Dzukou Valley :: A Life Time Memory – By Shekhar Bordoloi

Dzukou Valley, a  well known name for adventure lovers. I have always wanted to go to Dzukou Valley. I have heard so many wonderful tales about that place. Such as it is known as the valley of flowers, and in main season the whole valley is bloomed with pink lilies. And I’ve always dreamt how beautiful it would be to be in the midst of the flowers with the cold breeze whispering the tales of adventure and making me realize more about the beauty of nature.

So, with that strong urge, I finally decided to go to Dzukou valley. But a lone trek would not be much fun. I informed my friends and they express their willingness.  Like many other plans that we make, plans remains as plans. But unlike other plans, this one really happened. I started preparations for this plan. As we were completing our 4 years degree course, and were discussing about going somewhere together for the last time. It was decided that we will take our tour after our finals will over. Since I had many experience in trekking, as I am associate to Assam Mountaineering Association, who organizes different expeditions including trekking. None of my friends have any experience in trekking, so the responsibility of organizing the trek was given to me. I consider it as a wonderful opportunity. It was like getting a break of my life, for which I’m very grateful and thankful to them. So, as per our plan, date were fixed, tickets were booked and batteries were fully charged.

On 11th July, a nine member group, including senior mountaineer Hironmoy Bora, with fully loaded rucksacks, boarded the Jan Shatabdi Express from Guwahati railway station to Dimapur. Other members of our team were – my two cousins Mrinmoy Hazarika and Arup Jyoti Hazarika, Bidyut Bikash Das, Sudipta Sarma Barua, Jubin Ahmed, Nabankur Saikia and Bedabrata Boro. We reached Dimapur at around 11:30am. But the day was not like any other normal day. Mother Nature had something unexpected in store for us. There was a huge landslide on the way to Kohima. Due to the landslide, very few vehicles were available and the ticket counter was crowded like anything. Passengers were waiting for 3-4 hours to get a seat. We were 9 and it seemed practically impossible for us to get 9 tickets. So we looked for hiring a vehicle. Hironmoy da somehow managed to hire two Boleros and finally after few hours, we left Dimapur for Kohima. Generally the cost of travelling from Dimapur to Kohima through public transport is around 350 Rs/person. Since we hired other vehicle, it cost us around 800 Rs/person. The main road was blocked and we took a sub-way. On the way, we had our lunch in a Manipuri Hotel. After the lunch, everybody had their tongue out due to excessive chilies.  And that’s the unique thing about Manipuri dishes. Chilies everywhere.

After reaching Kohima, we checked into a guest house, which was booked earlier. We freshened up, had snacks and then explored the neighboring area. Then I divided the food items and other necessary stuffs that have to be taken to the valley and would be necessary for the trekking.  The owner of the guest house was very humble and they served us good Naga food for our dinner. Everybody was very excited about the trip. As the team leader my excitement was at a different level. It was a mixture of thrill, adventure, responsibilities and lots of other thoughts in it.

Next morning, on 12th June, we woke up early and had our breakfast. We could carry out our trekking only in the day light, so we went to Vishwama taking two TATA SUMO, as we were planning to start our trekking from there. From Vishwama, one more member joined us. He was Mr. Chiranjeet Konwer,  an army officer from Guwahati, posted in Kohima. We were very happy to have him as our team mate. He is very kind and humble. With him, our 10 member team started our trek at around 9:30 in the morning. The total length of the trek is around 15km. The first hour of the trek was tough and the trek was steep.  Everyone was very tired. However, our team spirit, motivation and extending helping hand to each other, kept us going. It was kind of fun watching each other struggling hard and that gave us motivation too. And thus, slowly we were adjusting to the trekking conditions. At around 10:45, we reached a point locally known as the network point. Later we came to know that cell phone network was available only till that point. This was where one had to make calls or text for the last time during this trekking. Maintaining the tradition, we also made our calls to our friends and family and had our refreshment. The weather was good and we started our further journey with a fresh mind. On the way, we meet many other trekkers coming down from Dzukou valley. Hellos and goodbyes were said. The interesting thing is that the hut of the Dzukou valley can be seen, if the weather is clear enough like that day, after the network point. We were delighted to see the hut; however, it took another three hours of continuous walking to reach the hut. And that’s the irony of this trek. Finally we reached Dzukou valley at around 1:30 pm. All of us were tired with our boots wet and muddy. The weather was getting mildly cloudy. After having cup noodles, chocolates and oats, we went to our hut and set it up. It was almost evening by then. All of us were very happy and were roaming around to have a look in to the area. We were very lucky that day to witness a beautiful sunset. Everyone was busy to capture the valley and the sunset in their cell phones and cameras, or may be in their memories forever.

In one of the two huts in Dzukou valley we met two men from Assam, Nitul da and Pragyan da. It was a moment of “bidekhot apun manuh”. Both provide assistance to trekkers to the valley and are associates with a group called Kite-Manza. They were fun loving and helped us in preparing our dinner. The dinner was very delicious. One thing I have realized from my trekking experiences is that foods during treks were always tasteful. It never fails to amaze me how a simple dish can be so delicious and tasty. May be it’s the flavour from the hills that the food is mixed with.

Next day, we decided to roam around the valley and also take some rest. Unfortunately, Mr. Chiranjeet Konwer sir and Hironmoy da had to go back to Kohima due to some urgency. After having our breakfast we went to the valley and saw many caves and small rivers there. The valley was colored with white flowers blooming in a manner that we had never seen anywhere else. Everybody chilled out and started taking pictures of the beautiful valley. The main season of the pink lilies, for which Dzukou is famous for, blooms by the last week of June. We have just seen one or two of them on the way. It was noon by then and we came back to the hut. Pragyan da told us that there is another ‘network’ point nearby. We were willing to go there and Pragyan da led us to the top of a very steep hill. We were excited. Everyone made calls and uploaded pictures of the valley in social Media. This journey made us more tired and we took some rest. After that we tried to interact with local Naga people and wanted to get some idea about the Nagamese, which is kind of mixture of Assamese, Hindi and little English in a quite interesting tone. All of us tried our best to talk in Nagamese with neighbors and believes that we are doing great. Because, for us anything that is not pure Assamese is Nagamese. It was a free mixture of Nalbaria, Barpetia, Hindi, Bengali, Bihari and Bhojpuri and everything we know. Our conversation was mainly about their way of life and cultural activities. We enjoy talking to them and for us it was fun.

Next morning, the weather was bad, raining heavily. But, we had to trek down back to Kohima as per our schedule. I woke up early around 5:30 and prepared food for my mates.  After having breakfast, we had plenty of food left over. So we decided to distribute the surplus foods to Naga villagers. A Naga guy, whose father is in-charge of most of mountaineering activities there, also accompanied us in the return journey. On the way back, we talked to this nice man and came to know about the current status of Adventure tourism in Nagaland. He accompanied us to our Guest House and left.  Due to heavy rain all of our clothes and shoes were wet and filled with mud. But everyone was excited because we were using the “punchus” that we made for the rain protection. So if you are planning for Dzukou then also be well prepared for the rains. Putting our rucksacks at the Guest House, we went to Asia’s first green village Khonoma. The view and atmosphere of the village were mesmerizing. We walked around, talked to some villagers and took lots of pictures of the village. After that we moved to the Kohima view point. It was evening by then and the sight from the view point was so colorful and beautiful, which is difficult to describe in words. We spent some time there up to little dark. It was more beautiful in the dark, awesome. I have already participated some trekking –rafting and cycling expeditions in various part of the state as well as at Meghalaya, Arunachal, Sikkim and Maharashtra, but believe me, I have never seen a beautiful place like this before.

That evening we received an invitation from Colonel Mr. Konwar sir for dinner at his house. We were very happy. Hironmoy da was already there. He sent us his Gypsy and we reached his house. The food was nice and he was so humble and hospitable that we felt like grownups. Everyone teaches us to respect our elders. That day I learnt from him that we also have to respect our younger ones. The next day, 15th of July, with a happy and heavy heart, we left Kohima  for Dimapur, to catch the 11:00 pm train to Guwahati.  Next morning we reached Guwahati. It was time to say good bye. However, goodbyes were tough to utter. With a promise of another trek in near future, every one headed back to their home and to normal lives taking the memory of beautiful Dzukou valley in their hearts.

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