Travel Bucket List: India – Nagaland Part 3

This part will showcase some of the lesser known towns in Nagaland.

Mokokchung
The cultural nerve centre of the Ao people as well as the most important economically and politically urban centre in northern Nagaland, Mokokchung is the third most important city after Dimapur and Kohima. The intellectual and cultural capital of Nagaland, historically, Mokokchung was one of the first Naga Hills sites where the Assam Rifles, led by the British, established their outposts, then called stockades, in the latter part of the 19th century. Much of the town initially grew around this post located in DC Hil which then gradually extended eastwards towards the remoter parts of the Naga Hills. The popular tourist spots in the area include the District Museum, the Town main Park located just above the Town Centre, the Unman village, which is the oldest and largest in the area and the Ao village.

About 18 km southwest of Mokokchung lies the village of Longkhum at an altitude of 1846 m above sea level. An Aos village from the days of the headhunters, the village is strategically located and commands a view of the surrounding hills and valleys with views as far as the eastern Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh and beyond. The Aos have a belief that Longkhum is the resting place of the spirit of the dead on their onward journey to paradise. Mongzu Ki or the eagle’s eyrie is situated on a high precipice where eagles have nested for centuries and according to Ao mythology, eagles are the manifestations of the spirits of the dead. Mata Yimkong is a beautiful hilltop where once a fortress with the AKM Student Jubilee Tower the highest point at Longkhum. At the Imkongmeren Memorial Site, one can have panoramic views of the Doyang River. The Longlangba Longlangba or the Stone Bridge is a ridge of stones that passes through the Rhododendron woods which has small holes in the rocks that were carved into the stones so that spears could be placed in them and were warning signs to attackers that they would be killed and their heads be taken off. The man-made majang or observatory point is where one can have beautiful views with the backdrop of the Doyang River and the Mongzu-Ki or Eagle’s Cave can also be viewed from here. The legend behind Tangyim Maroksay that the water from this natural spring has the power to heal sickness. During September and early October, Cherry Blossoms bloom along the route to Longkhum. Achen Dang is where wedding ceremonies were conducted.

Ungma Village is the second-largest village in Nagaland and the oldest and largest of the Ao tribe reside here and the village was believed to be the birthplace of the Ao tribe. An old log drum, a Baptist church and an astoundingly pretty park located on the outskirts of Ungma are the famous tourist spots. The Chuchuyinlang Village is renowned for the celebrations of various tribal festivals with the most famous being the Moastu Festival that lasts for 3 days and commences on 1st May.

The Langpangkong Caves are situated between the valleys of Dikhu and Tzula Rivers and near the towns of Tuli and Changtongya. The caves are located in the Langpangkong mountain range and are believed to have given shelter to an Ahom King. The caves of Peren, Fusen kei and Mongzu Ki are the well-known yet unexplored caves of the region.

Tuensang
Tuensang was founded in 1947 to administrate the erstwhile North Eastern Frontier Agency or NEFA and lies about 227 km east of Kohima. In 1957, it was merged with the Naga Hills District to form a new administrative unit under the Ministry of External Affairs and later became a part of Nagaland. Tuensang is the headquarters of the Tuensang district, the easternmost and largest district of Nagaland, and has Myanmar to its east. It is also one of the fastest-growing towns in the state.

Noklak is a village situated on the edge of the district which is becoming popular due to its tribal festivals. It is inhabited by the Khiamniungan and is popular for its cane work, handicrafts and artefacts. Longtrok is an ancient village with remnants of the and Chungliyangti civilizations through its six celebrated stone structures. The most important ones are those of Tsongliyangti, Chungliyangti and Chungliyimti and are the most worshipped by the locals. The locals also believe that the Sangtams are the personifications of the ancient God who gave birth to other stones and moved them to different places. Between the town of Tuensang and the Hakchung village lies the very interesting village of Changsangmongko. Legend has it that this place is referred to as Changsang because of the Chang community settled here. The village is renowned for establishing a raised platform named Mullang, which is a symbol of the prosperity and well-being of mankind. An offbeat destination, Tsadang situated in the village of Longtrok is well known for its two ancient stones that picture two friends who regularly visited the village of Longtrok. They are placed in the vicinity of Tsongliyangti and Chungliyangti and are worshipped by the local people.

Phek
The name Phek is derived from the word Phekrekedze which means a watchtower. The district is inhabited by three major tribes, the Kheza, the Chokhri and the Pochury with at least five linguistics groups, namely the Chokri, the Khezha, the Pochury, the Sapu, and the Semas. Phek has moderately warm summers and cold winters. The people are expert craftsmen, excellent in making pots, baskets, sculptures and furniture. Phek is a hilly area rich in flora and fauna and the Shilloi Lake is an important attraction in the area apart from the amazing hills.

A beautiful foot-shaped lake in the heart of the Patkai range, the Shilloi Lake located in Lütsam Village has verdant valleys surrounding it. The lake is considered very important as it is believed that the spirit of a holy child rests in the bottom of the lake and it is one of the reasons why no one fishes or uses the lake water for drinking and irrigation. The four-meter deep lake spreads over an area of 250 to 300 m. There are many legends associated with the lake with one being a baby was found floating in the middle of the lake and two hands were seen bobbing the baby. It is said that the baby is the reigning queen of the lake and that the spirits of the lake are its protectors and so it is believed that no one can drown in the lake with no reported deaths by drowning in the lake. The area is known for its fishing spots with the best time to fish between June and September. The lake is also a haven for migratory birds like Siberian Cranes.

Atop Mt Zanibu near Thuvopisumi village, the Dzudu Lake is surrounded by lush greenery in the middle of dense jungles. The narrow strip of water is also called Zanibu Lake and is a paradise for bird watchers. The Phek Waterfall lies amid natural beauty in the middle of a jungle. One will have to walk quite a bit to reach the waterfall in the jungle.

About 70 km from Phek and 3 km from Pfutsero town, Glory Peak stands 2600 m above sea level overlooking the valley. From the peak, which is a local favourite picnic spot, one can also catch sight of the highest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest.

The small village of Khezhakeno is set amid picturesque surroundings. It is believed that many Naga tribes originated from Khezhakeno and migration led them to the other parts of the region. According to another popular legend, the village has a stone slab from which helps paddy miraculously multiply when placed on any drying land.

Mon
Home to the Konyaks nagas, Mon provides visitors with a unique and mesmerising view of tattooed faces wearing feathery loincloths. The district, except for the foothills, has a difficult terrain with steep slopes. Even though Mon doesn’t have a lot of sightseeing places, but it still attracts many visitors. There are numerous villages close by which offer one a closer picture of the life of the Nagas. Veda Peak and Naganimora are among the famous tourist spots here and one can see a waterfall near the Veda peak, one of the most pristine places in the region. Veda peak is located around 70 km from Mon. Among the few villages in the region that are worth visiting are Chui, Longwa and Shangynu.

Veda Peak is the highest peak in Mon and is located almost 70 km from district headquarters. The peak gives clear and stunning views of the Brahmaputra river as well as the Chindwin river which runs through Myanmar when the skies are clear. The famous waterfall at the peak is also worth visiting. The Angh’s or Chief’s house at Shangnyu Village is believed to be more than 500 years old. Chenloisho Village is one of the biggest villages in the Chen area. Located near the India-Myanmar border, this village has a small museum that houses all kinds of traditional ornaments of the region. Human skulls which are of the head-hunting days are displayed in Waloo. Longwa Village is one of the largest villages in Mon and this village is very interesting because the village lies in both India and Myanmar. The chief or the Angh’s house lies half in India and half in Myanmar. Villagers hold dual citizenship in both India and Myanmar. Four rivers flow through the river, two in India and two in Myanmar and so the natural beauty of the village is worth making the trip there.

Pfutsero
Pfutsero is the highest-altitude town and the coldest inhabited place in Nagaland with the temperature dropping below zero degrees Celcius during some winter nights and is inhabited mostly by the Kuzhas and Chokris and a commercially important town. The best time to visit is between mid-October which is when harvesting begins and April. The most important festival of the Khezhas is the Tsükhenye festival celebrated in April or May which takes place at the Pfütseromi Village.

This brings us to the end of this wonderful state that I hope I get to visit one day. Let me know in the comments below if you have been here and if I have missed anything that I should put on my bucket list. Check this space for another state soon.

Travel Bucket List: India – Nagaland Part 2

This part is all about Nagaland’s capital city, Kohima.

Kohima
The capital of Nagaland, Kohima is the second-largest city in the state. Originally known as Kewhira, Kohima was founded in 1878 when the British colonial rulers established its headquarters of the then Naga Hills District of Assam Province. It officially became the capital of the state after the state of Nagaland was inaugurated in 1963. Kohima was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II and the battle is often referred to as the Stalingrad of the East. In 2013, the British National Army Museum voted the Battle of Kohima to be Britain’s Greatest Battle. Located in the foothills of the Japfü rang, the city has an average elevation of 1,261 m.

Kohima was originally known as Kewhi–ra which is an Angami name that means the land where the Kewhi flower grows. The name, Kohima, came about as the British could not pronounce the Angami name of Kewhi–ra, but most locals still prefer to use Kewhi–ra when speaking about the capital city.

Kohima was originally a large village named Kewhira, located in the northeastern part of the present-day Kohima urban area and was divided into four large clans or thinuos. The East India Company administration started to expand into Kohima beginning of the 1840s and continued to annex the region after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Kohima was the first seat of modern administration as the Headquarters of Naga Hills District, then under Assam.

In 1944 during World War II, the Battle of Kohima along with the simultaneous Battle of Imphal was the turning point in the Burma Campaign. For the first time in South-East Asia, the Japanese lost the initiative to the Allies, which the Allies then retained until the end of the war. This hand-to-hand battle and slaughter prevented the Japanese Army from gaining a base from which they might have easily gone into the plains of India.

When Nagaland became a full-fledged state on 1 December 1963, Kohima became the state capital. On 20 March 1986, two students were killed in indiscriminate firing by the Nagaland Police when they participated in a peaceful protest called by the Naga Students’ Federation or NSF to rally against the state government’s decision on the introduction of the Indian Police Service cadres and the extension of the Disturbed Area Belt from 5 to 20 km along the Indo-Myanmar border. The event was so tumultuous that it led three Cabinet ministers and five state ministers of Nagaland to resign.

On a green and verdant hillock, lies the township of Touphema. Built by the local community in partnership with the Tourism Department of Nagaland, Touphema Village is a collection of small huts built and decorated in traditional Naga design which gives visitors the feel of living in a Naga tribal house. A very popular tourist attraction, the village is a wonderful recreation of a traditional AngamiNaga village set up with cabins and rooms that have been built to look like traditional huts and cottages. A short walk around the village can transport one way back in time when Naga tribes lived. The AngamiSekrenyi annual festival is celebrated with great fervour in the village in February. Most of the traditional village buildings have roofs made of corrugated iron without chimneys. Located on a gentle hillock with a panoramic view of the surrounding valleys, Touphema offers a chance to stay in quaint little huts, enjoy pleasant evenings around bonfires with cultural dances just adding to the rustic feel of the entire place and offer some of the best photo opportunities. A recently refurbished museum inside the village offers an extensive ethnographic collection including wood carvings, musical instruments, textiles, handicrafts traditional artefacts, jewellery, and archaeological finds.

A town belonging to the Angami Naga tribe, Khonoma Village is a one-of-its-kind project located about 20 km from the state capital. In a Green Village, where all forms of hunting have been abolished for a more sustainable ecosystem, the residents live a more sustainable way of living. Nestled on the base of the mountains, this eco-friendly, conservation-based village also provides fantastic views of misty valleys, gently sloping hillocks, and terraced farms.

The Naga Heritage Village in Kisama on the outskirts of Kohima seeks to preserve and promote the culture and traditions of the Naga people. The name Kisama itself is an amalgamation of the Naga villages, Kigwema (Ki), Phesama (Sa), and the word Ma which means a village. The venue for the famed Hornbill Festival, the village is designed in the form of an ancient Naga village to give an authentic feel of a true Naga village and the experience of travelling back in time. The village is opened to the public for a week in December, during the Hornbill festival which is the best time to visit. The Hornbill Festival is the biggest annual festival in North East India. The festival is held every year from 1 to 10 December with the purpose to promote the richness of the Naga heritage and traditions. It is also called the ‘Festival of Festivals’. The week-long festival unites one and all in Nagaland and people enjoy the colourful performances, crafts, sports, food fairs, games and ceremonies. Traditional arts which include paintings, wood carvings, and sculptures are also on display. The festival highlights include the traditional Naga Morungs exhibition and the sale of arts and crafts, food stalls, herbal medicine stalls, flower shows and sales, cultural medley – songs and dances, fashion shows, the Miss Nagaland beauty contest, traditional archery, Naga wrestling, indigenous games, and a musical concert.

The Kohima Cathedral also known as the Help of Christians Cathedral is a prominent Kohima landmark in Kohima. The church is noted for its architecture which incorporates many elements of traditional Naga houses, including its facade which resembles that of a Naga house and the architecture blends into the hill on which it is situated. The 16 feet high carved wood crucifix is one of Asia’s largest crosses. Conceptualised by Kohima’s first bishop, the cathedral complex also contains his tomb and was constructed in 1998. After the battle of Kohima, the Japanese contributed to the making of this church in memory of their loved ones.

The enchanting Dzükou valley with its emerald green rolling hills, interspersed by a gently flowing stream, is tucked away at an altitude of 2,438.4 m, about 30 km south of Kohima. A trekker’s delight, Dzükou is known for its bio-diversity with the bamboo bush its predominant plant and looks likes a fully mown lawn from afar. The valley is considered to be the base of the crater of an old volcano and is well known for its natural environment, seasonal flowers, flora, and fauna with the North Eastern Valley of Flowers a sight to behold.

The second-highest peak in Nagaland, Japfu Peak stands 3048 m above sea level and is about 15 km south of Kohima. The best seasons for climbing this mountain are between November to March. In the Japfu range, one can find the tallest Rhododendron tree, featured in the Guinness Book of World Records, over 109 ft tall and the girth at its best measures more than 11 ft. The sight of the sunrise from the hump of Japfu peak in November is something that needs to be experienced.

The Kohima Museum takes visitors closer to the lives of the tribals living in Nagaland. Built to introduce visitors to the rich culture and tradition of the 16 tribal groups of Nagaland, the Kohima Museum is located in Upper Bayavu Hills and displays gateposts, endemic regional animals and birds, statues, jewellery items and pillars. The museum also houses life-size models depicting costumes, weapons and jewellery worn by the people.

The Kohima State Museum allows visitors to get a deeper insight into the history and culture of the tribes residing in the state. Established in 1970, the museum houses rare artefacts belonging to the 16 tribes of Nagaland. From tribal attires and weapons to jewellery and sculptures, the exhibits of the museum leave visitors fascinated. There is an art gallery, which displays amazing paintings made by local artists as well as showcases musical instruments used by the Naga tribes. One of the best attractions of the museum is the models of traditional Naga huts known as Naga Morung. The museum also houses a rare collection of precious stones like cornelian and tourmaline along with brass artefacts and silver bells.

Set amidst picturesque surroundings, the Kohima War Cemetery was built in April 1944 to honour the brave soldiers of the 2nd British Division of the Allied Forces who lost their lives during World War II. The war cemetery houses 1,420 graves and is well-maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The cemetery was built in the tennis court of the then deputy commissioner’s residence, the exact place where one of the fiercest battles against the Japanese was fought. Popularly remembered as the Stalingrad of the East, the battle of Kohima was fought from April 4 to June 22, 1944, and offers gorgeous panoramic views of Kohima. The cemetery’s top also houses a dome-like memorial raised to honour the 917 Hindu and Sikh soldiers who lost their lives in the battle and were cremated according to their faith. The cemetery is well kept with lush green, mowed lawns and well-groomed flowers. There is also a War Museum as well as the Kohima Cathedral nearby.

The Kohima Zoo houses the state bird, the rare Tragopan, and the state animal, the wild buffalo. The zoo is created on a hill and the hill has been beautifully used to provide natural landscapes for the animals. The golden langurs and Blythe’s tragopan are the biggest attractions of the zoo with a section of the zoo turned into a special area for kids with a play zone and fun facts about the animals.

Established in 1923, the Ntangki Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a reserved forest in 1975 and converted into a national park in 1993. Located about 29 km from Kohima, the national park is said to be home to several animals including elephants, wild buffalos, the rare Hoolok gibbon, sloth bear, barking deer and black storks. The 200 km national park has a natural and protected habitat.

In the next part, our last part about this wonderful state, we will explore some of the lesser known towns in the state.

Travel Bucket List: India – Nagaland Part 1

After I pass through Manipur, my next destination will be the mist-shrouded state of Nagaland.

Bordered by Arunachal Pradesh to the north, Assam to the west, Manipur to the south and the Sagaing Region of Myanmar to the east Nagaland’s capital is Kohima and its largest city Dimapur. One of India’s smallest states, Nagaland became the 16th state of India on 1 December 1963 and has experienced insurgency and inter-ethnic conflicts since the 1950s, limiting its economic development. Agriculture is its most important economic activity, accounting for over 70% of its economy and other significant activities include forestry, tourism, insurance, real estate, and miscellaneous cottage industries. Home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, Nagaland lies between the parallels of 98 and 96 degrees east longitude and 26.6 and 27.4 degrees latitude north.

The ancient history of the Nagas is unclear with tribes migrating at different times, each settling in the northeastern part of present-day 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 historical records show the present-day Naga people settled before the arrival of the Ahoms in 1228.

The origin of the word Naga is also unclear, with a popularly accepted, but controversial view being that it originated from the Burmese word Na-Ka or naga, meaning the people with earrings while others suggest it means pierced noses. Both Naka and Naga are pronounced the same way in Burmese.

Before the European colonialism of South Asia, there were many incursions from the Burmese on the Nagas, the Meitei, and others in India’s northeast where the invaders head-hunted and the Burmese word Naka was used for them which became Naga and has been in use since then.

British troops recorded 10 military expeditions between 1839 and 1850 and after the bloody battle at Kikrüma in 1851, the British adopted a policy of caution and non-interference with Naga tribes. Between 1851 and 1865, Naga tribes continued to raid the British in Assam. In 1866, the British India administration established a post at Samaguting with the goal of ending intertribal warfare and tribal raids on property and personnel. In 1878, the headquarters were transferred to Kohima which created a city that remains an important center of administration, commerce, and culture for Nagaland. Between 1880 and 1922, the British administration consolidated its position over a large area of the Naga Hills and integrated it into its Assam operations and in 1926, it became a part of Pakokku Hill Tracts Districts of Burma until 4 January 1948. Since the mid-19th century, Christian missionaries from the United States and Europe, reached Nagaland and its neighboring states, converting Nagaland’s Naga tribes from animism to Christianity.

In 1944 during World War II, the Japanese Army, with the help of the Indian National Army led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, invaded Burma and attempted to take India through Kohima. The Allied soldiers defended Kohima and successfully repelled the Japanese troops in a battle that was fought from 4 April to 22 June 1944.

After India’s independence, Nagaland remained a part of Assam, but after the Phizo-led Naga National Council demanded a political union of their ancestral and native groups, it led to a series of violent incidents, that damaged government and civil infrastructure, attacked government officials and civilians and so the army in 1955 to restore order. In 1957, an agreement was reached between Naga leaders and the Indian government, creating a single separate region of the Naga Hills and it became a union territory directly administered by the central government with a large degree of autonomy. This was not satisfactory, however, and agitation with violence increased across the state. In July 1960, Nagaland became a full state with the state formally inaugurated on 1 December 1963, and Kohima was declared as the state capital.

The state has continued to see violence and insurgency. In March 1975, a direct presidential rule was imposed the state has seen President’s Rule imposed four times since its creation, though today the state is not under such directive.

A largely mountainous state, about one-sixth of Nagaland, is covered by tropical and sub-tropical evergreen forests—including palms, bamboo, rattan as well as timber and mahogany forests. The Naga Hills rise from the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam to about 610 m and rise further to the southeast, as high as 1,800 m with Mount Saramati at an elevation of 3,841 m the state’s highest peak where the Naga Hills merge with the Patkai Range forming the boundary with Myanmar. Rivers such as the Doyang and Diphu to the north and the Barak river in the southwest dissect the entire state with 20% of the state’s land area covered with wooded forest. Nagaland has a rich birdlife with more than 490 species. Blyth’s Tragopan or the grey-bellied tragopan, a vulnerable species of galliform, is the state bird and the state is also known as the falcon capital of the world. The Mithun, a semi-domesticated gaur is the state animal and has been adopted as the official seal of the government.

The people of Nagaland live a largely rural life with 71.14% of the population living in rural regions belonging to 16 major and some minor tribes. The state is also home to the bhut jolokia or the ghost pepper, one of the hottest chilis in the world at 855,000 SHU on the Scoville scale.

Let’s start our exploration of the state with the state’s largest city, Dimapur.

Dimapur
Nagaland’s largest city, Dimapur is the state’s main gateway and commercial centre, located in southwest Nagaland. Located near the border with Assam along the banks of the Dhansiri River, Dimapur is the only plains tract of hilly Nagaland and also has the only airport in the state for connectivity and economic activity. Its main railway station is the second busiest station in Northeast India.

The name Dimapur is derived from the Dimasa words Di which means water, ma which means large and pur which is a Sanskritised word which means a city, translating to the big river city, and associated with the word Kachari which means the people of the river valley after the river Dhansiri which flows through it. Others contend that Dimapur is a corruption of Hidimbapur, meaning the city of Hidimbi from the Mahabharata who was the demoness turned woman whose marriage to the Pandava prince Bhima that led to the birth of Ghatotkacha, which was the Hindu lineage created for the rulers of Dimasa by the Brahmin pandits at Khaspur. Hidimbapur is said to have been abbreviated to Dimbapur and subsequently to have lost a consonant to become Dimapur. In the Ahom Chronicles, Dimapur Is referred to sometimes as Che-din-chi-pen or the town earth burn make which means the brick town and its rulers as Timisa which is a distorted word for Dimas.

In the 13th century, the city was the capital of the Dimasa kingdom. During World War II, Dimapur was the centre of action between the Allied and Japanese forces and the staging post for the Allied offensive. The airport at Dimapur was also used for supplies to the allied forces in Burma. In 1918, Dimapur was leased to then Naga Hills district, which is today’s Nagaland by then erstwhile Assam Province of British of India for 30 years for the construction of railways lines. In 1963, it was once again leased to the state of Nagaland for 99 years. There is controversy surrounding this claim, as both state governments have not come forward to comment on the matter. Present-day Dimapur has far outgrown its old town area and is a contiguous urban sprawl from the Assam border at Dilai Gate and the new field check gate up to the foothills of Chümoukedima, the designated district headquarters of Dimapur district.

Located in Seithekima village, the Triple Falls are three glistening water streams trickling down from a height of 280 ft to a natural pool. The stunning fall area is maintained by the tourist department of Nagaland and also serves as a lovely trekking spot. Situated on the foothills of the Naga Hills, Chumukedima is an ancient village famous for waterfalls.

The Kachari Rajbari ruins are famous for their monoliths. It is believed that the scattered stones and bricks are the remains of temples and embankments. Although is left in ruins after centuries of abandonment, after facing conflict with the Ahom King in the 18th century, today, it lies in the centre of the town and signifies great historical importance for the northeast region.

The Shiva temple is located in Singrijan and is believed to have been built by the local villagers in 1961. It is said that once, one of the villagers went to the Rangapahar Reserve Forest and found a stone which he sharpened later with his knife. He realised some liquid was released from the stone and later dreamt that the stone was a manifestation of Lord Shiva. Soon, the villagers started worshipping the stone as a Shivalinga.

The Dimapur Jain Temple was built in 1947 and has intricate glasswork. The temple is considered very auspicious with intricate architecture. The main deity of the temple is Lord Mahavira. In the back portion of the temple, built-in 1989, there are statues of Lord Adinath, Lord Bahubali and Lord Bharat Swami. On the first floor are the Samavsaran and the Chaubisi which are the idols of all the twenty-four Tirthankaras.

The Nagaland Science Centre aims to promote creative learning through its three galleries, our sense, fun science and the children’s corner. Besides, there is an inflatable dome, the Tara Mandal which lets one peak deeper into the sky at night. The science centre has some specially designed exhibits that increase learning tendencies.

Diezephe Village, located about 13 km south of Dimapur is well known for its handlooms and handicrafts as well as the many workshops organised here. The craft and development society also houses tools that could be used by craftsmen at the rate of Rs 150 per day. The village also has beautiful artefacts made from wood, bamboo and cane.

The Rangapahar Reserve Forest located just 7 km from the city, on its outskirts is known for its wildlife and is famous for its variety of plants, especially those relevant to medicine. There is a variety of unique birds in this reserve which attracts many bird watchers.

In the next part, we will explore Nagaland’s capital city of Kohima.

Travel Bucket List: Northeast India Part 2

After having visited Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya in Part 1, let’s turn our attention to the remaining states. Today we will visit the Himalayan state of Sikkim and the most north-eastern states of India which are Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.

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Shri Govindaji Temple, Manipur
A shrine to Lord Krishna, it is believed that the temple absolves you of your guilt, worries, and stress. The simple architecture makes it stand apart from any other temple in the region, making it amongst the top places to see in North East India. The temple stands in the capital city of Manipur, and is quite accessible for the tourists. The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and Lord Jagannath and dates back to the year 1876, almost 130 years old. The beauty of this ancient temple is dotted with two small ponds named Radha Kunj and Krishna Kunj. The Golden domes of the temple are visible from quite a distance and you are even allowed to photograph this place. If you are interested in history and architecture, it can be an informative stopover which is situated right next to Kangla Fort.

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Loktak Lake, Manipur
This lake is famous for its numerous small floating islands which are locally famous as ‘Phumdis.’ Loktak lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in North East India and is home to the world’s only floating National park – Keibul Lamjao National Park. It is located in the Bishnupur district of Manipur and the floating swamps can be toured on a fisherman’s boat. It is a nature lover’s paradise where you can indulge in birdwatching, witnessing he endangered Manipuri brow-antlered deer, Sangai and photographing more than 425 species of animals and 100 species of birds. It is one of the must-go places to visit in North East India.

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Imphal Valley, Manipur
This oval shaped canyon is situated an hour drive away from the city and is incredibly scenic. This valley owes its beauty to the confluence of several small river streams from the neighbouring hills, giving a unique colour to the river and scenery. The famous Loktak lake is one of the lakes and swamps of the Southern side of the valley. The valley is picture-perfect and you can click endless selfies, the frame will always look bright and beautiful.

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Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram
Spread over an immense 550 square kilometres, the Dampa Tiger Reserves have some beautiful tigers that you can catch sight, and capture pictures of. There is no doubt that the sight of a tiger is an experience in itself to cherish for lifelong. The royal look of a tiger, and their menacing yet elegant ways are best experienced in person, and that is why visiting this place is a must.

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Reiek Heritage Village, Mizoram
This hilltop village is a birdwatcher’s delight and photographers favourite spot. Mizo hills in the background give ample opportunities for trekking. Among the many North East India tourist places, Mizoram is an underrated hill station and Reiek Heritage village is now breaking the barriers with its contrasting landscape of the steep rocky cliffs and the virgin forests. It is well connected with cities like Aizawl, Silchar, Guwahati etc.

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Vantawng Falls, Mizoram
Vantawng fall is a well-kept secret of the hilly state of Mizoram and is the highest waterfall of the state. It is one of the best sites in Mizoram and a testament to the hidden treasures of Northeast. It originates from Vanva River near Thenzawl and is tucked away in a green setting of valleys and mountains, almost over a hundred kilometres from the city of Aizawl.

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Kohima Museum, Nagaland
If you are interested in knowing the history, culture, lifestyle, and tribes of Nagaland than there is no better place than visiting Kohima Museum. Furthermore, there are antiques, crafts, and gadgets used by the tribes to meet their daily chores on exhibit. The different types of huts are on display of different tribal settlements. The dialects used by different tribes and clan motifs, along with musical instruments and utensils made of Buffalo horns and bamboos are some of the interesting things in Kohima Museum.

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Shilloi Lake, Nagaland
The Shilloi Lake is one of the major highlights of the state of Nagaland. It is situated in the town of Phek, and is looked over by some of the most glorious mountain peaks. The lake also has an interesting story and customs associated with it, and the surroundings are just as interesting, which makes it a great place to visit for a surreal holiday experience. For northeast India tourism, best time to visit is after the monsoons.

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Phodong Monastery, Sikkim
The Phogong Monastery dates back to the 18th century, and is one of the most religious places for the Kagyu sect of Buddhists, and even for tourists. There are indications that the structure dates back even more than the 18th century, with the secluded location making it even more wonderful for an enriching experience.

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Ravangla, Sikkim
A tourist attraction in the southern part of Sikkim, this little town is a recluse for anyone who is looking for one. It lets you stand alone in a crowd, surrounded by the serenity of the flowers in the summer and the snow-clad peaks in the winters. The birdwatchers have a merry time with the Himalayan migratory birds.

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Gangtok, Sikkim
This cloudy paradise is simply enticing, exuberant and the gateway to Northeast. Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim and a trekking hub. The site of Mt. Kanchenjunga is cherished from Gangtok, and mountaineers who are on their expedition to climb the Eastern Himalayas make it a base town. Travellers can also spot the pristine site of river Teesta and can travel to many points like the famous Tsomgo Lake, Rumtek monastery, Nathula Pass, Tashi viewpoint and Ban Jhakri falls etc. The view of Kanchenjunga during sunrise or sunset is commendable, it shines like a series of Golden Peaks.

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Pelling, Sikkim
Pelling is gaining popularity with each passing year and the next big attraction after Gangtok. Pelling is a town in the West district of Sikkim at an elevation of 2000 meters and is a paradise for peace-seekers. You can indulge in activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, village walks etc. It is becoming one of the places to visit in North East India to enjoy some of the breathtaking views of the Himalayas. There are various places in Pelling that you should definitely visit when you go to North East.

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Singalila National Park, Sikkim
This alluring National Park is situated at a height of 7000 feet above the sea level, covering an area of 79 sq km of land. The Rhododendron forests, rare species of Orchids and Alpine trees are home to a plethora of species in plants and animals like Himalayan Leopard, Elephant, Pangolin, Chinkara along with Primula, Bamboo, Magnolia, Oak, Rhododendron etc. It is a famous trekking destination as it makes a major part of the Singalila range and can be best traversed on a Jeep Safari.

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Tsomgo Lake, Sikkim
The winding roads which make a 38 km long journey from Gangtok to reach an altitude of 12,400 ft are ethereally beautiful. The lake at such an elevation flaunts its stillness in the most surreal settings of Himalayan peaks encircling it. The snow-clad mountains are the main source for the water in Lake as it melts from the mountains. In winters, this placid lake can also be snow-covered and while you travel to Tsomgo, do not forget to learn the stories which are linked to this lake. It is a different experience altogether.

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Nathula Pass, Sikkim
The old silk road that once used by merchants and traders is at an elevation of 14450 ft. above sea level on the Indo-Tibetan border. The temperature at Nathula is always freezing regardless of the season and the entire region is rich in Himalayan flora and fauna. It is one of the famous places to visit in North East India can be easily travelled from the capital city Gangtok. The name of the pass translates to “listening ears”. The trek on the Nathu La pass is one of the major highlights of the North East tourism as it gives an invigorating feeling to every traveler who experiences it. During the trek, you are treated to the views that remain ingrained in your memory for a lifetime, and you get to spot some beautiful lakes on the way. The best time to visit is during the summers when the temperatures are at a bearable 15 degrees. In the winters, it falls down to -25 degrees.

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Dzongri, Sikkim
A safari on an animal as huge and peaceful as the yak holds something magical in itself. The surrounding views while riding the majestic creature form a feeling of unity that you can seldom experience anywhere else, which is why this is one of the best things to do in North East. You can also get pictures captured to take back home as sweet memories.

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Tripura Sundari Temple, Tripura
This old Hindu shrine is situated around 56 km from Agartala town and is said to be one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. The outer upper edifice is a dome structure where the square type sanctum is worshipped, more like a typical Bengali hut. Flocks of tourists and locals visit this temple in lakhs during Diwali every year. It is one of the religious places to visit in North East India and one of the few temples of Goddess Kali in India.

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Ujjayanta Palace, Tripura
The entire city of Agartala unfurls around this lavishly designed architectural marvel of the Northeastern part of India. Ujjayanta Palace dates back to the year 1901 and from the public halls to the reception hall, from the library to the Chinese rooms; every edge gives a true sense of royalty. The lush greenery of vast gardens is well complemented with a rippling lake. It serves as a pretty museum to the travellers who come to Tripura all the way from their homes.

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Jagannath Temple, Tripura
This is a famous temple in Tripura which dates back to the 19th century and was built by Manikya Dynasty. The temple is dedicated to God Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra. It is suggested to go during the month of June to witness the famous Rath Yatra. Keep your camera handy because this temple is a sight to the sore eyes. The best time to visit is in June to witness the famous Rath Yatra celebrated at the temple.

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Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary, Tripura
Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary is said to be the biodiversity heaven of Tripura for the plethora of animals and plants that dwell within this protected belt. There is a bio-complex, a zoo, a deer park and a Botanical garden within the sanctuary premises. It has around 456 species of plants, with animal species like Barking Deer, Pigtailed macaque, Rhesus macaque, Capped langur, Spectacled monkey, Slow loris, Clouded leopard, Civets, Jungle fowl, Wild pig, etc.

After reading both parts of this wonderful part of India, does it not invoke a desire to visit these places? It sure does for me!

If you have already visited these places, do let me know if there are any must-see places in the northeast that I have missed?