Nagaland and Hornbill Festival Tribal photography tour – Nov 2021

At a Glance

KOLKATA – MON – DIBRUGARH – ZIRO – MAJULI – JORHAT – KOHIMA – KOLKATA

Following previous very successful trips to India, Chrissie and Colin Westgate will be returning to this fascinating country in November 2021, with this brand new trip to Nagaland, in the remote northeast. This is where the ancient Konyak tribe are to be found. The Konyaks were once notorious head-hunters and the prominent and iconic ‘specs’ facial tattoos of the Konyak men is a depiction of this cultural practice. Check www.tattooedheadhunters.com for some fine examples. A full itinerary is available on request but is summarised below. It will include Kolkata, Mon, Ziro, Majuli and Kohima (including the amazing Hornbill Festival) and there will be photo opportunities in transit between venues. This will be a very special trip, largely away from the normal ‘tourist trail’, and, whereas India is normally associated with people photography, there will also be landscape opportunities, including the Himalayan foothills.

About the Tour

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The tour will start in the bustling city of Kolkata where the street activities and markets will be a major attraction. During our stay in Kolkata, we will visit two outlying villages to see rural life and crafts Inaction. In the early evening on our second day, we take a sunset train ride alongside the Hooghly River. The following morning we fly to Dibrugarh and then drive through Assam to Mon, which is where the fascinating Konyak tribe live. These tattooed, formerly headhunting people, will make wonderful subjects for the camera. On our second day there we will take a trip to the picturesque village of Longwa, on the Burmese border.

Our next destination will be Ziro, which we reach by driving across Assam and the mighty Brahmaputra river, before reaching the town and the Himalayan foothills in the early evening. Here we will find the Apatani tribe and we will spend two days photographing them and their activities, which will include village life and paddy field cultivation.

We then travel to Majuli, the world’s largest inhabited River Island. This will be reached by a drive, followed by a ferry. It is the home of the ancient Vaishnava culture, where fishing is a major activity. We will spend time photographing this, hopefully with some early morning mist to add some atmosphere! We will visit a monastery where we will spend some time with the monks, before proceeding to Jorhat for our next overnight stay.

We then drive to Kohima, which is the capital city of Nagaland. This unspoilt city is over 1400 feet above sea level, with views to the Naga Hills. This is where we will experience the amazing Hornbill Festival and in addition to that, there will be plenty else to photograph, from the Angami tribespeople to panoramic landscapes. Our stay here will include a trip to Khonoma village and the following morning we will fly back to Kolkata.

This should be in an absolutely fascinating tour with plenty of photography, not only in the locations but also in transit between them. The trip is designed for photographers of all abilities and tuition and guidance will be available throughout.

The tour will be led by professional photographers Chrissie and Colin Westgate, experienced tour and workshop leaders are regular visitors to India. Chrissie’s speciality is photographing people, whereas Colin photographs mainly in the landscape. Examples of their work can be found on their respective websites – www.chrissiewestgate.com and www.questphoto.co.uk.

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Starting from £3215.00

Price is inclusive of International flights based on Twin share - Single supplement £857.00

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Itinerary

KOLKATA – MON – DIBRUGARH – ZIRO – MAJULI – JORHAT – KOHIMA – KOLKATA

DAY 01 – FLY TO KOLKATA
Fly today from Heathrow or we can arrange departures from other UK airports to Kolkata.

DAY 02 – ARRIVE KOLKATA  Astor Hotel
Arrive Kolkata, meet and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is then at leisure to relax after your flight

DAY 03 – KOLKATA
Today you will visit 2 nearby villages (2 hrs approx one way), where you can see the rural life in action with some great street photography opportunities. People here are engaged in farming, fishing, making utensils of brass, pottery and lots of other village activities to earn their livelihood

DAY 04 – KOLKATA
After breakfast, you will proceed for sightseeing followed by Old traditional markets selling fish, vegetables, fruits, spices, etc. Most of these markets get over by noon.

Afternoon you will have a walk in the Burrabazar area. This walk covers religious places, walking through markets, busy streets and narrow alleys. Photographers will get ample opportunities to capture busy street life and peoples.

Later early evening Circular train ride from Bagh Bazar to Prinsep Ghat. This train ride is along the Hooghly river. At Prinsep Ghat photographers will get the opportunity to capture the sunset on Hooghly river and also enjoy evening gathering of locals, if interested they can also get indulged in casual conversations with the locals (people of Kolkata are very fond of casual conversations, no matter whoever they chat with).

DAY 05 – KOLKATA via Dibrugarh to MON Vinngoi Lodge 
Today transfer to the airport for the early morning flight to Dibrugarh, on arrival meet and transfer by road to Mon the capital of Nagaland (6-7 hrs). 

En route, we might come across people working in tea gardens. Cross the state border between Assam and Nagaland after some time and continue for another 3 hrs to Mon town. This district is inhabited by the “Konyak Tribe”.

‘Konyak’ are seen by everyone as the most traditional of the sixteen Naga tribes. They have given up their head-hunting ways but still lives in a very traditional lifestyle. Aside from their visually prominent tattooed tradition, Konyak are also adept artisans and skilled craftsman; here you can find excellent woodcarving, daos (machete) guns, gunpowder, head brushes necklace, etc.

DAY 06 – MON
After breakfast, we will visit Longwa village on the border ridge between India and Myanmar (Burma). The Angh (king) of Longwa commands about 50 villages situated both on the Indian and Myanmar’s side. We will take a tour of the village, meet and photograph old folks and the picturesque village.

While return back to Mon, visit another village of the same tribe for more exposure to photograph the locals.

DAY 07  – MON TO DIBRUGARH Hotel Tea Country
After early morning breakfast, transfer to Dibrugarh (6-7 hrs). Afternoon, we shall take you to the local market or to a tea garden, if time permits. Dibrugarh is known as the tea city of India. Located at the end of the Stilwell Road built to link India to China in World War II, Dibrugarh was also an army town during British Raj. From airfields in this area also operated the great supply operation over The Hump to China.

DAY 08 – DIBRUGARH TO ZIRO Ziro Valley Resort
After an early breakfast, proceed to Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh (7-8 hrs). Cross the mighty Brahmaputra river en route. Throughout the journey, you will be crossing small villages of Assamese and Mishing community and local markets.

After a few hours, we will be slowly leaving behind the plain and ascend the lofty eastern Himalayas with high and steep mountains. Arrive Ziro by dusk.

Ziro is home to the Apatani tribes and it is located in an extremely picturesque valley surrounded by pine-covered mountains. The Apatani tribe themselves are Ziro’s greatest attraction. The older men-folk tie the hair in top-knots and tattoo the faces. Apatani women wear wooden nose plugs and tattooed their faces. However, the new generation of Apatani men and women have stopped this practice of tying hair knot, nose plugs and face tattooing since the early 1970s. The Apatanis are good cultivators and practise both wet and terrace cultivation. Paddy cum fish culture is very popular among them.

DAY 09 – ZIRO
After breakfast, you will be visiting the villages of the Apatani tribe. Ziro is one of the most traditional areas in Arunachal Pradesh where you might encounter elderly women with nose plugs and facial tattoo. The whole day will be spent photographing Apatani people, their village and paddy fields.

Late afternoon, you shall visit the local market where one can see local produces sold by the Apatani people and photograph them.

DAY 10 – ZIRO
After breakfast, further exploration of Ziro valley and the villages with more photography opportunities of the local tribes.

DAY 11 – ZIRO TO MAJULI Dekasang Resort
This morning after breakfast, drive back to the plains of Assam (6 hrs) and take a shared ferry to reach the largest human inhabited river island – Majuli.

This Island is the largest inhabited river island in the world and the seat of Vaishnava culture in Assam. Here in Majuli, we will be exploring this cultural place and the seat of Vaishnava culture in Assam. The great 15th-century Assamese reformer and saint, Shankardeva had come down here and set up ‘satras’ or Vaishnavism monasteries to make the people motivated towards culture and religion.

Your stay tonight will be in basic accommodation in traditional huts (basic huts on stilts with attached toilet)

DAY 12 – MAJULI TO JORHAT Charaidew 1 Floating Hotel
Early morning, you may visit the river bank to watch fishermen collecting the catch from the previous day’s trap. We shall spend most of the morning on the riverside. If we are lucky, the morning mist adds a dramatic dimension to photographs taken with nets and mist in the river. Back to the lodge for breakfast.

Post breakfast, explore the island. You will visit one of the prominent Satras (Vaishnavite monastery) to photograph the monks and spend some time with them to know more about ancient traditions. You shall also visit a Satra known for ancient mask-making tradition.

Lunch will be traditional local cuisines. Post lunch, cross the Brahmaputra river again to reach Jorhat ( 1.5 hrs) for an overnight stay on a floating hotel.

DAY 13 – JORHAT TO KOHIMA Hotel Vivor or similar
Post breakfast, embark on a day-long journey to Kohima in Nagaland (7 hrs) – the capital city of Nagaland.

Kohima is perched at an altitude of 1444.12 m above sea level, a pretty hill station, with panoramic views of the rugged Naga Hills. It is unspoilt and replete with interesting things to see and do. It is the land of the Angami Naga tribe, which is one of the major tribe in Nagaland. They are known for terraced wet rice cultivation. Angami were traditionally warriors, in the past, the Angami men spent the majority of their time in warfare with hostile villages and the taking of heads. Kohima had witnessed the fiercest fighting of the Second World War-a fifty day-and-night non-stop slogging match.

Check into a hotel on arrival. Evening, you may wish to visit the small town of Kohima

DAY 14 – KOHIMA (Hornbill Festival)
After breakfast, you will be taken to the Kisama heritage ground for the Hornbill Festival. Spend a leisurely day and engage in different activities, taste local cuisines of different tribes and take part with them in traditional sports. If time permits, visit Kigwema village of the Angami Naga tribe. Back to the hotel.

The Hornbill festival in Nagaland christened as the ‘Festival of the Festivals’ showcases the Naga culture and tradition of all 17 Naga tribes of Nagaland and neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.  Several events are held over the ten days of the festival at the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama located about 12 km away from the Naga capital Kohima.

The village has been designed with structures and features to give you an experience of a traditional Naga village. Of the exhibits Naga morungs or traditional huts of different tribes made with bamboo and cane and decorated with wood carvings and hunting trophies are spectacular. During the festival, Naga tribes perform traditional dances and music, along with indigenous games and sports, including wrestling.

Organised by the State Tourism and Arts & Culture departments, the festival aims to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and showcase its ethnic customs and traditions to the world. Besides the traditional extravaganza, events include Hornbill International Rock Contest (HIRC), Hornbill International Musical Festival, North East Cultural Day, Hornbill Charity Concert-cum-Ball, Hornbill Master Chef Competition, Hornbill Snooker Championship, Hornbill National Dance Competition, Miss Nagaland Contest, Hornbill Annual Cycle Rally, Kids Carnival, ‘Glocal’ (Glocal) Film Fest and much more.

Evening, you may visit the hornbill night carnival to rejuvenate yourself and try some local snacks.

DAY 15 – KOHIMA  (Hornbill Festival)
After breakfast, visit Khonoma village. This village is renowned for its valour and courage. The Khonoma gate tells the story of British infiltration into Naga Hills and how the British had to face fierce retaliation from the Nagas. Walk around the village, see and experience the lifestyle of villagers, mingle with simple but hard-working folks.

After the tour, you may head back to Kisama heritage ground to experience further the Hornbill Festival.

DAY 16 – KOHIMA via Dimapur to KOLKATA Howard Johnson Hotel
After breakfast and check out, transfer to Dimapur airport (3 hrs) for your flight back to Kolkata. On arrival meet and transfer to your hotel then at leisure.

DAY 17 – KOLKATA HOMEBOUND
Transfer to the airport for your homebound flight to Heathrow or other UK airport

Special Value

  • Tour lead by two professional photographers, one specialises in images of people called street photography and the other in landscape photography
  • A gift when you book your tour with us, a DVD film called ‘Mystic India.’
  • International flights included (subject to price change depending on when booked)
  • VIP meet & greet at your aircraft door on arrival
  • A useful gift is given to you on arrival
  • Private arrival and departure transfers
  • Private car & driver for all road transfers
  • Snack Hamper, with juice and water in your private car
  • Mobile phone for Tour Leader to use while in India to keep in contact with our local office and your driver
  • Meals as per itinerary (B = breakfast) (HB = breakfast, lunch or dinner) (FB = breakfast, lunch & dinner)
  • Half Board at all location apart from Kolkata
  • Private guide for sightseeing in all major cities
  • Entrances to all monument and places of interest are included
  • Visit two villages 65kms from Kolkata to interact and photograph the local people
  • Walking Tour of the Burrabazar area of Kolkata
  • A circular train ride from Bagh Bazar to Prinsep Ghat with a sunset by the river
  • Visit to Mon villages and the Konyak Tribes
  • Enjoy mingling with locals in Mon market
  • Visit Longwa Village on the Indian Myanmar border ridge
  • Visits to Assamese and Mishing communities en route to Ziro
  • Visit the villages of the Apatani tribes in Ziro, you may encounter elderly women with nose plugs and facial tattoos
  • Visit the island of Majuli in the Bhramaputra River
  • Visit one of the prominent Satras (Vaishnavite monastery) to photograph the monks and spend some time with them to know more about the ancient traditions
  • Two days to enjoy the Hornbill Festival
  • Visit Khonoma Villages

KOLKATA: Kolkata is often seen as a poor and chaotic place to be in, thought to be undeserving of its status as one of India’s top four metros, and that may have something to do with the fewer number of travellers visiting the city. It certainly looks that way, until you realise that its true charms lie in its deep-rooted culture, its unique way of life and its quintessential East meets West attitude. The city is surrounded by fascinating natural beauty, ranging from the iconic Sunderbans and their man-eating tigers to the serene hills of Darjeeling. Popularly called the intellectual and cultural capital of the country, Kolkata is also one of those few destinations where traditional gentlemen’s clubs, an ancient way of life, historic customs and that ‘friendly vibe’ still exists. Don’t miss out on the colonial architecture, never ignore that mouth-wateringly delicious Bengali food and just have a blast talking to the locals. The best time to visit Kolkata is during Durga Puja, a celebration that engulfs the entire city in festival lights, street carnivals, beautiful fairs and spectacular displays of its rich cultural and artistic heritage.

MON: The District of Mon, covers an area of 1786 Sq.km. It is bounded on the North by Sibsagar District of Assam, on the South by Tuensang District of Nagaland and Myanmar (Burma), on the East by Myanmar (Burma) and the West by Tuensang and Mokokchung District.

DIBRUGARH: The largest tea exporting town in India, located on the banks of the River Brahmaputra, it is the gateway to the three tea producing districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, and Jorhat. A convenient base for access to Dibru Saikhowa NP, home to feral horses, Asiatic Wild Buffalo, White winged wood duck, Tiger, Elephant, Leopard, Jungle Cat, Bears, Small Indian Civet, Squirrels, Gangetic Dolphin and more. Dibrugarh is also the gateway to the adjoining tribal state of Arunachal Pradesh.

ZIRO: home to the Apatani tribes and it is located in an extremely picturesque valley surrounded by pine-covered mountains. The Apatani tribe themselves are Ziro’s greatest attraction. The older men-folk tie the hair in top-knots and tattoo the faces. Apatani women wear wooden nose plugs and tattooed their faces. However, new generation of Apatani men and women have stopped this practice of tying hair knot, nose plugs and face tattooing since early 1970s. The Apatanis are good cultivators and practice both wet and terrace cultivation. Paddy cum fish culture is very popular among them.

MAJULI ISLAND: This Island is the largest inhabited river island in the world and the seat of Vaishnava culture in Assam. Here in Majuli, we will be exploring this cultural place and the seat of Vaishnava culture in Assam. The great 15th century Assamese reformer and saint, Shankardeva had come down here and set up ‘satras’ or Vaishnavism monasteries to make the people motivated towards culture and religion.

KOHIMA: Kohima has its own unique flavour as a hill resort. A pretty town endearingly unspoilt, tranquil and immersed in history. Go for a tour around the Garrison Hill area, to revisit the Battle of Kohima and the 2nd World War Cemetery listing the brave Nagas who laid down their lives during the famous battle of the ‘Tennis Court’ took place. A bronze plate with a suitable epitaph supports each grave.

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