At the northeastern fringe of India, Nagaland has strongly guarded a rich culture that has been a subject of curiosity for travellers for years. The state is often recognised as a conglomeration of as many as 23 tribal sects, each with a dynamic and vibrant lifestyle that defines one of India's finest sub-cultures.
Nagaland has been an unexplored territory for travellers in the past with limited information and accounts of exploration. But it's time to change that in the year 2017. Put in on your bucket list to see locals play host at the Naga Heritage Village, the vibrant hornbill festival and unending stretches of unexplored Naga Hills.
For travellers curious about experiences that this northeastern state of India to offer, here's a list of best things to do in Nagaland.
1. Trek to Dzoukou Valley and Jafpu Peak
On the border of Manipur and Nagaland, Dzoukou Valley is a spot that has been popular with trekkers and adventure lovers for years now. At 3,048 metres, Jafpu Peak in the valley, offers breathtaking views of the entire valley. The base camp for the trek is Viswema Village, accessible through shared taxis from Dimapur. The valley is home to scenic meadows with the Dzukou and the Japfu rivers crisscrossing along a trail that has an easy to moderate gradient. The best time to go trekking in Nagaland is from June to September. Get details on the Dzoukou Valley Trek here.
2. Camp out at the Satoi Range
One of the only remaining virgin forests in India, the Satoi Range is an ideal spot for trekking and camping in Nagaland. Located in the Zunheboto district, the mountain range is home to the Blyth's Tragopan, a rare bird specie, which is a treat to spot. Sights of rare rhododendrons during the month of April and May make it one of the choicest destinations in the state. A great spot to set up camp is in the ancient caves and under the overhanging rocks in the region.
3. Spot some wildlife at the Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in the Peren district of Nagaland, the Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary is home to rare species of Hoolock Gibbon, Golden Langur, Hornbill, Palm Civets, Black Stork, Tiger, White-breasted Kingfisher, Monitor Lizard, Python and Sloth Bear. The sanctuary is at a distance of 37km from Dimapur and 111km from Kohima. The best time to explore it is from November to February.
4. Witness the colourful Hornbill Festival
The 10-day long Hornbill Festival is held every year in December and is called the 'festival of festivals', giving visitors an opportunity to experience the diverse Naga culture. The Naga Heritage Village, Kisama is the venue for the festival and Nagamese people of all tribal sects gather at this heritage village to exhibit the most spectacular show from December 1 to 10 every year.
5. Head to the Longwa Village to get a feel of its unusual geographical location
Longwa is the largest town in the Mon district of Nagaland and the village's geographical position is an intriguing factor for travellers reaching this village. In Longwa, international borders pass through the village chief's house. Half of the his house is in the Indian territory and half in Burmese, and the village itself lies in two countries. The village is 42km from the main Mon town and lies in the northernmost end of the state.
6. Be a part of the vibrant Aoling Festival
The arrival of spring in the first week of April is celebrated with the Aoling festival by the Konyak Nagas. The festival continues for six days and the first day of the festival is recognised as the Konyak New Year. During the festival, the members of the tribe perform rituals such as animal sacrifice, dances, feasts and cleanliness drives around the village.
7. Browse through the local craft work at Diezephe Craft Village
An initiative by the Nagaland Handloom and Handicrafts Development Corporation, the Diezephe Craft Village is another enlightening site for travellers who wish to learn more about the local craft of the region. Almost 13km from Dimapur, this craft village exhibits the incredible craftsmanship of the local tribal community through artworks, woodcarvings and bamboo artefacts.
8. Experience the Naga lifestyle at Touphema Village
Around 41km from Kohima City, Touphema Village gives you a chance to experience authentic Angami culture and lifestyle. This is a community run enterprise that can be your ticket to exploring a new culture and social system with the help of locals. From the traditional rice beer to bamboo-baked dishes, enjoy the best of Naga cuisine while you're in Touphema. The best time to visit this heritage village is from October to May and during the Angami Sekrenyi, a traditional festival celebrated in February.
9. Enjoy angling in the rivers of Nagaland
Some of the major rivers that flow across the territory of the state such as Dhansiri, Doyang, Dikhu and Jhanji are excellent spot for anglers. Fishing equipment can be acquired on rent at shops near the river Milak and Tula.
10. Watch the world-renowned Amur Falcons at the Doyang Reservoir
Nagaland is also known as the falcon capital of the world, owing to the migration of the Amur Falcons near the Doyang Reservoir every autumn. Almost 1 million falcons can be spotted here for about a month during this time. This is an exceptional sight to behold for birdwatchers.
11. Experience the thrill of mountain biking in Kohima
A biking group called Native Station has pioneered the trend of mountain biking in Nagaland. The group has already organised several mountain biking events such as the Kohima Downhill and Thuwu-ni Enduro for professional riders. These biking trails present an adrenaline-filled experience that will take you through Naga villages such as Sangtam, Angami and the border villages of Assam.
Visit Native Station for more information.