Nagaland is a beautiful mountainous state locate dint he North East of India. Bordered by Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Myanmar, the state is now for its abundant flora ands aunt, as well as it’s rich tribal culture. The largest city in the state is Dimapur, though its capital city is Kohima, both are the two most significant cities in Nagaland. The region also comes under the popular name given to India’s north eastern states, the ‘Seven Sister States’. Nagaland is well known for being home to the erstwhile ‘headhunters’, the various Naga tribes. Today though, most of these tribes have converted to Christianity.
When looking at the rich architecture, picturesque vistas of nature, and abundance of natural resources, one often forgets that Nagaland has seen widespread inter-ethnic conflict, insurgency and much conflict since the 50s. While agriculture, tourism and such are the main occupations of the locals, the region has been economically held back by the social strife it has faced.
A little about the history and culture of Nagaland:
Known as the land of festivals and celebration, each tribe int he region has its own specific festivals, rituals and sacred times of year. Full of pageantry, color and music, Nagaland also has a rich diversity of linguistic groups and traditions – each unique and special in its own way. Is stead of one specific tribe, the term ‘Nagas’ encapsulates a wide diversity of tribes panning not only over Nagaland but even Northwestern Myanmar. With more diversity than any other cultural community in India, the Nagas speak a variety of dialects, all under the umbrella of Sino-Tebetan undertones. While the exact population of each tribe is unknown due to very disorganised and inadequate record keeping, each tribe represents a different ethnic group, a matter that has caused great civil unrest in the past.
The ‘insurgency’, more accurately termed as ‘ethnic conflict’ occurs primarily between the Naga ethnic groups and the Indian government. Some parties demand an independent Nagaland state, and this strife has lead to violence and unrest in the past. While this continues to be a matter of great sensitivity for locals, no violence has occurred in a while, making the region still very safe to visit as a tourist.
Famous festivals of Nagaland, basis the month:
- Hornbill festival: Perhaps the one that Nagaland is most popularly known for, besides being a great crowd pleaser, the Hornbill festival remains one of the most authentic way to experience Naga culture, even though it was started in 2000 to promote Nagaland tourism. (First week of December)
- Sekrenyi: Celebrated by the Angami tribe, this 10 day festival is a celebration of dance and food like none other. (Feb end- March first week)
- Tsukheneye: Held in Phek and hosted by the Chakhesang tribe, this festival is a celebration of crop harvest and ritualistic bathing in the river. (Second week of January)
- Aoleang: The Konyak tribe’s harvest festival, this five day festival has something new and unique to offer every day. It occurs during the harvest of new seeds. (April first week)
- Naknyulem: A fun filled festival hosted by the Chang tribes, this cultural festival is a celebration of friendship and positive relationships. It features some truly memorable food, games and lots of dancing. This festival allows you to hear the mystical sound of a Naga instrument called the ‘Kongkhim’ that is played only by the women. (July end)
Ideal for adventure junkies and those who enjoy off-beat vacations. A picturesque state, it is also ideal for those who appreciate architecture, nature, and enjoy photography.
2 -3 days if your travels will be limited to Kohima and Dimapur. Those venturing into the inlands of Nagaland can plan for a week-long vacation.
Best time to visit:
With a topography mainly consisting of mountains and rivers, Nagaland’s climate is primarily geographically determined. The state experiences both high rainfall and humidity months, as well as warm summers. The best time to visit Nagaland is int the summer months when most states in India are sweltering, but Nagaland is cool and ideal for a vacation.Winters too are favourable due to a lack of freezing-level temperatures. The worst time to visit is in the monsoon months for her of landslides, road blockages, and closed tourist activities.
- By air: Dimapur, the largest city in Nagaland features a domestic airport that has moderate connectivity to most major Indian cities, especially those from North India. International travellers can take a connecting flight from Kolkata to Dimapur.
- By train: Dimapur also houses the major railway station in the region with recent access to Kolkata and Guwahati.
- By road: While mourning in to Nagaland via road is not recommended, it is the most efficient means of travel within the state. One can reach Dimapur from Kohima with a short car rental ride, or one of the many government-operated bus services that are available.
Don’t miss out on these 18 must-visit places in Nagaland!
- Kohima War Cemetery
- Nagaland Zoological Park
- Nagaland State Museum
- Japfu Peak
- Dzukon Valley
- Kachari Ruins
- Chumkedima Village
- Khonoma Village
- Mount Tiyi
- Shilloi Lake
- Naga Heritage Hill
- Tourist Village, Tuophema
- Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary
- Doyang River
- Caves of Puilwa Village
Kohima War Cemetery
A dedication to those who lost their lives in the World War II, the Kohima War Cemetery was built in 1944. The manicured lawns look over the city of Kohima, with a serene yet scarred aura. The most popular way to visit it is via trek on the Garrison Hills. The cemetery is dedicate primarily to British and Japanese soldiers who lost their lives in the brutal Burma Attack. Besides the commemorative graves the cemetery will also intrigue history buffs with all the yesteryear tales shared on the grounds itself.
Please note: Open from sunset to sunrise, the cemetery is closed on Sundays. NO entry fee is levied.
Nagaland Zoological Park
Located on protected land that covers over 176 hectares, the Nagaland Zoological Park is uniquely low-lying area, making it the ideal congregation spot for aquatic birds. The unique topography f the area makes it an ideal place for abundant species of flora and fauna, making conversation activities int he region even more important. The Park welcomes almost 500 bird species every year, which include Patridges, Parrotbill, Laughingthrush, Nuttatch and Fulvetta.
Please note: Open from 8AM to 4PM every day (except Monday), the park levies an entry fee of INR10 for adults and INR5 for children.
Nagaland State Museum
One wonders, how can one quaint building hold so much information on the history and culture of an entire state! The Nagaland State Museum has so much information about Nagaland and its inhabitants, all at your fingertips. The 16 Naga tribes of the region have contributed to the museum itself, making it one of the richest repositories of a frightfully inadequately documented people.
Please note: Open from 9:30AM to 3PM every day (except Monday), the park levies an entry fee of INR5 per person.
The district with the most tourist places in Nagaland, Phek is one of the main draws for tourists, outside its two main cities. The spellbinding beauty of the endless terrain seems surreal, with sweeping hills densely packed with lush greenery. Seated in the lap of nature, the landscape is dotted with lakes, rivers and occasionally little thatched huts. The region is known for birdwatching, hiking and trekking activities.
Please note: The heritage village of Khazekena is also located here, a cultural and ethnic hub in Nagaland.
The second highest point in Nagaland, the Japfu Peak is known not just for its elevation but also for its almost unreal beauty. Truly, any vista in the area looks like a doctored computer screensaver – so pristine are the sweeping hills and lush unbroken greenery. The spellbinding views of Dzukou Valley, juxtaposed with the snow capped Himalayas int he distance in a site you’re unlikely to ever forget.
Please note: Time your trip carefully to find the Valley of Flowers in full bloom!
Despite being a valley, the Dzukon region is at an elevation of 2462 metres above sea level. Located in Kohima, the exotic lilies found here are in itself well worth the trip there. Add in the mountain tops, kissed by clouds and the lush never-ending greenery, and you have an amazing day trip! The region is well known for its trekking trails.
Please note: While the region is open 24 hours, all week, we recommend travelling with a driver or guide who known the best vistas and viewpoints.
Also known as the Dimasa Kachari Ruins, this complex of ancient ruins in Dimapur is as mysterious as is it beautiful. Believed to be erected by the DimasaKachari Kingdoms during the 13th century, this series of mushroom domed pillars, housing the mysterious remnants of a proudly erected complex – the purpose of which remains unknown to this date. The impressive structures stand steadfast against the overgrown greenery, unapologetic of their lack of purpose. This offbeat destination is a must visit in Nagaland.
Please note: The complex is open from sunrise to sunset every day
A quaint town in the Dimapur district, Chumukedima overlooks the bustling region below while maintaining an aura of calm and tranquility. The region is not only an ideal place for some solitude, but it is also ideal for those who enjoy gushing waterfall;;s and abundant nature.
Please note: The Triple Falls, located close by are a great place to rejuvenate your body, mind and soul as you find yourself in the lap of nature, surrounded by lush greenery.
Known as the Green Village of India, Khonoma is spread across 123 square kilometres. Surrounded on all sides by hills, packed with dense forestry, the village houses the oldest cultivation int he region, created in the terraced agriculture style that is now popular across not only Nagaland, but India itself.
Please note: The village also has historical significance, owing to the Angami tribes which fought to safeguard their territory from the British.
Located int he Wokha district of Nagaland, Mount Tiyi is at an altitude of 1969 metres above sea level. The popular destination has truly unique and breathtaking views of the River Doyang. The view from here is a never-seen-before experience you just not miss out on. Mount Tiyi is also of cultural significance to the Naga people, as it is believed that departed souls reside here.
Please note: With so much folklore in the region, a chat with locals is always a fruitful one!
The abode for the Ao Naga, Mokochung is a significant locale in Nagaland, not only for its densely populated residences, but also for its various tourist attractions. A popular choice for art and history buffs, the region has many well preserved historical artefacts – Town Main Park and the oldest and largest Unman Village.
Please note: Witness the grand celebration during the festivals celebrated on sowing and harvesting seasons to get a cultural insight of the region.
A peculiarly foot-shaped lake, Shilloi is known for being the beautiful foreground to the breathtaking Matkai Range in the background. This tranquil, reflective water is not only calming but also invigorating for all those who visit it. Locals believe that the spirit of the holy child rests in the bottom of the lake, making the region sacred and holy.
Please note: Leave early for the lake and spend the entire day there to return by evening and catch a view of some of the exotic birds found here
Naga Heritage Village
Also known as Kisama Heritage Village, the Naga Heritage Village is a testament of the rich culture and tradition of the Nagas. An area dedicated to the protection of the purest and most authentic form of Naga tribal culture, the region is a treat for both art and history buffs. With regions distinctly dedicated to the 16 main tribes in Nagaland, all the ethnic groups forget their differences to celebrate festivals here.
Please note: Hosts the Hornbill Festivals every year
Tourist Village, Tuophema
A region dedicated to the protection of Naga culture, the Touphema Tourist Village is a treat for those who are enthusiastic about art, culture, painting and most importantly – food! A hub for the most authentic experience of Naga delicacies, the Touphema Tourist Village is well know for displaying the local cuisine and having the local rice beer on tap! The thatches, traditionally made huts and unapologetic living is a slice of tribal culture at its most accessible.
Please note: As beautiful as the destination is, many tourists make the trip to Touphema simply for the scenic journey itself, full of pectoral hills and endless green pastures.
Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the most diverse wildlife experiences possible, the Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 200 square kilometres and comprises of exotic beings such sloth bears, wild dogs, flying squirrels, barking deer and black storks among many more! Covered in think greenery and semi tropical trees, many activities for adventure enthusiasts are available here like camping, trekking, mountain climbing and hiking.
Please note: Open from 10AM to 6PM every day), the park levies no entry.
lso known as Dzu or Dzulu, the Doyang River is the largest in the region, with its tributaries irrigating the fertile region that surrounds it. A serene area, the flora and fauna available to view here is unmatched.
Please note: Grab a picnic spot along the banks and enjoy some fishing!
A hotbed of rich Naga tradition, Tuensang is a heritage region that reflects the local Naga culture authentically. Known for its living stones, Tsadanf, Noklak and Longtrok, which make Tuensang a must-visit place in the northeast.
Please note: One can even visit the Indo-Myanmar border here.
Caves of Puilwa Village
This mysterious collection of caves in the Poilwa Village are an off beat attraction that you must visit. Old Peren remains a bustling village, even if it is small.
Please note: The quaint region offers many opportunities for cultural exploration – we recommend getting a guide who can share the experience with you as a local, instead of a tourist.
Abound primeval beauty, tribal cultures, and endless green pastures, Nagaland is paradise for those who understand the special request that must be given to states that continue to protect their tribal cultures. The thatched houses and sacred groves blend seamlessly into terraced agriculture and bustling cities. The respect that the states people have, not only for nature but also for each other, is humbly, to say the least. The perfect mixture of tribal culture and modern thinking, the region can best be described as a cultural hub that must be protected, at all costs.