More of Nagaland

In the far north eastern corner of the Indian sub-continent you’ll  find Nagaland.

On a train journey from Vijayawada to Chennai last Jan we heard that the Indian government loosened the regulations for Nagaland  and that you were not entitled to obtain a special inner line permit before traveling here.

This as way to boost tourism in these little visited places of India.  As it turns out this information was not out there to get heard, or at least not too much. One french man actually working in between Assam (bordering state to Nagaland) and Europe never heard of this news and said not to be sure about it……. So we crossed the border and at the first military check post we were ready to find out.

The military man ask us for our Permit.    ” You ask us for a permit when your government has abolished the need of a permit to Nagland for the year of 2011″.

Silence  …..Next military comes in the bus and asks us for our passports. 10-15 min pass and and an officer comes to pick us up and takes us to a shed with 2 other military men.

“But what are you doing here”    “We are tourists and we would like to visit Nagaland”

But you don’t have a guide, where are you going?

I take the map and show them roughly where we would like to go and they write down the places, after this they seem content  and we are free to continue the bus ride to Kohima.

You smell the trail of materialism as the road snakes it’s way to the capital of  Nagaland,  Kohima. In Kohima you can get a chai or a veg Thali  at the Indian eateries.

Here it’s all about meat otherwise and as a rule goes, anything that can be fried can be eaten.

Here the sun goes up at 5am and down at 5pm, and with the sun goes the shops, there is no nightlife here. you better get your meal early and be back at your hotel before it closes for the night.

Here the young people we met speak about how they are dependent of certain goods from India and the independence  at this point is really far away.  But they are proud to be different proud to be Naga. They all dress in jeans and t-shirt, their spiky hair dos groomed with gel.

They call the northern parts of Nagaland backwards, they,the  people of Kohima  have already taken the first lesson in materialism.

This is still tribal country and the inhabitants of these green rolling hills and mountains have nothing in common with their Indian rulers. As soon as you leave the districts main town and you get to the villages around you get the real taste of Nagland and what we came here for.

Although officially Nagaland wants an own state, their strategical position on the border of Myanmar (controlled by china) makes this impossible.

When we were in Nagaland they were in the process of  getting through a deal with the Indian government, this would include getting their own military for Nagaland, their natural resources should be exploited and controlled by themselves, less tax on imported Indian goods. Their request of an independent currency was abolished and the Indian army will still be controlling the borders to Myanmar. If this happens there will be a lot of envy from the other states within Indian and the North east who also seek more rights. In our ears this sounds like a lot considering the Indian bureaucracy and the slow movement in political matters of this kind.

Within these territories the bio diversity seems to be as great as that of the tribes and their languages.

Their features and languages remind us of their neighbors in Burma and Tibet (although not being an actual border neighbor).

Ridges and hilltops were strategical points to build villages on, these requirements were also met by the headhunters eager to have full control of the village and it’s surroundings.

From” Barbary” to “Development”. Today you will find a church on these hills and ridges,  a way to remind them how the might of christianity helped these” poor lost souls”. The villagers were opposed at first to this new religion, but after hand they saw benefits in the education (the church buying it’s way in as always, the sweet invasion) and life. The chief of the village was the one who decided and if he said yes the others succumbed.

Today the Headhunters are long gone, left are the tales of the older generation.  Tales that tell of headhunting not only with foreigners but with other villages of the same tribe and sometimes even between different clans in the same village. The villages around Mon in northern Nagaland remain the more traditional, this is the country of the Konyaks.

Here the Angh who is the chief of the village still has a function to fill. The Konyaks are as the other tribes we met, Angami, Rengmas, very hospitable and welcoming. This seem to be a deep going feature of  all people we met, young and old.

Longwa is a village on the border to Myanmar, here we get told of how the British cultivated the opium for their own need as for making the nagas to work. Now opium is prohibited and you can’t grow it or use it. The dependence is still there with a lot of the older generation and they need to go far into Myanmar to get what they want. The alcohol is now the new trend, they agree that it’s got more problems related to it than the Opium.

As often in traveling it is the people you meet which makes you trip, this is also the case with Nagaland, if you add to this the nature, all those hours on bumpy roads up and down the hills were more than worth it.