In recent times, the Dzukou Valley Trek has become one of the most sought out treks in Northeast India. Previously, it was like a pearl in an oyster's shell, hidden deep in the ocean. Around 2015, it became famous when its identity was disclosed with pictures of its rolling hills blowing up on the internet. The topography looks like a stretch of green carpet laid effortlessly with numerous dense hills running past it. It is situated behind Japfu Peak, Nagaland's next highest, at 2452m or 8000 ft above sea level.
One of the best-kept secrets of Northeast India is the Dzukou Valley in Nagaland. Situated on the border of Nagaland and Manipur, wanderers come here in search of solitude amidst nature. The Dzukou Valley is described to be in a state of timelessness with all its ethereal elemental beauty. The extensively spread out rainforests and the Northeastern valley of wildflowers is a spellbinding treat to the wanderlust soul. You can't help but surrender your senses to this gateway paved with flowers.
There's a few different versions as to how this valley got its name. One is that the valley's name 'Dzu-kou' is translated to 'cold waters', referring to its namesake river. Another story about its name is passed down in oral tradition, and it speaks of the valley as a land of great fertility but not appropriate for any vegetation. Thus, ancestors gave it the name Dzüko as in 'cold heart'. Soon after it was renamed to Dzukou from Phephu. 'Dzukou' comes from the local dialect that can be interpreted as 'dull and soulless'. It seems quite ironic considering how breathtakingly gorgeous it looks.
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The best time to visit is when the flowers are in full bloom from June to September. But this is also the monsoon period, which makes it harder to trek. A better time would be from April to June, and also in the winter from September to November. But no matter when you go, the surroundings and the pathways are always at least a little moist and damp as the region receives eight months of rain in a year.
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There are two routes to reach the Dzukou Valley. One is via the Zakhama village which is steeper, shorter and far more difficult. This route is often favored by trekkers who are experienced or have visited the area more than once. The other route is via Viswema village which is the longer route. This involves comparatively easier ascends and descends throughout the trek.
Dimapur is the closest air terminal. You can hop into a cab from there to reach the capital city, Kohima, which is about 74 kms and approximately a 2-hour drive away from Dimapur. After reaching Kohima, you can then proceed according to your choice of route.
From the Capital city of Nagaland, Kohima, Viswema village is about 25 kms away. After you reach Kohima, you can go to the Network AOC stand where you can avail yourself of shared cars to Viswema. You will be directly dropped at your base camp, which is where the road to accommodate a car ends and your trail begins. You don't need to worry much about water, as you will find potable tap water every half hour of the trek.
In case you choose the Zakhama route, you need to first drive to Zakhama village 20 kms away from Kohima. You can also use the shared cars from the Network AOC stand at Kohima to reach Zakhama. They will drop you at Zakhama Check Post where there's a small tea stall. To begin your trek, walk along the stream from the Check Post. Keep in mind that you'll find potable tap water every 3 kms of your journey.
It doesn't take long to reach the valley. The entire trek to the valley takes about 5 to 6 hours via the Viswema route, which is a total of 22 kms from Kohima. Your route will have a 1 km steep hike, plus 4 to 5 km of a straight walk to a resthouse in the valley. As soon as you climb up a few kilometers from Viswema village, you will find a veil of thick mist and clouds encompassing the village down below.
The trek from Zakhama village (which is a relatively shorter route) takes about 4 to 5 hours depending on your pace. It is around 16 kms from Kohima . Your route will have 5 to 6 km of a steep hike and 1 to 2 km of a walk to a resthouse. The Dzukou and Japfu rivers, also known as the twin rivers, accompany you along your journey providing nothing but serenity. The Dzukou Valley Trek shows you a range of flora and fauna surrounded by clouds. It showcases the idyllic beauty of nature that is sure to bring you tranquility.
Ideally, you can complete the trek and get back to Kohima village in a day. But this is only in the right season, with the right weather and expertise. Finishing the trek in a day is usually advised against as there's so much more to explore after reaching the valley. Plus, the sun sets pretty early, and returning after nightfall is a big no. Thus, many companies extend this trek to two to three days. This allows the trekkers to enjoy the ascends and descends without worrying about rushing. It gives you ample time to soak in all the views and take plenty of breaks along the way.
You can stay at the resthouse on top of the valley for the night. There are dorms where they serve you food and give you shelter for the night. For higher rates, you can get better rooms as well. There are designated tent spots near the rest house for INR 100 in case you want to pitch your own. There are natural caves to explore too if you want to experience the wilderness at its best. Just make sure to pack right.
The steep hiking and damp weather conditions could make it a little difficult to reach the valley. But, it's only a few hours of trekking to get a view of the quintessential beauty that takes your breath away. The valley is filled with nature's bounties, and you'll get to see rare flowers in bloom like the Bhutan Glory. It has pristine streams running in between small cascading waterfalls, and legends even claim that the waters of the streams have healing properties. One look at the Dzukou Valley makes it worth all the labor put to get to it.
You require an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to enter the Naga Hills. The permits are provided at the DC court in Dimapur or from Nagaland Houses in Kolkata, Guwahati and Dimapur. In addition to paying for the ILP, there's an entry fee for Dzukou Valley as well. This can be paid along with your ILP fee. There's also a charge for cameras, and drones aren't allowed. If found, you'll have to surrender or erase your memory chip.
Always remember that since it rains 75% of the entire year, the area is wet and slippery. Don't forget to pack and gear up accordingly. You'll have to pay for your meal and stay at the dorms, so make sure you carry some cash along.
There's loads to look forward to when going on the Dzukou Valley trek. The Hornbill festival is held in the vicinity during the month of December. Although wildflowers don't bloom at that time, you can swing by the festival, enjoy the festivities and still have a good trek. One of the perks during winter, other than the festival, is that there's a chance you can enjoy snow-clad mountains on the horizon during your trek.
At its peak season, the valley is filled with light and colors from the glorious flowers and the crystal clear waters. The valley is mostly covered in dwarf bamboos.
More importantly, you can see very rare species of flowers like the Siroi Lily and the one and only Dzukou Lily, which is native to only this place. There's also the availability of a chopper service at the Dzukou Valley, so you can take a helicopter ride and get an aerial view of the pretty landscape.
While on your trek you’ll notice numerous tree trunks and branches that are charred. Although it somewhat looks like contemporary art installations (a rather eccentric take on the terrain), if you keep digging deeper, another legend emerges out of it. The locals believe that this is a place haunted by spirits who don’t let trees bear any leaves. It’s a cursed land, where the trees are surrounded with lush green grass and blooming flowers depicting vitality yet the trees themselves are barren. Others believe that the locals burn the trees each year to keep the spirits at bay. It’s quite intriguing to see how such scenic beauty is tied to supernatural mysteries and local legends.
There are also many speculations regarding the location of the valley. Some say that the location of the Dzukou Valley is under a crater of a now extinct volcano, while others state that it’s the result of a meteor impact. While all these have no hard evidence backing them, it’s believed that the Dzukou Valley is 2 to 4 million years old. The valley isn’t just limited to its mesmerizing fauna and exotic flowers; with its fascinating history, and numerous legends and myths surrounding it, it truly is one of a kind.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Dzukou Valley?
The best time to visit the valley depends on your trekking ability and what you want to see. If you’re keen on seeing the flowers in full bloom and can handle a rainy trek, visit from April to July or September. If you’d rather avoid a very damp trek, visit in the winter.
Is Dzukou Valley Safe?
Yes, Dzukou Valley and Kohima are both safe locations. Crime and heinous activities are rarely ever reported. However, once you’re on the trek, make sure to stick with your group. Avoid wandering far in the evening since it can get dark quickly.
How Far Is Dzukou Valley From Kohima?
The Dzukou Valley is around 24 kms away from Kohima, the capital of Nagaland.
Is There Snowfall In Dzukou Valley?
Snowfall in Dzukou Valley is very, very rare.
How Long Is The Dzukou Valley Trek?
The Dzukou Valley trek is about 6 kilometres long. This will take you anywhere between 4 to 6 hours to complete, deoending upon your speed and stops.
What Is Nagaland Famous For?
Nagaland is famous as the land of festivals. There are several tribes residing in the area and a lot of them have their own celebrations and occasions.
What Language Is Spoken In Nagaland?
The most commonly spoken language in Nagaland is Nagamese. This language is a mixture of Naga and Assamese languages.