Since my college days, I always wanted to travel to the furthest corners of India to explore the abundant natural beauty. Yet, in my long travel bucket, there was no place for either Nagaland or of North East India.
My interest in this faraway state of India was first piqued when I saw awesome pictures of the Hornbill festival in some travel magazines. Even though I was fairly confident about taking the solo trip, the unreliable connections of the internet made me fidgety before starting the journey. Yet, once I was there, all the fear of unknown dissipated. The remoteness embraced my utterly urban soul and transformed it completely.
My blog is meant for passionate travelers like me who wants to explore Nagaland on their own.
What You Should See in Nagaland?
Nagaland gave me a culture-shock that I will never forget for the rest of my life. The abundant natural beauty left me awestruck, and the different cultures and histories of the tribal people once again introduced me to the true diverse soul of our country.
I had read a lot about the famous head-hunters of the Nagaland, and that’s why I went to the village of the Konyaks, named Longwa in Mon district on the very first chance. Longwa is home to the last surviving head-hunters who meet and talk to the travelers who visit their village.
The tribe has left head-hunting for quite some time now. However, the chieftain system still exists here. The travelers have to bring a gift to the chieftain while visiting the village. I was a bit confused about the gift I should bring to him, and so asked my guide for help. He told me to give a bottle of whiskey or rum to the Angh, the chieftain of the head-hunters. If you are visiting for the first time, you should also ask your guide about the gift you should bring to the chieftain.
I was bowled over by the simple life of the head-hunters and their dazzling dresses. It was hard for me to believe that the grandfatherly sweet chieftain was once a feared warrior. If you are interested in stories of battles, simply ask the people of the village. You might hear some great stories about the ruthless battles that they or their ancestors have been a part of.
Follow The Sun
I never knew that I have to leave the bed as soon as the sun peeks through the peaks. So, I slept it off till late in the morning for the first couple of days. It was a huge mistake!!!
Don’t make the same blunder during your travels to this state. When in Nagaland, you have to become an early bird to explore the state properly. Remember, Nagaland is one of the eastern-most states of India. That means, the sun rises and sets early here.
Don’t Restrict Yourself from Exploring
Most people do not want to travel beyond Kohima and Dimapur. I was dead against this stereotype mentality. So, I went beyond the bigger towns and visited the remotest villages of Nagaland. You will have unusual travel experiences and will find friends among unexpected people.
Even though I did not have enough time to visit villages like Benreu, Mokokchung, Kiphire, Kigwena, Khonoma etc. you should at least try to visit some of them.
It felt weird to trespass in the homes of the unknown villagers, but the kind and friendly people of each of the villages I visited welcomed me with open arms. The people of Nagaland treated me as their guests, helped me with directions, and invited me to their homes with a warm smile. Just beat the touristy path, and you will find people who just want to make friends, live, love, and be happy.
Strike Up Conversations with Natives
The small talk I had with the locals had helped me to understand the culture of the people better. I have heard about the supposed language barrier and was quite apprehensive about it.
The Naga people turned out to be a delight. Most of them understand English fairly well and speak it as well. I was even able to communicate with people who did not understand a single word I have said to them. I found impromptu sign language as the best mode of communication. Perhaps you can try that as well.
Don’t Be Picky When It Comes to Food
One of the most important facts that I learned is, in Nagaland, there’s no point in being picky when it comes to food. I never thought about the ingredients of the dishes while dining. You should not too. Instead, concentrate on the taste of the dishes, and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Insects on Sale
Worms and insects are local delicacies of Nagaland. I found these two in almost every local markets that I visited. While it might appall you, it is better not to show it. Insects are a common choice of food among many tribes and countries across the world. You might not prefer insects in your diet, which does not mean you can judge other people for having it.
Shop Indigenous Items
Nagaland does not have any major dazzling shopping malls or markets. Still, it is the heaven for travelers interested in tribal paraphernalia such as native attires, bird feathers, large knives, unique cooking utensils, etc. As I was traveling alone, I never bought anything that does not fit my backpack. I find it useful browse through the assortment of interesting memorabilia and buy the items I can accommodate to my luggage.
Attending this festival was the goal of my journey. The splendor of the festival and the unimaginable little things that happen demands another blog post. However, I can say that you should attend this festival at least once in your life if you want to see the tribes of Nagaland in their full glory.
Nagaland is one of the most spectacular, serene, and culturally rich destinations that I have ever visited. I understand that it is easy to judge the traveling condition of the state from all the stories of inconveniences and lack of amenities. But guys, if you visit Nagaland instead of judging it, you are bound to fall in love. So stop thinking, and plan the trip to discover the true soul of India.
By Aditya Sen
Once a full-time corporate warrior, I am now more into traveling these days. I am still trying to keep a balance between my job and the urge to explore places off the beaten track. I have realized that the world is far too interesting to spend my life chained to a desk and a computer. My goal is to become footloose and fancy-free, and I am taking one step at a time to reach there.
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