- 1 Why Should You Travel to Nagaland – Who Are the Nagas?
- 2 How to Get to Nagaland?
- 3 Where to Stay in Nagaland?
- 4 Traveling in and Around Nagaland
Why Should You Travel to Nagaland – Who Are the Nagas?
Nagaland is all about experiencing their rich culture, diverse heritage, and untouched natural beauty. Here is my Nagaland Travel Guide, I strongly advocate offbeat travel and Nagaland is as unconventional as it gets in India. Some say Nagaland is not tourist-friendly, but during my trip, I was fortunate to have met some warm and affectionate Naga people.
Nagaland is located in remote Northeast India. It shares its border with the state of Assam to the west, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam to the North, Myanmar to its east, and Manipur to its South. The Nagas are said to be descendants of the Mongolians. The government recognizes 17 indigenous tribes of the state each having their own traditions. Today majority of the Naga population follow Christianity.
Until a few decades back, the warrior tribes of the state took pride in headhunting their adversaries during combats and raids. The skulls of their foes were stacked up like trophies at the entrance of the house. However, the current generation has moved on from this gruesome tradition and are more socially aware.
When you travel to Nagaland you can easily communicate with the locals who are fluent in English. However, different communities have their own dialects and Nagamese (Naga + Assamese) is the common lingua franca in Nagaland. Additionally, you can relish some local cuisines, be one with nature, enjoy open rice fields like no other place and leave your heart content with the joys of simplicity.
How to Get to Nagaland?
For the purpose of a Nagaland Travel Guide and a smooth journey in and out of Nagaland, I’ve put together different modes of transport to this jewel in the North-East of India.
By Air: All flights to Nagaland are via Kolkata which is connected to all airports in India. However, the frequency of flights from Kolkata to Dimapur, Nagaland is poor.
By Rail: Although your train might not be directly going to Dimapur, one can board a connecting train from Guwahati to Dimapur. Guwahati is well connected to the rest of the country.
To travel any place beyond Dimapur, you need to obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP) which can be applied for on this website.
Dimapur to Kohima: From Dimapur, it is a journey of approximately 4 hours to Kohima in poor road conditions. Although bus service is available, take a taxi for a less bumpy ride and you could reach an hour faster.
When to Visit Nagaland?
The Naga community has a rich and vibrant culture with each tribe celebrating traditions in their respective festivals which are held throughout the year. Some of the big festivals are the Sekrenyi festival of the Angamis in February and the Aoleang festival of the Konyaks in April.
The weather is typically warmer from April onwards. It is most favorable from November and people are in a festive mood. Winters are definitely the best time to visit the region. The biggest Nagaland festival is Hornbill which takes place in December. This mega event brings all tribes together annually.
How Long Should You Stay?
If you’re traveling to Nagaland in December which is during the dates of the Hornbill Festival, I suggest you plan a trip for 10 days. Essentially, keep aside 3-4 days for the festival and the rest can be used to cover other places to visit in Nagaland.
Where to Stay in Nagaland?
Nagaland Travel Guide Top Tip: In a place like Nagaland I’d always pick homestays/camps over hotels. I lived with three families during the two weeks I spent in Nagaland. My experience living the slow life in the picturesque Naga hills was priceless. More so, when you live in a city like Bombay.
Living with these families I learnt to be grateful for the small joys and will always treasure the experience. Picking vegetables in the kitchen garden, collecting wood to set up the fireplace, and sharing our stories over a cup of hot ginger tea. Not many families are as warm and provide for a comfortable stay with so much love.
You can search for accommodation including hostels and homestays in Kohima here. Kohima is the centre point of your Naga adventure.
Below is a video I made at Melie’s homestay in Kohima.
Traveling in and Around Nagaland
Solo Travel in Nagaland, Is It Safe?
Here is some important information before you make a trip to Nagaland. For long Nagaland was known as a conflict area with cautions given as an unsafe travel destination. Freedom movements, rebel groups for several years have been demanding a Greater Nagaland. These conflicts have led to many deaths in the state.
Today, the situation is much better as the government continues to make progress and resolve issues within the state. The current generation of Nagas are open to dialogue and more responsive to change.
If you happen to be at a place where there is a bandh or a shutdown, it usually lasts a maximum of 48 hours so I suggest you stay put. Also, avoid traveling at night as insurgents are still very much around.
Unfortunately, there are no bikes or cars available to rent, so you would have to travel within Nagaland in a taxi or bus.
Nagaland Travel Guide Top Tip: Typically, remote villages in Nagaland have one bus which leaves from the village to the nearest town early in the morning. The bus returns by early evening on the same day. This journey is adventurous in an old state transport bus with locals carrying bamboo, ration and various livestock too.
The Nagaland government is focused on developing tourism and is encouraging locals from several villages to offer homestay facilities.
Other Nagaland Travel Guide Tips
Although traveling within Nagaland continues to be a challenge, the state with its multi-ethnic tribes and beautiful landscapes has so much to offer. Hope these travel tips help you have a better experience in the state.
- Due to its location in the far east of India, it is key to start your day early in Nagaland. The sun rises and sets almost 90 mins earlier than the rest of the country. Hence, you don’t want to be left with only a few hours to explore this beautiful state.
- Ensure you have the ILP and your Identification Card handy at all times.
- Provision stores and transportation options are closed on Sundays in Nagaland as they celebrate Sabbath.
Essentials to Pack for Nagaland
- Assuming you’re here during the Hornbill Festival ensure you carry warm clothes as the temperate dips considerably after the sunsets.
- A universal adapter to charge your electronic gadgets especially your phone.
How to Travel Responsibly in Nagaland?
- The Nagaland government encourages local artisans to promote their handicrafts and art. We must support them by using their eco-friendly products that are made of bamboo, cane, etc.
- As much fun as it is reading about the tribal culture and traditions, Nagaland is a place which has to be visited and experienced to form your own opinion. The Nagas still follow their traditional customs and beliefs, be respectful of it.