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Trek to Dzukou Valley of Flowers in Nagaland

The Southern Valleys of Nagaland – Dzükoü

I could feel the mildly crisp morning breeze on my skin as I woke up all hyped for the trek. The story I am about to tell you is of the vast valleys; the beautiful Dzükoü lying in the southern region of Kohima at the altitude of 2400 meters above sea level bordering the two states of Nagaland and Manipur in Northeast India.

This is yet another one of my impromptu treks but hey, I think living impromptu has more memorable adventures rather than planned ones. I was quite hyped about this, the only problem was getting out of my snuggly warm bed. Anyway, I pulled myself together, got ready, packed my bag, boarded the cab, and off I went towards Kigwema which was about an hour from my place. I along with my friend Kezha and his two high school friends Vishal and Dhrupad who traveled from Guwahati, Assam met up at Green Villa Homestay where we had a warm breakfast prepped by Kezha’s aunt. 

We boarded a Tata Sumo, the only vehicle apart from a pick-up truck that is capable of conquering the bad village road. The drive to Viswema was quite a refreshing one with the boys roasting one another in the back seat. It was the beginning of a new adventure for me, Dhrupad, and Vishal. It was quite the weather, misty, and cold with a bit of drizzle. With the boys in their ponchos looking like a set of Hogwarts students off we went to hop onto our train! The route was steep and we had to walk through it with the uttermost care, there were proper steps in some areas along the way which made it a tad bit easier to walk. The entire route was covered by trees giving us a cool feeling as we hiked up minus the steep road and the baggage. We met returning trekkers along the way as we exchanged greetings and lent a helping hand to some. The boys with the heavy bags pushed on forward the steep and slippery road, kudos to them! We reached the first viewpoint where we took a breather and caught a glimpse of the mist-covered view, halted there for about 5 minutes and we pushed on forward. Climbing up the most slippery route, over fallen trees and a huge rock, we reached the viewpoint. We had our lunch packed in leaves (the rustic Naga style) with a misty view followed by a cup of coffee to keep our system warm and running. Lucky for us, the sky cleared up for about a good minute giving us a view of the mountains beneath us. Southern villages including Pfütsero can be seen from the viewpoint on a clear and sunny day. We packed our bags and got ready for our 2-hour trek ahead.

Whispering a prayer to God asking Him to hold back the rain from pouring down on us, we proceeded on with our trek. The path starting from the viewpoint was a straight one leading towards the base camp with no detours. We walked along the pathway, with each turn the valleys came into clearer vision and with each step taken, the valleys looked so near yet so far. When I first landed my eyes on the valleys, I got goosebumps all over from seeing the mesmerizing view. We took small breaks, snacking along the way and regaining our energy. It was a narrow pathway causing quite a bit of traffic in some areas with the returning trekkers.

Photo courtesy @ koireng_meitei

We walked past bamboo groves known as dzüli in the local dialect, past the barren trees which were unfortunately burnt during the forest fire, across rivulets with the cleanest and coldest water, and across the vast scapes of valleys where the lilac wildflowers were blooming. We could hear the stream from beneath the trail keeping us company till an intersection where we could hear it no more. After a long two and a half hours of trekking, we finally reached the base camp where we saw a clear view of the valley down below. On reaching, we were greeted by two cute furry friends. If you’re an animal lover you’ll get to meet the dogs at the base camp. Recently one of our furry friends, almost everyone’s favorite guide dog passed away in a tragic accident. He was known as Friday the “Guardian of Dzükoü”, he would guide trekkers along the way, accompanying them every step of the trail. He was indeed everyone’s man Friday. Now, his good friends live to carry on his legacy. After a short breather, the boys looked for a spot to pitch the tents, we got quite a good spot away from the rest of the other groups, a place safe enough to keep the winds from blowing our tents over and quiet enough to get some good sleep. Here at the base, you will find basic amenities like the loo, a kitchen that is managed by the caretakers, and an abundance of fresh clean water, you can also rent tents and book rooms/dorms at a nominal rate.

After pitching our tents and keeping our stuff, we took a walk around the base camp inhaling the fresh clean air, rejuvenating our lungs, enjoying the quiet and stillness of the environment, and feeling much alive away from the hustle and bustle of the city. With no cellular connectivity, life seemed so much simpler and more peaceful. We were mesmerized by the beauty of the valleys as we enjoyed the tranquility of the place. According to legend, our forefathers once lived in these valleys. The place was barren and with the climatic condition, no crops could be grown hence leading our forefathers to look for a place to settle at a much lower altitude. It is also said that elephants once walked in these vast valleys and till today there are rumors of elephants being spotted. The name in itself holds a significant meaning, “Dzü” means water, and “kou” means a feeling of solitude. We stayed on at the designated spot till the evening star appeared and the moon shone brightly.

We headed back to the base camp for dinner and after a thorough wash-up, we went back to our tents. We set up a small space for us to sit and chat, we cozied up on the mat for about a good 7 hours talking about the silliest of things, getting to know each other better, and talking about doing treks together. There was a group of kids who were singing songs whilst playing the ukulele, Vishal and Dhrupad made the best out of their time in Dzükou by singing along with the kids. Kezha and I were impressed and greatly enjoyed their company.

Photo courtesy @ shurhongu20_kire

The evening sky in Dzükoü gives a wide clear image of the stars, the constellations and if lucky you will catch a shooting star or two, so don’t hesitate to make a wish! You can even capture the Milky Way with your mobile or camera with no light exposure from the surroundings. For someone like me, an avid star-gazer and loving anything to do with space and stars, it was a great trip and I would rate it on a celestial level! Not to mention, Kezha was sweet enough to study the moon’s phases making sure we did not miss out on a moonlit night at Dzükou. We all need an experienced, courteous, and reliable friend and trekker in our lives like Kezha.

Calling it a night, we headed back to our tents to recharge ourselves for the next day.

After snoozing the alarm several times, we finally got up, had our breakfast, and headed down to the valley. It was a long walk but the view was breathtaking. The place gave us a whole Hobbiton vibe. On the way down to the valley, we came across two cliffs where we can get a proper view of this stream that flows towards the Manipur region. After clicking several photos we continued with our trek. There are small rivulets in the valleys which make it all the more exciting. These rivulets freeze during winter. Another really interesting thing about Dzükou is that the water is crystal clear and clean making it drinkable, ah! Nothing like the refreshing cold stream water to quench your thirst. We crossed the stream and walked to the top of a rock where we halted to have our lunch. The valleys towards the higher side were covered half in fog, it looked so mesmerizing and seemed like something straight out of an Emily Brontë novel. On the hillock right next to where we halted lies a big white cross giving us a feeling of comfort. We had a moment with nature there, reconnecting with ourselves, introspecting and retrospecting, a whole cleansing of our minds; a zen state of mind. With much reluctance, we had to get going to reach home sooner. On our climb back we took a detour towards the helipad which is just a 5-10 minutes walk away from the base camp. Here you can get a 360° panorama of the valley and the surrounding mountains.

Here’s a fun fact, there are caves in and around the valley, unfortunately, we could not explore them due to time restraints.

On reaching the camp, we got our bags. We said our goodbyes to the caretakers, the valley, and our furry guides. We had a quiet walk back, enjoying mother nature’s company, only wishing it would not come to an end. With legs mildly aching, we made it back to the starting point where the taxi was waiting for us. It was a quiet way back home until we reached the city and the honking and beeping of the vehicles could be heard. Oh, how I miss the serene valley!

A short film by Olivia shot on trek

6 responses to “The Southern Valleys of Nagaland – Dzükoü”

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