Nagaland is a narrow strip of mountainous territory lying to the east and south of Assam, north of Manipur and west of Burma. This predominantly tribal state is blessed with great valleys, meandering streams, high mountains, deep gorges and a rich variety of flora and fauna. It is the only state which has English as the official state language.
The culture of Nagaland dazzles with multicoloured spears, ceremonial daos, bracelets, chest plates and head dress of coloured bamboo. The state is mainly inhabited by 16 groups of the Tibeto-Burman tribes whose arms are as colourful and varied as their dresses.
The first building at the entrance of a typical Naga village is known as Morung, or boy's dormitory. It is also used for storing the weapons and displaying trophies and prizes of war. The villages are generally situated on hill tops and ridges protected by stone walls. The Nagas are wonderful musicians, singers and dancers, with a great sense of rhythm which dominates traditional and contemporary music.
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The Nagaland State Museum is a one-stop treasure house where you can get a glimpse into Naga culture through history. The main items exhibited are gateposts, statues, pillars, and jewellery. A ceremonial drum which looks like a dug-out war canoe is exhibited in a separate shed. The basement of the museum has birds and animals of the North-Eastern hill states.
The Catholic Cathedral at Aradura hill is an important landmark in Kohima for it is one of the biggest Cathedrals in the whole North-East and houses the biggest cross in India made of wood.
Around 10 kms. from Kohima, is situated the village of Khonoma, that abounds in stories of valour and courage. The terraced fields which produce 20 types of paddy at different elevations, present a beautiful view. The Khonoma gate relates the story of British infiltration into Naga Hills.
One of the best trekking spots in the north-east region is the Dzukou Valley, situated at an altitude of 2,438.4 mtrs. above sea level, behind Japfu peak and 30 kms. to the south of Kohima. The entire valley is over-shadowed with a type of tough bamboo brush which makes the place appear like a mowed lawn. White and yellow lilies and numerous other flowers adorn the valley in summers, while rhododendrons ornament the hills surrounding the valley.
Situated at an altitude of 3,048 mtrs. above sea level, 15 kms. from Kohima is the Japfu Peak. It is the second highest peak of Kohima and ideally suited for trekking and scaling. The sight of Kohima from here is enchanting. Mokokchung and Zunheboto, situated 160 and 150 kms. respectively from Kohima are picturesque towns at high altitudes. Mokokchung is a cultural centre of the Ao Nagas.
In the heart of the town, you can see the last relics of the Kachari Kingdom. Just 5 kms away, on the Dimapur-Kohima road is Ruzaphema, a place ideally suited for leisure and recreation with its colourful bazaars and a wide range of tribal handicrafts which are exquisite in their style, not to mention the uniqueness of each of them.
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.