The Hornbill Of Fare!
Come December, all eyes turn to Nagaland, where the past few month’s rigorous preparations culminate in the state’s biggest cultural extravaganza, The Hornbill Festival. As tribes from across the state come together, this 10-day-long annual fiesta showcases the best of Naga food, dance and sports.
Aradhuna’s tryst with the Hornbill Festival was made even more memorable thanks to the Art of Glamping she experienced at The Ultimate Travelling Camp, Kohima.
Read on to know more…
The energy at the Kisama Heritage Village is infectious and one can’t help but get caught up in the flow. With 16 tribes and hundreds of adventurers coming together to participate in this cultural jamboree, one gets caught up in the roller-coaster ride of events, and it’s hard to pause even to take a breath. The long flight and the helicopter hop seem to recede into the past as I revisit The Ultimate Travelling Camp, peek into my luxury tent, test the mattress and step out for high tea. I look forward to the campfire, swapping tales with interesting people, raising toasts and devouring the incredible food. And surely, I am not disappointed.
The atmosphere is absolutely carnival-like. Archery, pole climbing, pork eating, rock concerts, traditional dances, plays and fashion shows — there’s so much to see and assimilate. Some of the events take visitors, especially international travellers, by surprise with their awe-inspiring vibrant energy.
The fare at the festival deserves a special mention. Young Naga girls, with a glint in their eyes and mischievous smiles, veer you towards the eat-all-you-can buffet, which features an exotic repast that is not for the fainthearted! You could try and beat the record of eating 15 fiery local chillies, or raja mircha, in 20 seconds at the Naga King chilli eating competition, but keep the fire extinguisher handy. Also on offer are local rice beer and wines, all of which taste great.
However, don’t go looking around for an actual hornbill, as the only ones you are likely to have a rendezvous with are wooden ones, which are sold as souvenirs, or the paper ones flapping around the arena. The whole point of the festival is to highlight the plight of these endangered birds. Save them now or soon there will only be wooden replicas of the hornbill to see.
As the dusk settles, it’s time to head back to the camp for a quick cuppa before the night’s events. After a lavish three-course feast and some dancing, it’s time for bed, with an old-fashioned hot water bottle waiting under the quilt to warm your feet. And I sleep, dreaming of a new day with new adventures to embark on and new memories to make.
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About The Author
Despite an alarmingly absent sense of direction, Aradhuna is a happy traveller with a quirky sense of the absurd! She delights in exotic destinations, creative cooking, curling up for midnight reads and quality comforts, which she describes in her impressionistic style.