Often described as the land of festivals, Nagaland is home to 16 officially recognised tribes and sub-tribes each with distinctive costumes, headgear and jewellery as well as their own agrarian calendar of festivals. It is said that no matter which month you visit, there will always be a reason to celebrate. For instance, the Angami observe Sekrenyi – a festival of purification – with feasting and singing in February, while the Chang tribe celebrates Naknyülüm in July with indigenous games and a host of local customs. But the mother of all festivals is the 10-day Hornbill Festival held in December where members of all the Naga tribes congregate at Kisama – the Naga Heritage Village – to put up cultural performances, indigenous games, a crafts bazaar, musical events and more.
Motorcycling in Nagaland
Bike enthusiasts can also register for the annual motorcycle ride from Dimapur, led by Nagaland Motorcycle Club, to the festival venue. Other festival highlights include a chilli eating contest, angling as well as a chance to taste the local meal of sticky rice, smoked pork, pickled bamboo shoots and zutho, a fermented rice beer. For history buffs, there is also a World War II Museum that houses relics from the 1944 battle of Kohima, which first put Nagaland on the global map.
Trading town filled with talent – Dimapur
It is the gateway to Nagaland, if you drive from Assam or fly into the state’s only airport located here. Around the 10th century, Dimapur was the capital of the Dimasa Kachari kingdom. Even today, one can see old relics – large dome-shaped pillars carved in stone – dating back to period. Legend has it that a king who was fond of a game similar to chess had built these to play.
Gracious hosts, talented designers, weavers and musicians make the visit special. The Wednesday market provides a lot of exotic “food” for thought.
India’s first green village – Khonoma
In a society where people have grown up hunting, the boast – “We don’t hunt, we don’t cut trees here,” is admirable. Nagaland’s green village is a Rs 3 crore project sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, both at the state and central level. Since its inauguration on 25th October 2005, it has become a model village. However, this historical village first shot to fame after the local Angami tribe resisted the invading British army during the 1800s. Well-preserved morungs (youth dormitories) and monoliths make this village a must-see.
The capital – Kohima
The land of the Angami tribe – Kohima – played a vital role during World War II. The Battle of Kohima (1944), fought at the same time as the Battle of Imphal, was a turning point for the Allied forces compelling the Japanese to retreat. The epitaph on the memorial of the 2nd British Division in the cemetery there is now known as the Kohima poem. “When you go home, tell them of us and say – For your tomorrow we gave our today.”
The week-long Hornbill Festival is held at Kisama Heritage Village which is about 12km from Kohima. All the tribes of Nagaland take part in this festival with the aim to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and display its traditions.
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