Nagaland: The Land of Vibrant Colours

Nagaland Introduction:

Nagaland is a state in Northeast India which is divided into 11 administrative districts and its state capital is Kohima, around 75 kilometers from Dimapur, a commercial hub of Nagaland. The 11 districts of Nagaland are - Dimapur, Kiphire, Kohima, Longleng, Mokokchung, Mon, Peren, Phek, Tuensang, Wokha, Zunheboto. Nagaland became the 16th state of India on 1 December 1963. It borders the state of Assam to the west, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam to the north, Burma to the east and Manipur to the south.

The state is inhabited by 16 major tribes - Ao, Angami, Chang, Konyak, Lotha, Sumi, Chakhesang, Khiamniungan, Bodo-Kachari, Phom, Rengma, Sangtam, Yimchunger, Thadou, Kuki, Zeme-Liangmai (Zeliang) and Pochury as well as a number of sub-tribes. Each tribe is unique in character with its own distinct customs, language and dress. Two threads common to all, are language and religion - English is in predominant use. Nagaland is one of three states in India where the population is mostly Christian.

Nagaland Tourism

Nagaland in extreme northeastern India is one of India's smallest states. The terrain is mountainous, thickly wooded, and cut by deep river valleys; there is a wide variety of plant and animal life. Nagaland has a monsoon climate with generally high humidity. The breathtaking natural beauty and rich culture, scenic landscape, rich flora, fauna, rich traditional and cultural heritage, and serene ambiance make Nagaland one of the most colorful states of India.

The state draws thousands of domestic and international travelers every year. Dotted with undulating mountains, thundering rivers, and lush green forests, Nagaland tourism has lot to offer to adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. One can indulge in trekking, rock climbing, camping, and river rafting, angling and other exhilarating adventure activities.

Arts & Handicrafts

Art and Handicrafts are intricately woven into the culture of Nagaland. The state is a home to around 16 tribes who have long perfected the art of creating magnificent items from very little resources. By using products from the farms, fields and forests, they make their own clothes, utensils, medicines and objects of ritualistic and aesthetic value. How self sufficient they are!

Visit the Naga villages where the the huge village gates, house posts and Morungs speak volumes about the craftsmanship of the people of the state. The handicrafts of Nagaland are designed in beautiful patters which depict the tradition of the Nagas. They are in great demand in India and abroad. The use of vibrant colours and unique designs in the fabrics make them look very attractive. They are known for their great quality and durability. Nagaland shawls are very famous among tourists.

Dance & Music

Dance and music are an essential part of any celebration in Nagaland. Based on a wide variety of themes, the dance and music may talk about a tradition, depict the stories of bravery and chivalry or narrate an important historic event. The tribal dances of Nagaland speak oodles about its rich heritage. Different tribes have different dances.

War dance is the most famous dance of the state. It involves a great deal of expertise as the performers go through dangerous war motions. Even a little bit of carelessness can prove highly dangerous. Nagas never perform individually, they always dance in a group. Participants in most of the Naga dances are men, it is only in Zelaing tribe where womenfolk are also involved in this cultural activity. The dancers wear colourful and graceful dresses which add more charm to the dance.

Festivals of Nagaland

Nagaland Festivals add to the color and the rich cultural heritage of the state. Nagaland is a land of many festivals. It is inhabited by 16 main tribes. All these tribes have their unique culture, tradition, customs and festivals. Throughout the year Nagaland celebrates various tribal festivals with a pageantry of color and feast of music. Its ethnic tribal culture is known the world over for its celebrations. Most of the festivals revolve around agriculture. Nagaland is a home of colourful tribes where fairs and festivals are observed round the year. The important festivals of Nagland are - Hornbill festival, Moatsu Festival, Nazu Festival, Sekrenyi Festival, Tuluni Festival, Yemshe Festival etc.

Wildlife of Nagaland

Rolling Mountains, enchanting valley, swift flowing streams and above all luxuriant forests and wild life which are generally of evergreen type give evidence of the precious gift of the bountiful nature bestowed upon the Nagaland state. Nagaland boasts of its rich flora & fauna. The total land of state is 52% covered with dense forests and hence is popular for Wildlife sanctuary. While you are in Nagaland, its rich flora and fauna will definitely amaze you. Every wildlife sanctuary that you step in Nagaland displays an entirely different variety and scenic beauty. The main 3 wildlife sanctuaries of Nagaland are - Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary & Itanki Wildlife Sanctuary.

Naga Food

Naga cuisine, of the Naga people, features meats and fish, which are often smoked, dried or fermented . The various Naga tribes have their own cooking varieties, but they often interchange recipes. A typical Naga table consists of a meat dish, a boiled vegetable dish or two, rice and a chutney (Tathu). Nagas tend to prefer boiled edible organic leaves. Smoked meat is produced by keeping the meat above the fire or hanging on the wall of the kitchen for 2 weeks or longer, which could last for the whole year ahead. However, with the influx of tourists in Nagaland from various parts of the world - Nagas also cater to plain dal-chawal, sabzee and other vegeterian stuff as per your taste buds.

POPULAR ATTRACTIONS & TOURIST DESTINATIONS IN NAGALAND

1) KOHIMA (Places of interest)

(a) War Cemetery: This cemetery was built in the memory of the officers and men who sacrificed their lives in the World War II. Each grave has a bronze plaque which reads “ When you go home/Tell them of us and say/ For your tomorrow/ We gave our today.”

(b) Zoological Park: Perched on a beautiful hill slope, the Zoological Park of Kohima houses several species of birds and animals.

(c) The Catholic Cathedral: It is one of the famous places of Kohima. Located at Aradura Hill, the Catholic Cathedral is one of the biggest Cathedral in the entire North East.

(d) Kohima Village (Bara Basti): It is believed to be the second largest and the most populous village in Asia. Its foundation was laid by the Angami tribe of Nagaland. The entrance of the village has a huge traditional wooden gate. Its carvings are dedicated to the theme – war.

(e) Museum: Reflecting the rich heritage of the tribes of Nagaland, the museum showcases the rare artefacts belonging to the different Naga tribes.

How To ReachAir: The nearest airport is at Dimapur. Rail: The nearest railway station is at Dimapur which is connected to Guwahati. Road: Regular buses ply from Dimapur to Kohima.

(2) Dzukou Valley Nagaland: Dzukou Valley is located at a distance of only 30 km from Kohima, the capital city of Nagaland and is located at an altitude of 2438 metres above sea level in the north eastern state of Nagaland. The hills surrounding the valley are covered with rhododendrons of different colours. During spring the entire valley is dotted with colourful flowers which attracts a lot of tourists from far and wide to spend some time in the picturesque and healthy environment. It offers tranquillity in plenty. The beautiful streams passing through the Dzukou Valley dramatically change into ice during extreme winter. During summers the valley is flooded with wild herbs and shrubs. The rainy season festoons the valley with white and pink lilies, euphorbias, aconitums and several other species of plants. The nearest airport and railway station is at Dimapur.

(3) Rajabari Park, Dimapur : Dimapur is the largest city in Nagaland, India. In the Middle Ages, it was the capital of the Dimasa Kachari rulers. In the heart of the town there is an old relic of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom which speaks about the once prosperous era. The giant dome shaped rock stones of several designs amazes people about what its history might have been.

(4) Mokokchung: The destination is dotted with several attractions, of which Mokokchung District museum located in the Arts and Cultural Complex is one of the most popular ones. In addition, tourists can also explore the places like Longkhum, Ungma, Langpangkong, Mopungchukit and Chuchuyimlang village located within the district.

(5) Mon: Mon district is one of the main attractions of Nagaland. It houses the Konyak tribe of the state. This picturesque district is elevated at a height of 897.64 meters above sea level. Main attractions of the Mon District - Shangnyu Village, Longwa Village & Veda Peak.

(6) Hornbill Festival in Nagaland: The Hornbill festival is a celebration held every year in the first week of December, in Nagaland, North-east India. It is also called as the 'Festival of Festivals'. The week-long festival unites one and all in Nagaland and people enjoy the colourful performances, crafts, sports, food fairs, games and ceremonies. Traditional arts which include paintings, wood carvings, and sculptures are also on display.

Traditional arts are also featured, with paintings, wood carvings and sculptures by modern Naga artists on display. Naga troupes sing folk songs, perform traditional dances and play indigenous games and sports. In the evenings a programme of music concerts, catering for all tastes, ensure that the festive spirit continues through the night. One of the major highlights of this festival is the Hornbill International Rock Festival that is held at Indira Gandhi Stadium and local and international rock bands perform here.