Nagaland is a feast for the senses. Whether you are a solo traveller or one to travel with friends and family, this is one destination that will never disappoint you. We’ve picked out a list of the most exciting experiences and activities that could make your Nagaland vacation awesome-er than it normally would be.
1. Get a Dose of Naga Culture at the Hornbill Festival
If you haven't fixed your dates yet, then plan your trip to Nagaland in the first week of December. This is when the world-famous Hornbill Festival takes place at the Naga Heritage Village. The misty valley comes alive and the rich Naga culture is on full display during these 10 days. You get to see the best of indigenous crafts, local sports such as archery and wrestling, and traditional performances. Stop and listen to the powerful rhythms of warrior log drums in sequestered Nagaland.
Read more: Ngada Festival: Nagaland’s Cultural Feast
2. Observe Local Life at the Kohima Night Market
If the Hornbill Festival is the best to explore age-old traditions and customs, the night market is where the true essence of the city, as it is today, comes alive. Locals come here to eat and hang out, lending the marketplace an eclectic atmosphere. Savour local delicacies and indulge in street shopping.
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3. Trek to Japfu Peak
During the monsoon months, Dzukou Valley drapes itself in a colourful carpet of lilies, euphorbias and rhododendrons. Trek for five hours through the valley to reach Japfu Peak in the morning. Standing on the second highest peak in Nagaland, witness a stunning sunrise and savour panoramic views of the valley. Up for another challenge? Make Mount Saramati your next target.
4. Feast on Authentic Naga Delicacies
Every day is a food fest in Nagaland — on your plate can be snails, frogs, dog meat or bamboo fungus. Almost everything that crawls or moves can be found in a Naga kitchen, slowly roasting on a fire. On a chilly winter evening, a sumptuous platter of smoked meat pickle, slow cooked pork curry with bamboo shoots, and rice is soothing, to say the least. Beware of the super-fiery Naga chillies though!
5. Live in Tribal Huts
In the villages of Nagaland, every tribe builds a perfect replica of the hut their ancestors used to live in, even if their own may have changed over the years. These huts, known as morungs, depict the lifestyle of the tribesmen. At the Naga Heritage Village, you can take a guided tour to see each one of these and interact with tribals. They will offer you freshly-brewed rice beer served in bamboo glasses — don't say no.
6. Tour the Naga Villages
Although there is much to explore in Kohima, there is life beyond the capital city too. Ruzaphema has colourful bazaars stocking a wide range of tribal handicrafts. A few kilometres further away from Kohima are Khonoma’s terraced fields that produce a wide variety of paddy. Mokokchung is a quaint little town with flowing streams and scenic hills. Stay back to celebrate their main festivals of Aos-Moatsu and Tsungremmong. In the wondrous village of Jakhama, you’ll see houses with walls that are still riddled with bullet marks of WW II.
Read more: The Seven Sisters And a Splurge Spree
7. Hunting with the Tribesmen
Hunting for meat is a sport and an art that is close to every Naga’s heart. They are proud hunters, and you must accompany them on one of their trips for an adrenaline rush you’re unlikely to have experienced before. Visit the Konyaks, the largest of the 16 tribes inhabiting Nagaland, and also the most deadly when it comes to headhunting. You’ll see many vestiges adorning their houses — skulls of Mithun and Hornbill beaks, along with feathers and skeletons of various other animals and birds.
8. Shop for Indigenous Arts and Crafts
Nagaland is famous for bamboo artefacts such as mugs, bowls, mats and intricately-carved showpieces. Pick up bamboo carving work as souvenirs and even traditional fabrics in Naga weave and beadwork. Take a walk to the Diezephe Craft Village for indigenous wood carving and cane work. At this traditional hamlet, you can also experience local art, culture and craftsmanship.
Read More: 5 Reasons Why There's No Place Like the North-East in the Monsoon
9. Delve into History at the War Museum
The Kohima War Museum is a World War II cemetery honouring those who fought bravely during the war. There are replicas of tanks used by the allied forces and other memorabilia. The most notable of all is an epitaph at the top of hill that reads “When you go home, tell them of us and say; for your tomorrow, we gave our today”. The inscriptions on the gravestones are sure to tug on your heartstrings.
10. Spot Exotic Birds and Wildlife
Sit back and savour the scintillating sights, as Nagaland abounds in natural wonders. Nature lovers can go on a bird-watching tour in the Khonoma hamlet. This green village is known to be a haven for rare and exotic bird species. A visit to the Intake Wildlife Sanctuary might bring you face-to-face with a tigers, golden langurs, sloth bears and many more wild animals. Extend your love for the wild at the Kohima Zoo that spreads along the slopes of a hill, and shelters several endangered wildlife species.
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