Nagaland is a state in Northeast India. It borders the state of Assam to the west, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam to the north, Burma to the east and Manipur to the south. The state capital is Kohima, and the largest city is Dimapur.
Whether you venture to the villages just a few hours from Kohima, or to the far-off districts of Mon (famous for its Konyak head hunter tribe) and Mokokchung, you're sure to be engaged by the fascinating tribal village life in Nagaland. Colorful and unusual, it's not something that travelers are used to seeing
There are 16 major tribes in untamed Nagaland, which shares a border with Myanmar. Relatively new to tourism, the people are curious, warm, informal -- and open to attracting visitors. You'll never feel alone when visiting villages in Nagaland.
But which villages to visit? There are many different options depending on how much time you have and how much of Nagaland you want to see. The five popular tourist districts of Nagaland listed in this guide will give you some ideas of where to go in Nagaland.
The best months to visit Nagaland are between October and May, when the landscape wears a green carpet and the flowers light up the skies with their bright hue. Rhododendrons and Orchids cover the landscape of Nagaland and one cannot miss them even as he is driving or trekking the challenging terrain. Traditionally the Naga people have been keen hunters. As a result of this practice, over the past few centuries, numerous species of fauna and avifauna have disappeared from these areas. However, ever since the government clamped down on hunting for the past fifteen years or so, sighting of migrating and endangered birds and animals are now becoming very common. The rare Blyth’s Tragopan (Tragopan Blythii) is a resident of Nagaland and can be observed in plenty.
The ancient history of the Nagas is unclear. Ancient Sanskrit scriptures mention Kiratas, or golden skinned people, with distinct culture, who live in the mountains of the east after migrating from distant lands. Some anthropologists suggest Nagas belong to the Mongoloid race, and different tribes migrated at different times, each settling in the north-eastern part of present India and establishing their respective sovereign mountain terrains and village-states. There are no records of whether they came from the northern Mongolian region, southeast Asia or southwest China, except that their origins are from the east of India and that historic records show the present day Naga people settled before the arrival of the Ahoms in 1228 AD. The origin of the word ‘Naga' is also sketchy.A popularly accepted, but controversial view is that it originated from the Burmese word ‘Naka’, meaning people with earrings. Others suggest it means pierced noses.
Before the arrival of European colonialism in South Asia, there had been many wars, persecution and raids from Burma on Naga tribes, Meitei people and others in India's northeast. The invaders came for "head hunting" and to seek wealth and captives from these tribes and ethnic groups. When the British inquired Burmese guides about the people living in northern Himalayas, they were told ‘Naka’. This was recorded as ‘Naga’, and has been in use thereafter. With the arrival of British East India Company in the early 19th century, followed by the British Raj, Britain expanded its domain over entire South Asia including the Naga Hills. The first Europeans to enter the hills were Captains Jenkins and Pemberton in 1832. The early contact with the Naga tribes were of suspicion and conflict. The colonial interests in Assam, such as tea estates and other trading posts suffered from raids from tribes who were known for their bravery and "head hunting" practices. To put an end to these raids, the British troops recorded 10 military expeditions between 1839 and 1850. In February 1851, at the bloody battle at Kikrüma, numerous people died both on the British side as well as the Kikrüma Naga tribe side; in days after the battle, inter-tribal warfare followed that led to more bloodshed. After that war, the British first adopted a policy of respect and non-interference with Naga tribes. This policy failed. Over 1851 to 1865, Naga tribes continued to raid the British in Assam. The British India Government, fresh from the shocks of 1857 Indian rebellion, reviewed its governance structure throughout South Asia including its northeastern region. In 1866, the British India administration reached the historic step in Nagaland's modern history, by establishing a post at Samaguting with the explicit goal of ending inter-tribal warfare and tribal raids on property and personnel. In 1869, Captain Butler was appointed to lead and consolidate the British presence in the Nagaland hills. In 1878, the headquarters were transferred to Kohima - creating a city that remains to this day an important center of administration, commerce and culture for Nagaland.
On 4 October 1879, GH Damant (M.A.C.S), a British political agent, went to Khonoma with some troops, where he was shot dead along with 35 of his team.Kohima was next attacked and the stockade looted. This violence led to a determined effort by the British Raj, to return and respond. The subsequent defeat of Khonoma marked the end of serious and persistent hostility in the Naga Hills. Between 1880 and 1922, the British administration consolidated their position over a large area of the Naga Hills and integrated it into its Assam operations. The British administration enforced the Rupee as the currency for economic activity and a system of structured tribal government that was very different than historic social governance practices.These developments triggered profound social changes among the Naga people. A British India 1940 map showing Nagaland and Kohima City as part of Assam. In parallel, since mid 19th century, Christian missionaries from the United States and Europe, stationed in India,reached out into Nagaland and neighboring states, playing their role in converting Nagaland's Naga tribes from Animism to Christianity.