One of the Seven Sisters of the Northeast, Nagaland sits tucked between Manipur, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh. Nagaland shares its eastern border with Myanmar, the country with more than 100 ethnic groups. Such a diverse cultural richness can be seen in Nagaland too. Given the fact that 16 recognized tribes and numerous indigenous people call Nagaland their home, every tribe has its own way of celebrating its culture, which explains why there is a festival celebrated every month of the year in Nagaland. No doubt the state is called the ‘Land Of Festivals’.
Tourists visit Nagaland for many different reasons - to explore the wildlife of the region, go on treks along the scenic mountains, experience the tribal festivals, or go on a pilgrimage of the churches and temples of the state. Those who seek adrenaline rush find it in the adventure tourism offered by Nagaland. From camping to motorbiking, every experience is doubly exciting between the mountains of Nagaland. Looking beyond the regular tourist spots, here are 9 fun things to do in Nagaland.
There are several sanctuaries and wildlife parks in Nagaland. Among them, the Ntangki National Park has the widest variety of fauna and flora. You can spot mammals like the Golden langur, Hoolock gibbon, Asian palm civet, and the sloth bear in Ntangki National Park. Reptiles like python and monitor lizard; and birds like hornbill, black stork, and white-breasted kingfisher too make their presence felt in the national park.
Speaking of our feathered friends, bird watching is quite popular in the sanctuaries of Nagaland. Ghosu Bird Sanctuary and Aizuto Forests are dense forests with diverse bird species. The Ghosu Bird Sanctuary protects 20 species of endangered birds. Carry binoculars when you go on a safari in these sanctuaries because you don’t want to miss spotting the rufescent prinia, spot-breasted scimitar, and slaty-bellied tesia.
As you go towards eastern Nagaland, you must take a safari tour in the Fakim Sanctuary. This sanctuary situated along the India-Myanmar border is right out of a picture book. Even if you spot not a soul on your safari, the meandering brooks and narrow valleys of Fakin Sanctuary are satisfying to witness. Since the Fakim Sanctuary is spread over 642 hectares, it’s impossible to tour the entire landscape in a day. Better to stay in the nearby Dimapur town and take multiple jungle safaris to explore Fakin Sanctuary entirely.
Go on a wildlife safari in this sanctuary to spot mammals like the panther, Himalayan bear, jungle cat, and barking deer. If this barking deer intrigued you, you can visit the Rangapahar Forest Reserve in Dimapur to see different varieties of deer like the sambar deer, spotted deer, and barking deer.
Fun-seekers are sure to root for this among the things to do in Nagaland’s mountainous trails. Popular mountain biking trails in Nagaland include the Kohima DH Track, Viswema DH Track, Dzukou Valley Trail, and the Crucifix Descent. Many biking trails are located around Kohima and Jakhama regions because of their diverse topography. Since biking is so popular in the area, bike rentals are available in Kohima.
We suggest renting a bike for a daily trip and explore any one route in the Lugsad, Rain Forest Trail, and the Bakahan areas. Don’t rely on Google Maps since you will lose network inside the dense woods. Carrying a physical biking route map is advised. It’s better to explore the biking routes with friends. If you’re traveling solo, look for tourists going along the same route. Some biking trails lead to undiscovered remote villages, but sticking to the route is always recommended. Take pit stops along your trail for hot tea and coffee served by local vendors!
Such biking trails are the best way to explore the mountain meadows and mountain mists closely. You can either go for a day rental or book an organized bike tour. Many Kohima citizens ride cycles, a result of the Kohima Cycle for Change Challenge. It is a community-led bicycle rental program launched by the Kohima Smart City Development. This cycling culture is enough to motivate you to bike not only along forest trails but also explore Kohima city on a bike.
Also Read: Nagaland Travel Guide
Major rivers like Dhansiri, Doyang, Dikhu, and Jhanj flow through Nagaland. Many fishing enthusiasts enjoy fishing and angling along these rivers. Fish like Indian Mahseer, local trout, and salmon are found ample in the rivers of Nagaland. You can spend a day angling between the scenic river valleys.
The Mokokchung district of Nagaland has many angling spots because of the presence of the Milak River and the Tula River. Shops along the rivers rent out fishing equipment like fishing rods and nets, hooks, bait, etc for keen tourists. Hiring a local guide or carrying a guide map will better your experience. It is advised not to go fishing at night by yourself in unknown fishing spots.
Camping in Nagaland is a much sought-after activity, especially in the forests of the Satoi Range. The Dzukou Valley, located along the border of Nagaland and Manipur, is famous for its seasonal flowers and animals. Dzukou Valley camping lets you witness the scenic environment of the area. Another camping spot is Governor's Camp located along the Doyang River, a visual splendor because of its location.
Kohima too offers many camping sites replete with on-site barbeque and food availability. And of course, we must not forget the night-time star gazing experience from an altitude of over 4,738 ft!
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Graced by 21 named mountains and hundreds of hillocks, Nagaland is flocked by trekkers. The highest point among the Naga Hills is Mount Saramati, at a height of 12,552 ft. Saramati is the highest peak in all of the Purvanchal Himalayas. Scaling the Saramati Peak is challenging in winters as it is covered in snow. The Saramati Peak Trek is not recommended for novice trekkers. But if you are experienced enough, start your trek early in the morning from the Thanamir Village in Kiphire District. The district is located 84 km away from Kohima.
June to September is the right time to go trekking in Nagaland—a good time to witness the vibrant flora and fauna. This is also the time when lilies and rhododendrons bloom in the Dzukou Valley, offering trekkers views of hills covered in flowers. No wonder why Dzukou Valley is called the ‘The Valley of Flowers’ in the Northeast. Dzukou Valley also leads you to the second-highest peak after Saramati: the Japfu Peak. Trekking to the peak takes 5 long hours but is worth it owing to the scenic panoramic views along the way.
Trekkers also enjoy exploring the trekking trails of the Patkai Hills, Mokokchung, and the Satoi Range. While some prefer to go on a day trek, others camp for the night before continuing their trek the next day.
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Many Nagaland tours will suggest witnessing the tribal festivals is one of the top things to do in Nagaland. It’s true, but there is much beyond that. Exploring the tribal life in Nagaland is one step ahead of witnessing the Hornbill Festival. The tribal communities here are untouched by modernization. You can see the communities leading their lives in the same way they led centuries ago. Walk around the villages of Jakhama and you will spot bullet marks of World War 2 on the walls of many houses. Visit the colorful bazaars of Ruzaphema for the wide range of tribal handicrafts.
If you explore deeper, you can see tribals making these handicrafts, skills they mastered over the years. Accompany the Nagas on their hunting tours. Apart from the adrenaline rush during such hunting trips, you will learn a lot about the tribes. Hunting, for them, is a sport and they worship it like an art. Especially the Konyaks, who are the deadliest hunters when it comes to headhunting. Skulls of mithun, hornbill beaks, and skulls of mammals adorn the houses of this tribal community.
Taste the freshly brewed rice beer the locals serve you in bamboo glasses. Take a day off and experience their life closely by living in tribal huts - called ‘morungs’. These huts are replicas of the huts the ancestors of tribesmen lived in. Living in one will teach you tons about their history. You can experience it all at the Naga Heritage Village. If you want to live like the Nagas, you can also stay at the Touphema Village - 41 km from Kohima. You can sleep in Naga style and eat traditional Naga food during your stay.
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Museums are not meant for kids alone. If the tribal life and culture of Nagaland intrigued you, you can visit the museums in the state. Visiting the Nagaland State Museum in Kohima is a good way to learn about the 16 tribes of Nagaland. This museum is located on Upper Bayavu Hill. Rare artifacts like clan motifs, precious stones, necklaces, and traditional attires are on display at this museum.
You will find yourself lost in the stories of the Battle of Kohima, about how the Japanese army was defeated on the border of Burma in a historic battle. You can reach the museum easily from the Dimapur Airport or Railway station. But choose to go only on Thursdays, since the museum is closed on other days.
If the Battle of Kohima interested you, you can visit the World War 2 museum. Which displays artifacts and illustrations on the battle. This museum is located within the Kisama Heritage Village. Travel 10 km south from Kohima to reach here. Chances are that the museum will be locked when you go. If so, ask for a caretaker to open it for you because you shouldn’t miss the exhibits from WW 2 battles like table-top models of battlefields, soldiers' uniforms, a diverse range of weaponry, and historic photographs. You can pay a visit to the Kohima War Cemetery which has 1,420 Commonwealth burials from WW 2. The mowed lawns, lush green fields, and fresh flowers make the cemetery a place to remember.
If you are staying a day or two in Kohima, try to explore Kohima after dark. Live like a true local here. Kohima at night is a hub for street food and shopping, locals hang out at the night markets. The main street of Kohima is lined with stalls selling authentic traditional food and multi-cuisine dishes. The experience of Kohima’s active nightlife is heightened by the bars and clubs open till late.
A visit during the 10-day Hornbill Night Carnival is sure to give you a complete experience of Kohima’s nightlife. Apart from food and shopping, you can see native performances. Visit this night market and support the local entrepreneurs and local artists of Nagaland.
If you visit Mokokchung, Mon, Wokha, Zunheboto, and Tuensang, you cannot miss the shops selling traditional clothes and artifacts. Nagaland’s craftsmanship is unique in its own sense. Bamboo mugs, cane carpets, baskets of cane, and handbags involve great intricacy and hard work by the locals. It’s worth visiting the local market or bazaars that, shops sell silk mekhela, Naga shawls, items of home decor, ornaments, and the likes.
Many tourists flock to Dimapur market to shop for imported clothes from Bangkok. Trending fashion is heavily influenced by Korean fashion styles. But we stress on visiting the markets of Kohima for traditionally made clothes. A walk around Kohima and you will see tribal shawls, handmade items, and intricate silk clothing. If handicrafts are your thing, you will appreciate the wood carving, blacksmithy, and pottery work by the Nagas. The locals are skilled in carving detailed figures on wood. Even if you don’t buy anything, merely strolling through the shops displaying such items is a fun activity to do in Nagaland. But we do suggest taking a Nagaland shawl as a memento of this state.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, eating the food in Nagaland can be absolutely fun! We challenge you to try the insect starters in Nagaland. Every insect can be found on a Naga plate, spiced up with their super-hot Naga chilies. It may be tough to develop a taste for fried silkworm or the spider dish, but do try it once.
If you like pork, order a slow-cooked pork curry with bamboo shoots at any eatery. It is a filling and nutritious meal served with rice. Smoked pork, that is hung above the fire for a week, is best eaten alongside the famed rice beer. Explore the traditional way of cooking fish in Nagaland - stocking fish infused with spices and digging it inside the ashes of a fire. Other foods that you must try in Nagaland are eel chili sauce and crab chili sauce.
For some experimental dishes, try the forest ferns, beef, fermented tofu, tadpoles in polythene bags, etc at the Naga Keeda Bazaar. You can even try exotic meat cuisines like rabbits in bamboo crates and the flying fox. Blood-filled pork intestines and roasted yams might make your stomach churn. But if you want to try them, you can eat them at the Kohima night market.
The things to do in Nagaland we mentioned above is going to fill you with nothing but admiration for Nagaland and its people. Visiting tourist spots and clicking photos is one thing, but things get seriously fun when you get in character and explore the actual Naga life. Then it can be hunting with the tribesmen or eating their local cuisine. In the end, you might have fewer pictures for your Instagram, but more experiences for your memories.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Nagaland?
Summers, lasting between March to April, are the best time to visit Nagaland. The temperatures in the state range between 16°C - 31°C during these months. Most landscapes in Nagaland are scenic in summers. Since summers last only 2 months in Nagaland, it is the ideal time to visit. Avoid visiting Nagaland in monsoons, there are threats due to landslides. But due to less tourist footfall, rates of hotels are cheap in monsoons - an ideal time to visit for those on a budget.
How Many Days To Spend In Nagaland?
If you want to explore the depths of Nagaland, its culture, history, and villages, even a month will be less. But many travelers are short on time. You will find tours offering both 5-day packages and 14-day packages. We recommend longer tour packages to see more of Nagaland since one-week tours cover only commercial tourist spots of Nagaland.
What Is The Right Time To Visit Nagaland For Adventure Sports?
Visit between October to May if you are planning to explore adventure sports in Nagaland. The weather is pleasant, making it ideal for adventure activities. Moderate weather and calm flow of water provide an ideal platform for water sports. Clear skies during this season ensure that nighttime stargazing is possible if you go camping.
Is Nagaland Safe For Solo Travelers?
Yes, locals of Nagaland are welcoming towards solo travelers. There will be no language barriers since most locals speak English. Even the tribes of Nagaland are friendly towards outsiders, so there is no harm for a solo traveler. Just remember to carry a map or ask for directions while on mountain passes. You might meet like-minded solo travelers as you explore Nagaland, making your solo trip safe and memorable.
How To Reach Nagaland?
There are direct flights from Kolkata to Dimapur Airport. If you take an AirIndia flight from New Delhi, you will be flying to Dimapur via Kolkata. If you want to take the train, the Rajdhani Express takes you to Dimapur from New Delhi. Dimapur is well connected to Guwahati, apart from Kolkata. You need to travel about 65 km from Dimapur Airport to reach Kohima, the capital of Nagaland.
Which Is The Best State To Visit Among The Seven Sisters Of The Northeast?
Apart from Nagaland, Meghalaya is the most beautiful place in Northeast India. Meghalaya has an abundance of natural beauty. This ‘Abode of Clouds’ offers a variety of food, sightseeing activities, and festivals. The biodiversity, subtropical forests, variety of orchids, amazing living root bridges, etc. make Meghalaya much sought-after amongst the Seven Sisters of the Northeast.
Which Language Is Spoken In Nagaland?
Nagamese is the most spoken language in Nagaland.
What Dishes Are Famous In Nagaland?
Some of Nagaland's famous dishes are Bushmeat, Hinkejvu, Samathu, Fish in Bamboo, and Akini.