Nagaland is all about experiencing the rich culture, diverse heritage, and untouched natural beauty. The adventure in Nagaland will take you in rickety buses in the mountainous terrains of the state. From gorgeous paddy fields, rolling valleys, misty hills, meadows adorned in wildflowers to tribal villages, you can encounter a lot in these magnificent landscapes.
Domestic travel to the region is increasing and tourists want to experience the charm of this remote state. Listed below are a few places/events in Nagaland you simply must not miss.
Khonoma – Asia’s First Green Village
Khonoma is a delightful retreat for anyone wanting to unwind in nature. The village gained recognition from 2005 for its efforts in preserving the ecological diversity and its practices of sustainable living. You can read more about it in my blog on Asia’s First Green Village – A Complete Travel Guide to Khonoma.
Mon – Home to The Last Living Headhunters
Mon district stands proud nested deep in Nagaland with the feared Konyaks covered in tattoos and their earlobes pierced with stones, wood and bones. Longwa village in Mon is home to the Konyak tribe who have become one of the more widely known symbols of Nagaland.
Once you reach Longwa it is mandatory to first meet the Angh, the chief of the Konyak tribe. With the help of a guide, you can meet the semi-nomadic tribe who were once formidable headhunters. Hearing their fascinating stories reminds us of how diverse our country is. It is said the Angh has one half of his house in India and the other half extends in Myanmar territory. Despite the village being in two countries, it is said the Angh presides over all matters in this village.
Touphema – The Inspiring Naga Heritage Village
The development story of different regions of Nagaland has been rather disproportionate. However, one village which took matters in its own hands and built a self-sustainable community is Touphema.
Touphema is a village built exclusively for tourists to understand the lifestyle and culture of the people of Nagaland. The homestays are modeled on a traditional Angami village with native decor. At first, 12 Angami clans from the village together funded building these huts. Every clan sponsored building a cottage each, with facades displaying Naga symbols. Soon, the government joined their efforts and contributed to building the village.
For the longest time, the people of the village would struggle to get their daily supplies including medicines. The nearest developed town Kohima, is 41 kms away, so the locals contributed and bought a mini-bus for their daily commute. Even today, there is only one government bus throughout the day which travels from Kohima to Touphema.
Dzuleke – A Scenic Retreat
Dzuleke is a quaint village known for its rich biodiversity. It’s an ideal getaway destination from the busy Kohima city. The only way to Dzuleke is through Khonoma. The place offers several picnic spots of surreal beauty. It has acres of campground with wooden trails encircling the area.
I went around the trails which had no frills, allowing me to focus on the surrounding landscape. There were families from Kohima who travelled here in their jeeps, with tents and supplies, including a barbeque and crates of beer. It is the perfect spot to enjoy peace and tranquility in rural Nagaland.
After spending sometime in the wilderness it was time to depart to the next spot. I was travelling in a shared cab with 4 other travellers which gave us limited time at each location.
Come Dzuleke, a game of football was always around the corner. Keku, our share cab driver pulled over at this rustic football field in the countryside. By the field are a few establishments with locals selling pork and some local wine if you may. Turns out, the college kids playing football had seen me a few times before at Kohima.
My homestay at Kohima was by the Kohima Arts College where the lads are studying. Infact, they finished their last exam on the day & then travelled to Dzuleke to celebrate. So, I joined these talented bunch of teenagers in a rather one-sided game. As you can see, the defenders & myself basking in the sun while our Salah’s & Firmino’s go all out.
Dzukou Valley is a trekkers paradise that provides an opportunity to admire its pristine landscapes. It is untouched by civilization and is the best short trek around Kohima. The Dzukou experience is being in nature amidst the breath-taking beauty where its rolling hills are covered in lush green forests.
During the monsoons the valley is filled with rhododendrons and lilies while in winters, thin layers of snow cover these majestic landscapes. The stellar night sky is free from any city pollution.
The Hornbill Festival is the best place to get a dose of Naga Culture. Often referred to as the Festival of Festivals, the Hornbill Festival witnesses all Naga tribes come together to exemplify their rich culture and unity. Although all tribes have their own unique festivals, the Hornbill Festival stands out for bringing all tribes under one roof. To know more, read my blog on Fun & Alternate Things to do at the Hornbill Festival – Perhaps India’s Coolest Festival.
Kohima Night Market
After the daily proceedings of the Hornbill Festival, the crowd moves to the Kohima Night Market. With Christmas around the corner, the place is filled with energy. If you somehow still haven’t come across Nagas chewing betel leaves, you’re sure to see some out here.
The bustling market has various food stalls selling some exotic meat including rabbits, even dogs, and a whole lot of creepy-crawlies. This isn’t the place for you if you’ve a weak stomach.
Japfu Peak is at a greater height and is more difficult than the Dzukou Valley trek. The peak is also known to be the best place to witness the beautiful landscapes of Dzukou Valley. Japfu is the second highest peak in Nagaland after Mt Saramati. It is advisable to go with a guide on this trek.
Kohima War Museum
The Kohima War Museum houses parts of destroyed tanks and all kinds of artillery. The war museum was built to gain a better understanding of the battles in Kohima and as a tribute to the soldiers; Indian & British who fought and died in battles especially the Battle of Kohima. This is considered as one of the fiercest battles fought against the Japanese during World War II.