Nagaland is one of the most frequented states in the north east, and a bustling hub of rich culture and heritage. One of the rarest facets of this state is the majorly community owned and run facilities for tourists and general safekeeping of the tribal practices. Here is a list of the best places to visit in Nagaland that you can’t afford to miss when in the state, and a comprehensive overview of the widely known Hornbill Festival celebrated in the month of December that is a major crowd puller and a once in a lifetime event to witness for its exuberance.
Mokokchung is one of the most developed and socially and politically sound cities in Nagaland. Mostly known for its totally extravagant Christmas and New Year celebrations, the Moatsü festival celebrated in the beginning of May, Mokokchung is home to the Ao tribe native to the land. The Museum in the Arts and the Cultural Complex is the perfect place to explore the tribe traditions in Nagaland, especially their rich war battle gear and daily clothing. The city should definitely in your list of must visit places in Nagaland because of the extremely hospitable tribes and the cultural heritage and folklore that has been maintained through all the years.
2. Khonoma Green Village
Just about an hour’s drive from Kohima, the Khonoma Green Village is a lazy wanderer’s paradise. Located in the midst of Nagaland’s most popular paddy fields, you can explore the lively and welcome culture of the villagefolk during your stay at the domestic homestay options available here. Also worth exploring is an old fort built in 1749 engraved with the names of British invaders who brought Christianity with them to the state. A must visit for some laidback cultural adventure.
3. Japfu Peak
Japfu Peak is known to house the tallest rhododendron tree in the world standing at a height of 109 feet. With a full view of the Dzuoku Valley, the Japfu Peak is the second highest peak in Nagaland also has the greatest panoramic view of the panoramic Himalayas to boast of. One of the highlights of the peak is the view of the neighboring cities and villages, and the sightings of rare and exotic bird species like the Blyth’s Tragopan. The trek through the rhododendrons is a tumultuous, but a heavily rewarding one.
4. Dzukou Valley
One of the rarest undiscovered trekkers’ paradise, Dzukou Valley is supposedly one of the most exhilarating trekking circuits in the country and an unexplored haven of the most aesthetic species of flora, like the extremely rare Dzukou Lily. The valley, with an ice cold stream flowing through the valley, is located at a height of about 2452 metres above sea level and makes for an extremely strenuous trek, definitely not for the faint hearted.
5. Ghosu Bird Sanctuary
The month of June is when the Ghosu Bird Sanctuary becomes a haven for all bird enthusiasts, when migratory birds join the already residing 20 species here. June to September is the best season when you can spot a wide variety of rare birds, orchids and medicinal plants. Accommodation is available in the nearby town of Zunheboto.
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6. Naga Heritage Village
The heart of the Hornbill Festival held in December, the Naga Heritage Village is the must visit place in Nagaland you need to be to know and explore the 16 Naga tribes . The most exuberant showcasing of the tribal culture and heritage, along with a warm entry into the heart of the locals, the ethnically crafted bamboo artifacts, jewelry and more importantly the locally varying cuisines are a delight to experience. A one stop shop for all your souvenir packing, the Naga Heritage Village of Kisama is a must visit during a trip to Nagaland.
7. Saramati Peak and Tuensang
The highest peak in all of Nagaland, the Saramati Peak stands at a daunting 3826 metres, and takes some serious trekker’s guts to scale. However, even as a visit to Tuensang, the peak appears extremely magnificent and a sight to behold, and is also counted among the most prominent peaks of South East Asia.
At a height of 1950 metres, Benreu, in the district of Peren, is one of the rarest type of culturally enriched villages of Nagaland , that showcases the concept of ethnic tourism, and operates on the concept of animism. One of the culinary specialties of Benreu is the Kennie Nku bread made from sticky rice and cooked over a heated stone kiln.
9. Mount Pauna
Just about 6 kms away from Benreu Village, Mount Pauna is as better as it gets. With a full blown view of the fiery rhododendrons and the eclectically hued orchids, the panoramic sight of the birds and wildlife, is a treat for sore eyes. Some of the more vibrant features that make Pauna a must visit are the water springs, oddly shaped rocks, and many more such natural and man made wonders.
10. The Hornbill Festival
The Hornbill Festival is the most lavish and exuberant showcasing of the Naga culture and heritage, and one of the most thronged festivals of the country by people from all around the world. The festival is named after the large exotic bird because it forms the center of many a local folklore. The Festival, organised between 1st-7th December every year by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments, is an extravagant affair, complete with parades, fashion shows, beauty contests, sports, games, stalls of various regional cuisines and artifacts.
Expect the most ethnic representation of all the Naga tribes, including their traditional war costumes and war cries, the different simplistic architectural styles in the smaller huts erected in the area. If you thought that the festival for all display and no interaction, you’re wrong there. There is a slew of amazing competitions to participate in, like the King Chilly Eating Competition, the Hornbill Rock Festival, the Kohima Night Bazaar, and even more, which you shouldn’t miss at any cost if Nagaland is on your list of destinations to visit in December.