"Gateway to the heart of India"
Hills & Valleys | Rivers & Lakes
Nagaland has always been closed to foreigners, except to a few missionaries and British political officers who first ventured into the fringes of Nagaland from 1874 onwards. Other than the period of the Japanese invasion of India, no foreign visitors have been allowed to enter Nagaland. The Japanese invaded from their bases in occupied Burma during the famous "Battles of Kohima and Imphal" (1944) during which the British forces stood their ground. It was during this particular time that the Nagas showed their loyalty and support to the British troops, ably assisting them in forcing the Japanese to retreat.
Nagaland is bound by Assam in the West, Myanmar in the East, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam on the North and Manipur in the South. The state is inhabited by 16 major tribes, along with several sub-tribes. Each tribe is distinct in character in terms of customs, language and dress.
Music is an integral part of life; folk songs eulogizing ancestors, the brave deeds of warriors and traditional heroes poetic love songs immortalizing ancient tragic love stories.
Each tribe is easily distinguished by the colourful and intricately designed costumes, jewelry and beads. The traditional ceremonial attire is awe inspiring - colorful spears and daos decorated with dyed goat's hair, the headgear made of finely woven bamboo interlaced with orchid stems, adorned with boar's teeth and hornbill's feathers, elephant tusk armlets. In days of yore, every warrior had had to earn each of these items through acts of valor, to wear them.
Life in Nagaland replete with festivals throughout the year as all the tribes have their own festivals, which they greatly cherish. Regard their festivals celebrates and participation in them is compulsory. They celebrate their distinct seasonal festivals with pageantry, color, music and fanfare. Most of these festivals revolve round agriculture, which is still the mainstay of the Naga society. Over 85% population of Nagaland is directly dependent on agriculture. Naga inhabits the wild, wide open pastoral countryside. In this blissful setting Nagas savor nature’s boundless with a rare gusto, filling the onlookers with admiration.
Although some religious and spiritual sentiments are inter –woven into secular rites and rituals, the predominant theme of the festival is offering of prayers to a supreme is being hailed by different names in diverse Naga dialects. At these festivals, the spirits and Gods are propitiated with sacrifices by the village Shaman (priest) for a bountiful harvest either before the showing or before reaping the harvest.
The Angamis celebrate Sekrenyi in the month of February. It normally falls on the 25th day of the Angamis month of ‘Kezei’. The ten-day festival is also called ‘Phousanyi’ by the Angamis. The festival follows a circle of ritual and ceremony. The THEKRA HIE is the best part of the festival where the young people of the village sit together and Siang traditional songs throughout the day. Until the close of the festival, no one goes to the fields and all work ceases during this season of festivity.
The first being KIZIE a few drops of rice water taken from the jug called ZUMHO are put into tender banana leaves, which are placed at three main posts of the house by the landlady. The first day begins with all menfolk going to the well to bathe, in the night two young men go to the well to clean it. Some of the village youths guard the well in the night as no one is allowed to fetch the water from it after it is cleansed. The womenfolk specially are not allowed to touch the well-water, hence they have to ensure that water is fetched for the household before the well is cleansed.
The next day all young men of the village rise early in the morning and proceed to the well to wash themselves. The whole process is full of rituals. The men don two new shawls (the white Mhoushu and the black Lohe) and sprinkle water on their breast, knees and on their right arm. This ceremony is called DZUSEVA (touching the sleeping water). The Angamis believe that DZUSEVA washes away all their ills and misfortunes.
On their return from the well, a cock is sacrificed by throttling it with bare hands. It is taken as a good omen if the right leg of the cock falls over his left leg as he falls dead. His innards are taken out and hung outside the house for the village elders to come and observe them. Beginning from the forth day of the festival a three day session of singing and feasting starts.
The THEKRA HIE is the best part of the festival when the youths of the village sit together and sing traditional songs throughout the day. Jugs of rice –beer and heaps of meat are placed before them. On the seventh day the youngmen go for hunting. The most important ceremony falls on the eighth day which is called bridge-pulling or gate-pulling day. It is marked by inter-village visits. Until the close of the festival none goes to the fields and all field work ceases during this period of feasting and song. The young unmarried girls with closely shaven heads sit with the bronzed youths and sing soulful tunes of bygones years, recreating the past with much love and gaiety.
Stretched over six days, the festival provides the manifestation of the rich culture heritage of the Konyaks – A major tribe of Nagas. After the sowing is completed by the end of March. The villagers find time to celebrate their major festival ‘Aoling Monyu. The festival marks the end of Winter of the old year and heralds the new year beginning with spring and riot of flowers: white, pink, blue and yellow.
The Mokokchung district is the home of Ao Nagas. The Aos observe Moatsu after the sowing is done and the mother-earth begins to show sings of fertility. It provides the Aos with a period of recreation after the strenuous efforts which goes into the clearing of the fields, the burning of the jungles and the showing of the seeds. Stretching over a period of six days, the festival is marked by vigorous singing, dancing and merry making.
It is one of the biggest and most populous village in Asia. As you enter the village a large traditional wooden gate with the scimitar of horns of buffalo head pointing towards the bravery and valor of the Angamis, greets to you. Naga stones erected here and there in front of the houses are memorial symbols of the grand feasts arranged by their great ancestors.
Kachari kingdom, one of the important sites of megalithic culture. Most of the ruins appear to be contemporaries of the Kachari civilization, established before the Ahom invasion in the 13th century AD There is evidence of a touch of Hindu influence on most of them, though they are predominately non-Aryan, with elaborate rituals and the cult of fertility. Besides the Monolith, the ancient Kachari capital Dimapur contains other ruins of temples, embankments and tanks. The entrance gateway has been beautifully executed and is well preserved.
Offers you a space for a quite moment of a contemplative stroll with friends or family. This is a symbolic memorial raised as a citation for the supreme human sacrifices made by the officers and men of the allied forces, to halt the ride of the Japanese onslaught during the Second World War. This was their last post.
The cemetery is beautifully and meticulously maintained by the Common ‘Wealth War Graves Commission’. The heart moving epitaphs, engraved on bronze plaques by their loved ones, is worth the time spent on reading. Depart as you will, the writings on the cenotaph is bound to echo in your inner mind for a long long while:
Woka, home of the Lotha tribe. Woka literally means "census". The villages, perched on hilltops, at once attract your attention. The Longzu (monoliths) were erected by prominent villagers to exhibit their affluent status. The Lothas are known for their colorful dances and songs, particularly Shanta, Tokhu Emong and Pikhuchak are their main festivals.
Mokokchung, the cultural center of the Ao Nagas. The foot imprints of China and Itinen - the Romeo and Juliet of the Aos - are found preserved in several places in the Ao ranges. The drive takes you via the centuries' old village of Ungma, the oldest and biggest Ao village. According to legend, the early Aos settled here after coming from Chungliyimti. The village abounds in Ao folklore, customs and traditions.
20 km towards the west of Kohima, the village has its own traditions of valor and courage. History revels that Khonoma provided protection to several village in the good old days. The terraced fields which produce 20 types of paddy at different elevations present at beautiful view. The Khonoma gate tells the story of British infiltration into Naga hills.
Situated at an altitude of 2438.4 meters above sea-level, behind the Japfu peak, it is 30 km to the south of Kohima. The entire valley is overshadowed with a type of tough bamboo brush to make the place appear like a mown lawn. The serpentine stream that flows through Dzukou becomes frozen during winter. In summer, wild herbs sprout along the river banks. Lilies in white and yellow and a hundred of other species of flowers in varied colours adorn the valley in summer. Rhododendrons in white and other colours ornaments the hills surrounding the vale. This is one of the best trekking spots in the North-Eastern region. A base camp for the trekkers is being constructed on the way from the Jakhama route.
The state museum is another visiting must. The historical artiface the log drums, the tolls and implementation of the ancestral weaponry, the Naga currencies of old, the attire of warrior the dresses of women, the hearth of Naga Kitchen ….in short, the entire Naga traditional lifestyle at al, have been depicted in dioramas. This is a bird eye view of the fifteen colourfull tribes at close quarters.