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Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival

One-horned rhinos, tea plantations & tribal cultures

Intro

Stride through grasslands on an elephant looking for one-horned rhino in Kaziranga National Park. Take a tour of Assam's infamous tea plantations in Jorhat, then cross the Brahmaputra River to Majuli, one of the largest river islands in the world, before finally entering Nagaland, India’s true frontier state. Bordering onto Myanmar, Nagaland is steeped in history and tribal tradition. Wander through tribal villages and soak up the atmosphere at the Hornbill Festival, where Naga culture is brought to life in colourful song and dance. Learn about Naga customs and their reputation as fearsome head-hunters.

Read the Guardian's feature on Nagaland by Jonathan Glancey.

Highlights

· Witness tribal song and dance at Nagaland`s Hornbill Festival

· Visit Longwa, a tribal village straddling India and Burma

· Pay respect at the WWII cemetery in Kohima

· Take a tour in an Assam tea garden

· Experience Majuli Island`s unique Hindu culture

· Spot one-horned rhino on elephant-back in Kaziranga

Intro

· 21-Nov-2015 to 05-Dec-2015

For alternate dates or private trips please contact us

Payment Questions

Other tours Accommodation

This tour uses a selection of hand picked accaommodation in Nagaland

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Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive into Guwahati (from Delhi or Kolkata as required). Transfer to hotel. Optional sightseeing. Overnight in Guwahati. Meals:N/A

Day 2

Drive to Kaziranga. After lunch game drive in national park. Overnight in Kaziranga. Meals: B,L,D

Day 3

Ride on elephant-back looking out for one-horned rhinos and other wildlife. After lunch, leave for the afternoon jeep safari. Overnight in Kaziranga. Meals: B,L,D

Day 4

Morning game drive. Leave for Jorhat. Afternoon tour of tea plantation. Evening free. Overnight in Jorhat. Meals: B,L,D

Day 5

Day trip to Majuli Island. Visit the ancient satras and mask craft shops. Return to Jorhat in evening. Overnight in Jorhat. Meals: B,L,D


For full itinerary, click on one of the links below

Highlights

· Witness tribal song and dance at Nagaland`s Hornbill Festival

· Visit Longwa, a tribal village straddling India and Burma

· Pay respect at the WWII cemetery in Kohima

· Take a tour in an Assam tea garden

· Experience Majuli Island`s unique Hindu culture

· Spot one-horned rhino on elephant-back in Kaziranga



Other tours
Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive into Guwahati airport (from Delhi or Kolkata) where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative. Transfer to hotel, rest and refresh. Optional sightseeing to Kamakhya Temple and Umananda Temple or rest of the day to relax. Overnight in Guwahati. Meals: n/a.

Guwahati is popularly known as ‘the city of eastern light’, and situated on the banks of the Brahmaputa River and the foothills of the Shillong plateau. Many Hindu temples are found in the area, including the Kamakyha Temple, where animal sacrifices are still a daily occurrence. Nearby is the quaint Umananda Temple situated on an island.

Day 2

After breakfast depart for Kaziranga National Park. On arrival check into lodge and after lunch set off on afternoon game drive in the national park. Return to lodge for dinner. Overnight in Kaziranga. Meal plan: B,L,D

Kaziranga National Park is home to two-thirds of the world's population of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros at just under 2000. A few centuries ago, the Indian one-horned rhino ranged across the north Indian plains in the wetlands of the rivers Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra. Today it is found only in pockets of Assam and in Nepal. Kaziranga also boasts a range of other wildlife and harbours about 15 species of India's threatened mammals including the most dense population of Royal Bengal tigers, Indian elephants, sloth bears, Gangetic dolphins and an extraordinary bird population. Kaziranga National Park is located partly in Golaghat District and partly in the Nagaon District of Assam and covers an area of 430km2. It lies in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra and annual flooding and burning has maintained the grasslands predominant in the west. It became an official national park in 1974, but was established as a reserved forest in 1908, a game sanctuary in 1916, a wildlife sanctuary in 1950, and as a World Heritage site in 1985.

Day 3

Early wake up with hot cup of chai and biscuits. Jeep will take you to the Central Sector at 5am for your elephant safari. As the sun rises, ride on elephant-back and wade through thick elephant grass looking out for the endangered one-horned rhino. Witness a host of other wildlife, including barking deer and tigers (if you are lucky! Kaziranga is home to the largest concentration of tigers in a protected area). Return to the jungle lodge for breakfast. Relax, amble around the surroundings. After lunch, leave for the afternoon jeep safari in the national park. Return and overnight in Kaziranga. Meal plan: B,L,D

Day 4

Early morning game drive in Kaziranga. Return to lodge for breakfast and then leave late morning for Jorhat. On arrival, check into tea bungalow where you will also have lunch. In the afternoon proceed for tour of the tea plantations. Return to tea bungalow for dinner. Evening free to relax. Overnight in Jorhat. Meal plan: B,L,D

Jorhat is the second largest city in Assam and is situated by the Brahmaputra river. Jorhat is reknown for its tea and for being the last capital of the Ahom Kingdom, meaning it is now home to many historical monuments of Assamese culture. Tea is part of the agriculture-based industries and occupies an important place in Assam culture, especially as plants have always grown naturally in the Upper Brahmaputra valley. The entire Jorhat district is surrounded by tea plantations and has tea factories. There are about 135 tea gardens in the surrounding areas.

Day 5

Early morning private ferry to Jorhat. Spend the day exploring one of the largest river island's in the world. Visit the island's ancient satras (rare Hindu Vaishnavite monasteries worshipping Lord Vishnu). Pop into the local mask shops and pottery workshops and watch master craftsmen at work. Late afternoon take the ferry back to Jorhat. Evening free to relax. Overnight in Jorhat. Meals: B,L,D

One of the world's largest river islands, Majuli Island is located in the Brahmaputra River and runs for 80km from east to west and 15km north to south and a total area of 875km2. It used to be much bigger than this but has decreased as a result of erosion from the river. The island has a population of 150,000 and there are 243 villages. With a natural and cultural heritage site with water bodies covering most of the areas, Majuli attracts a wide range of birds. Aside from the rice field landscapes, fish traps and water meadows, the local Mising people and Satras make the island a fascinating place.

There are just under 30 Satras in Majuli and each Satra acts as a cultural activity centre for its region in festivals and occasions. Formed by the Assamese philosopher, Sankardev, the religion is based on the caste system and idol worship. Dance and play-acting of scenes from the holy Hindu scripture (Bhagavad Gita) have an important role. Pottery in Majuli is also very famous because it is made from beaten clay that is burnt in ovens fired with driftwood.

Day 6

After breakfast leave for Sibsagar, the former capital of the Ahom Dynasty. Check into your hotel and after lunch, visit the ancient Ahom temples and ruins. Evening free. Overnight in Sibsagar. Meals: B,L,D

The former capital of the Ahom Dynasty for some 600 years, Sibsagar is now a multi-cultural city in the Assam district of India. The area boasts the spectacular ruins of the Ahom Dynasty, including the old temples of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. Also of interest is the 18th century Rong Ghar, or 'Amusement House', which once served as the royal sports pavillion. The Ahom kings and nobles would sit on the balcony and watch traditional games such as buffalo fights in what is considered the largest amphitheatre in Asia. On the roof of this two-storey building is the design of an Ahom royal long boat and two stone crocodiles. A mixture of rice and egg paste was used as the mortar in construction. The Palace of Tatal, with its winding stone passages, is another masterpiece of the Ahom dynasty.

Day 7

After breakfast, drive to Mon District, home to the Konyak Naga tribe, once one of the most elaborate and fierce head-hunting tribes of Nagaland. The tribal elders still exhibit signs of their ancient customs including tattooed faces, elaborate head dresses, and many of their homes still display animal skulls. Overnight in basic, but clean, accommodation in Mon. Meals: B,L,D

Day 8

Full day to explore more of Mon, one of the highlights is a visit to the village of Longwa which straddles both India and Myanmar. Take a look inside a typical tribal bamboo hut. Learn about their way of life and walk around the village. Evening free. Overnight in Mon. Meal plan: B,L,D

The Konyak tribe are amongst the most decorated tribes of Nagaland. All Konyaks carry a ‘dao’- a machete traditionally used for head-hunting up until to 50 years ago. The older villagers still tend to wear traditional clothing. The majority of Nagas are Christian, which bonds the numerous tribe communities.

Day 9

After breakfast, set off for the small hill-top town of Mokokchung, the intellectual and cultural capital of Nagaland. Learn about the Ao Naga culture. Depending on arrival time, wander out to the main park and climb the watchtower for excellent views of the surrounding scenery (or this can be done the following day). Overnight in Mokokchung. Meals: B,L,D

Mokokchung is a small, hill-top town and the intellectual and cultural capital of Nagaland. Here you can learn about the Ao Naga culture. Ao is the main language of the Ao tribe. They are famous for their colourful dances. Their distinct shawl is designed with red, black and white threads.

Day 10

A free day in Mokokchung to spend at your leisure, visiting Unman and Ao Naga villages Overnight in Mokokchung. Meals: B,L,D

Day 11

Drive to Kohima for the Hornbill Festival. Experience the sights and sounds of Naga culture. Watch tribes in colourful and distinct costumes perform traditional Naga dances and ceremonies. Have a drink of the local rice beer and be part of this unique festival. Overnight in Kohima. Meals: B,L,D

Nagaland's capital, Kohima, sits atop ridges and hilltops among forests. There are 16 tribes in Nagaland, each having their own dialect, customs and traditional costumes, but all love music, dance and pageantry. The social position of a Naga is defined by the number of bone necklaces he wears. The Nagas are said to belong to the Indo-Mongoloid stock, a race whose presence was first noted ten centuries before Christ, are mostly Christians and are fluent in English. The Hornbill Festival happens in the small village of Kisama (10km from Kohima) and various Naga groups come for a cultural, dancing and sporting week dressed in warrior costume. As most of the region is dependent on agriculture, all their festivals are based around this. The Government of Nagaland organises the Hornbill Festival every year in the first week of December to encourage intertribal interaction and cultural heritage. The Festival is named after the hornbill, the state bird of Nagaland.

Day 12

After breakfast set off for the village of Kisama on the outskirts of Kohima. Stop at the viewpoint en-route which offers excellent views of the valley. On arrival in Kisama, you can take your seat in the amphitheatre where the main tribal performances will take place. This day of the festival typically sees tribes from all over North East India's 'Seven Sister' states perform traditional dances depicting war cries or customs relating to their interaction with nature and agriculture. During the day visit the many 'morungs' (communal tribal hut) set up around the venue. Each tribe has its own unique morung. After the festival finishes, return to the hotel Evening free. Overnight in Kohima. Meal plan: B,L,D

Day 13

Arrive around 9am at the festival ground. This gives ample time to wander around the morungs again and take photos of the various tribes. This day usually sees each of the Naga tribes performing dances or enacting scenes relating to war and their way of life. The Nagas are the most elaborately dressed of the tribes in North East India, so this is perhaps the most important day of the festival. There are various food stalls serving Naga specialities, which includes smoked pork, the aroma can be smelt all around the venue! Visit the handicraft and textile shops and pick up some Naga souvenirs. Return to the hotel. Evening free. Overnight in Kohima. Meals: B,L,D

Day 14

After breakfast, visit the famous World War II cemetery in Kohima, commemorating the British and Nagas who fought side-by-side to defeat the Japanese. Drive on to Dimapur, the second largest town in Nagaland which borders Assam. Check into your comfortable cottage and enjoy lunch. Afterwards, visit the Dimasa Kachari ruins and the Kali Temple. Evening free to relax. Enjoy dinner at the resort. Overnight in Dimapur. Meals: B,L,D

Day 15

After a leisurely breakfast, transfer to Dimapur airport for flight to Kolkata. Connect for onward flight or additional services. Meals: B

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive into Guwahati (from Delhi or Kolkata as required). Transfer to hotel. Optional sightseeing. Overnight in Guwahati. Meals:N/A

Day 2

Drive to Kaziranga. After lunch game drive in national park. Overnight in Kaziranga. Meals: B,L,D

Day 3

Ride on elephant-back looking out for one-horned rhinos and other wildlife. After lunch, leave for the afternoon jeep safari. Overnight in Kaziranga. Meals: B,L,D

Day 4

Morning game drive. Leave for Jorhat. Afternoon tour of tea plantation. Evening free. Overnight in Jorhat. Meals: B,L,D

Day 5

Day trip to Majuli Island. Visit the ancient satras and mask craft shops. Return to Jorhat in evening. Overnight in Jorhat. Meals: B,L,D

Day 6

Drive from Jorhat to Sibsagar, the former capital of the Ahom Dynasty. Afternoon explore the ancient Ahom ruins. Evening free. Overnight in Sibsagar. Meals: B,L,D

Day 7

After breakfast, drive to Mon District, home to the Konyak Naga tribe. Overnight in Mon. Meals: B,L,D

Day 8

Spend the day to explore more of Mon and visit the village of Longwa, straddling India and Myanmar. Overnight in Mon. Meal plan: B,L,D

Day 9

After breakfast, set off for the small hill-top town of Mokokchung, the intellectual and cultural capital of Nagaland. Overnight in Mokokchung. Meals: B,L,D

Day 10

A free day in Mokokchung to spend at your leisure, visiting different Naga tribal villages. Overnight in Mokokchung. Meals: B,L,D

Day 11

Drive to Kohima. Evening attend the street carnival in the city centre. Overnight in Kohima. Meals: B,L,D

Day 12

Full day at the Hornbill Festival. Watch tribes from all over North East India perform dances depicting war and their way of life. Evening free. Overnight in Kohima. Meal plan: B,L,D

Day 13

Full day at the Hornbill Festival. Watch each of the colourful Naga tribes perform dances showcasing their ancient customs. Overnight in Kohima. Meals: B,L,D

Day 14

Visit the WWII cemetery in Kohima and then drive to Dimapur. Check into the resort and visit ruins around Dimapur. Evening free. Overnight in Dimapur. Meals: B,L,D

Day 15

After breakfast transfer to airport for flight to Kolkata/Delhi. Meals: B

What's included

  • International return flight (if applicable)
  • Airport pick-up & drop-off
  • Domestic flights
  • Ground transport
  • Accommodation
  • Entrance fees to sites & parks
  • Activity fees (safari)
  • Most meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
  • Drivers and guides
  • accommodation_img

    This tour uses a selection of hand picked accaommodation in Nagaland

    This includes the Kaziranga Japuri Ghar hotel surrounded by greenary and mind refreshing views; the confortable 3 star hotel Saramati in Dimapur; and the Hotel Rajwas in Dibrugarh.

    Places Visited
    • Guwahati
    • Kaziranga
    • Jorhat
    • Majuli
    • Mon
    • Mokokchung
    • Kohima
    • Dimapur
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