The star attraction is the rare pink Dzukou Lily, an endemic variety found only here, and whose inflorescence adds a dash of colour to the otherwise emerald green valley for two months beginning June. Post lily season, Dzukou’s less glamorous flowers begin to bloom, one after the other. Most hikers avoid the frosty winter here, when the mercury plummets below zero, waterbodies freeze and waterfalls turn into surreal-looking suspended glassy popsicles. But this is also what makes the ‘low season’ the most beautiful time of year. As they say in Scandinavia, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only wrong clothing.
A state border between Manipur and Nagaland runs through the heart of Dzukou Valley, marked at some points by a narrow stream. Whichever route you choose to reach the valley, it will first involve a morning steep climb, followed by a gentle descent into the valley, and walking through both states once you’re actually in the valley.
The only manmade structure you will encounter here is the ‘guesthouse,’ more of a budget trekkers’ shed, conveniently located on the hill facing the valley. The guesthouse has a social vibe, and makes the Dzukou trek practical even for solo travellers. Weekends can get crowded during lily season, so opt for weekdays if possible. The guesthouse has toilets and a firewood kitchen, and will even rent out everything from mattresses to blankets and pillows, and the friendly caretaker will cook for you for a fee or sell you firewood. Though the guesthouse may be ultra-barebones, it’s still a luxury in the middle of nowhere.
On some nights, when the wind calms down, there’s a dreamlike, almost ethereal kind of quietness in the valley that’s hard to describe—no frogs, cicadas, birds, absolutely nothing, but your own heartbeat. And then if you really pay attention, you can hear the silence itself. It’s easy to understand why people keep returning here, year after year.
GETTING THERE AND AWAY
The trek to Dzukou Valley can begin either at Mao or Mt. Isu in Senapati (Manipur), or Jakhama or Viswema villages in Nagaland, but the Manipur route is more scenic. There’s also a much harder route from Willong in Manipur. Plan on spending at least two nights and three days if taking the Viswema route, longer if opting for any of the others. Many hikers choose to extend the trek onwards by three more days to include a trail of rhododendron forests to Japfu Peak, the second highest in Nagaland, known for its stunning sunrise and panoramic views of not just Dzukou, but also half of Nagaland and parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
For more information: Manipur Tourism