While the whole of India can be deemed exotic, the places to visit in Nagaland turn up the spice volume a little more. Lying in the very far east of India, on the border with Myanmar, Nagaland is colorful and culturally diverse, with 16 traditional tribes adding to the mix. It’s also fascinating because each of the villages is almost a tiny state of its own, with its own definitive area, population and administration. If you want to see India that is not so typical, check out these places to visit in Nagaland.
As the state capital, Kohima is one of the obvious places to visit in Nagaland. It is a hilly town spread out along a ridge about 4000 feet high and offers some jaw-dropping views of the mountains and valleys. There are some very interesting sights including the cathedral which is the largest in the north-east region of India. The State Museum is here and offers a charming insight into life in Nagaland past and present. But you can’t go to Kohima without knowing about the strategic part it played in World War II, and indeed, there’s a large war cemetery here. In 1944, the Battle of Kohima (including the fierce fighting that happened on the Governor’s tennis court) is considered one of the major turning points in the Burma Campaign, halting the advance of the Japanese.
There are many beautiful mountains, but what makes Japfu Peak one of the favorite attractions of Nagaland is not just the fact that it is the second highest in the state, but it is also home to a world record. The biggest rhododendron tree on earth sits on Japfu. It measures an incredible 130 feet tall and has a girth of 11 feet. The mountain is popular with hikers who enjoy the trails through sub-tropical forests filled with birds and wildlife.
Dimapur is Nagaland’s largest city and is the only place in the state to have both an airport and railway station. Although not the capital, these transport links have helped Dimapur’s development as the main commercial city. It was a capital in a previous carnation, ruled by the Kachari tribe, and there are some fascinating ruins of the Damasa Kachari Kingdom that are one of the main attractions of Nagaland. Other attractions of Dimapur include the Nagaland Zoological Park, Green Park with its lovely boating lake, Shiv Mandar and the Science Center.
Diezephe is easily accessible as it is only a few miles from Dimapur. Home to about 90 craftsmen who are supported by state funds to keep the Naga traditions alive, the village produces beautiful and skilful works from wood, bamboo and metal. Weaving is also prevalent and one of the most recent additions is toy making.
It may seem that the places to visit in Nagaland are coordinated showcases, and in many respects they are. This area is very much protected to conserve the traditional ways of life and in order to visit, you have to obtain a Restricted Area Permit. Whilst you might prefer to wander and do your own thing, transport is limited and people are very private, so doing the tourist thing is recommended. Places like the Kisama Heritage Village really do their best to give visitors a genuine and authentic experience. Kisama is an open-air museum based around a selection of traditional Naga dwellings, including morungs (bachelor dormitories). It is best known for the magnificent Hornbill Festival that takes place every December where a number of Naga tribes come together to celebrate their culture in a week long party of dancing, sports and feasting.
This is not one of the best places to visit in Nagaland if you’re a bit squeamish, but it is truly fascinating. The village is the home of the Konyak tribe and is full of the unique Konyak culture and traditions. One of the longest standing customs is the role of the Angh, who is the village’s hereditary ruler and lives in the largest house. The house has a display of skulls, supposedly of enemies killed by the Angh and his forebears, dating back to the times when the Konyaks were headhunters. The Chui Museum also has a display of skulls – although animals this time. You can be forgiven for thinking you aren’t in India when here. The Konyak people are tattooed and wear feathers, and the men wear large boar tooth earrings, and generally are only clad in loincloths. A fascinating place.
Kiphire is one of the nicest places if you want to experience the best of the natural attractions of Nagaland. Kiphire is the location of Saramati, the highest mountain in Nagaland and there are huge swathes of virgin forest, making for fabulous trekking. There are caves to be explored at Mirri and Salomi and many visitors love to see the Sukhayap Rock Cliff which is known as “Lover’s Paradise”. There is also Wawade Waterfall and Twin Stones and the old monolith called Ningthsalong in Siphi village. Another attraction of Kiphire is the Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary which runs along the Myanmar border and is home to tigers, leopards, buffalo and gibbons, as well as plenty of hornbills.
I think the places to visit in Nagaland show just how different the state is to many other areas of India. It offers something unique and fascinating. Is it somewhere you’d like to visit?