I dared (nothing daring though) a Solo trip to the village of Head Hunters. Yes, I made it to Longwa alone and had no single encounter where I would have felt unsafe in any manner on the entire route.
Located only 50 km from the town of Mon, Longwa is fairly accessible by sharing taxis (from Mon Town) who charge around Rs.200 per seat in a Sumo. I hitch-hiked to the village because I couldn't get a seat in the taxi as it was full. One can make a day trip or plan to stay in Longwa. There are plenty of Homestays and a Traveller's Inn (hostel) which is right in the form of Angh's Palace.
What makes Longwa special?
Longwa is a village of Mon, the domain of Konyak Tribe. It is found on the North of Assam, South of Tuensang District, East of Burma, Myanmar and West of Mokokchung. First, I visited the Chief Angh's (King's) Residence which lies half in India and half in Burma. The family eats in India and sleeps in Burma. Chief is the king of Konyak tribe in India and Burma.
Then, I met a headhunter who is 85 years old from Longsa Village. He has hunted 4 heads in his life. After a conversation about his life and other things, I dared to ask him, 'why you used to hunt human head?'. He smiled and said, 'mostly marriage conflicts between Tribes, village, or individuals'. He added, other than marriage issues, it was land related issue as well. And to win over a battle, they used to hunt the head of the person and hang it outside their house.
My experience of meeting headhunters wasn't just about clicking "money worthy portraits" but to have meaningful conversations. I literally chose to sit and have conversations with one of the headhunters. Though I had to pay him a few hundred (they charge because they know they are in demand and people earn through their photographs, so, asking money for the worth isn't wrong at all). He got emotional when I was leaving, and said in his language, "You are very kind, please come back for Aoling Festival and meet me." How heartwarming!
[I had a Konyak friend to translate as the old man didn't know Hindi or English]
This post was originally published on It Is In The Name.