One fine Saturday, we bumped into an old friend from college days and as we got talking about how our life has progressed, we (obviously) had to mention Roots and Leisure. She was pleasantly surprised to know that her seniors from college in Ahmedabad (us! :)) are the ones behind the growing community; she has been following us for a while now. She got really excited, and immediately offered to share her own travel story with the R&L readers.
Wati Pongener had made a recent trek to one of the most beautiful local attractions in Nagaland – the Dzükou Valley* “The air in Dzükou was so fresh that I could not help but think if I have been breathing wrong my whole life – before that moment! Every time I inhaled lungful of air, I imagined myself being cured of all the diseases from years of breathing polluted air.”
(*Dzükou valley is situated at the border of Nagaland and Manipur just behind the Japhu peak. Its ecosystem could be classified as one of the last spots on earth that has most of the natural and raw beauty still intact – and it is breathtakingly beautiful!)
Here’s a beautiful travel story of a trek to Dzükou Valley in Nagaland – narrated by Wati Pongener
“I believe everyone should experience this piece of heaven on earth at least once. Hoping to inspire more people to take this amazing journey, I would like to share my experience of trekking to one of the most beautiful places on earth.”
- Trekking Routes and How to Get There
There are two distinct routes to Dzükou valley from the southern Angami region: one is the Viswema route and the other, Jakhama route. We took the latter. A taxi could be hired from Monkhola junction in Kohima till the Dzukou foothill which is a drive of nearly 40 minutes.
From the Dzukou foothill starts the trek which is a steep climb. This must be the hardest and most challenging part of the entire trek! It really tests your endurance level to the limits – you will find yourself doubting yourself and cursing the moment you came up with the grand idea of visiting Dzükou; talking to yourself or hallucinating into believing that it is better to admit defeat and quietly walk back home. But the encouraging quotes along the route keep you motivated, and you climb and climb and climb.
Tip and Encouragement for First Time Trekker
It takes about 45 minutes even for the rookie trekker to reach the starting point of the valley area. From this point on, the trek becomes relatively easy. So, with newfound zest and vigour, and after numerous selfies, we started towards the main valley following the narrow zig zag course that cuts through the valley.
Best Month to Visit Dzükou Valley (according to Wati)
We undertook this epic journey in the month of August, disregarding the well intended advice of elders who have never been to Dzukou, that we are being very foolish in climbing during this time of the year. However, as someone who has actually been to Dzukou valley, I could guarantee that August is one of the best seasons to climb.
“One of the benefits of trekking during summer is to witness the magical performance that the mist puts up. Almost as if following an orchestra, the fog rises and falls, proceeds and recedes as waves after waves of purest white mesmerizes you with the most graceful dance.”
Personal Tips for first time Trekkers
In addition to being a complete romantic, one should also possess the fine quality of being a pragmatic. As such, a good raincoat and a trekking shoe is a must, and if you are concerned about leeches (there are no leeches though as the unique atmosphere of Dzukou makes it uninhabitable for leeches)
It takes about 3 hours to negotiate through the zig zag path to reach the base camp where you can either hold for the night or resume the trek after resting for some time like we did. Some basic amenities like timber, drinking water and tea are sold here. The rate is slightly high but they are totally worth it, considering the arduous journey of bringing them up to the base camp. I would like to applaud and bring to notice the efforts of Southern Angami villagers who takes care of the valley and makes available some much needed provisions at the base camp.
After almost an hour walk from the base camp, the majestic valley in all its divine glory manifests itself to you. In retrospect you will be reminded of the saying repeated by everyone who has been to Dzukuo, “Once you reach the main valley, you will forget the hard climb and all your sorrows.”
“The Valley is Filled with Caves!”
As the valley is filled with caves, you are spoilt for choices. Few of our friends went cave scouting and found a perfect one located a little deeper into the valley, just big enough to hold eleven people (yes! We were a group of eleven. The more the merrier!) with a stream flowing nearby on one big slab of rock. After a good dinner of “masaledaar” fried chicken and rice, we made a bonfire outside the cave and embraced the pitch black and hauntingly quiet night of the valley.
As I stood there, trying to take in the beauty of the valley, I imagined the valley holding a secret magic of its own. If JRR Tolkiens had his shire in Middle earth, this was unmistakably our very own shire or could he have been inspired by Dzukou itself! How I wished a hobbit would pop out from one of the caves.
Next morning, after a heavy breakfast, we packed our bags to explore the valley. It was even better under the morning sunrise. The sky was clear, the valleys blossomed with flowers and everything felt right.
“The Company of People you choose to trek with, makes all the difference!”
It should be duly noted that the company of people you choose to trek with makes all the difference. Trekking to Dzukou can be very exhausting and in such a situation it is the spirit of your gang that will determine the kind of time you will have there. As for our gang, we had a blast. We returned after a night’s stay with loads of memories to cherish and a promise to return to the valley.
Watila Pongen (photo below) back at the comforts of her home, and with the beautiful memories of a beloved trek . . .
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