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Things to know about the Hornbill Festival

Nagaland is much more than what you have heard or thought of! This teeny-weeny bit of India is an amalgamation of over 15 tribes who have been ruling and roaming the jungles here! Disheartening to note that Nagaland’s exquisite culture is becoming dull as the days pass by, however, this place is truly able to restore it on its own with assistance from the vibrant Hornbill festival.

Never ever ruled by any of the colonial rulers, Nagaland is still managing to keep up with the current trends and tourism in its provinces! The most intriguing element here apart from its intricate crafts and the unusual culinary experience is none other than the very prominent Hornbill festival which focuses on showcasing the Naga tribal culture. But what is this festival all about? This is not the sole question that strikes every visitor’s mind instead there any many and I really know what they would be (just because I came across the same! Haha)

Below I have tried to answer each and every question that might have conquered your mindset while getting to know about the Hornbill Festival. Move on and have a look:

Hornbill Festival- what is it?

If asked to describe this festivity in a bundle of words, I would say “getting up close and communicating with the Naga tribes”. This is a 10 days’ carnival and the Hornbill festival 2019 dates commence from 1st December and conclude on 10th December! You are surely not going to experience even a single boring day while being a part of the great tribal performances and setting your taste buds at test by eating the salivary cuisine of Nagaland.

The Hornbill festival has been named after the Hornbill bird that is highly revered and looked upon by the Nagas. It all started from the year 2000 when Nagaland’s government decided to instigate the Hornbill festival with the intention of promoting this destination’s tourism. It has come a long way right from being a local celebration till becoming an international occasion admired by tourists from all over the globe. Also recognized as the ‘festival of festivals’, the Hornbill Festival is celebrated in Kisama’s Naga Heritage Village with utmost fervor and zeal.

The people from Nagaland are quite interested in maintaining their cultural legacy and the Hornbill festival helps them in the same. The songs, dances, as well as the expressions during this festivity, represent the pious Indian Hornbill. With a focus of enlightening the standard of living of the tribes in Nagaland, the Hornbill festival performs at its best to entertain the prevalent audience.

How to get the Hornbill festival tickets?

No need for you to worry about the price range of the Hornbill Festival tickets. You’ll have to pay Rs 20 for your entry (each day) and just in case, you are carrying a video camera along with you, then the charges may range somewhere between Rs 50-Rs 100. The visitors can grab these tickets from the entry gate of the Hornbill festival’s venue. Time for you to get ready for the Hornbill festival 2019!

What all can the visitors do at the Hornbill festival?

Well, the Hornbill Festival is not solely meant for witnessing the tribal songs and performances, instead, it’s much more! Whether that is music, sports, food, beverages, books or shopping, it’s a paradise for every person with distinct choices and interests.

Well, if you are a carnivore, then nothing can stop you from having the utmost joy of the Naga traditional food. Be a participant in the Naga chilly eating contest and also the pork eating contest and beat the prevalent locales of Nagaland who are participating in these competitions. Also, you will be getting a very rare opportunity of residing in the huts of the Naga tribes, communicate with the elderly people and you know what’s the best thing about that? They would surely understand English. Want to test your eating guts? Try out the local food of the Naga tribes which are literally a showcase of their adaptability with the forests’ environment. Taste the fried silkworms, freshly cooked frog and other ‘not so ordinary’ things during this occasion. What about the beverages? This one is quite special as the Nagas have brought up a freshly prepared beer made out of the freshly brewed rice. Interestingly they are not served in the glasses, instead in the Bamboo sticks being paired the best with roasted pork or fish.

You can roam around the sites of Kohima that mainly include the highly recognized War Memorial Museum exhibiting the heroism of the martyrs fighting at the battlefront during the Second World War. Here you are going to spot the uniforms, weapons as well as the house-guns of the soldiers. Each and every element inside this memorial will remind you of the bygone bravery days of these battlers.

The Hornbill Festival is a treat for the shopaholics and in case you are the one, then surely nothing could be better than this! Shop and don’t stop as you stroll through the amazing Bamboo Pavilion, small malls and the flea market there. The very creative and handmade crafts created by the tribal population are truly worthy of being brought to your home from the venue!

What are the varied events during the Hornbill festival?

The Hornbill festival is lined up with a plethora of the most entertaining events including some dance performances, rallies, and war skills whereas during evening, You can witness the amazing rock bands performing live for you on a massive stage. This is a competition in which some very distinct bands compete in order to attain the ‘most favorite band trophy’.

Apart from that, you can also engross in the delectable taste of the street food in Kohima’s night market! Enlightened with some vibrant lighting techniques, packed with the feet of globetrotters and submerged in the aroma of the exquisite cuisines- Kohima’s night market is literally a heartthrob! Also, you can be a part of the highly interesting Chilli eating competition. Relish the colorful performances, food fairs and other ceremonies in the Hornbill Festival and also see the marvelous demonstration of the Naga morungs, art, and craft!

Other majorly significant events during the Hornbill festival include:

Exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, and wooden carvings

Flower shows

Food and herbal medicine stalls

Naga wrestling

Miss Nagaland beauty contest

Songs and dances showcasing Nagaland’s culture

Musical concert

Chilly eating competition

Some distinct religious ceremonies

Games and sports

Adventure activities

Film festival

Kids’ carnival

How to reach the Hornbill Festival?

The Hornbill Festival is celebrated with huge enthusiasm in Kohima. One needs to have access to this venue by a bus or taxi from Dimapur. You can either travel by air, road or rail in order to reach here!

By Air:

Nagaland’s airport is located in Dimapur and the major airlines serve it. The regular flights are operated to and from Dimapur by Air India as well as the Indigo Airlines. On reaching Dimapur, the travelers shall have to board a bus or taxi for reaching Hornbill festival’s venue and this would take approx. 3 hours.

By Rail:

Dimapur is known to have the state’s major railhead and that is connected with Guwahati. Further, Guwahati is considered to be the one having a linkage with other cities in the country and their trains.

By Road:

The road network in Nagaland is quite good. The roads of Kohima that is the capital city is majorly connected with Shillong as well as Guwahati. Further, you will have to reach Dimapur and then start your 3 hours’ drive towards this festivity’s venue.

Where to stay during the Hornbill festival?

Thousands of tourists from all over the globe flock Hornbill festival and as a result of which the venue might become over-crowded. Also, Nagaland is considered to be a place having a costly affair. Thus, the accommodation here might be quite expensive (Rs 4000-5000 approx. per night). As a replacement for the same, varied tour operators have come out with a more comfortable and fun-filled way of living. The tourists have been facilitated with the camps around Kisama that are undoubtedly cheaper than the hotels and guesthouses in Nagaland. 

What about the Inner Line Permit (ILP)?

You should definitely acquire the entry permit before embarking on your amazing journey towards the Hornbill Festival.

The Domestic tourists, i.e. those who belong to India shall have to attain the Inner Line Permit. However, it’s a piece of good news for the foreign travelers since there is no need for them to get a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) / Protected Area Permit (PAP) in order to enter the provinces of Nagaland.

NOTE: Pakistan and Chinese nationals are required to get the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) / Protected Area Permit (PAP) for entering Nagaland.

What are some travel tips for those who are planning for Hornbill Festival 2019?

You are surely going to have a very commendable time during your experience of the highly vibrant Hornbill Festival. Still, nothing’s perfect and obviously there might be some cons in Nagaland too and thus, there exists a need for you to keep some travel tips in mind:

  • The souvenir shops are at first going to charge you a higher price for the things you are planning buying, so you just have to ensure that you bargain there. This will enable you to have a perfect and reasonable price for your goods.

    There is no need of any entry permissions for the foreigners traveling here, however, they need to get themselves registered with the Foreigner's Registration Office compulsorily within a day of their arrival in Nagaland.

    The distance between Kohima and Kisama Heritage Village is of approximately 20 minutes by a drive but there might be some heavy traffic and this may lead to the extension of your journey’s tenure. So, stay ready for the same!


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