A Complete Guide to Hornbill Festival 2010 - Nagaland

Every year a biggest cultural extravaganza of Nagaland, the Hornbill Festival kicks off with colorful celebration for 10 days with traditional music, folk dances, under one roof at Naga Heritage village Kisama. Nagaland . It is known as the festival of festivals it attracts tourists globally.

A Complete Guide to Hornbill Festival 2010 - Nagaland
A dance performance during festival

       Hornbill Festival is revered to as festival of festivals, is an annual cultural extravaganza which is  held in the first week of December , Nagaland and 2010 is not an exclusion Located in the far northeast corner of India, is an fascinating place. This remote tribal land comes alive and is colourful during these 10 days of celebration It is a spiritually inclined festival in which the various tribes of Nagaland partake in the grand celebration.

Complete details In a nutshell....

1.Hornbill - A Bird of Paradise

2.A peek into Hornbill festival

3.The colourful Tribes of Nagaland

4.Where is the Hornbill Festival celerated ?

5.Where is Nagaland ?

6.What is do in Hornbill Festival ?

7.How to reach Kohima , Nagaland ?

8.How to reach Kisama heritage Village ?

9.How to get ILP for visiting Nagaland ?

10.Where to stay during the Hornbill Nest Festival ?

11.What other places to visit in and around Kohima ?

12.Photogallery from the Hornbill Festival 2010 . Nagaland !

Hornbill -  A Bird of Paradise

The Hornbill festival is named after the exotic Hornbill Bucerotidae. a elusive bird with long casque and with striking colorful plumage.It holds a great importance among the local folklore.The bird is highly respected and distinctly depicted in the Naga folklore and songs.

Out of 5 species of  hornbills found in North East region , ironically, the great hornbill was almost in the verge extinction in Nagaland due to excessive hunting for its distinctive casque and colourful plumage.The feathers of the hornbills were used as decoration in the headgears of the Naga warriors and tribal people.

Since yesteryears the government and NGO's had tried to persuade the tribes to refrain from hunting and to use fake feathers instead of killing the birds but did not have any impact.However, over the time, the local community understood about the importance of preservation of the wildlife. Also several interactions, meetings held with and within the Naga tribesmen on conservation of the species was fruitful. Finally a solution within made a drastic impact to turn the hunters into protectors.

A Peek into Hornbill Festival

The tribes of Nagaland come together and unanimously celebrate the Hornbill festival. They celebrate with pomp, unity, cheer, and enthusiasm.

Agriculture being the backbone of state of Nagaland. Hence, agriculture is major drive to celebrate the festivals of the state. In the year 2000, the government of Nagaland initiated the inception of this festival. Its main purpose was to promote rich culture of Nagas, bring all tribes together, their customs, and traditions that encompass Nagaland.

It is the land of folklore, fables, hunters and of the brave warriors who have been eulogized by the folk songs of the land. Hornbill Festival is the celebration of all these and more.

Celebration kickstarts with Nagaland Statehood Day that falls on the 1st of December every year.and excitement continues upto 10 days.

The festival celebrated in unision with all 16 different tribes of Nagaland through music, dance, art, food, in tradional attires, sports and more !

The Hornbill Festival is showcasing the cultural canvas of Nagaland as well as Northeast India to the outer world. The entire event is a sheer delight to watch and experience.You can walk around and see all the tribes of Nagaland at a grand arena. You get a chance to witness the traditional war dance of the Nagas, their folk music and their unique tradition.

The colourful tribes of Nagaland

I knew that 16 tribes exist in Nagaland.But did you know that each tribe are different in their customs, language, attires and culture.

The 16 major tribes/clans of Nagaland are.. !

  • Angami
  • Ao
  • Chakhesang
  • Chang
  • Kachari
  • Khiamniungan
  • Sumi
  • Rengma
  • Lotha
  • Phom
  • Pochury
  • Kuki
  • Sangtam
  • Konyak
  • Yimchunger
  • Zeme-Liangmai (Zeliang)
  • Along with this there are few ethnic groups as well. Etnic groups who have been native to region also have their own dialect. Just imagine the sheer diversity in the language and dialect of Nagaland !

Where is the Hornbill Festival Celebrated?

The Hornbill Festival is celebrated at the festival grounds of Kisama Heritage Village located in heart of Nagaland. Kisama is about 5 km from Kohima, the capital of Nagaland. You can avail shared taxis from Kohima to get to Kisama.

The performances usually start by 9.30 AM everyday. You can buy entry tickets at the entry gates and cross the security check to enter the festival venue.

Where is Nagaland?

Nagaland is located in the northeast part of India and is part of the Seven Sister States.

The word “Nagaland” literally means the land of friendly people,the Nagas, the indigenious name of the 16 tribes residing in Nagaland.Strategically located on the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, Nagaland’s geography is dominated by the mountains of Naga Hills. These hills rise from the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam and rise to 6000 ft. Its highest point is at Mount Saramati at 12602 ft, where the Naga Hills merge the Patkai Range, forming the border with Myanmar.

A land bestowed with natural resoruces and beauty which boast rivers, waterfalls, valleys, forests, and hills

Nagaland shares its borders with states , namely Assam, Arunachal Pradesh,Mizoram and Manipur and also a large part with Burma ( Myanmar )

 What to do in Hornbill Festival?

Undoubtedly Hornbill Festival is Nagaland’s biggest congregation of local folk and touirsts. And you would land totally in paraphernilia of  events with music, dance, arts and many more.Amusement and fetival mood prevails all over to entertain you.

The shows start at around 9.30 AM everyday and the order of events are more or less the same. The shows, music and tribes usually alter daily. Altogether about 3 to 4 days are enough to get a insight and good experience of hornbill Festival. So here are few things your must do during your visit to Hornbill Festival.

Visit the Morungs

Going around the Morungs is best way to engage yourself and perhaps the best thing that you can do at Hornbill Festival. The best time to visit them is early morning just before the start of performances. That is the time for the performers to get dressed up and you can get some lovely portraits. Talk to them and get permission before taking any photographs.

What are Morungs?

Well, the Morungs are community spaces in the villages of Nagaland where young boys are sent.Morung is a key institution of the Nagas, and also the center for social life of all the unmarried male members of the society.

They are taught about the rich culture and history, of their village and tribe. They learn the art of singing and dancing.

Morungs are the place where the legends and folks tales and stories of the past are passed down to the younger generation.

Along with mastering the fine arts, the young boys also master the art of warfare and hunting. The Morungs are their practice ground.The Morungs are the places where values are imbibed into the minds of these boys and they are taught the essential life skills.

Least and last to describe it in short, the Morungs are like dormitories where the Naga boys spent their youth learning to be better and brighter men. Each Morung has their own sets of rules and regulations that the members have to adhere to, otherwise they will be punished. In facts, it was the place where the village boys are transformed to worthwhile individuals !

The Morungs are usually located in the centre of the village and is of great pride to each Naga village.

Well, in Hornbill Festival, makeshift Morungs are made by each of the tribes. These temporary settlements are made for the tribal communities where they enact their lifestyle for us to see and know.

The Morungs are located on a nearby hilly area on different levels. Each of the community has their traditional hut made from bamboo, hay and wood. The entrance of the Morungs are decorated with tribal weapons or horns of an animal, skull or that symbolize them. In front of each hut, the name of the tribe is depicted along with some information about the tribal community, the village and their culture. 

Inside the Morungs, you can probably see elders of the community sitting around a central fireplace.

The men and women in their colourful and traditional attire are found outside the Morungs. There are also bamboo benches outside the hut. The communities also make stalls to sell their handicrafts, head gear, jewellery, attires, decorative items, other paraphernilia and buffet of food with pickles and drinks.  

Infact, here is the place where you will be lost and might spend your maximum time in Hornbill Festival.

Interact with the different tribes

During  a  visit to Morungs, introduce yourselves and begin up with a conversation with the different tribal communities. Ask them questions about their lifestyle, favourite pastime, culture, food, and headhunting days. They will all be happy to talk to you with you and tell you some wonderful stories about them.

The first day of the Hornbill Festival is the best time to indulge in conversation with the people. Cultural performances for the first day are usually in the evening and everyone is in a fresh mood. It will be easier to strike a conversation with them.

See the communities rehearse before their actual performance

The Morungs are the place where the communities practice their performances and  before they enact them in front of the crowd. So you go armed with a camera to get some good pictures of the practice session.

Enjoy the spectacular cultural performance

The cultural programs at the Hornbill Festival is perhaps the main attraction. Every day, the tribes take turn to showcase their traditional dance and songs in the ground.Make a note of tribe and purpose of it.

Each of the tribal community performs their unique folk dance while they narrate briefly about the dance and the reason for celebration. It can be a festival, harvest, marriage, war or victory dance. The dancers wear colourful attires and adorn with stunning headgears.The instruments transforms you to different world ! 

You will be definitely enthralled and amazed by the arrangements and sure you be convinced, as why Hornbill Festival is called the Festival of Festivals !

Hornbill Festival not only showcases the traditional dances from Nagaland, but also the dances from the other northeast states. Bihu from Assam, Wangala dance by the Garos of Meghalaya, Manipuri dance and many other sequences are performed.The entire event is a worth watching and visual treat !

Taste the Hot ghost Chilli !

Watch or get yourself participate in the Naga Chilli Jhalokia Eating Competition which almost draws most of the visitors’ attention. The Naga ghost pepper is one of the hottest chilli ever. 'honour' of being the world's hottest pepper.It is said to measures 1 million SHU on Scoville scale

Taste the traditional Naga Food

Who is not fond of expereincing food during travel. After all, tasting the authentic local food is like having a taste of the culture. Hornbill Festival celebrates the traditional Naga cuisine. After all, Nagaland is food lovers’ paradise, especially for the hardcore non-vegetarians.!

At the Morungs in Hornbill Festival, you can also taste the traditional Naga food prepared by each of the tribes.However language should not be a barrier, as the youth are learned and can translate and act as interpretators.

Each Morungs have their own variety of cooked food  and you can taste it at your choice.

Various food items in earten pot, like pork preparations, chicken with bamboo shoot, brown rice, various rice cakes, beef pickles and a variety of chutneys and pickles are available as a spread. 

Vegetarians need not have to worry. You can taste the variety of rice cakes,lentils, hot momos..Farmers from Nagaland display their local produce there. You will see local grown tomatoes, carrots, lemons, Variety of fruits pineapple and oranges ( seasonal) .The pineapples and oranges are something that you should not miss.They are juicy and taste is ultimate !

Drink Rice Beer - Zutho 

After tasting  Naga food, it is a good option to top it with a bamboo mug filled with Zutho of local rice beer.  a fermented drink, originating from Nagaland It is a drink of the Angami and Chakhesang Nagas and is commonly consumed by all Nagas.

For me it tasted little similar to Apong of Arunachal Pradesh.

You might like to read My blog on Namdapa...!


Well, in Nagaland, alcohol is banned, but that does not mean that carrying liquor is not permitted at Hornbill Festival.

Simply enjoy the local rice beer, the most popular drink there. It is also relatively cheap available @ Rs 50 INR per mug,.

Music & Rock Concerts

Night-life during the Hornbill Festival is a euphoric event. So, if you are music buff, do not miss out the rock bands from around the country and from international performing concerts and shows.

Naga youth are known for western music. Infact, entire Northeast is known for rock music.  You may be lucky to see or meet sensational people unexpectedly.

Shop for souvenirs

Nagaland is a colourful and vibrant land.With so many tribes and their colourful attires,wall mounts,murals, ornaments.The Morungs at the Hornbill Festival display their handicraft, colourful, Bamboo lampshades, furnitures,baskets,colourful.

Hand knit shawls representing and are distinctive to each tribe.It signifies the tribe to which they belong because people of different tribes wear shawls with different pattern.The pattern (primarily in red and black wool) made by various Naga tribes from Nagaland in India. Naga shawls also known as Chakheshang shawl 

Handmade handicrafts are unique to region and buying them helps the villagers directly.Buy souveniers as a token of rememberence !

How to reach Kohima, Nagaland?

Though Kohima is the state capital, but Dimapur town in Nagaland has the airport and the railway station. Dimapur is the border district and town between Assam and Nagaland along the banks of the Dhansiri River. 

Today the town is one of the busiest in Nagaland and is also the commercial hub of the state and is also the gateway to Nagaland.

Nagaland is well connected by air or train to Dimapur and then hire a taxi or bus to Kohima.

By Air

The easiest way to reach Nagaland is to take a flight to Dimapur .Dimapur has direct connecting flights from different cities..

By Rail

You can also reach Dimapur by taking a train from Guwahati, Sealdah or New Delhi. You can take the New Delhi – Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express to reach Dimapur. A few night trains connect Guwahati to Dimapur as well.

By Road

Overnight bus from Guwahati.to Dimapur.But is very tiring as roads are in bad condition

From Dimapur,bus stand or railway station you can take a shared or reserved taxi or even a bus to Kohima. 

How to Reach the Kisama Heritage Village 

You will get shared and private taxis from Kohima to the festival venue at Kisama Heritage village, located about 12 km from Kohima.

Shared cabs and buses ply frequenly from Network Bus Station.From here, you will get buses and shared sumos for not only Kisama, but also towards other villages like Kigwema,Khonoma Zakhama..

 How to get ILP for Nagaland?

All Indians visiting Nagaland require an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to enter Nagaland.  You can get the permits at the Office of Deputy Resident Commissiner at New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati and Shillong.Foreigners need special permits.

You can also get ILP on arrival at Dimapur. Visit the RO Office at Dimapur to apply for your ILP. It is better to arrive at Dimapur early in the morning so that you get your ILP done by noon.Beware of touts and agents. After that you can proceed towards Kohima.

Now, only Indian tourists can also apply ILP online.

Requirments for an ILP,

1.A passport sized photograph

2.Proof of Identity ( ID Proof )

3.Residential proof.

Note : ILP is valid  maximum for 30 days in Nagaland.

Though i waited for few hours and got it done at Dimapur.It was not checked anywhere during my tour.Where as during my visit to Arunachal Pradesh, my ILP was checked during my stay in Tawang and other places.

Where to stay during the Hornbill Festival?

Kohima, the capital city transforms to a happening place, a swarm of tourists from around the world visit  here and it will be crowded. Prices of hotels, homestays will also go high. Few private companies pitch tents around venue.where basic stay in available at nominal price.There are a few  hotels and homestays in Kohima and Kisama where you can stay during the  festival. Remember that hotels and homestays usually fill up quite fast during the Hornbill Festival.So we advise you plan your travel in advance and get confirmaton of stay !

Here are few best hotels/Resorts/Homestays you can consider 

  • Niathu Resort @ Dimapur
  • Vicha Paying Guest House @ Kigwema
  • Dzukou Valley Guest House
  • Southview Homestay @ Kohima
  • Niraamaya Retreats Aradura
  • Pilgrim’s Boutique Hotel @ Dimapur
  • Alder Retreat @ Kohima
  • The Heritage Resort @ Dimapur

What other places can you visit in  and around Kohima ?

Since you will be visiting Nagaland, Hornbill Festival should not be the only thing that you do there. There are a number of places you can explore at leisure....


Kohima itself is a quaint town and definitely is worth lazing around. Visit the WWII Cemetery or War Memorial and the Kohima market.Nagaland State Museum,

Christianity is predominant in the state.Visit the Kohima Night Market to get a glimpse of Christmas and New year celebration 


Look for ancient Kachari monolithic ruins are located in Dimapur,Spend a day at the 8th-century ruins, and don’t miss the giant mushroom-shaped dome

It is 70 km from Kohima.

Dzukou Valley and Japfu Peak

The pictures of emerald green rolling valleys looking absolutely like heaven that you see in the internet are of Dzukou Valley. Dzukou Valley is one of the easiest and shortest treks in Northeast India. The starting point of the trek is merely 20 km from Kohima and 10 km from Kisama, the venue of the Hornbill Festival. The trek is absolutely beautiful.

Explore the nearby villages

You can explore the nearby villages of Khonoma, Jakhama, Touphema and Dzuleke. Khonoma is said to be the first green village of Asia. All these villages are within a radius of 20 km from Kohima city.


Pfutsero is the highest and coldest town in Nagaland. It is located about 60 km from Kohima and 40 km from Kisama. However, the main attraction of this village is its cherry blossoms,you can go for a short hike to the Glory Peak, the highest point of the town

A Photo Gallery of  Hornbill Festival, 2010 Nagaland

Few moments to cherish from the Hornbill Festival.

Hope the information is helpful to you. Please  leave a comment and share it .If you are looking to visit Nagaland for Hornbill Festival. please let us know.We will be happy to make all necessary arrangements for you !