Discovering Nagaland (A Travel Blog Series) - Introduction
Throughout 2019, I am fortunate enough to have traveled to some of the remotest and far-off regions around my home country, India. Mainland India is quiet vast and diverse. From witnessing the quintessential hill-town of Vagamon in the southern state of Kerala to a ten-day road trip through the northern border state of Himachal Pradesh touching the Indo-Tibet border and experiencing tranquility in the mountain deserts of Spiti Valley, 2019 has been an immensely gratifying travel experience.
Read more on my 2019 travel stories from India -
But the dream of witnessing the unparalleled beauty of Northeast India, still lingered in the back of my mind. Its the land often forgotten by us mainlanders, the land which has to offer much more diversity in its richness of culture, tradition and bio-diversity.
Having been home and office bound in my Bengaluru apartment while the husband was on a three month long official trip, I planned to join my sister who had already planned her yearly trip to northeast India.
Thus, the December of 2019 was my first ever encounter with the northeastern frontier of India. Nagaland so happened to be the choice owing to its timing of the Hornbill Festival from 1st to 10th of December, held every year.
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Note – For the sake of readability, I am presenting my Nagaland adventures through a series of blogs. This first part is 'about Nagaland', 'How to reach Nagaland' and a photo tour around Dimapur’s Longchen guesthouse.
Why was Nagaland on my bucketlist?
Nagaland is the 16th state of Independent India formed in 1963. The major attractions for offbeat curious travelers is the rawness of this state in terms of its rugged landscapes and indigenous tribal cultures, while the rest of India is upgrading with trends in globalization.
Nagaland is bordered by the Indian states of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh. The eastern border is shared with the neighboring country of Myanmar(Burma). People of Burmese-Tibetan origin are said to have migrated to this state. Today, Nagaland is home to 16 indigenous tribes recognized by the administration. They also include the infamous headhunters living in the Mon Village. Each of these tribes are distinguished by their unique traditions, languages and dressing styles.
The tribal traditions have been passed on to the newer generations though the word of mouth which majorly included music and dance based on the agricultural harvest seasons or celebrating forest hunts.
Nagaland, the land of warriors has now evolved into modern lifestyles with younger generations taking interest in modern music, fashion designing, etc. while maintaining their tribal cultures through the various festivals organized by the state.
Nagaland has recently opened to tourism, thus making it an important source of income to the state.
Tip: Indian and Foreign tourists, both need to carry an Inner Line Permit for visiting Nagaland. A little step to protect the indigenous land. Indians can apply for the ILP here - https://ilp.nagaland.gov.in/
Reaching Nagaland –
We signed up for a back-packing group tour with ChaloHoppo (an offbeat travel company operating in Northeast India), which meant that we had to abide by the dates and timings of the rest of group members.
As one must be aware, not all northeastern states have a direct connectivity from the major Indian cities. Guwahati (in Assam) and Kolkata (in West Bengal) are the two major cities from where we had to plan transportations for Nagaland.
Dimapur is the major connectivity hub of Nagaland. One needs to reach Dimapur to travel further into the state.
Flight to Nagaland–
Kolkata has frequent flights to Gauhati. So, we flew from Kolkata to Gauhati and took an overnight train to Dimapur.
There are Kolkata to Dimapur flights as well but operates only once throughout the day. Incase this suits your timing, you can opt for it. However these flights may get delayed often. (I missed the connecting flight on my return journey, due to the delay of our Dimapur to Kolkata flight.)
Trains to Nagaland –
This is the cheapest mode of transport. Many trains run between Kolkata and Gauhati.
Beyond Gauhati, take the overnight train to Dimapur. Trains like the Brahmaputra Express, Jana Shatabdi Express have stops at Dimapur
If you have time and are travelling on a budget, railway is the most affordable mode.
Pitstop at Dimapur –
We reached Dimapur around 5 o’clock in the morning still dozing off our sleepy heads. As per earlier communications, we located our tour guide and waited until the entire group had gathered.
After a brief halt for basic morning chores and breakfast at Dimapur, we were ready for our onwards journey to Kohima, the capital of Nagaland. Kohima was the center of all our further getaways around Nagaland.
Here are a few glimpses from our stop at the Longchen guest house at Aoyimti Village, Dimapur.
Come along to the land of warriors, folklores and festivals – Nagaland
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