April 20, 2017

TMS#006 Explore Nagaland with Aakash Mehrotra

This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Aakash Mehrotra from the blog Hand of Colors.
Today's destination: Nagaland
Nearest domestic airport: Dimapur Airport (DMU)
Nearest Railway Station is Dimapur (DMV)
Prerequisities - Inner line permit, see links section below
Packing - warm clothes, gloves
Time of the year - December as you get to see the Hornbill festival. Preferable to do a festival calendar check before you plan.
Length of the itinerary: 10 days
Itinerary Highlights:
- Aakash speaks about his experience covering the Hornbill festival which takes place in Kisama, which is about 15kms from the capital Kohima. Bus services are available
- The Hornbill festival is a celebration held every year from 1st - 10th December, in Nagaland. It is also refered to as the festival of festivals as different Naga tribes come together and showcase their cultural heritage through this festival.
- One can see the display of different Naga cultures, their food, their traditional attire, dance forms, fight forms and much more. Along with these there is a variety  of competitions right from food, to music to literary events.
- If you are brave enough you can also participate in the chilli eating competition and get a flavor of the bhut jolokia or ghost pepper, one of the hottest chillis in India.
- In terms of lodging Kisama has some decent homestays where you can lodge during the festival, but they are very limited in number. - Another option is to stay in Kohima, the capital of Nagaland, which is just 12kms from Kisama while you are at the festival. For other smaller villages, it is better to work with a local travel agent to arrange accommodation.
- By choosing to stay in Kohima, you can also experience the beautiful night markets during the festival as well as a flavor of local food, music and shopping.
- For transportation, public transport like buses and shared taxis are available but frequency is limited. Cabs are your best bet to get about the city/towns.
- Aakash also speaks about his next pit stop, Khanoma, which is one of few green villages in Nagaland ie a village which is completely self sustainable and has given up hunting in order to avoid any imbalances in the natural topography
- Aakash then travels to Mon - the final frontier of India. He shares his experiences in the village of Longwa, which is one of the final villages in Mon before the Myanmar border.
- Longwa is a village of of the head-hunters, warriors and tribes infamous for cutting off the head of their opponents in war.
- An amazing story with the cheiftain of the Longwa village ensues (spoiler alert! There is opium and Assam rifles in the story too!)
- From Longwa, Aakash makes a pit stop at Chuchuyimlang - a village in Mokokchung District which has been converted to a heritage village by the Nagaland Tourism board.
- As far as food is concerned, most of the Naga cuisine is water based, low or no oil base. Food is mostly boiled and not fried and organic. Sweet potatoes and rice beer are the popular choices among tourists as well.
- Listen to some amazing stories of experiences with the locals! From drinking rice beer to how the Nagas fooled the British into believing they had guns during the Naga wars!


Aakash's blog Hand of Colors
Hornbill Festival: A cultural cauldron
Khonoma - The Land out there
Tales from a headhunters’ land
Living on the edge: Imphal

Inner Line Permit

Like his work on Facebook
Follow him on Twitter

Email: trulyakash@gmail.com

Feature Photo by Aakash Mehrotra