Meeting the Konyaks – the last surviving head Hunters of NagalandMeeting the last surviving headhunters of the Konyak tribe was a huge reason why I had decided to do a trip to Nagaland. The practice deemed barbaric and outlawed in the 1930s left behind these tattooed headhunters. Some of these men we met at Mon, had taken heads back in the day and had elaborate tattoos on their necks, faces and chests as witnesses to the fact. Now old, wrinkled, bent over, their legacy seems like a distant memory. The once regal, ferocious warriors have become jaded, old men huddled around a kitchen fire. They came together to meet us and tell us their stories. They loved all the attention they got from us. Beaming at our cameras, exclaiming at the pictures we showed them. I think something about being the centre of it all took them back to the time when they were revered as the brave headhunters who brought back enemy heads as souvenirs. We saw a giant old tree outside the village, that looked right out of a Grimm’s fairytale. It resembled an old witch’s claw. The enemy heads were hung on display on this tree as a sign of victory. These are the last surviving headhunters in Nagaland. After them, there will be no more tattooed old men to relive the bloody, gruesome days.
To return back to Hyderabad, I did not want to go all the way back to Dimapur to take a flight, so I instead went to Dibrugarh in Assam which is the closest airport to Mon. You can take a shared jeep from Mon to Sonari. Based on when you reach Sonari, you may or may not find a direct bus to Dibrugarh. I could not get one, so I took a bus to Moran, and then another one to Dibrugarh. It takes 3 hours to reach Sonari, and another 2.5 hours from there to Dibrugarh. The earliest public transport out of Mon is at 7 A.M (It may get further delayed based on how may seats fill up) and there is none on Sundays, so you may want to plan accordingly.All domestic tourists need an Inner Line Permit to visit Nagaland, which can be obtained in person in Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong (you may need to check the official site for the latest list) or if you are unable to do so, you can get it done via a private tour operator by sending scanned copies of your ID.To learn more about my travels, visit my website
Located in the Mon district, and at the border of India-Myanmar, to get here you’re first required to reach the Mon town.
The Mon district, sitting on Nagaland's northernmost tip at a lofty 898m, has a beautiful terrain of dizzying peaks and valleys, shimmering streams and azure skies reaching out for the gently undulating forests. Offering a glimpse into India's uncontested 'wild-east', Mon resonates with tribal culture, traditional quirks and an altogether otherworldly aura. Adding to the region's primeval allure, is the community of the bewitching headhunting tribe of the Konyak Nagas, residing right on the edge of the India-Myanmar border. Travel to Mon, to experience the land that belongs most to the clouds, mist, Alder thickets and lets you witness the last vestiges of the curious world, that was once Nagaland.Why travel to Mon
Why go? Take this long journey to one of the most offbeat destinations on the map of India to experience the rich cultural heritage of northern Nagaland. The Aoleang festival of the Konyaks from Northern Nagaland is celebrated during the first week of April and it's also the best time to witness indigenous dance performances by the locals, music talent shows, songs and local games.Things to do: When you want a break from the festivities, take a quiet hike to Veda Peak to witness the surreal view of the Brahmaputra River. Go on a village tour and visit the Chenliosho, Shangnyu and Longwa villages.Click here to know everything about the Inner Line Permit.Budget tip for Mon: Jorhat in Assam is the nearest airport, but there is no direct bus service available to Mon from Jorhat. Reach either Sonari or Simulguri and travel to Mon from there using public transport to cut the cost.