Headhunters of Nagaland : Aoling Festival
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- Vacation Style Holiday Type
- Activity Level Fairly Easy
- Group Size Medium Group
A land engulfed in mystery, inhabited by vibrant and indigenous tribes zealously guarding their culture – dancers, warriors, headhunters, mountains, valleys, forests – all these forms the portrait of Nagaland the moment the word is uttered.
The tribes here celebrate life with gusto and infectious zest. Spirits, social bonding, and purification are the key elements that form the essence of Naga festivals – the custom that each tribe follows, translates into a festival. One such festival is the Aoling Festival, also known as Aoleang Monyu, celebrated by the Konyak Nagas across the Mon district. Konyak people are the largest of 17 officially recognized tribes in Nagaland and are the most well known due to their tradition of head hunting.
The celebrations for the Aoling Festival spread across a week. The primary purpose of the Aoling Festival is to welcome the spring, Konyak new year and to pray for a good harvest. During the Aoling Festival many rituals take place including dancing, feasting, and sacrifices that are meant to appease the divine spirits to bless the land with a good harvest.
Aoling Festival – Aoling Festival, also known as Aoleang Monyu, is the major annual festival of Konyak Nagas. The festival marks the beginning of spring and Konyak new year and to pray for a good harvest. The festival is spread across a week i.e. 1st week of April.
Konyak Nagas – Konyak Nagas are the largest tribe of the 17 officially recognized Naga tribes, mostly residing in the Mon district. Konyaks are the last of the Naga headhunters who practiced the headhunting till the late 1970s or 1980s.
Headhunting and Tattoo tradition – Headhunting wasn’t a sport, it was a way through which men used to establish themselves as warriors by fighting another warrior in a 1-1 brawl. The winner used to take the head of the opponent as a memento. After first successful headhunt, the warrior used to get a tattoo on his face from the Angh’s wife.
Tattoos were not restricted to men only; even women used to get tattoos after certain phases of life like puberty, pregnancy, wedding, etc.
Longwa Village – Longwa is a Konyak village located right at the border of India and Myanmar with a small part of the village in Myanmar as well. In fact, the border splits the house of the Angh (Chief) in two halves. There is a small Burmese school as well in the village where kids learn the Burmese language.
Wanching village – Wanching is a small Konyak village around 30 km from Mon town. It is one of the villages where Aoling celebrations are still very pure and real.
Mon Town – Mon town is the hub of Mon district, always lively and bustling with the beautiful Konyak people. Aoling is celebrated with the greatest zeal here with celebrations running for six long days. On the fourth day of the festival, entire Mon town gathers in the common ground for the celebrations.
Khonoma Green Village – Referred to as Khwunoria by its dwellers, is estimated to be 500 years old. The village is inhabited by Angami Nagas and by the joint efforts of its people it is the first green village in Asia. Khonoma’s fame chiefly comes through its standing as a warrior village and gallantry in warfare.
Jhum/Shifting Cultivation – is the farming practice widely followed in the villages in Kohima. It involves Alder tree, a fast-growing also known as wonder tree, to fix nitrogen and binds the soil. We will see and learn more about it in Khonoma village.
Dzukou Valley – Dzukou literally means ‘cool water.' This beautiful valley of the eternal charm lies in the southwest of Khonoma village. Dzukou Valley is the lesser known and a better version of renowned ‘valley of flowers.' The valley spreads on small mounds of thick bamboo brush naturally strewn and polished, with snow covered streams and rivulets.
- Day 1 Arrival
Arrival in Dibrugarh.We shall have a small intro session among the travelers onboard and know each other before we start our journey to the mysterious Nagaland the next day.Overnight Stay in Dibrugarh.
- Day 2 Longwa, border village
We shall start our day early around 6 am and head to the frontier village of Longwa in Mon, covering approximately 190 Kms in around 6 hours. Longwa village is inhabited by the Konyak Nagas and located right at the border of India and Myanmar. One can still spot the men in their late 70s and above with tattooed faces, signifying that they have successfully hunted someone’s head at least once in their life.Post lunch in Longwa, we shall go for a walk across the village witnessing the celebratory mood with natives involved in the preparation of the festival. We will walk up to the hill at the border for the beautiful views of both Myanmar and India. There is a border pillar on the small patch of land, dividing India and Myanmar. Yes! We can touchdown Myanmar without any troubles.Later during the day, we shall pay a visit to the village Angh and have some interesting conversations with him about their culture if he is available. Depending upon whether it’s a celebration day in Longwa or not, we shall witness the Aoling celebrations in one of the most beautiful villages of Nagaland. We shall settle the day with a dinner with our hosts and call it a night.Overnight stay in Longwa.
- Day 3 Aoling Festival in Mon town
We shall start our day after early breakfast, with a morning walk along the length of the village, visiting some beautiful view points of which only locals are aware. The sun rises really early here and sets before 5 pm; we shall start our days early in the morning to make the most of our time. Later, we shall try to meet some of the tattooed people, both men, and women, from the village and take some insights on the lost tradition of head-hunting and the art of tattooing.Post lunch, we shall say adieu to the calm village and start our journey, around 1.5 hours, to the hustling and bustling town of Mon. The Aoling celebrations will be in full swing in Mon with roads and common ground lit up, colorful attires and people in the streets and the traditional Konyak music in the background. We all shall witness the one of the most authentic festival on this earth. Be prepared for some mouth-watering Naga cuisines if you are a non-vegetarian. ;)Overnight stay in Longwa.
- Day 4 Aoling festival in Wanching Village, Mon
Post breakfast, we will drive to the nearby village Wanching to witness the Aoling festival in an as authentic way as one can find in the modern times. In Wanching, dance and music are not just the show for tourists but their way of celebration. The experience here is going to be the once in lifetime kind of experience. We shall dance, sing and take some immortal memories from one of the richest cultural places in India.We shall come back to Mon late afternoon. After late lunch, we will head to Asia’s first green village Khonoma. It’s is going to be a long drive covering around 350 Kms in 10 hours.
- Day 5 Khonoma Village, First green village of Asia
We shall reach Khonoma early in the morning and take the much-needed rest after the long drive. Khonoma is a beautiful village on a hilltop surrounded by terraced paddy fields and lush green hills as high as 3000 m, inhabited by Angami Nagas and is one of the most progressive villages of Nagaland. We shall start our day, after a late breakfast, with the guided tour of the village, observing and learning the fortification, traditional Morungs, Khel(clans), peer groups, history and culture of the village. There are three forts, one for each clan (Khel). People of Khonoma have set an example for the outside world by maintaining the exemplary sanitation in the village. We shall also learn about how the community works for each other, how they’ve set up various peer groups and their functioning to keep their village the most beautiful village. Later in the day, we shall go for a walk outside the village to observe ‘jhum cultivation’ also known as shifting cultivation and the terraced paddy fields. Jhum cultivation is a very sustainable and organic way of growing our food which can never be compared with any other modern method. We shall also observe the beautiful paddy fields surrounding the village at lower grounds. The irrigation channels were made by the community itself and are so efficient that they water the every inch of acres of fields. Later in the night, we will share some experiences over dinner, bonfire and may taste rice wine as well.Overnight stay in hotel/home-stay in Khonoma
- Day 6 Dzukou Valley / Nature’s Utopia
We shall start our day with the first light to hike to the lesser known ‘valley of flowers’ of India which is Dzukou valley.With early breakfast and packed lunch, we shall drive to the base camp of Dzukou Valley and then hike to the top, around 6 Kms in the distance. Hiking from the base camp takes around three hours of climbing crisscrossing rivulets, mountains of ferns and plantains covered with moss and junipers. After a while, we shall be welcomed by tall rhododendrons and trees thickly covering the entire trail from heat and sunlight. At the top, we shall be greeted with the indescribable valley gently stretching out its colorful natural carpet of evergreen charm. It's a perfect destination for nature lovers and trekkers. The adventurous ones can go further down in the valley and take a dip in the freezing stream. After spending a couple of hours breathing the view in, we shall start our journey back to Khonoma.Overnight stay in Khonoma
- Day 7 Adieu
After early breakfast, we shall say goodbye to the Nagaland and Naga people and drive to Dimapur for our journey back home.
INR 25,000 from Dibrugarh to Dimapur.
45 days before the tour - 10% cancellation charge
30-45 days before the tour - 40% cancellation charge
15-30 days before the tour - 70% cancellation charge
0-15 days before the tour - 100% cancellation charge
- All travel from Dimapur to Dimapur
- Accommodation in simple and comfortable homestays/hotels on twin-sharing basis.
- All meals during the trip.
- Expenses of guides during our stay.
- Pickup from Dibrugarh Airport to the hotel is not included in the package.
- Any items/services which are personal in nature like toiletries, sun protection creams, chips, soft drinks, laundry, STD calls, etc.
- Any extra expense due to delays arising from bad weather or any unforeseen circumstances.
- Any medical expenses.
- Any other expenses of any nature not included in the INCLUSIONS section.