Nagaland travel guide


The land of the Nagas, known to the ancient Hindus as the abode of Shiva, is today one of India's least-developed states. It has much to offer in terms of scenic views and rich culture, yet it remains largely unknown to most travellers.

Nagaland is bounded on the North by Assam's Mishmi Hills district, Lohit district in Arunachal Pradesh East, Peren district in Nagaland West and Burma in the south. The state covers an area of 16394 sq. km with a population density of 80 persons per sq. km (higher than Switzerland). Kohima District borders Merillat in North Eastern Meghalaya while Dimapur borders Cachar district which is in Assam.

The capital is Kohima, home of an impressive war cemetery. The Government of Nagaland Tourist Department has two rest houses at Dzukou Valley and Dimapur besides eleven tourist lodges including one each at Kisama, Mokochung and Mon. Accommodation is also available at Kohima's Tourist Lodge as well as Private Hotels like Hotel Green Park, Blue Heaven etc.

Explore Nagaland

Prior permission must be obtained before visiting some along with Nagaland's border areas and these include The Mon area, the Tuensang Frontier Division and the Phek and Zunheboto areas.

A permit is also required to visit Longleng district which borders Assam's Dima Hasao district.

Nagaland is dotted with interesting sites like waterfalls, hot springs and rock carvings as well as temples (some dating back to AD 746). The various tribes such as Angami, Sema, Lotha etc., maintain their unique cultures and traditional costumes here.

The Great Hornbill festival held in Kohima around November every year brings together all communities of Nagaland to pay homage to nature through dance and music at a time when flowers traditionally blossom everywhere.

Lalpani Falls, Viswema village near Wokha, Changki village near Mon, Pupri falls in Tuensang district, Kisama Heritage Village and the Phek Open Air Rock Carvings are some of the important sites awaiting attention from visitors to this beautiful state which was once home to freedom fighters like Phizo, Angami Zapu Phizo and others fighting for an independent Naga homeland. The churches of Kohima and Mokochung too have their own unique charm. One can take a trip to Khonoma where traditional dances are performed during festivals while the chief guest is always adorned with a traditional headgear known as 'Mekhala'.


River Dikhu Nagaland's major river is the Dikhu River (Dilkhou) which cuts across Kohima District in a north-south direction to finally enter Manipur near Jiribam town. It is fed by tributaries rising in the hills of the Ukhrul district in Manipur state. These hill streams are locally called Naga (Chare). The important rivers in Nagaland apart from the Dikhu include Tizu, Dhansiri , Chindwin (Umleng), Sangpang, Maru , Longpi , Tuensang, Tsurang , Kameng (Chare) , Puthimari (Chare).


Nagaland has a rich traditional heritage and a colourful culture.

The Naga people have their own distinctive dress – the male attire being a turban – which is worn on special occasions or when attending Church services. The Angami men, for instance, wear a long headgear with only one end of it hanging from the back of the head while women tie up their hair in braids.

The major tribes inhabiting Nagaland are the Ao, Chang, Khiamniungan, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam (Sekr), Sumi and Yimchungre. Each tribe has its unique customs and traditions but they all celebrate festivals like Hornbill Festival where folk dances representing each tribe's craftsmanship is displayed.

Music and Dance

The traditional folk music of Nagaland is passed on from one generation to another orally unlike in the rest of India where it is primarily documented in written form. Due to a lack of proper recordings, knowledge about the general musical instruments used are limited. However, during festivals or social gatherings, there are specific musical instruments that are played depending upon the occasion. An example being bamboo flute, war drum etc., while dances don't generally have a particular instrument associated with them but depend on movements of hands and legs. The Angami dance called Len-Sohkhlet is performed by men only at night time for entertainment purposes. Men also play games like archery etc., for recreation.

The Naga are known for their colourful dances. They are performed at various events, with the most popular being the Hornbill dance which is named after the large and brightly coloured hornbills found abundantly in the state. During this festival, all tribes of Nagaland take part and compete with each other in music and dance performances. The main dancers wear colourful costumes while some cover their faces with masks. This dance symbolises a battle scene between good and evil since the costume headgear partially covers the eyes. Another famous dance called Mongmong is performed by women during festivities like New Year's Day or prior to any harvesting season etc., where they pray for the good health and prosperity of their family members through rhythmic movements and singing.

Art & Crafts

The art and craft of Nagaland are usually created out of wood, bamboo leaves, cane or leather. The Angami Naga tribe for instance use cane to make chairs while the animal hide is used to create traditional bags decorated with beads and feathers. Some other examples which are popular amongst the various tribes are weaving by women-folk using cotton thread by hand or loom where men work on traditional blacksmithing using locally available raw materials like wood and metal. Some tribal people also resort to the slash and burn methods (jhum) for agriculture purposes which causes damage to the environment since jhums release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.


Football is the official sport in Nagaland. Other popular sports played in the state include volleyball, cricket, basketball etc.


The cooking in Nagaland varies from tribe to tribe. The common ingredients used are rice, venison, bamboo shoots, fish and fermented soybeans. Some tribes also use leafy vegetables while specific food items vary during festivals like Hornbill where the cuisine is usually sweet in taste with an addition of extra pork dishes which clearly demonstrates Naga cuisine as a non-vegetarian one.

Climate & Weather

The climate is pleasant in the summer when the maximum temperature does not go beyond 30 Degrees Celsius. Winter is extremely cold with a minimum temperature of barely 4 degrees Celsius. The state experiences heavy snowfall during the winter months which continues till March. Nagaland has experienced flash floods in past years due to increased rainfall and blockage of roads by landslides.

Nagaland Tourism

Tourism is a fast-developing industry in Nagaland and the state has many interesting places to offer natural scenic beauty, wildlife, traditions and people. Tourist attractions include historical monuments, festivals, lakes etc., The capital city Kohima offers museums that showcase its rich history while other famous tourist spots are; Bor Phema (World's second highest motorable road), Khezhakeno (Friendship Peak) where an Indo-Myanmar border pillar symbolises the friendship between India & Myanmar (Burma), Dzukou Valley National Park etc.

Picturesque Landscape

The picturesque landscape of the landlocked state draws tourists from across the globe. The state has thick tropical forests, serene hills and scenic valleys. There are many waterfalls in this region that attract tourists during the monsoon season when they are in full blossom. They also have a rich diversity of fauna & flora with some endangered species included in the Red data book list prepared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Some examples are Golden langur found only in Nagaland, Hoolock gibbons that inhabit only North-Eastern India & Burma while bird varieties include Hornbill etc.

The best time to visit Nagaland

The best time to visit Nagaland is between October and February. The weather remains pleasant during these months so you can enjoy your trip without any discomfort. However, it is advised that you plan your trip in advance in order to avoid last-minute hassles and possible inconvenience.