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Nagaland Hornbill Festival Essential Guide

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Nagaland Hornbill Festival Essential Guide

Angami tribe, Hornbill festival, Nagaland, India.

Peter Adams/Getty Images.
The unique Hornbill Festival, named after the bird, is one of the largest celebrations of the indigenous warrior tribes of Nagaland, in India's far north east region. The hornbill is particularly revered by the Nagas and is reflected in tribal folklore, dances and songs.

When is the Hornbill Festival:

The festival is usually on every year from December 1-7. However, in 2013, it's being extended for a few extra days. It will conclude on December 10.

Where is the Hornbill Festival Held:

It takes place at Kisama Heritage Village, around 10 kilometers from Kohima (the capital of Nagaland). Performances begin by 9 a.m. each day.

You can easily book a taxi to get there, but do ensure that the vehicle has a pass to park at the venue.

How is the Hornbill Festival Celebrated:

The Festival is attended by all of Nagaland's major tribes. It features traditional arts, dances, folk songs, and games. All this takes place amidst immaculate replicas of tribal hutments, complete with wood carvings and hollow log drum instruments, which are beat in haunting symphony at the end of the day. There are plenty of handicraft stalls, food stalls, and heady rice beer to indulge in as well.

In the evenings after sundown, the main attraction is the Hornbill National Rock Concert. Bands from all over the country come to compete. This is followed by a night market in town. However, the hottest event (literally!) at the festival is undoubtedly the Naga chilli eating competition!

Tours to the Hornbill Festival:

Kipepeo is running a 7 night fixed departure tour to the 2013 Hornbill Festival. It also includes a visit to the famous Kaziranga National Park in Assam, home to the endangered one-horned rhinoceros. Indiomania Cultural Tours offers a special 10 day trip to the Hornbill Festival as well.

Hornbill Festival Travel Tips:

  • The Hornbill Festival is one of the top tourist draws in Nagaland, so if you're planning to attend, do book accommodations well in advance.

  • It's advisable to book taxis for the whole day when visiting the festival venue. Charges range from 1,000 to 1,500 rupees. Make sure you leave early enough to beat the mad rush to the venue, and grab a good vantage point.

  • There's a very handy Information Center next to the festival venue, which provides brochures listing the events at the festival and other attractions in Nagaland.

  • Make sure you bargain at the souvenir shops.

  • Entry permits are no longer necessary for foreigners visiting Nagaland. However, foreigners will need to register themselves with the Foreigner's Registration Office (District Superintendent of Police) within 24 hours of entry into the state. Indian tourists need an Innner Line Permit. This is available from any Nagaland House, or Government of Nagaland office. Download application form.

  • Kohima doesn't have an airport. The nearest one is in Dimapur, with flights to and from Kolkata and Guwahati. From Dimapur it's a two hour drive to Kohima. Or, if you're in a hurry, a 30 minute helicopter ride.

  • The best place to stay in Kohima is the Hotel Japfu, Government Tourism hotel. Rooms cost upwards of 2,500 rupees per night for a single and 3,000 rupees for a double. Advance bookings are imperative. Email: hoteljapfu@yahoo.co.in

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