Nagaland is a land of 1,317 recognized villages, out of which 1,278 are inhabited by 16 different tribes. Every tribe has distinct customs, language and dress. Relatively new to tourism, the people are curious, warm and informal — and open to attracting visitors.
Mokukchung, the most beautiful and a lively district in Nagaland, is the home of the Ao tribe and is known for its hospitality, rich traditions and festivals. Chuchuyimlang, is a tourist village, an hour and a half drive from Mokokchung town and is often referred to as festival village. This village is known for the celebration of festivals of Ao Nagas like Moatsu festival (celebrated in the month of May). The location of this village, high on a hill, is its best feature. Each house in the village looks out on to an unending lush chain of hills, which change color with the rising sun.
About 41kms away from Kohima, Tuophema is a tourist village built around ethnic model of tourism. The attractive tourist complex is positioned on a hillock that overlooks the village, with the hills providing a dramatic 360 degree backdrop. The village offers traditionally styled thatched huts, traditional artefacts, jewelleries, clothing and souvenir museum and authentic Naga delicacies and is idle to soak the culture of this fascinating land. The Sekrenyi festival of the Angami tribes is a major attraction of this village. There are guides to show visitors around the village, and excellent cultural programs in the evenings.
The picturesque Khonoma Green Village, home to the Angami tribe, is located around 20 kilometers from Kohima. The houses in Khonoma are made using natural means, baskets are woven and handloom work is carried on along with agriculture. The village homes cascade down hilltops to the valleys below. To get an intimate taste of village life a night’s stay at one of the rustic home stays here is recommended. The inhabitants also place a lot of emphasis on wildlife conservation, and have established The Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary. Khonoma is undoubtedly an inspiring place that takes you one step closer to nature and encourages initiatives to conserve and protect the natural environment.
The untouched village of Benreu is located in Peren district of Nagaland. This beautiful village tucked on a ridge is an epitome of ethnic tourism in Nagaland. It serves as a quiet and peaceful get-away amidst immaculate nature. The simple village life and their day-to-day activities are the major attraction here apart from the breathtaking landscape of the place.
Snuggled amidst green rolling hills, the small village of Meluri is situated halfway enroute to Mt. Saramati in Kiphire district. Meluri is the land of the Pochury tribe, who are known for their excellent hunting skills. The major attractions here are the interesting rock formations and lakes namely, Dzudu and Shilloi. These lakes are believed to have supernatural powers and were avoided by human for a very long time; however, over time, Shilloi Lake has become a popular tourist place and is used for angling. The Zanibu Peak located around Dzudu Lake offers a vantage point from where one can get the view of a large part of Nagaland and Mt. Everest.
KISAMA HERITAGE VILLAGE
Naga Heritage Village, also known as Kisama Heritage Village is located about 10kms from Kohima. The place is wrapped in breathtaking scenic views at the foothills of the lustrous and evergreen hills on the borderline of this village. It aims to uphold and sustain the distinct identity of dialects, customs and traditions of all the ethnic tribes of Nagaland. This open air museum can be visited daily from morning until evening, and consists of a cluster of sixteen houses of each tribe created in the indigenous typical architectural designs and concepts with significance. The tribal house is also called “Morung or Youth Dormitory”. The Heritage Complex also houses a World War II Museum, Bamboo Heritage Hall, Bamboo Pavilion, Horti-Scape, and Stadium for Live concerts, Naga Idol, Fashion Shows, etc.
During the festivities of Hornbill Festival, the Heritage Village, the various tribes of Nagaland unite to showcase their rich cultural heritage and tradition.
The village is well known for its aesthetic handlooms and handicrafts and organizes various workshops. The craft and development society inaugurated a workshop which houses tools that could be used by the craftsmen.
Located in Mon district, Chui is a hospitable and peace loving village. The village has various places around that are perfect tourist attractions and are one of the major parts of Nagaland tourism. Few places that can be visited are Leangnyu, Longkai, Tanhai, Hongphoi, Shiyong, all within 10 kms away. One can also visit the Wakching Tehsil towards west, Chen Tehsil towards South, Phomching Tehsil towards East, Tamlu Tehsil towards North.
The Mon district of Nagaland, land of the Konyaks, well known for being former head hunters, offers the best opportunity for finding semi-traditional villages and tattooed warriors in loincloths. The district’s largest village, Longwa, is situated right on the Myanmar border. In fact, the chief’s house is bisected longitudinally by the border. Visitors to the village, who stops by his house, will have the strange experience of sitting near the hearth with half their body in Myanmar and the other half still in India. But that is not the only unusual thing — the chief also has dozens of wives and his house is filled with a number of trophies of animals’ skulls, which is an unforgettable sight.
For a memorable laidback rural experience, venturing in an hour from Wokha town to the tourist village above Riphyim is recommended. There’s an old colonial cottage, dating back to when horses were housed at Wokha during World War II, that’s been transformed into an inspection bungalow. The real joy for nature lovers however is the countless trails that thread through the surrounding forest. Some lead to seasonal farms, and others are woodcutter trails that don’t lead to any particular destination. Those who enjoy a long walk should go up to the viewpoint up and away from the tourist lodge, which rewards with a spectacular view of a dam on the Doyan River.
While embarking on the road of village tourism in Nagaland, one thing is for sure, no matter where you venture whether it is the villages just a few hours from Kohima, or to the far-off districts of Mon and Mokokchung, you are sure to be engaged by the fascinating tribal village life in Nagaland.