Nagaland Travel Guide – Nagaland is sometimes mistakenly perceived as another country, likely due to its name sharing similarities with countries like Thailand, Scotland, Switzerland, New Zealand, or the Netherlands.
This confusion may arise from a lack of awareness, as some individuals have not had the chance to visit or learn about Nagaland. Let me clarify that Nagaland is an exceptionally beautiful Indian state, often referred to as the land of tribes.
Nagaland, where every hill tells a story, and every tradition whispers tales of resilience.
A landlocked state, Nagaland is located in the northeastern hills and mountains of the country. It shares its northern, western, southern, and eastern borders with Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and Myanmar (formerly Burma), respectively.
Kohima, situated in the southern region of Nagaland, serves as the state capital.
Hornbill Festival in Nagaland:
I arrived in Nagaland in November to get involved in the annual Hornbill Festival, which takes place every December. The festival is held at Kisama Heritage Village, approximately 12 km from Kohima.
Click here to know about Hornbill Festival: https://www.hornbillfestival.com/
The night of November 30th was very cold, with temperatures at a freezing 2 degrees. I distinctly recall the sensation of my hands shivering as I arrived at Dimapur Railway Station. This station, the only convenient railway entry point into the state, has historical significance as Nagaland’s first railway station, inaugurated in 1903. Notably, a second railway station was established a few years ago, marking a significant development after almost 100 years.
How to Reach Nagaland:
For air travel, Dimapur Airport, situated approximately 75 km from Kohima, serves as the primary point of entry. It boasts well-established connections to several major cities in India. Alternatively, if you prefer rail transportation, you can book your train tickets to Dimapur Railway Station. From there, accessible buses and taxis are readily available for transportation to both Dimapur and Kohima, as well as for travel within the state.
When to Visit Nagaland:
While visiting Nagaland from April to October is generally favorable, the memorable experience occurs in December during the Hornbill Festival. This 10-day celebration brings tribes down from the hills, offering a vibrant showcase of food, music, dance, culture, and crafts.
Unclear Ancient History of Nagaland:
There are extremely few documents about Nagaland’s early history. The early history of the Nagas and Nagaland is primarily concerned with the traditions and economic pursuits of the Naga tribes.
In Burmese, the local people were first called ‘Naka’ or ‘Naga,’ which means ‘people with earrings.’
Languages in Nagaland:
English is the official language of Nagaland, allowing widespread communication. Additionally, Nagamese, a Creole language based on Assamese, is the second most spoken language in the region.
To understand at a glance: https://mdoner.gov.in/print/about-north-east/nagaland
In Nagaland, diversity is not just celebrated; it is woven into the very fabric of life.
Believe me, experiencing the captivating and lively Nagaland comes alive during the Hornbill Festival. Thousands of YouTubers and travelers specifically visit the state to capture the festival’s essence and showcase the beauty of Nagaland to their followers.
On the following day, I headed directly from my hotel to Kisama Heritage Village. There, I received a wrist tag at the beautifully decorated entrance, and sponsors welcomed travelers through eye-catching hoardings.
Everywhere around the village, I noticed prominent hoardings of G20. Naturally, I could not resist getting myself photographed with a volunteer at the entrance.
Hornbill Festival – A Festival of Festivals!
As I approached the main festival area, I encountered numerous stalls and exhibitions, including the Naga Organic Pavilion. Here, I explored a variety of millets, spices, ginger, teas, fruits, seeds, mushrooms, and local drinks.
A gamut of options was available and I felt tempted to taste each item and experience the diversity. I ended up purchasing some spices and honey produced in Nagaland, and they turned out to be exceptionally delicious.
Did you know that the chilli from Nagaland is known as King Chilli (Raja Mirch), Ghost Pepper, or Bhoot Jolokia? This particular chilli has gained recognition as the world’s hottest chilli and received Geographical Indication (GI) certification in 2008. During the Hornbill Festival, a Naga Chilli-eating competition was held, with the winner earning a cash prize.
It is interesting to note that Nagaland hosted its first-ever King Chilli Festival in Seiyhama Village, located in the Kohima district. This unique festival was sponsored by the Department of Horticulture, Government of Nagaland.
Food in Nagaland:
Being a vegetarian in Nagaland may present some challenges, but it is certainly manageable. I speak from experience as I encountered similar difficulties during the Hornbill Festival. Determined to find 100% vegetarian options, I decided to explore dining options in Kohima after the festival.
On my way back to the homestay, I found Yaotsu’s Pure Veg Restaurant, which had a decent rating of 3.7 out of 5 with over 390 reviews on Google. It became my go-to place for satisfying my vegetarian palate in Nagaland.
Order Dog Meat with Rice at Rs.400!
The utilization of a wide range of meats in Naga cuisine is well-known, including chicken, pork, fish, and wild animals including deer, wild boar, and bison. Notably, dog meat was featured on the menu at Rs.400 during the Hornbill Festival.
While I acknowledge that some individuals may find this choice unsettling, I encourage understanding and urge people to dislike the dish, if necessary, without harboring animosity towards Nagaland or its people.
It is important to note that attitudes toward the consumption of dog meat are changing, and there is a growing global awareness of animal welfare issues. Many people, including dog lovers, strongly oppose the consumption of dog meat across the world.
Nagaland’s cuisine is renowned for its simplicity and variety.
Popular Naga meals include traditional stews, fried bamboo shoots, smoked meat, seafood, and wild animal meat.
Some of the Nagaland ingredients and cuisines:
A key ingredient in the North Eastern region, bamboo shoot is widely used in Nagaland, especially in the preparation of popular dishes like pork or fish with bamboo shoot.
- Axone (Fermented Soybean):
Known as Axone or Akhuni, this fermented soybean product is a popular in Nagaland. It is frequently used to prepare flavorful curries with fish, chicken, pork, or other meats.
Despite controversy, bush meat, commonly referred to as dog meat, is a special delicacy among the Naga people who find it exceptionally delicious.
- Anishi (Dry Colocasia Stems and Leaves):
Anishi, derived from the leaves of the Colocasia plant, known as Arbi in Hindi, involves a process where the leaves are harvested, washed, stacked, and wrapped in banana leaves.
- Naga Style Mixed Boiled Vegetables:
A crucial side dish in Nagaland, mixed boiled vegetables like carrots, spinach, and Colocasia leaves are served alongside various main dishes, adding a wholesome element to the meal.
Zutho, the most popular indigenous rice beer in Nagaland, is made from sticky rice soaked in water for three to four days. This traditional beverage is enjoyed with friends, adding to the overall sense of enjoyment and excitement.
Upon returning to my home in Delhi, I developed a genuine addiction to Naga Style Mixed Boiled Vegetables. Eager to savour this culinary delight again, I visited Nagaland’s Kitchen, a Naga-themed restaurant located in New Delhi.
For those interested in having Nagaland’s dishes delivered to their doorstep in New Delhi, you can conveniently place your order by visiting the following link: https://nagalandskitchen.dotpe.in/
Culture of Nagaland:
Nagaland, also known as ‘The Land of Tribes’ is renowned for having a thriving tribal culture. There are around 66 tribes in Nagaland, 16 of which are important tribes.
Although the languages of the many tribes vary, they all have a similar zeal for life.
Art and Handicraft of Nagaland:
Nagaland’s artisans are renowned for their mastery of the craft of creating jewelry out of metals like tin, brass, and iron. Another widely practiced craft in the area is knitting.
Nagaland’s art and handicrafts go beyond just knitting and jewelry to include woodwork carving, basket weaving, metalsmithing, pottery, and beadwork.
Click here to read about miscellaneous arts and crafts of Nagaland: https://ignca.gov.in/divisionss/janapada-sampada/northeastern-regional-centre/miscellaneous-arts-and-crafts-in-nagaland/
Welcome to Khonoma, India’s First Green Village!
Situated approximately 20 km from Kohima, Khonoma proudly holds the title of India’s first green village, making it a must-visit destination during your time in Nagaland. The allure of this rural gem extends beyond its picturesque landscapes, offering visitors a profound experience for various reasons.
A visit to Khonoma in Nagaland is highly recommended!
The village, Khonoma, provides tourists with a chance to delve into the vibrant Naga culture and traditions. Explore ancient monuments, handicrafts, and terraced fields that reflect the distinctive Naga way of life. Additionally, immerse yourself in the culture through homestays and village tours.
Please follow it while you are exploring Khonoma: Look around, walk around, breath clear air and do not litter the ground. 😊
Entry Fee (per head): Rs.10 for Students, Rs.50 for Indians, Rs.100 for Foreigners
Tour Guide Fee: Rs.500 (A tour guide is mandatory according to the village policy, offers great value for money)
Kohima War Cemetery:
The Kohima War Cemetery is a significant memorial located in Kohima, Nagaland. It serves as a final resting place for soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the Battle of Kohima in World War II.
The cemetery is well-maintained and holds historical importance, attracting visitors who come to pay their respects and reflect on the sacrifices made during that critical period.
Today, over 2300 Commonwealth servicemen are buried and commemorated here, almost 150 of whom remain unidentified.
Open every day, 9 AM to 4 PM
Sokhriezie Park: A Tranquil Retreat
Following my exploration of Khonoma and the Kohima War Cemetery, I discovered Sokhriezie Park to be a delightful place for relaxation. Nestled in the heart of Kohima, this park boasts a serene lake and scenic walking paths.
The name Sokhriezie is a blend of ‘Sokhrie,’ meaning ‘beloved guests,’ and ‘zie,’ which translates to ‘lake.’ A perfect embodiment of its name, the park welcomes visitors with open arms.
Entry Fee (per head): Rs.10
Explore the Nagaland State Museum for a Richer Understanding:
Even if museums are not usually your thing, I urge you to explore this particular gem in Nagaland. The museum provides an insightful journey through the entire tradition and history of the Nagas.
Inside, you will find a rare collection representing all 16 tribes of Nagaland. This diverse assembly includes jewelry, precious stones, tribal costumes, tools, musical instruments, war shields, drinking mugs, and more.
A visit to the museum is a must if you want a profound understanding of the state and its rich cultural heritage.
- Timings: 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM
- Open on all working days except Sundays and Public Holidays
- Entry Fee (per head): Rs.10
- Photography Fee (per mobile phone or still camera): Rs.50
Nagaland for Wildlife Lovers:
Situated just 38 km from Dimapur, the Itanki Wildlife Sanctuary is a place for wildlife lovers, boasting the exclusive presence of the Hoolock Gibbon, the only species of Gibbon found in India.
Excellent lodging options, including a PWD Inspection Bungalow, the Circuit House, and a Forest Rest House, make for comfortable accommodation choices in this sanctuary.
Discovering Delight in a Tour of Nagaland:
My first visit to the cultural paradise of Nagaland during the Hornbill Festival was truly incredible. Upon returning home, my entire perception of Nagaland underwent a positive transformation.
Discover the enchantment of Nagaland, where every sunrise paints a canvas of hope and every sunset whispers secrets of ancient wisdom.
Nagaland is easily accessible, with the journey here as straightforward as reaching any other state in India. Trust me, choosing to visit Nagaland might turn out to be one of the best decisions you have ever made.
If you enjoyed reading the blog, I encourage you to share it with your friends and family members. Your support in spreading the word about the alluring charms of Nagaland will help raise awareness and draw more individuals into discovering the unique and enchanting aspects of this destination.