The Nagas have come to exemplify an exotic society - renowned for their fierce resistance to intruders and their practice of headhunting. Even though times have changed and Nagaland is fast modernizing, the people have retained many of their old customs. On this pioneering journey, you visit the remote northern part of Nagaland where life in villages has little changed. The scenery is stunning with green valleys, meandering streams, high mountains with deep gorges and a rich variety of flora and fauna.
Day 1 - Mokokchung
The drive from Jorhat to Mokokchung follows a beautiful road that winds itself from the plains of Assam up the lush mountains of Nagaland. There are fantastic vistas at every turn and you are bound to stop many times for taking pictures. Mokokchung is the cultural center of the Ao people and is considered to be one of the most beautiful, culturally vibrant and friendly cities of North East India, and of Nagaland in particular. Historically, Mokokchung was one of the initial locations in the Naga Hills, where the Assam Rifles, led by Britishers, first established their outposts (then called stockades) in the later part of 19th century. Much of the town initially grew around this post located in the DC Hill. The British administration was then gradually extended eastwards towards the remoter parts of the Naga Hills. You stay for two nights in a pleasant hotel, situated on a hilltop overlooking the town, which has surprisingly good facilities for such a remote place. The rooms are large and bright and have hot water showers and satellite television. The clean modern restaurant has a varied menu of Naga, Indian, and Chinese dishes, and there is even a compute in the lobby for internet access.
Day 2 - Mokokchung
In the morning, you make an excursion to Mopunchuket, a relatively modern village half an hour from Mokokchung. The influence is the Baptist Church is clearly visible in this clean and friendly village, with its many churches and church run schools and hospital. There is a well preserved Morung (male dormitory) of the Ao tribe, and a well maintained park, with a traditional totem pole, as well as some more modern wooden sculptures. Afterwards you visit Chuchuyimlang, a pretty village 30 km from Mokokchung, located on a ridge with sweeping views of the hills and valleys around. Many of the houses are built in traditional Ao Naga style - elevated a little above ground and the back verandahs open out on to vast panoramic views of the mountain ranges. The streets are clean, with displays of flowers in front of many of the houses. These open onto well tended gardens, and the people are accustomed to visitors and welcome a chat.The central part of an Ao home is a hearth, which is almost always lit. This is the area for people to gather, do household chores and chat. Clothes and grains are still stored in large bamboo baskets. The pig, which is an integral part of Naga cuisine, is always kept in clean enclosures behind the houses and not allowed to roam wild as in most other places.
Day 3 - Mon
There are no roads directly linking Central Nagaland to Northern Nagaland, so it is a long, but very scenic, 8 hour drive today from Mokokchung to Mon, the land of the Konyak tribes. Mon is a fairly un-remarkable town without a true centre. The one large open space here is the stadium which is also the venue for the annual festivals. Roads in dire need of repair wind around seemingly aimlessly. There are no buildings of particular interest apart from the few churches which stand out, taller than the rest. The main attraction in Mon is the remote geographical location, and the opportunity it affords to get a glimpse of a life far removed from ours. Just a few decades ago, the Konyaks were still head-hunters and you will still find elderly men with the typically Naga tattoed faces, who would have been involved in the tradional head-hunting at one time. As most of Nagaland has been converted to Christianity, the custom has now been outlawed. You stay for two nights in an authentic bamboo hut built in traditional Konyak tribal style with pleasant sit outs which boast extensive views over the town of Mon and the surrounding hills. Hot and cold water is provided in buckets for the attached bathrooms. Good local food is served in the simple dining area.
Day 4 - Mon
Two hours drive from Mon is the village of Lungwa, situated right on the Myanmar border. In fact, the chief's house is bisected longitudinally by the border. When you visit the chief's house you will therefore have the strange experience of sitting near the hearth with half your body in Myanmar and the other half still in India. It's not the only unusual thing -- the chief also has dozens of wives! The chief's house, filled with dubious trophies of various animal skulls, is also quite a sight. Unfortunately, Longwa has been affected by the visit of travellers in recent years. Local headhunters have turned into sellers of tacky souvenirs in order to earn some extra money. The village of Cheanghah Chingyu is more off the beaten track and not visited as yet by many outsiders so the atmosphere is more relaxed. The Angh is young and modern and lives with his family in an impressive large house on top of the hill. Outside is a board which mentions that his father, who died in 2001, was married to 18 wives and had hunted 130 heads in his lifetime. Some of the skulls are still lying in a pit in the garden and will be proudly shown to you.
Day 5 - Dibrugarh
The drive from Mon to Dibrugarh is not for the faint-hearted. The road up to the border with Assam is a tier-breaking trail. From the border onwards the road slowly improves till you reach the highway to Dibrugarh. Totally rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1950, the new town of Dibrugarh lies on the banks of the Brahmaputra in Upper Assam. It is the perfect place to experience and enjoy the richness of tea gardens. You stay for two nights in a wonderful heritage hotel located just outside Dibrugarh, set in lush gardens bordering an old tea estate. It has sloping green roofs, wrap-around verandahs and an old world elegance. The rooms have wooden floors and period furniture. It is pleasant to spend quality time on the large verandahs, sipping tea on the porch while looking out at the surrounding tea plantations.
Day 6 - Dibrugarh
Today, after breakfast, you make a guided morning excursion to the the picturesque village of Nam Phake. Almost an outpost of Thailand in India, the villagers of Nam Phake migrated from Thailand, via Burma, to Eastren Assam a few centuries ago. They have retained their ancestral cultural identity while welcoming outsiders and travellers. The quaint stilt bamboo houses are clean and many age old traditions are still maintained. The main occupation is agriculture; betel nut, palms and paddy. The pride of the village is the Buddhist temple and monastery which regularly sees visitors from Thailand, including members of the Thai royal family. The afternoon is at leisure at Mancotta Chang Bungalow. We will organize High Tea for you on the verandah of the hotel. The view from the veranda across lawns, flower beds and gravelled path, looks over some of Assam's unique tea plantations. If you wish, you can take a walk through the surrounding tea plantations.
Day 7 - Dibrugarh
Your tour ends after breakfast. You transfer to Dibrugarh airport for your onward travel arrangements.