Welcome to the Land of the Headhunters

Nagaland stands on the eastern frontier of India, as culturally removed from the rest of the country as it is geographically. Basic innovations of modernity have only just begun to creep into the lives of the ancient tribes who live here. This remote land is steeped in legend and bears testimony to a history of warring factions who made their own laws of land and territory. Here, man’s courage was once tested by the number of human skulls that hung on his front wall. This macabre, albeit intriguing, culture of Nagaland, has an interesting juxtaposition with the idyllic beauty of its landscape. It is one of the remotest places in India where Nature preserves its own assets, unspoiled by human hands. A Nagaland cultural tour is an eye-opener of sorts. It exposes you to a new world where minutes and seconds have no significance. It is a celebration of free spirits in a land blessed by the Gods that the tribes worship.

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Discover the Tribal Legacy of Nagaland

There are 16 tribes that live across Nagaland, of mixed Indo-Mongoloid lineage. It is fascinating to see the lives of these indigenous people from close quarters and see them slowly embracing modern innovations while preserving their ancient cultural customs. While on the one hand, the last surviving ‘headhunters’ of the Konyak tribe still inhabit the Ahng region of Nagaland, the grizzly human skulls once displayed on their front walls, have now changed to animal heads instead. On the other hand, the next generation of Nagas are reinventing traditional fabrics and motifs to create new designs in their forays into modern fashion. The major tribes like the Angami, Lotha, Ao, Konyak, Chang etc. each have their distinct rituals, dress, tattoos, language and customs. Tribal tattoos in fact, must be earned as recognition of individual acts of valour. This confluence of diverse cultural identities is celebrated at the annual Hornbill Festival, a major draw for tourists in Nagaland.

Experience the Colourful Festivals

Nagaland is the land of festivals. With such a diverse demography of indigenous tribes, the state’s cultural calendar is full with various festivals around the year. The Amongmong Festival of the Sangam tribe is a 6-day long affair that makes the beginning of the harvest season. It is celebrated in the first week of September with much gaiety and merrymaking. The biggest festival of Nagaland of course is the Hornbill Festival. This is where all the different tribes come together to celebrate their rich cultural legacies through dance music and traditional attire. Hornbill festival is celebrated annually in the first week of December. In February, Nagaland comes alive with the vibrant Nazu Festival of the Pochury tribe. The colourful festival is celebrated through the traditional ‘khupielilie’ dance. Experienced tribal festival tour operators have all the information you need about festival dates and can plan your itinerary accordingly.  

Visit the ‘Switzerland of the East’

Nagaland has earned this moniker owing to its picturesque landscape amidst verdant forest, rolling meadows, and cascading rivers that remain unspoiled by the ravages of tourism. The state is slowly becoming a favoured destination for the discerning traveller. You can choose to relax and get in touch with your inner self in the tranquillity of the place; or let your senses come alive with the exhilaration of a high-adrenaline activity like trekking along one of the three mountain ranges that frame the north and south frontiers of the state. The Dzukou Valley trek is one of the most popular treks in the state and includes scaling the Japfu Peak at 3140m. Nagaland features prominently on the itineraries of the best photography tour operators in India. There is so much variety in terms of topography as well as foliage. The local wildlife is another attribute of Nagaland as the animals thrive in their natural environment undisturbed and free.

Discover Local Art and Craft

A tour of Nagaland is not complete without seeing the local art and craft of the tribal people. The Nagas are expert weavers and use traditional methods of weaving to craft intricate shawls and fabrics. A tribal village tour of Nagaland brings you in contact with Naga women spinning cotton as they hum ancient tunes, while the men craft chairs and baskets out of bamboo. A tribal village tour will take you across Khonoma, Kigwema village, Mezoma and Kisama to name a few. This tour is especially interesting for art enthusiasts looking to discover old and obscure designs. Pottery is another craft practised by the Nagas for several centuries. It’s a fascinating craft to see up close. The potters use the same wheels as their forefathers and mould the same designs they have been creating for generations. You can pick up a souvenir or two from the workshops of these local artisans.

With government initiative to promote tourism, Nagaland is now more accessible by road, rail and air. The influx of tourism has also given way to several hotel and guest houses across the state. So you can have a full day of adventure outdoors and retire to the comfort of your hotel at night. Nagaland is unlike any other place you may have visited. It is a treasure trove of natural beauty that remains largely undiscovered. The tribes, the customs and the uncharted landscape lend mystique to the place. Like much of the northeast, Nagaland has a way of drawing you in. Once you visit, you’ll want to go back for more. So whether it’s a full Nagaland cultural tour that you fancy or a tribal village tour that you’re after, come to Nagaland for a trip like no other.