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Map of Nagaland, Republic of India

Nagaland is one of the northeastern states of India. Sandwiched between Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Myanmar, it is one of the smallest and least populated states in India, and one of the small handful of Christian-majority states in India.


  • 1 Kohima — the capital city, and historic site of a key WWII battle between British India and the Japanese Empire
  • 2 Dimapur — a large trade city on the plain adjacent to Assam, and a major transit hub
  • 3 Mokokchung
  • 4 Patsho
  • 5 Tuensang — a small town deep inside Nagaland to the north of Kohima
  • 6 Viswema — a Naga village outside of Kohima
  • 9 Mon District — the northern tip of Nagaland, famous for its headhunters from the Konyak Naga tribe, who still were taking enemy heads until the 1960s. The villages are still ruled by traditional "kings". You can hang out with one of the "royal families" at the homestay in Sheanghah Chingnyu village, or take a tour of headhunter culture and a divided India/Myanmar border village in Longwa.

Other destinations[edit]

  • 1 Ntangki National Park Ntangki National Park on Wikipedia (Ntangki National Park) — a wildlife park located in the Peren District. Home to several endangered species as well as other mammals and birds. Among them are the golden langur, white-breasted kingfisher, python and sloth bear


Very little is known about the origins of the Nagas. The Nagas had no writing systems and thus, no written records until the British era. Some scholars believe that the Nagas have their roots in either China or Mongolia and that they migrated to South Asia sometime between 1000 and 901 BC.

A picture by British scholar Thomas Callan Hodson about the Kohima Stone Inscription erected by King Gambhir Singh of Manipur Kingdom as the testimony of Meitei Dominance in Nagaland.

Among the very few records, one of the most important is the Kohima Stone Inscription, also known as the Gambhir Singh's Stone, that was erected by King Raja Gambhir Singh (alias Chinglen Nongdrenkhomba) of Manipur kingdom, in Kohima (Meitei: Thibommei), the capital of Nagaland in 1833 AD. The inscription mark the Meitei conquest and supremacy over the Naga Hills in 1832 AD. Manipuri King Raja Gambhir Singh conquered the whole Naga Hills with his military power of the Manipur Levy.

Nagaland is one of the few states in India where Christianity is the dominant religion. Missionaries and ministers came to India in the 19th century, found their way into Nagaland, and converted almost all Nagas to Christianity. Baptism is the predominant denomination, and the state is known as the only predominantly Baptist state in the world. Other major religions include Hinduism and Islam.

Nagaland has faced a violent, often brutal insurgency movement, and this has severely limited the state's economic development. Of all the insurgent movements in the North East, the Naga insurgency is perhaps the most complex of them all. Naga insurgents not only demand complete independence from India, but they also aim to incorporate all Naga-inhabited areas into one state, which would mean taking parts of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Given the state's proximity to Southeast Asia, the conflict often spills into neighbouring Myanmar.

Although the worst of the violence has gone away, some rebel groups continue to employ violent, brutal tactics to further their goals. The Indian government continues to negotiate with the rebels, and it is believed that the conflict will end soon.

Get in[edit]

Fly into Dimapur (DMU IATA) or take the fast train from Guwahati which leaves daily at 6:30AM; connect to a share taxi in front of the Dimapur railway station (₹400-500) and reach Kohima by lunchtime. Direct buses also run daily between Guwahati and Kohima.

The back door into the state is from Sonari in Assam to Mon in the far north east in Nagaland. The advantage here is that Sonari is connected by rail (Bhojo Station) and can be reached overnight and those going far north avoid backtracking. The bus to Mon leaves at midnight from Sonari, and there are minibus or sumo services in the morning and perhaps early afternoon. There are more departures from Namsa/Tizin at the state border, which can be easily reached from Sonari by auto (tuktuk) for about ₹300. Do not enter in this direction if you're only going to Kohima or Dimapur, as the roads in the interior of the state are so bad (all dirt, mud, and rocks) that public transport actually goes back into Assam and circles around the outside of Nagaland to travel between the two ends of the state. On the other hand, if you have time and your own 4WD vehicle it could be a great adventure. Without your own car it should be possible to go through the middle of the state in three days by taking a shared sumo from Mon to Tobu, hiring a private taxi from Tobu to Tuensang, then taking another shared sumo from Tuensang to Kohima.

Entry formalities[edit]

Citizens of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China, as well as other people "having their origins in these countries", must apply for a permit with the Indian government before entering Nagaland.

All other foreign nationals no longer need a permit, but are required to register with the police within 24 hours of entering. In some districts (e.g. Mon) you may be asked to register separately for each district and come back to sign out again when you leave, though there seems to be no enforcement. The preferred way to do this is to visit a police station (or the police booth at the Dimapur airport) and leave a photocopy of your passport and visa stamp, but it may be possible to do by phone or email. You may be pressured to hire a guide if visiting remote rural areas, but this is not required. Enforcement is reportedly more strict in Kohima.

Indians from other states need an Inner Line Permit, which can be applied for online.

Get around[edit]

Shilloi Lake in Phek district

There are no rail connections in Nagaland so bus/jeep travel is generally your only option unless you are flying.

Road conditions can be terrible in some parts of the state (commonly 4WD only, and quite bumpy), and landslides are relatively common; enquire locally about the current conditions of specific routes.


The official language of the state is English.

Nagamese, a creole language based on Assamese, is understood and spoken by most of the locals. If you speak Assamese, you'll likely be able to get by with it here.

Nagaland is made up of many different tribes speaking various languages as their mother tongues. Some of the most commonly spoken tribal languages in the state are Konyak, Ao, Lotha, and Angami. You're not expected to know a word of any of these languages, but learning a few words will most certainly endear you to the locals.

Hindi is not universally understood, and very few people speak the language proficiently.


  • Kohima, the state capital, houses the largest crucifix in Asia.
Entrance to the town of Kohima



A typical Naga table consists of a meat dish, a boiled vegetable dish or two, rice and a chutney (tathu). Nagas tend to prefer boiled edible organic leaves. Some common dishes are:

  • "fermented bamboo shoot" (made from the tender shoot of the bamboo tree) with fish and pork.
  • axone (soya bean boiled, fermented and either smoked or sun dried) with smoked pork and beef. Smoked meat is produced by keeping the meat above the fire or hanging on the wall of the kitchen for 2 weeks or longer; it can last for a year.
  • Anishiis fermented yam leaves made into patties and smoked over the fire or sun dried.

Naga food tends to be spicy (chillies). There are different varieties of chillies in Nagaland, the strongest being bhut jolokia, thought to be the world's hottest chilli until 2011. The ginger used in the Naga cuisine is spicy, aromatic and is different from the common ginger. The garlic and ginger leaves are also used in cooking with meat.

Another popular dish is a soupy dish which is had with cold rice, made mostly when one feels under the weather or has a migraine, called by different names by the different Naga tribes.


Consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the state.

Stay safe[edit]

Opium abuse is still an issue in some remote villages near the Myanmar border and can result in unprovoked violence against tourists. Seek local advice and a local guide, and don't visit remote villages alone.


The various respect tips in the Northeast India article apply here. As in any other place, if you're not sure about something, just ask.

Do not divulge strong, negative opinions of the Church, tribal councils, and village elders. They are influential and venerated, and passing strong statements of them will seriously offend the Nagas. Remember that you're in a predominantly tribal state - What may be considered acceptable in other parts of India won't be considered acceptable here. Behave accordingly.

Given the ongoing insurgency, some Nagas may be offended if you state that the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (the main insurgent group in the state) is a terrorist organisation. As a general rule, avoid having a discussion on local, tribal politics - Nagaland is a politically troubled state.

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Nagaland is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!