Nagaland – The Switzerland of the East

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Why should you visit Nagaland?

One of the smallest states in India, Nagaland is increasingly becoming one of the most popular spots for nature tourism in the country. While the North-East India remains still under-explored as a tourist destination, gradually, the “seven sisters” of the North-East or the states of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim are becoming tourist magnets for the discerning tourist, who looks for something unique and out of the ordinary. For decades, these states, including Nagaland, were ravaged by terrorism. But over the last few years, peace has set in finally, and increasingly, tourists from the rest of India and abroad, are making their way to this beautiful corner of the world. Of all the states in the North-East, nature is at its purest, greenest and pristine best in Nagaland, hence the title, “The Switzerland of the East”. Tourists appreciate the stunning landscape, lovely visuals of the setting sun and exquisite scenery.

Nagaland: The Geography

Nagaland is dotted with hills and small mountains. It’s a small landlocked state surrounded by Assam at the West, Arunachal Pradesh at the North and Manipur at the South. Nagaland shares a border with the nation of Myanmar. Nagaland only has seven districts, which is quite low for an Indian state.

When should you visit Nagaland?

Nagaland has such a pleasant climate that you may visit it during any time of the year. The weather at Nagaland is quite cool, which is such a change from the heat and humidity in the Indian mainland. You may find the touch of the cool Nagaland breeze against your face highly refreshing. The best time to visit Nagaland is during the exotic Hornbill festival, held during the first week of December or during the Moatsu Festival held during the first week of May.

How do you get to Nagaland?

Getting to Nagaland is quite easy and just a matter of catching a plane from Kolkata or Guwahati to Dimapur, the commercial center of Nagaland. That is the easiest way to get to Nagaland. There are also direct trains to Dimapur from Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi. Or if you’re already in a North-Eastern state such as Assam, Manipur or Arunachal Pradesh, you can easily get to Nagaland by bus or by hiring a private taxi.

The Nagaland Cuisine

When in Nagaland, be prepared to relish the sumptuous Naga food, comprising mainly of fish and meat delicacies. Each tribe in Nagaland prepares food in its own unique way, so you may literally get to sample a different variety of food in each village that you go to in Nagaland. The most popular varieties of Naga food are smoked or fermented varieties of meat, boiled rice and vegetable. However, some of the dishes are highly unconventional, so you should ask first before eating, or you may end up having dog meat!

The people of Nagaland

As a tourist, you will be amazed at the sheer friendliness of the people of Nagaland. The Nagas are a remarkably simple people, who have lost none of their innocence, curiosity and friendliness that are a throwback to an earlier era. There are 16 tribes in Nagaland and each has its own culture and traditions, which are so very unique and remarkable. While much of Nagaland has caught up with the modern world and the youth here dress just like the youth in the rest of India, in jeans and t-shirts, there are still a plenty of traditional Nagas who dress in traditional and exotic attire, decked with lovely jewellery and flowing cloth. Dance and music are integral parts of the Naga culture, and tourists would be delighted at watching a traditional tribal dance performance in a Naga village.

The Festivals of Nagaland

Hornbill Festival

The spectacular Hornbill Festival is held in between December 1 to 7 and is a fantastic celebration of the indigenous Naga warrior tribes. The festival is named after the hornbill bird, which is a most important bird for the people of Nagaland. The respect felt for the people of Nagaland for this bird is a part of Naga dances, songs and folklore.

Moatsu Festival

The Moatsu festival is celebrated by the Ao tribe of Nagaland and is a huge celebration of the culmination of the planting season, and signals the beginning of the harvest. This festival is associated with amazing singing, dancing with the entire Ao tribe in a great mood for having great fun. It is also the time for young men and women to impress each other and they are dressed in their finest attires. This part of the festival is called Sangpangtu.

Aoleong Monyu Festival

Celebrated by the Konyak tribe of former headhunters in the traditional district of Mon, this festival signals the arrival of the spring season, and is marked by boisterous festivities and feasting over a seven day long period.

Places to Visit in Nagaland


You may as well start off by looking around Dimapur, which is the entry point to Nagaland. Dimapur is the area of the old Karachi civilization which ruled Nagaland several centuries ago. Many of the ruins of this ancient tribal empire may be found scattered around the Rajbari Park. The Wednesday Market at Dimapur is also quite popular as a tourist destination. It’s a busy, bustling market which gives visitors an excellent glimpse into the Naga way of life.


On a three hour bus ride from Dimapur is the lovely capital of Nagaland, Kohima. Kohima is the site of the Kohima War Cemetery, where bodies of several hundred British and Indian soldiers who gave up their lives fighting back the Japanese invasion of the North-East of India during the World War 2. The atmosphere around here is suitably sombre. From Kohima, you may visit the lovely little Kisama Heritage Village, which is just a few kilometres away. Here, you are likely to be fascinated by the Open Air Museum which has an excellent selection of ancient Naga tribal artefacts. But the Kisama Heritage Village is most famous for being the site of the famous Hornbill Festival, which we have already discussed. Khonoma Village is a little distance further away, visit it to spend a night or two there, in the beautiful village homes that are made available to tourists.

Mokokchung District

The Mokokchung District is the home of the Ao tribe, which celebrates the Moatsu Festival that we talked about earlier. The festival is held in May at the Chuchuyimlang village just an hour drive from Mokokchung town. Mopungchuket is another quiet and lovely little Naga village where you should consider spending a night at. There are excellent tourist accommodations here, and great for those who wish to get a taste of the North-East. The food here is simply outstanding, made in accordance with the best of Naga traditions.

Mon District

The Mon district is the remotest part of Nagaland and is the land of the Konyak tribe, which is known to be a tribe of former headhunters. The Konyaks are moved on with time and the younger members of the tribe are quite modern in their outlook. But it’s not unusual to come across older tribal leaders in their traditional attire. The Mon district has a plenty of natural beauty as the nature here is untouched, almost untouched by the modernity.

Wokha District

Wokha district is another naturally beautiful part of Nagaland which is at a four hour bus ride from Kohima. The drive to Wokha is itself a great attraction for tourists as some of the loveliest sceneries pass by as the bus moves along on the road. The sight of the lovely hills and mountains is simply breathtaking. Wokha is home to the Lotha tribe. To get an idea of the Naga rural life, a great idea is to spend time at the Riphyim village. The Naga Tourism board has taken wonderful care of this village and made it very hospitable for tourists with excellent tourist lodges.

Tourist need permit to visit Nagaland, read this topic on obtaining Inner Line permit.


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