Often referred to as the Switzerland of the East, Nagaland is a magical land of undulating mountains, majestic landscapes, salubrious climate, indigenous tribes and their glorious culture and also host to the ‘Festival of Festivals – the Hornbill Festival’. Located in the far north east of India, Nagaland borders the north eastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. Nagaland also shares its borders with the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Nagaland was officially inaugurated as the 16th State of India on 1st December, 1963. The capital of Nagaland is the city of Kohima and the largest city of the State is Dimapur.
Nagaland is home to 16 indigenous Naga tribes of North East India. The primary tribes of Nagaland are Angami, Ao, Chang, Konyak, Sumi, Kachari, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Kuki, Zeliang and many sub-tribes. Each of these tribes of Nagaland have their own distinct traditions and cultures, language and attire. The Naga tribes were earlier considered to be the most fierce tribe across North East India mostly because of their practices of Head Hunting. Dominantly a male activity, in the practice of Head Hunting of Nagaland, the men would be separated from their women during and after coming back from expeditions of men with other tribes and clans of Nagaland. Recognized as a per-requisite for marriage, the women of Nagaland would encourage the men to take up Head Hunting. The men of Nagaland would go out at war against neighboring tribes and kill to score many number of heads. On completion they would ornate themselves with these skulls. The practice of head hunting was abolished in the 19th century and is no longer practiced in Nagaland. The tribes of Nagaland, each have a traditional ceremonial attire. The attire consists of multicolored spears decorated with dyed goat hair, a traditional tribal headgear made out of finely woven bamboo interlaced with orchid stems and adorned with bear’s teeth and feathers of the majestic Hornbill Bird of Nagaland and Elephant tusks. It is the grandeur of these costumes which has inspired the modern youth of Nagaland to take up fashion designing as their career and blend the fabrics of the ancestral motifs of Nagaland with a modern appeal.
The people of Nagaland, by nature, are lovers of fun and frolic and life here is a never ending festival. Each tribe of Nagaland have their own traditional festival and rituals with dances and songs being an integral part of all their festivals. The principal festivals are the Moatsu Mong Festival of the Ao Tribes of Nagaland, the Sekrenyi Festival of the Angami Tribes of Nagaland, the Ahuna and Tuluni Festival of the Sumi Naga tribes of Nagaland and all festivities of each tribes of Nagaland confluences at the ‘Festival of Festivals’ – the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland celebrated every year in December.
History of Nagaland ~
Although not much is known about the history of Nagaland, it is believed that the Naga people of Nagaland arrived at different times from the eastern region much before the arrival of the Ahoms in 1228 AD. It is said that the word ‘Naga’ is derived from the term ‘Naka’ meaning people with earnings in Burmese. The British recorded the term ‘Naga’ and it has been used henceforth to describe the people of Nagaland. Nagaland gained prime importance during the World War II when the Imperial Japanese Army invaded India and aimed to cut off British supplies by capturing Kohima in Nagaland. Although the Japanese captured Kohima briefly, they were successfully repelled by the British and Indian troops in Nagaland at the Battle of Kohima. The defeat at Kohima changed the course of war of the Japanese combined with the Burma Campaign across the Stilwell Road. The memoirs of the Battle of Kohima are preserved at the Kohima War Cemetery and War Museum at Kohima in Nagaland.
Geography and Climate of Nagaland ~
The State of Nagaland is a mountainous State mostly with theprincipal mountain ranges being the Naga hills and the Patkai range. Mount Saramati is the highest mountain peak of Nagaland at an elevation of 12,601 feet. The Japfu Peak is the second highest where one can also experience snowfall. The Doyang and Diplu rivers criss cross the State of Nagaland. Tropical forests are found across Nagaland along with coniferous vegetation and temperate forests. The northern mountains of Nagaland are filled with dense evergreen rain-forests. Nagaland also has an abundant growth of bamboo forests.
The climate of Nagaland is salubrious comprising of summer, monsoon and winter. The average annual rainfall at Nagaland is around 2500 mm. Summers in Nagaland is the shortest season lasting for a few months with temperature ranging from 16 – 31 degrees Celsius. During winter, the temperature does not drop below 4 degrees Celsius with a maximum average temperatures recorded at 24 degrees Celsius.
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Flora and Fauna of Nagaland ~
Nagaland has rich and diverse species of flora and fauna across the State. With around one sixth of Nagaland under forest cover, diverse flora and fauna species have made Nagaland its home. Trees found are palms, bamboo, rattan, mahogany, etc. Fauna species found across Nagaland are elephants, porcupines, leopards, bears, sambars and many primate species. The Great Indian Hornbill is the most famous bird of Nagaland.
People, Religion and Culture of Nagaland ~
The people of Nagaland mostly belong to the 16 tribes of Nagaland. The total population of Nagaland is around 2 million with Dimapur being the most populated city followed by Kohima. Apart from the tribes, the business class of Nagaland belong from other parts of the country. Around 88 % of the population of Nagaland practice Christianity as their faith.
The people of Nagaland are expert craftsmen and weave out some of the finest handicrafts in India. Renowned across the World, the handicrafts of Nagaland are mostly woven out of bamboo and cane. Handicraft items of Nagaland include bamboo baskets, cane baskets, bamboo lamps, cane seats, bamboo furniture, etc. Wood carving is also an important practice of handicrafts of Nagaland. Handlooms are also a major attraction of Nagaland with hand woven shawls being the most famous. The women folks of Nagaland also make beautiful ornaments out of little beads like necklaces, bangles and bracelets. Indigenous tribal ornaments of Nagaland are ivory bracelets and tiger claw pendants of the tribes which was prevalent during the olden days.
Festivals of Nagaland ~
Nagaland is known as the Land of Festivals in India. Similar to the other States of North East India, most of these festivals revolve around the agrarian practices of the States. Being home to around 16 local tribes who practice agriculture as a major occupation various celebrations both pre-harvest and post-harvest translate into major festival of Nagaland. Each month of the year witnesses a form of festival here in Nagaland hence the State has earned a name of being the ‘Land of Festivals’. These festivals are a time to witness the various traditions, cultures, practices and cuisine of the people of Nagaland and understand them. Each of these festivals of Nagaland is accompanied by a huge celebration that comprise of merrymaking and feasting followed by endless songs and dance performances and drinking of rice beer.
The festivals are a great opportunity to witness the various traditional dance forms of Nagaland. Each of these festivals showcases various forms of traditional songs and dances. The warrior tribes of Nagaland often used to go out on hunting expeditions and they often had huge celebrations on coming back where they performed the warrior dances. Various folk dances are also an integral part of the culture o the people of Nagaland. Some of the primary folk dances of Nagaland performed during the festival sare Modse, Butterfly dance, Chengami dance, Kuki dane, Khauba, Monyu dance, Rengma, Seecha, Moyashi, etc. The most prominent ones to be observed across the festival of Nagaland are the warrior dances and the Zeliang Dance. The naga men wear exquisite attires to perform these dances which are characterized by an outburst cry and humming tune and swift leg movements to the beats of a drum followed by chanting and shouting of words, thumping of the feet, etc. To add to it, the women wear metal ornaments to bring in a clattering sound during movements that adds to the vigour and melody of the song. These dance forms of Nagaland are a spectacle to be witnessed and can be experienced under one roof at the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland that is held every year from the 1st to the 10th of December.
The Aoling Monyu festival of the Konyak tribe heralds spring. Tuluni (July) is the most important festival of the Sumi Naga tribes of Nagaland. Prayers are offered to Litsaba (the deity of fruitfulness) who creates life and protects crops. The Metemneo festival of the Yimchunger tribe is a harvest festival. This is also considered an auspicious period for marriages. Ngada (Dec) is the annual festival of the Rengma Nagas. It is believed that the spirits of the dead visit the homes of their relatives during this festival.
Some of the major festivals of Nagaland are ~
1| Sekrenyi Festival – Angami Tribe of Nagaland
The Sekrenyi festival is an important festival of the Angami Naga tribes of Nagaland. Observed for 10 days beginning generally on the 25th of February each year, the Sekrenyi festival is observed as a ritual to cleanse of all past sins committed by the Angami Naga people of Nagaland. It basically speaks of purifying oneself especially before going to war (Angamis too were the headhunters of Nagaland). The Sekrenyi festival marks to bring forth unity among the people of Nagaland and also highlights the initiation of young boys to adulthood. The meaning of the term Sekrenyi is ‘Sekre’ meaning ‘sanctification’ and ‘Thenyi’ meaning festival. Various rituals are observed by the Angamis of Nagaland across each of the days of the festival to celebrate the Sekrenyi festival. On the first day, the male members of the home draw few drops of water from a special pot and place these drops on certain leaves that are collected by the main lady of the house and fixed on the three main pillars of the house. On the second day men of the house dawn new shawls on their body and sprinkle holy water on their bodies to wash off their sins and bad luck and later bathe themselves and perform sacrifice of chicken.
On the next few days, celebrations of the Sekrenyi festival are marked with feasting and merry making where young girls and boys (both with shaved heads) gather and sing and dance the entire day wearing traditional dresses and carry hunting spades while girls carry baskets. During these 10 days of the Sekrenyi festival agricultural operations are halted and only upon completion of the festival that common work like cultivation, house building and marriages restart.
2| Moatsu Mong Festival – Ao Tribe of Nagaland
The Moatsu Mong is an important festival of the Ao Naga people of Nagaland that is celebrated every year in the month of May at Mokokchung district in Nagaland. This is basically at post harvest festival that is characterized by clearing of fields, burning jungles, sowing of new seeds and repairing of homes. The festival marks a bountiful harvest and is followed by three days of continuous celebrations, merry making and feasting. Best rice wine and meat are served to the Ao people during the festival days. The entire town community gathers together and a village witch doctor forecasts the days of the next year whether they will be good or bad for the people. The women folk adorn themselves with the finest traditional hand woven garments and traditional naga beaded jewellery and take part with the men in eating, drinking and composing certain warrior songs of Nagaland. Often a huge bonfire is lit where the young boys and girls sing traditional tunes and take this as an opportunity to mingle and meet.
3| Bushu Jiba Festival – Dimasa Kachari Tribe of Nagaland
The Bushu Jiba is an important festival of the Dimasa Kachari people of Nagaland celebrated every year in the month of January. The festival is generally termed as Bushu and has three varieties of celebrations namely –
- Hangsho – lasting for 10 days and 10 nights
- Surem – lasting for 3 days and 3 nights
- Jiba – lasting for 1 day and 1 night
The Jiba is the most widely celebrated and hence the Bushu Festival has taken the name as the Bushu Jiba festival of Nagaland. This is basically a post harvest festival and is marked with various feastings and celebrations. The feast consists of rice and meat. A special form of offering to the deity in the Bushu Jiba is the ‘Meedo Karba’ that is a specially cooked rice and meat. The Dimasa Kachari people of Nagaland during the Bushu Jiba festival take part in various traditional folk dances, songs and other performances.
4| Monyu Festival – Phom Tribe of Nagaland
The Monyu festival is an important festival of the Phom Naga tribe of Nagaland celebrated every year in the month of April. This festival is celebrated to seek blessings of the God for a bountiful harvest and is celebrated after the sowing of seeds in the paddy fields by the Phom people of Nagaland. It is a time of feasting and merriment when the Phom people exchange gifts with family members in the form of rice beer, meat and various other food items. This is the time when sisters and daughters of a family who are married are invited over to their parents home and a grand feast is prepared for these women and in turn they prepare special food to treat the family members and the elderly and seek their blessings. The Monyu festival is celebrated across six days wherein in the first few days, people gather plantain and bamboo for preparation of food, sacrifice animals for food and towards the end of the day feast by singing, dancing, drinking rice beer and beating a traditional drum.
5| Ahuna, Tuluni Festivals – Sumi Naga Tribe of Nagaland
The Tuluni and Ahuna are the most important festivals of the Sumi Naga people of Nagaland. The Sumi Naga people inhabit the Zunheboto district of Nagaland and celebrate these two festivals primarily revolving around their harvest seasons. While Tuluni is a pre harvest festival celebrated every year in July, the Ahuna is a post harvest festival celebrated in the month of November. Tuluni seeks blessings of the Lord for a bountiful harvest and is marked with feasting and merriment. Drinking of rice beer and eating meats of pigs, cows and mithuns are a customary practice during this festival. Ahuna is celebrated after the end of the harvest season and it is hosted to celebrate a bountiful harvest. This is the time when all the food items collected from the farms are gathered together and stored in a granary for the coming season. Feasting is a special occasion during the Ahuna festival and the special attraction is cooking of rice in slit bamboo sticks.
6| Gaan-ngai Festival – Zeliangrong Tribe of Nagaland
The Gaan-Ngai is a popular festival of the Zeliangrong people of Nagaland, Manipur and Assam. This is a post harvest festival celebrated in the winter season wherein the people celebrate a good harvest that is marked with feasting and merrimaking that extends from five to seven days. This festival of Nagaland is performed to mark the end f the harvest season and the people store food in the granary. This festival also heralds the new year and is characterized by lighting of traditional fire using dry wood and bamboo pieces and this fire is distributed across all the Zeliangrong households. The people pay homage to the departed souls and organize a huge feast in their memoir. Young boys and girls play different drum beating tunes during this festival and offer sacrifices to the deities. Various sports competitions like trekking and wrestling are also arranged. Various rites and rituals are performed during the festival and continuous songs and dances are also performed by the Zeliangrong people of Nagaland.
7| Yemshe Festival – Pochury Tribe of Nagaland
The Yemshe Festival is an important festival of the Pochury Naga tribe of Nagaland which is celebrated in the month of October with preparations beginning from as early as September. The Yemshe is a post harvest festival that marks a bountiful harvest which is followed by a huge grand feasting celebrations. The meaning of ‘Yemshe’ festival is ‘Yem’ meaning ‘House’ and ‘She/Alushe’ meaning ‘Odours’ that symbolizes aromatic smell that comes out from the cooking of the food and meat across households during the festival. As many as 30 Pochury villages gather together to celebrate Yemshe. The Yemshe festival begins with the youth of the village gathering together and cleaning the important paths of the local village that lead to the nearby villages, well, etc. This is followed by the elderly and head f each family in the village to perform certain important rituals before the festival.
There are two forms of this festival – the Big Yemshe that is celebrated by the villagers in general and the Small Yemshe which is celebrated by the rich families for the grand purification feast. On the day of the small Yemshe – the family that hosts the feast serves wine in bamboo mugs to the various people in the Pochury village and continues to host a dance party later. Food cooked is generally chicken and mithun but often pork and frogs are used for the feast. Only after the villagers get the feast hosts pine wood from the nearby forests the grand feast is begun.
After the conclusion of the Yemshe festival, the Pochury Nagas start engaging in cultivation which was halted during the entire duration of the festival. This is because people believe that fertile agricultural lands are controlled by evil spirits and to appease them animal sacrifice are made that in turn makes the land fertile and usable which would in turn lead to a bountiful harvest he following year.
8| Mim kut Festival – Kuki Tribe of Nagaland
Mim Kut is an important post harvest festival of the Kuki tribes of Nagaland and Mizoram celebrated every year in the month of December. The Mim Kut festival makes the joyous occasion of celebrating a bountiful harvest of the Mim (Maize) crop that is also the last good harvest crop of the season. Through this festival the Kuki people of Nagaland also pay homage to their dead ancestors and they believe that the departed souls during this time rise from their graves and visit their family homes to look after the well being of the family. Hence the Kuki villagers worship the dead souls during this festival and offer various gifts to them from rice wine, vegetable, maize breads and symbolic traditional jewellery. During the day time, the Kuki people like the other nagas indulge in huge festivitie to celebrate the Mim Kut festival and singing, dancing, feasting and playing drums are an integral part of the festivities. The Mim kut festival marks the traditional bond between two brothers and speaks of certain hard times within the family that bonds their ties more stronger.
9| Ngada Festival – Rengma Tribe of Nagaland
The Ngada festival is an important festival of the Rengma tribes of Nagaland which is basically celebrated post harvest season where all the Rengma people of a Naga village get together to celebrate the harvest and also pay respect to the ancestors. To celebrate and promote peace and harmony is the prime motive of the Ngada festival and the Rengma people gather on this occasion to sing, dance and feast to celebrate a successful harvest. Celebrated every year in November, the Ngada festival extends for seven to eight days and is marked with collection of banana leaves, preparing of rice beer, praying at the graves of the departed souls and offering various gifts like rice beer, food, vegetables and handicrafts, people celebrating by drinking rice beer, eating meat of pork, chicken and mithun and playing songs and dances across the festival days and lighting a huge fire to wade off evil spirits.
Tourism in Nagaland ~
The State of Nagaland is every traveller’s paradise who wants to explore the lush green mountains and valleys of a lesser known tourist place whose beauty is at par with the major scenic destinations of the World. Be it with family, friends or on solo travel, the unending greenary of the lush forests and mountains makes it and an attractive destination like no other. Nagaland is indeed a true paradise that has the age old charm of ancient traditions and beliefs blended with the fusion of the modern world that goes perfectly with the cultural ambience and local cuisines. Nagaland is a place where one can see a unique fusion of the ancient World with the modern World. While the villages of Nagaland continue to practice the age old traditions prevalent from the time of their head hunting practices, modern Nagaland that can be seen in the lifestyle of the people living in the cities is very much similar to the practices followed by the modern society. It is often to be heard that in India, the style practices followed today were what the people of Nagaland adopted five to six years ago. Nagaland is a perfect travel destination as it brings to a visitors mind the age old traditional life, the begotten memories of the World War II and the various other tales of the past that blends and can be related to the modern way of living.
Nagaland is blessed with pleasant climate and one can visit the State anytime around the year. The tribes, their culture, natural landscapes, festivals, the rich flora and fauna is what makes Nagaland an attractive tourist destination. the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland draws visitors from around the globe. For the adventurous, Nagaland is an ideal destination for trekking, rock climbing, jungle camping, etc. The beauty of Nagaland can be seen across the mesmerizing Dzukou Valley, the Japfu peak and the tribal villages. The beautiful Dzukou lily is to be found only at Dzukou Valley. The World’s Tallest Rhododendron tree is found in the Japfu mountains of Nagaland. With three Wildlife Sanctuaries of Intangki, Rangapahar and Fakim one can spot the fauna of Nagaland here of the likes of leopards, giant squirrels, sambars, elephants, sloths, etc. The Blythe Tragopan pheasant species is found only in Nagaland. The Great Indian Hornbill is a revered bird of Nagaland and four of its species i.e. the great pied hornbill, rufous necked hornbill, white throated hornbill and wreathed hornbill is found in Nagaland.
Your visit to Nagaland wouldn’t be complete without savoring the sumptuous Naga cuisine. Food from Nagaland is one major USP of the tourism of the State as people visiting Nagaland are left mesmerized with the plethora of the various dishes that are put on a platter before them. A meat lovers paradise – the people of Nagaland consume various forms of meat like pork, chicken, beef, mithun and many other locally available animal species. Bamboo Shoot or Akhuni forms an integral ingredient for a majority of the dishes here. Pork lovers to Nagaland find it difficult to leave the place just because the pork here is amazing and it comes in various forms like smoked, dried and normal freshly cut too. The smoked pork in Nagaland is prepared by hanging the pork meat across a big fireplace nearby the kitchen and allowed to wait for seven days that makes the pork crispy on the outer side and tender in the inner side. Pork is also prepared with tomatoes, Naga King Chilli and bamboo shoot. The cuisine of Nagaland comprises of exotic meats with flavorful ingredients and spices. Most of the dishes are smoked, dried or fermented. Rice and fish are common food of Nagaland. Some of the other dishes are fermented bamboo shoot with fish or pork, axone with smoked pork and beef and anisha (made up of yam leaves and smoked dry).
For people who don’t prefer meat, nagaland also offers a wide variety of vegetable dishes infused with bamboo shoot and Naga King Chilli like dishes mixed with cabbage, beans, tomatoes, peas and bitter melon that go along with various different flavors of sauce prepared with green chillies and other herbs. A special way of cooked meat and fish in Nagaland is to stuff bamboo tubes with the meat and fish and then pushing the tube under the ashes of fire to allow tender cooking of it. The cuisine of Nagaland is distinguished with the use of a lot of meat, fermented products and spice. Nagaland is home to the Bhut Jolokia or Ghost Pepper which is one of the hottest chili in the World and is often used to flavor curries or eaten raw. The Naga people use a lot of locally grown herbs, ginger, garlic and ghost pepper in their cuisine. The signature dish is snails cooked with pork and silkworm larvae. Local drinks of Nagaland include Zutho and Thutse which are beers made with sticky rice.
Travelling across Nagaland, visitors are bound to see the excellent spirit of Naga craftsmanship in the form of exquisite handicrafts and handlooms. Various handmade items like bamboo mugs, bamboo decors, handwoven naga shawls, cane mats, cane carpets, etc. are sure to catch the attention of any visitor to Nagaland. These craft forms have been practiced from very early times by the people of Nagaland and have been passed down across the generations keeping the tradition of weaving alive. Whenever you travel across Nagaland you can find small local shops to big bazaars and shopping malls that sell such locally made products like handbags, baskets weaved out of cane and bamboo, home decors, the special Naga shawls, the traditional naga beaded jewellery and traditional war weapons of the headhunters,etc. This has also helped the artisans of Nagaland to showcase their art in a common platform across the markets of Kohima and Dimapur. Shopping in Nagaland is a truly amazing experience. In addition to the locally made goods of handicrafts and handlooms various food items can also be bought which are indigenous to Nagaland. Naga King Chilli pods in the form of pickle or powder, Naga honey, bamboo shoot pickle, natural lip balms and various other products can be bought from the markets of Nagaland on your visit to the State. Nagaland is predominantly a Christian State with 90% of the State population having adopted Christianity as their religion. This explains the fact that visitors get to see so many beautiful churches around the State. Some of the most prominent Churches of Nagaland are the Cathedral of Kohima, Many help of Christians Cathedral, Baptist Church of Mokokchung, etc. There are also several very beautiful Hindu Temples like the Kalibari Temple in Dimapur and the Jain Temple in Dimapur.
The majestic mountains of Nagaland has paved way for many hill stations across the State that are characterized with bounties of Mother nature and pleasant climate infused with small villages where visitors get to experience a rural life coupled with the delicious local cuisine of Nagaland. Across these small villages, one is sure to find many local villagers who lead a humble life and welcome travellers with open arms and guide them to see around the place along with the nearby forests and hills. These villages being present atop hills offer various scope of adventure options like hiking, mountaineering, trekking, camping, etc. Some places also offer motorcycling and off road racing on SUVs too. Nagaland has some real good motorbiking trails that leads you across unexplored mountains and remote villages that gives an adrenaline rush like no other.
However, the most popular adventure activity across Nagaland remains that of trekking itself. Some of the most popular trekking routes in Nagaland include the hike to the pristine Dzukou valley from Viswema or Zakahama village, the Japfu peak trek, trekking to the mountains of Saramati peak, the mountains of Mokokchung and the Satori range. Most of these destinations have a traveler’s rest house and offer options of camping in the open.
For the ones who seek thrill not by hiking, Nagaland offers options of fishing and angling as well. With many major rivers flowing across the State, sport fishing of salmons, local trouts and mahseer are becoming popular among the visitors to Nagaland. Each of these activities are sure to leave you with an experience of thrill and make you ask for more during your visit to Nagaland.
Like Assam, Nagaland is a delightful place for all wildlife lovers and nature enthusiasts. The National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries of Nagaland are spread out across the State and have some of the most rare animal species found anywhere in the World. Ntangki or Intanki National Park is the only National Park of Nagaland and is home to varied wildlife species of the likes of Hoolock Gibbons, Golden Langurs, Tigers, Monitor Lizards, Flying Squirrel, Pythons, etc. This place is also very good for birdwatching. Another two popular bird watching spots in the area of Nagaland are the Pulie Badze Wildlife Sanctuary and the Ghosu Bird Sanctuary. While Pulie Badze is famous for the presence of the Blyth’s Tragopan and Dark Rumped Swift, the Ghosu Bird Sanctuary has a fair population of Rufescent Prinia, Spot breasted scimitar, Slaty bellied tesia, etc. Located a the border of India-Myanmar, the Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary is a wild haven for nature lovers and it has a varied population of wildlife of the likes of Tigers, Panthers, Slow Loris, Barking Deer, Hoolock Gibbons, Himalayan Bear, etc. These forests of Nagaland are also home to over 350 species of orchids.
The Primary districts of the State of Nagaland are ~
1| Dimapur District Nagaland ~
Dimapur is the largest city of the State of Nagaland. Dimapur was upgraded to a district on January 2004. Dimapur is the commercial capital of Nagaland having many shopping centers and market. Dimapur’s Hong Kong market is well known for imported goods from Thailand, China and Burma. Dimapur is the gateway to Nagaland and Manipur.
Places of Interest at Dimapur are ~
- Kachari Ruins Dimapur, Nagaland
- Diezephe Craft Village Dimapur, Nagaland
- Rangapahar Reserve Forest and Zoological Park Dimapur, Nagaland
- Serenyeki Festival of the Angami Tribes Dimapur, Nagaland
- Honk Kong Market Dimapur, Nagaland
- Jain Temple Dimapur, Nagaland
2| Kohima District Nagaland ~
Kohima is the Capital of the State of Nagaland and also the second largest city of the State. Kohima is the land of the Angami Naga tribes of Nagaland and is located on the foothills of the Japfu mountain range. Kohima contains many number of heritage villages to showcase the rich culture and heritage of the Naga tribes with the primary being the Kisama Heritage Village. Kohima was a prime location in India during the World War Ii where the Allied Forces battled against the soldiers of the Imperial Japanese army at the fierce Battle of Kohima. The Kohima War Cemetery and War Memorial stand as a testament to this war.
Places of Interest at Kohima are ~
- Dzukou Valley Trek Kohima, Nagaland
- Kisama Heritage Village Kohima, Nagaland
- Hornbill Festival at Kisama Heritage Village Kohima, Nagaland
- Khonoma Green Village Kohima, Nagaland
- Touphema Heritage Village Kohima, Nagaland
- Serenyeki Festival of the Angami Tribes Kohima, Nagaland
- Dzuleke Village Kohima, Nagaland
- Japfu Peak Trek Kohima, Nagaland
- Tseminyu Kohima, Nagaland
- World War II Cemetery Kohima, Nagaland
- Kohima Cathedral Kohima, Nagaland
- World War II Memorial Kohima, Nagaland
- Kohima Evening Market Kohima, Nagaland
3| Mokokchung District Nagaland ~
Mokokchung is the district headquarters of the Mokokchung district of Nagaland and is home to the legendary Ao tribe of Nagaland. Mokokchung is the intellectual and cultural capital of Nagaland. Located at an altitude of 1325 m from mean sea level, Mokokchung has a mild and pleasant climate around the year. A land of rich culture and heritage, the Ao tribes of Mokokchung celebrate the festival of Moatsu Mong every year in the month of May and one can get to experience the life and traditions of the Ao Nagas of Mokokchung at the Moatsu Mong festival. Although, almost all Ao Nagas of Mokokchung have converted to Christianity, they still maintain their old customs and traditions. The Ao Naga tradition of hospitality can be seen best during Christmas celebrations at Mokokchung when everyone irrespective of their financial and social status welcome each other warmly into their homes.
Places of Interest at Mokokchung are ~
- Longkhum and Limapur Village Mokokchung, Nagaland
- Ungma Village Mokokchung, Nagaland
- Chuchuyimlang Festival Mokokchung, Nagaland
- Moatsu Mong Festival Mokokchung, Nagaland
- The Peren, Fusen Kei and Mongzu Ki caves Mokokchung, Nagaland
- District Museum Mokokchung, Nagaland
- Main Town Park Mokokchung, Nagaland
- Longkhum, Langpangkong, Mopungchuket and Chuchuyimlang areas in Mokokchung District, Nagaland
4| Mon District Nagaland ~
Mon is the northern most district of Nagaland and is bounded by the States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Mon town is the district headquarters of the Mon district. Mon is the home of the Legendary Konyak tribes of Nagaland. The Konyaks were the most feared Head Hunting tribes of Nagaland and are easily identifiable with their tattooed faces, blackened teeth and head hunting prowess. The Konyaks are the largest tribe among all Nagas and are adept artisans and craftsmen. At Mon, one can find various wood carvings, machetes, guns, traditional head gears, traditional necklaces, etc. The Konyaks being earlier head hunters still decorate their houses with skulls, hornbill beaks, elephant tusks, horns, etc. The ruler of the villages used the word Angh for themselves meaning the ‘beginning of everything’. The Angh’s house is the largest in the village with the Angh acting as an autocrat and democrat. The Angh house is a demonstration of power and glory adorned with both human and animal skulls.
The most interesting village of Mon is the Longwa village. The Longwa village is located between the International boundary line between India and Myanmar and the jurisdiction of the Angh of the Longwa village extends upto Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. Traders trade freely across the borders here at Longwa. Students of Longwa study at schools in Myanmar too. The Angh of the Longwa village has 60 wives.
Places of Interest at Mon are ~
- Longwa Village at Mon, Nagaland
- Shangnyu Village at Mon, Nagaland
- Chui Village at Mon, Nagaland
- Veda Peak at Mon, Nagaland
- Naginimora at Mon, Nagaland
5| Zunheboto District Nagaland ~
Zunheboto is another major district of the state of Nagaland. Zunheboto is bordered by the Mokokchung, Kohima, Wokha and Phek districts of Nagaland. Zunheboto town is the district headquarters of the Zunheboto district. Zunheboto is the land of the legendary Sumi Naga tribes of Nagaland. Considered among the fiercest head hunting tribes of Nagaland, the Sumi Nagas of today are however peaceful and hardworking people who practice agriculture as their main occupation. The main festivals of the Sumi Naga tribes i.e. Tuluni nad Ahuna are based upon agriculture.
Zunheboto district has a popluation of around 300,000 and is also home to the largest Baptist church in Asia, the Sumi Baptist Church at Zunheboto. The Sumi Nagas of Zunheboto are known for their colorful war dance and folk songs and are the pioneers of Naga martial arts. Zunheboto is a hilly area and a paradie for bird watchers and ornithologists. Zunheboto falls under an Important Bird Area and over 20 endangered species of birds are found at Zunheboto. Endangered species like Blythi Tragopan, Khalij Pheasant and Peacock Pheasant are found in the forests at Zunheboto.
Places of Interest at Zunheboto are ~
- Ghosu Bird Sanctuary Zunheboto, Nagaland
- Satoi Range Zunheboto, Nagaland
- Sumi Baptist Church Zunheboto, Nagaland
- Culture and Heritage of the Sumi Naga Tribes of Zunheboto, Nagaland
- Nagaland University Zunheboto, Nagaland
6| Tuensang District Nagaland ~
Tuensang is the largest district of Nagaland bordering the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Tuensang is also the easternmost district of Nagaland. Tuensang is located at an elevation of 1371 m above the sea level and hence enjoys a favorable climate around the year. Tuensang is also one of the largest urban centers of Nagaland after Dimapur, Kohima and Mokokchung. Tuensang is inhabited by the Chang, Sangtam, Yimchunger and Khiamniungan tribes of Nagaland.
Places of Interest at Tuensang are ~
- Changsangmonko and Chilise Tuensang, Nagaland
- The Living Stones of Tuensang, Nagaland
- Tsadang Tuensang, Nagaland
- The Culture and Traditions of the Chang, Sangtam, Yimchunger and Khiamnungam tribes of Nagaland at Tuensang, Nagaland
7| Wokha District Nagaland ~
Wokha district is home of the Lotha tribe of Nagaland and is located amidst beautiful mountain ranges and rivers. Wokha district is blessed with natural resources like minerals and fertile land. The Wokha district is bordered by the State of Assam and the districts of Kohima, Zunheboto and Mokokchung. Wokha town is the district administrative headquarters of the Wokha district. Wokha town is the third largest town of Nagaland after Dimapur an Kohima. The total population of Wokha district is around 80,000.
Places of Interest at Tuensang are ~
- Trekking at Mount Tiyi and Totsu Cliff Wokha, Nagaland
- Terrace cultivation along Doyung River
- Traditional fishing by the banks of river Chubi and Nzhu Wokha, Nagaland
- Culture and traditions of the Lotha tribes of Nagaland Wokha, Nagaland
- The annual Amur Falcon migration at Wokha, Nagaland
8| Phek District Nagaland ~
Phek district is the home of the Chakesang and the Pochury tribes of Nagaland. Phek was established as a district in 1973 and Phek town is its district headquarters. Phek district of Nagaland has a population of around 163,000 with a literacy rate of around 80%. The tribes of Phek district are known for their unique practices of wrestling and robust health. Agriculture is the primary occupation of the people of Phek district and they are very adept in terrace cultivation. The fields used for such agricultural practices are a unique sight to behold and admire at Phek district in Nagaland.
Places of Interest at Phek are ~
- Pfutsero town at Phek, Nagaland
- Glory peak at Phek, Nagaland
- Terrace cultivation practices of the tribes of Phek district
- Culture and traditions of the Chakhesang and Pochury tribes of Nagaland at Phek, Nagaland
- Traditional wrestling practices of people of Phek, Nagaland
9| Kiphire District Nagaland ~
Kiphire district is the home of the Yimchunger, Sangtam and Sumi Naga tribes of Nagaland. Kiphire district is bounded by the Tuensang and Phek districts of Nagaland and also the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The major towns of Kiphire district of Nagaland are Seyochung, Sitimi, Pungro and Kiphire. The highest mountain peak of Nagaland viz. the Saramati Peak is located in the Phek district. The Saramati peak remains snow covered throughout winters and offers a majestic three day trekking route to its summit.
Places of Interest at Kiphire are ~
- Saramati Peak Kiphire, Nagaland
- Unexplored Caves of Kiphire, Nagaland
- Sukhayap or Lover’s Paradise – the Cliff of no Return Kiphire, Nagaland
- Wawade Waterfalls at Kiphire, Nagaland
- Mihki – the river of salt at Kiphire Nagaland
- Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary Kiphire, Nagaland
- Culture and traditions of the Yimchunger, Sangtam and Sumi Naga Tribes of Nagaland at Kiphire, Nagaland
10| Meluri District Nagaland ~
Meluri district is the headquarters of the Pochury tribe of Nagaland. Meluri also serves as an ideal stop over on the way to Mount Saramati in Kiphire district. Meluri is also on the Indo-Myanmar trade center at Avankhung. At Avankhung one can see many Myanmarese Nagas coming to buy daily necessities at local shops. This place is famous for the locally made brine salt and the cane furnitures that comes from Reguri village in Nagaland. The Pochury people were adept hunters. One can also find many interesting rock formations in this area.
Places of Interest at Meluri are ~
- Dzudu Lake at Meluri, Nagaland
- Zanibu Peak at Meluri, Nagaland
- Shilloi Lake at Meluri, Nagaland
- Culture and traditions of the Pochury Tribes of Nagaland at Meluri, Nagaland
11| Peren District Nagaland ~
Peren district in Nagaland is home to the Zeliangrong and the Kuki tribes of Nagaland. Peren district was formed as a result of bifurcation of the Kohima district. Peren district is bounded by the Dimapur and Kohima districts of Nagaland and the States of Assam and Manipur. Peren town is the district headquarters of Peren district and the important towns here are Peren, Talukie and Tening. Peren is also home to the Ntangki National Park of Nagaland which has a varied flora and fauna of the likes of Hoolock gibbon, Golden langur, Hornbill, Python, Sloth bear, etc. Mt Paona is the highest mountain peak of Peren district ad the third highest in Nagaland after the Saramati and Japfu Mountain Peaks.
Places of Interest at Peren are ~
- Benreu tourist village at Peren, Nagaland
- Mt. Pauna tourist Village at Peren, Nagaland
- Ntangki National Park at Peren, Nagaland
- Culture and traditions of the Zeliangrong and Kuki tribes of Nagaland at Peren, Nagaland
Nagaland was formally declared as a State of the Indian Union on 1st December, 1963. Nagaland is a hilly State covered with dense forests that is home to varied species of flora and fauna. Meandering rivers flow across the State of Nagaland that provide a water resource to the varied animals and plants in the State of Nagaland. These hills of Nagaland act as natural boundaries of the State and extend to the adjoining States of India and the neighboring countries too. As a natural divide, Nagaland is bounded by the State of Assam in its west, the State of Arunachal Pradesh to its west, Manipur joins Nagaland at its south while the Republic of the Union Myanmar joins Nagaland in the east. Nagaland has divided itself into 11 administrative districts that look after the welfare, social life and economic development of the people in these districts. These districts of Nagaland are – Dimapur, Kohima, Mon, Mokochung, Wokha, Peren, Zunheboto, Kiphire, Longleng, Phek and Tuensang. The State of Nagaland is mostly inhabited by the people of 16 dominant tribes of Nagaland viz. Angami, Chang, Ao, Chakesang, Dimasa Kachari, Konyak, Kuki, Pochury, Phom, Rongmei, Sumi, Zelieng, Yimchungru, Khiamniungan, Sangtam and Rengma. The 16 major tribes are further classified into sub-tribes that bring hue and color to state of Nagaland. While these tribes of Nagaland may be inhabiting the same state but they are very different and distinct from each other in their attire, customs, food habits, culture, language and practices.
The people of Nagaland are extremely talented and have a fine taste of music. This can be closely seen in their traditional festivals which are celebrated by the 16 tribes of Nagaland across the year. Music is the heart and soul of the youth of Nagaland and the music of Nagaland today is a fusion of the days gone by along with modern rock that is very pleasing to the ears of every listener. Numerous cafes across the State capital of Kohima and Dimapur are perfect joints in Nagaland where visitors can sit, grab a bite to east and appreciate these well trained and talented artists of Nagaland. It can be described that Nagaland is a mystical land of folklore and music that has been passed down across the generations by a way of word of mouth.
We welcome you to the Switzerland of the East, the Land of Festivals, the Land of the Legendary Warrior and Head Hunting Tribes at the districts of Mon, Mokochung, Dzuleke, Benreu, Touphema, Kohima, Khonoma and Dimapur, the State of Nagaland, Incredible India!
Tour of Meghalaya, Assam and Nagaland with our female guests from Bangalore ~
Ms. Vismaya and I had studied together for our Masters in Business Administration at a reputed college in Mysore and after I had quit my corporate life to start my own travel venture one day she had contacted me and expressed her desire to explore North East India with me. Since I had a free schedule during her time of visit in the month of May 2017 I agreed to travel with her and show her around Meghalaya, Assam and Nagaland along with one of my colleagues Mr. Kaushik who handles our tours in Nagaland. She would be accompanied by her cousin Ms. Priyanka who was working at a corporate in Bangalore and I custom designed the following Itinerary for her ~
Day 1 ~ Guwahati and Cherrapunji
Arrive at Guwahati Airport and transfer to Cherrapunji. On the way sight the Umiam Lake which is the largest artificial water reservoir of NE India. The crystal clear waters to leave you spell bound. Arrive at Cherrapunji for night halt.
Night Stay: Saimika Resort at Cherrapunji
Meals Included: NA
Day 2 ~ Cherrapunji ~ Double Decker Living Root Bridge (Trek Duration ~ 5 – 6 HRS)
Today after breakfast, we kick start the Double Decker Living Root Bridge Trek at Nongriat Village near Cherrapunji. Duration of trek is 5 – 6 hours. We will also spot the Single Decker Living Root Bridge at Cherrapunji.
Highlights of the Trek:
- These Living Root Bridges (Single and Double Decker) are one of the most unique bridges in the world. They are grown by the ancient tribes of the Khasi hills
- Cross Hanging Bridge
After the trek we’ll have lunch at the Local Market at Cherrapunji and savor Ethnic Khasi Delicacies and Cuisine. Later visit the Nohkalikai Falls, Seven Sister Falls and Mawsmai Caves and wrap up for the day.
Night Stay: Saimika Resort at Cherrapunji
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 3 ~ Dawki and Mawlynnong
After Breakfast, visit the Daithlen Falls and Wah Kaba Falls at Cherrapunji. Later travel to Dawki. The International Border of India and Bangladesh click your pictures at no man’s land at pillar 1275. Later visit the Umngot River at Dawki. Take a boat ride on the Umngot River ~ the crystal clear waters to leave you spellbound. Later arrive at Asia’s Cleanest Village of Mawlynnong. At Mawlynnong, visit the Balancing Rocks, the Living Root Bridge and take a walk along Asia’s Cleanest Village.
Night Stay: Comfortable Homestay at Mawlynnong
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 4 ~ Mawlynnong and Kaziranga National Park
After Breakfast, enroute to the National Park of Kaziranga. Evening free to visit the nearby Tea Gardens at Kaziranga.
Night Stay: Namdang Guest House at Kaziranga
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 5 ~ Kaziranga and Kohima/Kigwema
After Breakfast, depart to Kohima in Nagaland. The capital of Nagaland, at Kohima visit the World War II Cemetery and the Kohima Cathedral. Night halt at Kohima/Kigwema.
Night Stay: Hotel/Homestay at Kohima/Kigwema
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 6 ~ Dzukou Valley
Drive to Viswema. Drive to take about an hour’s time. From there embark on your trek to Dzukou Valley. Trek duration 4 – 5 hours. Arrive at the Pristine Dzukou Valley.
Night Stay: Huts at Dzukou Valley
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 7 ~ Dzukou Valley and Kohima
Spend the first half of the day at Dzukou Valley and later return back to Kigwema/Kohima.
Night Stay: Hotel/Homestay at Kohima/Kigwema
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch
Day 8 ~ Kohima and Guwahati
After Breakfast, enroute to Guwahati. Arrive at Guwahati for night halt.
Night Stay: Hotel NE Zone at Guwahati or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 9 ~ Kamakhya Temple and Depart from LGBI Airport (Kamakhya VIP entry and Pooja costs Exclusive)
After Breakfast, visit the Holy Kamakhya Temple at Guwahati. The Oldest and most revered among the 51 Shakti Peethas across the World, Kamakhya plays host to the Eastern Mahakumbh ~ the Ambubachi Mela Festival and holds special interest for the Tantric cult. Later we will drop you the Guwahati Airport for your onward destination. Tour Ends. Bid Adieu!
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 1 ~ On May 14th 2017, I went to pick them up at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi airport in Guwahati. Their flight arrived at 9 AM and after half an hour we started on our drive to Cherrapunji from Guwahati. On the way we made a quick stop at Lokhra area in Guwhati to have a cup of coffee and then continued on our drive to Shillong. We crossed Nongpoh area and arrived at the Umiam Lake in Barapani. As it was a Sunday we did not encounter much of traffic which is really a bottleneck on the journey to Shillong. We made a halt at the Umiam lake to give the car a break for a while and also we wanted to explore the beautiful view of the waters of the Umiam lake. It was around 11.30 AM and we had black tea and some snacks here. After clicking our pictures we continued on our drive again to Upper Shillong and made our halt at the Elephant falls here.
The Elephant falls is one of the major tourist attractions in Shillong and this is a 3 step cascading waterfall. The top one is a smaller waterfall while the bottom two are the larger ones. The place is called as the Elephant falls because of the earlier presence of the rock that was shaped in the form of an elephant but was destroyed in the earthquake of 1897. We left the Elephant falls in sometime and headed towards the Mylliem area to have our lunch at the Soilyna huts. This restaurant is one of the popular lunch destinations near Shillong and it offers chinese, indian, continental and local khasi cuisine as well. We were in a hurry to reach Cherrapunji so we ordered chinese food which is always readily available here. We had pork momos, chicken noodles, roasted pork dry fry and the meal was amazingly delicious. After our lunch we continued on our drive to Cherrapunji. We reached the Mawkdok view point area before Cherrapunji and we made a stop here to view the beautiful valleys of Meghalaya. There are also provisions for zip lining here but in the interest of time we did not try this adventure sport and instead continued on our drive to Cherrapunji. This was the first time Ms. Priyanka was travelling outside of Karnataka and she seemed to enjoy every moment of it clicking pictures and immediately uploading them on her instagram profile. Ms. Vismaya and I discussed about how our lives changed after college and how our friends have now all been separated with very seldom contacts. We spoke about the travel options in Nagaland and how the weather would be there in Nagaland – the Switzerland of the East.
We reached Cherrapunji at 3.30 PM and at first we went to see the Nohkalikai Falls – the tallest plunge waterfall in India. The Nohkalikai falls has a height of 1115 feet (340m) making it the tallest plunge waterfall in India. The waters here are so crystal clear that it appears sky blue just the color of the sky. We admired the beauty of the Nohkalikai falls and clicked our pictures here. Next up we explored the various local shops around this area that are set up by the Khasi local ladies. As Meghalaya is a matrilineal state most of the business establishments are run by women here. These shops sell fresh cinnamon sticks, pepper corns, turmeric, fruits, etc. which are all brought in from the local jungles of Cherrapunji and sold fresh. We had freshly cut pineapples and the girls brought some spices to take home. Next up I led them to a board that narrates a local folklore as to why this falls is called as Nohkalikai – Leap of Ka Likai. A Khasi women had a daughter from her first marriage and as she had to run on business errands she remarried so that her husband could take care of the girl. But the husband did not like this young girl and he had planned to get rid of her. It so happened one day that Likai had stepped out for work and the husband killed the girl and cut her body into pieces and cooked it up for dinner. When Likai came back home that evening she had the meal cooked by her husband but noticed the fingers of the girl wrapped up in betel leaves and kept aside in the kitchen. She was filled with utmost grief and not knowing what to do she came to the falls and leaped of the cliff here. Since then this falls has been called as the Nohkalikai – the leap of Ka Likai falls. The story filled us with grief but the beauty of the view of the falls made us accept this and move on.
Next up we continued to drive to our place of stay at the Saimika Resort in Cherrapunji. As there was still light I decided to take the ladies to explore the Dainthlen falls nearby our resort. The Dainthlen falls is located just before reaching Cherrapunji, a road to the right, leads to the Dainthlen falls which is located at distance of 5 kms away. Legend speaks that this waterfall derives its name from a Thlen or a snake of gigantic size which dwelt in a cave. The villagers used to frequent the heavenly market of Langhiang, Kongkhen and had to pass the bridge of the Gods and the cave of the Thlen. Anyone, travelling in even numbers was safe, but in odd numbers one would be devoured by the Thlen. A great Durbar was called for in order to devise a plan to get rid of the snake permanently. It was believed that this snake was butchered here by Uisymroh, a knight of Yore who fed the snake with red hot iron rods which killed it instantly. A grand feast was held and the whole town partook the meal. However, one old lady took a piece of the meat home for her grandchild but kept on forgetting to feed it until one day the Thlen was revived again. Remnants of the tools used for the feast that have turned to stone can be seen even today. We clicked our pictures here at the Dainthlen falls and after we finished exploring we called it a day and went to check into our place of stay at the Saimika Resort in Cherrapunji.
One of the favorite stay options in Cherrapunji the Saimika resort is a tranquil of a place built in an ideal countryside environment with individual cottages for stay. A river runs alongside the sprawling campus of the Saimika resort making the place all the more inviting. The ladies were allocated their room – a huge individual cottage and they immediately liked the place. I checked myself into their dorm room that too is a big room and it is allocated only to known guests. While the guests went in to refresh themselves I took sometime to rest after a long drive before heading out to the kitchen to order dinner for us. The manager of the place Mr. Atanu was busy in the kitchen along with his staff giving directions for the order of the guests. As this is a quiet place and sunset happens quite early around 5.30 PM in the summer time so here the guests are to order their dinner before 6 PM so that it can be prepared fresh and served on time. I went to greet Atanu as we were meeting after quite sometime and I placed our dinner order with his staff.
There is a beautiful dining area near the kitchen and as it was a Sunday a local band was scheduled to perform at 7 PM as well. Vismaya and Priyanka came out of their room and they looked refreshed after a long day as well. We all took our seats in the dining hall listening to the songs played and sung by the local band from Cherrapunji. They played all classic rock songs like Hotel California, Summer of 69, songs from Micheal Learns to Rock and many more. Dinner was served at 8.30 PM and we had chilly pork dry, egg fried rice, salad and chicken manchurian gravy. The food was very delicious and after dinner we took a short walk within the campus of the Saimika resort and as it was pitch dark we did not go very far. At 9.30 PM we returned to our rooms as we had a long and adventurous day ahead of us the next morning hiking to the Nongriat village to sight the Double Decker Living Root bridge and to come back as well. We bid farewell for the night and returned to our rooms.
Day 2 ~ We got up in the morning by 6 AM and as we wanted to start our trek early I had bought and butter the earlier day and kept it in my room. At 7 AM I made some tea in the kitchen as the staff were not yet up. We had bread butter, biscuits and tea and started on our drive to Tyrna village from our resort at 7.30 AM. After reaching the market we took a right to drive to Tyrna crossing a village and an abandoned cement factory on the way to the Cherrapunji Holiday Resort. A beautiful tropical forest greets you on the way to Tyrna and the drive is amazing. The road conditions is not that good and it is a narrow road as well along with sharp bends so careful driving is very much necessary here. we reached a point where we had to take a sharp U turn and proceed further to Tyrna village. We arrived at Tyrna at 8.15 AM. Our local guide Jerry was waiting our arrival here and he came to greet us once we parked our car at the parking lot. Jerry greeted us and we started on our hike to the Nongriat village from the Tyrna village. The girls took two sticks as they were not accustomed to the terrain that had flight of over 3500 stairs and these sticks would provide the additional grip and assist them in the climb down. we crossed the first village and it was a beautiful little village filled with tropical trees and beautiful flowers. The interesting part of the villages in Meghalaya is that most of them are very clean and neat maintained by the local people. We admired the beautiful flowers and from a small shop to support the locals we brought ORSL and biscuits to keep us hydrated and energized along our trek.
Shortly the flight of stairs became visible to us and we embarked on this famous trek route across Meghalaya – the Jinkieng Nongriat Double Decker Root bridge trek. We carefully climbed down the stairs and in sometime we took a break at a shop area nearby where we disposed off the thrash and hydrated ourselves. The beautiful view of the landscapes grabbed our attention and we could see the Nongriat village at a distant along with the green cover of mountains and the beautiful waterfall in the backdrop. We took a short break here and started again on our climb down the stairs. In sometime we reached another village here. This village is a part of the Tyrna Eleka Ecotourism and has two single decker living root bridges as well as a cave in the area. We decided to visit the set of single decker root bridges as we had time in our hands so we took a right and headed straight after paying a nominal amount as entrance fees towards community development. We walked for a little while and the sounds of chirping birds and insects filled our ears with joy. It was a feel so wonderful to be amidst nature that the girls took time admiring the nature around them. It feels so different from a city life where the only thing you get to see around everywhere are concrete buildings. The breath of fresh air was indeed rejuvenating to our body and soul. There are a set of two living root bridges in this area one after another and the view from both these bridges are amazing. We admired the construction of the bridges and clicked our pictures here. After this we wanted to explore the cave but decided against it as we would be exploring the Arwah caves in Cherrapunji after our trek completed today.
We returned back on the trek path to Nongriat village after this. After crossing the village area we halted for a while to have biscuits and water and then started our trek to cross the hanging bridge that connects Tyrna with Nongriat. It is a bridge made with iron cables and keeps swaying while you cross it. The girls were a little scared at first but managed to cross the bridge successfully. Then it is an uphill climb across a sacred grove forest until you reach the second bridge which is a suspension bridge. The waters here are so crystal clear that the color is completely blue. Our approach to Nongriat was gradually approaching after crossing this bridge. Another short climb and we approached the Nongriat village. The various homestays here at the village started to get visible. We crossed the first smaller living root bridge and then reached the entrance of the Jinkieng Nongriat Double Decker Living Root Bridge entrance. At the entrance I paid the entrance fees and we finally reached the spot of the Double Decker Living Root bridge. it was a wonder to sight one of a kind Double Decker Living Root Bridge that are grown by allowing the root of rubber tree to grow across in one direction by the help of the hollowed out betel tree trunks. These root bridges of Meghalaya takes 10 to 15 years to grow and last for around 500 years.
We spent close to an hour admiring the grandeur of the Double Decker Living Root bridge and playing in the crystal clear waters of the stream flowing underneath the bridge. There are many fishes in the waters here and once you put your feet inside the waters the fishes come to bite off your skin which provides an environment of a natural fish spa. We had maggi noodles, omelette and tea at a small tea shop near the bridge. At around 10.45 AM we started on our trek back to Tyrna village from Nongriat village. The first half of the trek is easy as the terrain is mostly a downward climb and flat hike. The challenge starts once we reach the flight of 3500 stairs and it is a steep uphill climg. I motivated the girls and Jerry instructed us with the best way to make the climb easier. We took adequate breaks on our climb back and we finally reached the tip at Tyrna village at 1.30 PM.
The climb was exhausting but once we reached the top there was a sudden adrenaline rush and all of us were feelings elated with a sense of joy of having completed the trek. We took our seats at the local tea shop at the parking lot of Tyrna village. Here we wanted to drink tea but saw some interesting local Khasi food. The food looked inviting and we were hungry as well. So we decided to have our lunch here and we ordered Jadoh – a rice dish cooked with pork blood, pork curry, chicken curry, white rice plate, tomato chutney, etc. The rice thali was accompanied with a mixed veg sabji, dal, boiled spinach and it was one of the simplest yet delicious food we had. The jadoh was equally amazing and it was accompanied with a spicy powdered chutney. The pork and chicken curry too were delicious cooked in a traditional khaisi way and the most interesting thing is that for so much food the bill came up to only INR 280. The girls were surprised at this and we kept on appreciating the food taste.l We thanked everyone and at 2.45 PM we headed on our drive back to Cherrapunji from Tyrna.
We reached the Arwah caves at around 3.30 PM and I drove the vehicle to the parking area of the Arwah caves in Cherrapunji. From the parking lot it is a 500 m hike to the cave entrance and from here the cave starts. I purchased the entry tickets at the counter and also hired the services of a local guide to show us around inside the caves. The guide led us to the cave entrance and the route overlooks the valleys of Cherrapunji and a waterfall as well. We arrived at the cave entrance and the guide informed us some details about the cave and led us inside the Arwah caves. We sighted our first fossils at the cave entrance itself. The Arwah caves is a longer and wider cave then the Mawsmai caves in Cherrapunji and a stream flows inside the cave as well. There are stalactites and stalacmites inside the cave area and fossils of fishes, sea shells are present on the walls inside the cave interiors. We kept exploring the cave sighting various fossils and finally reached the end point of the cave. From here there is a narrow passage of around 200 m which is not lighted and takes you further inside the cave. We decided not to go in further as we three were claustrophobic and started on our walk back outside the cave.
By the time we reached back to the entrance it was 4.30 PM. We thanked the guide and returned back to our resort for a nice shower and then to relax for a while. We got together for our evening tea and snacks where we ordered steaming hot pork momos and black tea for us. It was already dark and the only option we had was to walk around the area of the resort. we ordered our dinner and at 9 PM retired back to our rooms.
Day 3 ~ Today morning we were scheduled to leave to Dawki from Cherrapunji and then come back to Mawlynnong village. We started after breakfast from Cherrapunji at 8 AM to drive to Dawki – the border of India and Bangladesh and the pristine waters of the Umngot river at Dawki. We reached the beautiful valleys of Meghalaya at Pynursla and we admired the beautiful natural landscapes of Meghalaya. We arrived at Pynursla town at 9.30 AM and continued on our drive to Pontung area to take a left diversion at Dawki. a little ahead we arrived at Dawki at 10.30 AM. At first we headed straight to go to the International Border at Dawki. We parked our cars and proceeded to cross the international border after seeking permission from the soldiers of BSF who keep a continuous vigil across the area to keep away any illegal border crossing. The river Umngot acts as a natural boundary dividing the two countries. We clicked our pictures after crossing the Indian side of the border and standing in no man’s land at pillar 1275. Finally we drove out of the area to go to the boating point at Dawki.
I bought our tickets for the boat ride at Dawki and we were allocated a boat to take us around the clear waters of the Umngot river. The boatman took us around the river and we witnessed how clear the water was thankfully as it didn’t rain the previous night. The boat ride lasted for about an hour and then we continued on our drive to Mawlynnong village. We reached Mawlynnong at around 1.30 PM and we headed to the parking area where there are a few local restaurants that serve Khasi food and bengali cuisine. We checked into one of the restaurants where we had a meal of rice, dal, potato sabji, chicken curry, salad and tomato chutney. After our lunch we checked into our homestays in Mawlynnong that was located in the heart of the village. Ricky my friend and local guide helped us check in and we took time to refesh ourselves. At around 3.30 PM we headed out to visit the balancing rocks at Mawlynnong village. The balancing rocks here are a unique phenomenon here where one huge rock stands balancing on top of another small rock. This unique phenomenon hasn’t been explained as yet and the only tales we have about it is that this was a sacred place of worship among the people of Mawlynnong in the earlier times. Today this is a very popular tourist attraction. We spend some time here and as it was around 4.15 PM we came back to Mawlynnong village to explore the Cleanest Village in Asia and to understand how the community is involved in keeping this village clean that has earned it this coveted tag.
We kept the exploring of the Riwai Single Decker Living Root bridge for the next day. Ricky took us around the village introducing us to the members of the village. Mawlynnong is a small village with around 100 households and 500 occupants. Each household is responsible for keeping their premises clean where they segregate the plastic and biodegradable waste separately. Later workers collect the entire thrash and dispose/burn/turn into compost the biodegradable waste while the plastic waste is transported to Shillong for recycling. This is one of the various steps involved in keeping this village clean. Also every household has a toilet and unlike in certain other villages in India here people do not defecate in the open fields. Rickey showed us around the various small shops here in the village locality that sell traditional hand made souvenirs. While the girls got busy shopping Ricky and I discussed our business and how to take it further.
At around 6 PM we went back to our homestays where Ricky had arranged for the girls to get a unique Khasi experience where they would go to the local kitchen and help prepare dinner with the local family. Ricky’s aunt welcomed us inside their home kitchen and although it was a small kitchen it was very clean and well organized. We took our seats at the porch outside the kitchen and the girls got to chopping vegetables. Ricky and I helped in cleaning the meat and chopping it into smaller pieces. Ricky’s aunt got to preparing Khasi delicacies like chicken curry with sesame seeds, banana flower sabji, dal, potato and carrot sabji, tomato chutney with herbs. All of us got involved in some activity and it was a real experience of community village cooking in the cleanest village of Asia. Dinner was ready by 8 PM and Ricky insisted that we try some locally brewed rice wine of Mawlynnong. He got us a bottle of rice wine and we all took our glasses and celebrated our day at Mawlynnong village. It had a strong flavor to it and after a glass of rice wine we all felt a little intoxicated. We had our dinner at 8.30 PM and it was one of the most delicious meals we had ever tried. The chicken with sesame seeds was cooked to perfection and the banana flower had an altogether different flavor and taste. The fire roasted tomato chutney was also wonderful. As the entire meal was cooked over firewood it imparted a unique taste and we all enjoyed our meal. We thanked Ricky’s family for everything and then retired to our rooms.
Day 4 ~ The next morning we were up and ready by 7 AM. We had a quick breakfast of maggi noodles, bananas and tea and then started on our drive to Riwai living root bridge at 7.30 AM. Ricky joined us and the plan was that Ricky would lead the girls to the Riwai living root bridge and after visiting the root bridge they would trek across the virgin forests of Mawlynnong and the hike to Nohwet village to sight the plains of Bangladesh from the Nohwet bamboo sky walk and also visit the oldest khasi hut in Nohwet. I dropped the three of them at the parking lot of the living root bridge and I drove to Nohwet while the three of them continued on their hike to Nohwet village. At 8.30 AM they reached Nohwet view point and we explored the sky-walk and also visited the Oldest Khasi hut in Meghalaya at Nohwet. At 9.30 AM we thanked Ricky for all his help and bid farewell to Mawlynnong village to head to Kaziranga National Park via Shillong and Guwahati.
We crossed Shillong by 11.30 AM and continued to drive to Jorabat area near Guwahati where we would be joined by my friend Kaushik who would accompany us to Kaziranga National Park and then further on our tour to Nagaland. I had asked one of my friends to come along with Kaushik as we would be taking Kaushik’s SUV to Nagaland to tackle the roads there and my car had to be dropped back at my home in Guwahati. We reached Jorabat at 1 PM and Kaushik was waiting for us here. We exchanged greetings and continued to drive to Sonapur to have our lunch at the George’s retreat resort here. We arrived at 1.20 PM and checked into the colonial environment restaurant here that resembles a British pub here at the George’s retreat resort. We had our lunch of rice, dal, roasted pork cooked with mejenga leaves, mixed vegetables stir fry and green salad. The food was simple yet delicious. After our lunch we bid goodbye to my friend who took my car back home while we continued on our drive to Kaziranga National Park.
We were expected to reach before sundown to Kaziranga National Park. We crossed Jagiroad, Raha, Nagaon, Amoni to finally reach Jakhalabandha. Here we made a halt for tea as we were around the vicinity of the forest reserves of Kaziranga National Park. We had sweets, nimki and tea here and then started again on our drive to Kohora in Kaziranga National Park. Our stay was arranged at the Namdang Guest House in Kaziranga National Park. Deka Da the caretaker of the place had made arrangements for our stay and as it was off season in Kaziranga National Park not many tourists were around Kaziranga as the place closes to tourists during the first week of May every year owing to the monsoon season and we were there in mid may when the rainfall grips the park. We checked into the Namdang Guest House at Kaziranga National Park at 6 PM. The girls were allocated their rooms here and Kaushik and I found us our stay here itself. We wanted to have fresh fish for dinner and Deka da cooks amazing fish curry with local herbs at the Namdang Guest House. Deka da got busy with the preparations while we went out to explore the nearby Kohora township and market. Dinner was served at 8.30 PM and the food as usual at Namdang Guest House was amazing. The fish curry with local herbs was delicious and the fresh fish caught from the river imparted a wonderful taste to the fish curry. We finished our dinner and retired to our rooms as we had a long drive today and tomorrow as well we would be driving for about 7 hours to Kohima in Nagaland from Kaziranga National Park via Dimapur.
Day 5 ~ We were up at 7 AM the next morning and after our breakfast at 8 AM we bid goodbye to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park to go to Nagaland. We crossed Bokakhat to reach Numaligarh and here we took a right diversion to go to the Numaligarh Oil Refinery township. After Numaligarh we reached Golaghat. Golaghat was my mother’s ancestral home and I decided to pay a quick visit to the place as it was years since I visited here. The people staying on rent here welcomed us and as we were short on time we had to say no to tea and head on our drive to Dimapur in Nagaland. We crossed the Nambor forest reserve and continued to drive to Garampani hot water springs. and continue further to Bokajan. Bokajan is a small industrial town of Assam famous for its cement production at the Bokajan cement factory. This is also the last township at the border of Assam and Nagaland.
We continued on our drive to reach the border check post of Nagaland. Here we had to step down of our vehicles to get our ILPs validated. The officers helped us verify our documents and after making the entry into the records we were allowed to cross the border and we finally arrived in Nagaland – the land of the legendary Head Hunting tribes of North East India. The girls were all excited to reach Nagaland and we continued to drive to the commercial capital of Nagaland at Dimapur. We reached Dimapur at 1.30 PM and Kaushik took us to his friend’s restaurant here in the Dimapur market. Kaushik sets up a camp every year during the Hornbill festival of Nagaland called Camp Hornbill that hosts guests from around the World from December 1 – December 10 every year. He is a frequent visitor to Nagaland and therefore has many friends around Dimapur and Kohima in Nagaland. We reached his friend David’s restaurant in Dimapur market and David welcomed us in. He served us the special Naga thali that had an assortment of food from rice, naga dal, smoked pork curry with bamboo shoot, fish curry with akhuni, naga king chilies, etc. The specialty about Naga food is that it is boiled and filled with varied flavors. The food is often spicy owing to the use of green chilies and the Naga King chilli as well. The food was lovely especially the smoked pork curry. We all loved the lunch and thanked David for presenting it to us. Our first flavor of Nagaland was simply amazing and we explored the Dimapur market for sometime. It was getting late and we had another hour and a half drive left to Kohima. We left Dimapur at 2.30 PM and headed to Kohima. There would be traffic on the streets of Kohima so we drive fast now although the roads didn’t permit us to cross above 60 km/hr.
We finally arrived at Kohima in Nagaland at 4 PM. Kohima is the capital city of Nagaland and home to the Angami Naga tribes of Nagaland. At first we checked into the Kohima World War II Cemetery at Kohima town in Nagaland. This Kohima War cemetery is a beautiful place with burials of over 500 brave soldiers who laid down their lives during the World War II. The Kohima War Cemetery was built and and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Mission. This is the most visited War cemetery in Nagaland as well as North East India reminding its visitors of the fierce Battle of Kohima that was fought here between the Allied and Japanese forces here at Nagaland in North East India. We walked around the area of the Kohima War Cemetery admiring how neatly the burials and the entire area has been maintained. From the war cemetery we get a beautiful view of the city of Kohima in Nagaland. We took our pictures here and next went to visit the Kohima Cathedral. The largest cathedral of North East India the Kohima Cathedral is a beautiful work of art and the place is located is a sprawling campus.
As majority of the population of Nagaland practice Christianity is an important place of worship for the people of Nagaland. The altar area has a big statue of Lord Jesus and the walls are made of glass and paintings depicting the life of Lord Jesus are found across the Kohima Cathedral. As we did not have much time in hands and it was getting dark we wrapped up our visit at the Kohima Cathedral quickly and proceeded on our way to our homestay near Kisama at Mr. Adoley Yokha’s home. Adoley is a friend of Kaushik and his home is located on a valley area in Kisama near Kohima in Nagaland. Kaushik sets up the Camp Hornbill site along with Adoley every year during the Hornbill Festival. We reached Adoley’s home at around 6.30 PM. It was a long and tiring day for us and so we checked into our rooms to take a shower and to come back for tea. We gathered outside the porch of the homestay and Adoley’s family was sitting around the fire. Adoley introduced the members of his family to us and we all took our seats near the fire. Adoley’s wife served us black tea along with biscuits and we gobbled it up as were hungry after a long day. Dinner was being prepared by the family in traditional Naga style and the meal had rice, dal, pork with spinach, dried fish chutney with king chilly, some local herbs with bamboo shoot. The entire family was involved in the dinner preparations and this is one unique thing in Nagaland where you see the entire family spending time together in the evenings sitting around the fire and preparing dinner and engaging in conversations. As most homes stay in a joint family the family size is adequate enough to start one conversation after another.
We joined in the conversations and Adoley explained to us about the Angami clan of Nagaland to whom he belonged to and the stories of earlier head hunting practices prevalent across Nagaland. He continued to talk about the 16 major tribes of Nagaland and their relevant practices when it comes to the culture and life of the people. It was really interesting to note how he went about narrating with ease and knew so much about his State of Nagaland. After another cup of tea our dinner was served and the preparations turned out to be an elaborate one. The food was served out to us in plates and the interesting thing was the big chunks of pork meat boiled with spinach. Across Nagaland it is a practice to cut the pork pieces in huge chunks of meat. Each meat chunk is almost equivalent to having five smaller meat pieces. The huge meat chunk has all parts of the pork like the skin, the fat and meat as well. It was filling just after having one piece of the meat but the family insisted us to eat one more piece so we obliged. We had a long day’s trek to Dzukou valley ahead of us the next day so we thanked everyone and retired to bed early.
Day 6 ~ The next day morning we were up at 6 AM and started to get ready for the Dzukou valley trek at the border of the States of Nagaland and Manipur. Dzukou is a quaint natural wonder in Nagaland and one of the most pristine trek routes across Nagaland and North East India. Famous for its rare Dzukou lily that flowers every year in the monsoon months the valleys here have one of the most pristine views to witness in the entire World and people from across the World come to Nagaland to conquer the Dzukou valley. We had a quick breakfast of maggi noodles, boiled eggs, bread toast and butter and bananas and started on our drive to Vishwema village near Kisama from where we would embark on our trek. It was raining the previous night so the roads were not in the best of conditions. Infrastructure development across the rural areas in Nagaland are coming up and roads are being made better. But due to incessant rains the progress is slow. Thankfully we had brought along Kaushik’s Tata Sumo vehicle along with us to Nagaland and not my smaller car as it would have surely got stuck on these muddy roads.
One of the local guides joined us in Kisama and all of us were driving to Vishwema village in Nagaland. We arrived at around 9 AM and we parked our vehicle at a friend’s place in Vishwema and took all our stuff from the car and started on the trek to Dzukou Valley. We kept our rain gear handy as the weather felt like it would rain at any moment. May month is when the monsoon sets in across Nagaland and North East India so it was bound that we would be greeted by rains once we are on our uphill climb to Dzukou valley in Nagaland. The guide led us on the way to the trek and we could see various signage welcoming us to the Valley of Flowers – Dzukou Valley in Nagaland. After about 30 minutes into the trek our weather predictions turned out to be right and it started drizzling. We took shelter under trees and put on our rain gear to continue further on our trek. It is mostly an uphill climb at the start and so we trekked slowly following each others path. In sometime we reached the stream crossing and to cross this stream we had to grab a rope and cross the stream slowly. The rains played its part and the water in the stream had a strong current to it which we could feel in our legs as we tried to cross the stream. We managed to cross the stream successfully and after a short hydration break we continued on our trek. After a while we finished our uphill climb and them the walk is across the plains of Dzukou valley. The beauty of nature fills your heart and soul with peace here at the Dzukou valley in Nagaland. We admired the green landscapes clicking our pictures and and approach another small stream crossing. After almost 5 hours of trek we finally arrived at the Dzukou valley.
Cut off from the rest of the World without mobile connectivity we felt in so much peace once we arrived at Dzukou. The majestic green mountains caught our attention and we couldn’t get enough of it. The girls were super excited and they went about clicking as many pictures as they could. Our stay was arranged at the local guest house here at Dzukou valley and we gradually walked towards the place. It is a basic setup consisting of wooden houses and a big dorm area that has mattresses to sleep on. It is quite cold here even during the summer season and so we had brought along sleeping bags for the night. Night temperatures could get down to 6 degrees and so it is always advisable to carry sleeping bags. The caretaker of the place greeted us and welcomed us to Dzukou valley. We were allotted our rooms here while the girls took the room we boys took the dorm area as there were no other visitors here tonight apart from us. The entire walls of had some sort of graphiti written all across and we took our time reading through them. We entered the kitchen where the caretaker had a wood fire on and a kettle of boiling water. We knew that finding good food would be a problem in this remote location so Kaushik had bought along packed meals along with him that only needed to be heated up in boiling water. The caretaker had prepared rice for all of us and Kaushik prepared pasta, chicken korma and some other stuff all brought in packets. We had our dinner early and as there was nothing much to do and the only thing that kept us going on was the wood fire that lit across the room.
Nagaland is indeed a wonderful place to visit in India and everyone should have this place on their itinerary. The guide spoke to us about the various other interesting places in Nagaland like Longwa which is the village of the last of the surviving head hunters of the Konyak tribes and how one half of the village headman’s home is in India and the other half is in Myanmar. The tales of the head hunting warriors who used to go out on expeditions and kill the members of the other tribes and chop off their heads and bring along the skulls to be kept at the home courtyards and how the home having the maximum number of human skulls on its porch would become the head of the village. All these interesting tales kept us going on in the middle of the cold night and we gradually fell to sleep thinking of these warriors of Nagaland.
Day 7 ~ The next day morning we got up at 6 AM and after our breakfast headed out a little ahead to sight more of the mountains of Dzukou and then trek back to Zakhama village. We crossed downhill and arrived at Zakhama thereby ending our trek to Dzukou valley. Kaushik’s friend had brought along the car here and we boarded our vehicle to come back to Kisama village to check into Adoley’s home. It was late afternoon and we explored the Kisama village for a bit exploring the Kisama Heritage Village where every year the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland is held. The evening again the family got together to cook dinner and we had a hearty meal that evening of country chicken boiled and other herbs. We retired to bed early as we had a long day’s drive to Guwahati ahead of us the next day.
Day 8 ~ Today was our final day in Nagaland and we thanked Adoley and his family for their hospitality and started on our drive back to Guwahati. We would be taking a different route crossing Dimapur to reach Assam via Diphu. We had a quick breakfast and then left Kohima in Nagaland to go to Dimapur. From Dimapur we headed straight to Diphu and then to Lumding. We reached Lanka and Hojai and reached Kampur town. We had lunch on the way and then continued to drive to Nagaon. We reached the four lane road to Guwahati from here and we arrived at Guwahati at 6 PM. We checked into my house where all of us would stay for the night before the girls left to Bangalore the next morning. All of us were tired after the long drive and we went to take a shower. Dinner was prepared by my caretaker and it had rice, dal with fish head, mutton curry and cauliflower fried. I had asked the caretaker to arrange for local rice wine and as it was the last day of our tour and I wanted them to taste the one from Assam as well. We had dinner and then retired to our rooms.
Day 9 ~ The next day we got ready and I was to show the girls around the Maa Kamakhya temple in Guwahati before dropping them off at the Guwahati airport for their 11 AM flight to Bangalore. We reached the temple shrine at 8.30 AM and we took a walk across the Maa Kamakhya temple but in the interest of time we did not step inside the temple shrine. We seeked the blessings of Goddess Kamakhya from the temple courtyard and later headed to the Guwahati airport. I dropped them off at the airport at 9.30 AM and we bid goodbye thereby successfully completing our tour of Meghalaya, Assam and Nagaland!
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