, extremely barbarous’. Tall distant mountainous range, narrow magnificent valley and primitive traditional villages were truly soul touching.

“Headhunting was not the senseless killing of the enemy but a traditional connection with tribal principles of heroism, justice, honour, pride & recognitions. ”

According to The Legendary Naga Village viz book
Welcome to Mon Town of Nagaland

Mon district was my first choice on this trip. The moment I stepped into the land of Mon it was a feeling of travelling back to the medieval period. The first glance of the place just kept me mesmerized. The town and villages are surprisingly clean & have beautiful landscapes. People in the town are polite and hospitable. The houses decorated by a variety of flora with an intense background of the mountain ranges. The town looks more beautiful at night when the blanket of stars covers the whole valley.

Most of the native peoples were Headhunters of Nagaland

Shortcut to reach Mon (Simaluguri to Mon):

I boarded a direct train to Simaluguri from Kolkata. Although my initial plan was to visit
Nagaland to Mon, however, time wasn’t permitted to the same. So, I spent a night at Simaluguri in a local lodge near the railway station. Lodging facility is availed at a very affordable rate. You may also look for accommodation in the city which is much safer.

Simaluguri is a well-known historical place in Sivasagar district of Assam, which I came to know from Biplob, the descendent of Ahom. He highlighted some of the historical importance of Simalugurui and Ahom tribe. It was an early morning where I started my journey towards Sonari district of Assam.

Simaluguri to Mon of Nagaland, regional taxi and buses are available

So, I boarded a local van (local buses are also available) which took about an hour to reach Sonari bus stop. With the help of locals, I hired a small e-rickshaw which dropped me further into outskirts of Sonari town from where regional taxis and buses for Mon departs. Around 3-hours of the bumpy journey, I happen to reach the main market of Mon Town.

Places to stay:

If you believe in spot booking, it’s not a bad option. There are few homestays and lodges available with dormitories.

Honghpoi Basti:

Travelling to Headhunter Basti Mon a child playing with rubber tube

My second-day journey began with a local tour of a city taxi. The road conditions are extremely bad although after reaching the destination, a warm welcome by villagers left behind all the stress I suffered on the way. The village houses have a great variety of flora with colourful backgrounds of the rich natural environment.

Travelling to Headhunter Basti Mon the ritual stone where heads of enemies are buried

The piles of stones in the village show the number of heads they have hunted. Very few Bastis with their old traditions is in existence now, as they have embraced Christianity. They have abandoned their traditional cultures. Few elders at the village dress up in their traditional costume for the tourists.

Travelling to Headhunter Basti Mon a few headhunters left in Nagaland

The chief of the village is more generous as he offered a cup of tea (klap) and a few bananas which show their hospitality towards their tourist. The last generation which experienced headhunting has tattoos on their face and skull head necklace that signifies the number of headhunted by him.

The Chi Village:

Chi Village near Mon town of Nagaland, the abandoned village of headhunters

This is a beautiful deserted village near Mon town taken care by few men of the local tribal village area, located at the top of the mountain in Mon Sadar Tehsil. The village preserves its ancestral heritage with a beautiful children’s park. The conference house in the village is said to be the discussion room of their people.

Travelling to Headhunter Basti Mon the conference room

The chief of the tribe used to sit on the throne surrounded by the tribes around the fire. The house is decorated with skulls of animals and birds they have hunted. The biggest skull I found was of an elephant. The famous Longkhai village is visible from the top of the hill which lies at the border of Myanmar.

Travelling to Headhunter Basti Mon, Baptist Church at Chi Village of Nagaland

The place is quiet and peaceful with very few tourists in and around the traditional village of Konyak tribes. The village is surrounded by a beautiful valley and will remain as a nostalgic snap in your diary. The caretakers of the village are very helpful and always ready to guide you around the village.

Important Tips before Travelling to Headhunter Basti “Mon”:

  • The most important thing to remember before you visit this place is that most of the shops in the town close by 1:30 pm.
  • On Sunday the whole town remains close. Local transportation facilities are unavailable.
  • Very few ATMs are available in town. Sometimes they may go out of service. I recommend carrying sufficient cash.