The day was 18th March 2016.
With a canvas shoe on, she kept walking briskly without a hitch. She took steps with no distress whatsoever. She struck up a conversation or two with me as we made our way to the point of descend, complimenting the two of us(Ringo and I) for the strength with which we were completing the trek cause we were not “people from the hills” but “people from the valley”.
I felt nothing short of gratification as I watched her trek the valley to and fro, completing the trek along side her. And as we made our way to this resting point with the cold pleasant evening March winds playfully kissing our faces, we heaved a huge sigh of relief. An immense sense of pride and contentment ran across our veins as the four of us (Ringo, Me, Sister Benny and our Guide, the brother who drove us all the way from Paomata) loosened ourselves up and waited for our friends to complete the trek.
I looked at Sister Benny and her slender figure in admiration as she carelessly tugged in all the dry Dzukou lilies she plugged from the valley in her backpack,
the wind gently caressing her face.
Sister Benny seemed to have conquered the valley many a time or so it seemed to me.
She was a nurse probably in her early forties but she had a great stamina accompanied with the zeal and exuberance of a 10 year old.
She wore a light blue and white printed kurta and pajamas with an everyday wear canvas shoe and carried a small backpack. And with just that she conquered the valley “AARAAM SE” (so easily!)
Like most people who grew up in the hills, she had no trouble walking up and down the hills and hence trekking the Dzukou valley to and fro came easy to her. It was like any other day in the hills,nothing more than a walk in the park for her, probably a little more strenuous than conventional days if I may add.
I stared into the vastness, the foggy sight ahead of me and the sight below my two feet dangling in mid air. The sun was going down quickly and I put on my wind proof jacket as I heard the evening winds sweep across the valley and felt them caress my face. How quickly the sweaty trek turned into a cold evening! Ringo and I took a few pictures as we caught our breath and waited for the squad to join us.
Our plans to trek this valley had begun weeks before, before I even got approval for my leaves from work. Talks with Dipavali, our school friend had begun long back and she and her sister with the help of the local village had arranged this trip for us including the trek to Dzukou. Our friend Dipa is posted in Paomata so everything was taken care by the locals there. Earlier in the day, we started the trek at around 7 -7.30 am in the morning and reached the valley by about 1 pm (We took an ample amount of time taking videos and pictures while on our way to the valley).
And once we crossed the “Way to Dzukou” signpost, all we could utter was “WOW”.
I was awestruck as the rolling hills in front of me greeted me and as I kept walking towards the valley in that well defined trek between the bamboo grass, and turning around, I could see the same sight of pristine hills cut by the beautiful stream in between, one after the other.
I kept walking and turning around capturing the beauty in my camera, doing everything I could to best record those moments. The fresh breeze making me feel all the more lost, I kept pinching myself to make sure that one of my childhood dreams had come true.
We read in school books and heard stories from our elders when we were little kids that far, far away between the states of Nagaland and Manipur, there was a dream land, of untouched pristine beauty, the bone of contention between the two states and the lion’s share of the land coming under Manipur’s integral territory. Ever since then, I had always dreamt of walking on this valley, a dream I realised that very day.
A little info about Dzukou Valley and the trek:
Dzokou in Angami Naga dialect means ‘cold water’ referring to the ice cold stream that flows through the valley and freezes into ice in winter months. The valley is famous for its wide range of flowers that bloom every season. But one that stands out is the Dzükou lily, which grows only in the valley and nowhere else on earth.The best time to go to this valley is from June through September when the lilies will be in full bloom with the other wild flowers. We went in March and there were only dry lilies then. The trek route (from Viswema Village) we took was about 17 km, an easy well defined trek for regular trekkers but people who aren’t the hiking trekking kind might find them a little difficult. My best friends who were mostly first timers had a pretty tough time. I was fortunate that I had done quite a few treks before this in the Eastern and Western Ghats and so this came easy to me.
Apart from the steep stony flight of steps uphill towards the “Way to Dzukou Valley” signpost and a point where you descend down to the valley, the rest of the trek is pretty easy. Deets about accomodation and how to plan your Dzukou trek will be elaborated in a separate post.
As I remembered the day, I smiled and I felt thankful for the beautiful day.
What a day we had! What a lovely trip! It was like a dream come true for me, walking on the Dzukou Valley. I felt nothing short of walking on a dream that day I swear. From
starting the day at dawn in pitch dark driving through the beautiful hills of Nagaland, to starting the trek in the early hours of the morning – all those steps up and
all those steps we took till the valley,
to lunching right in the middle of the valley with a delicious meal of rice, pork, fish and chicken cooked and packed the previous night, to making and capturing beautiful memories in my camera. The fun, the laughter I had in those two days with a bunch of amazing company (best friends and family friends), I would do anything to go back to those two heavenly days in Paomata and Dzukou. We finally bade goodbye to the valley and promised ourselves to camp here the next time, something two of them have already done in the last few months. We all fell into a deep slumber while our brother drove us back to the village in the dusty dark roads through the hills of Nagaland and Manipur.
Almost a year later, I’m posting this on my blog. What does it feel like going down memory lane to probably one of the best treks I did in 2016?
I just can’t describe in words. I’m filled with nostalgia as I remember those two wonderful days in Paomata with a trek to Dzukou Valley. All I can say is that this trek is worth doing once in your lifetime. Need any more reasons to do this trek?
Look out for my next post from the trip to Paomata, the village from where we headed for the trek and more deets on the Dzukou Valley trek.
A REQUEST TO FELLOW TREKKERS MARRING THE BEAUTY OF THIS VALLEY AND ELSEWHERE –
Please do not dispose off the waste and other non biodegradable items like plastic bottles, sandals here in this valley. Keep the valley as it was when you arrived. It was most upsetting to see the pile of garbage and non biodegradable items being disposed near the campsite. While we all come to enjoy the place, it doesn’t hurt one bit to carry back everything we carried to the valley. I hope people learn this.
– ALL PICTURES WERE TAKEN IN MY PHONE AND CAMERA.