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Friday, October 7, 2022

Road Trip to Nagaland For A Cause

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Imtiaz Ullah
Imtiaz Ullahhttps://nomadlawyer.org/about/
Imtiaz Ullah is the founder of travel website - NomadLawyer. A Corporate Lawyer, Senior Travel Correspondent, The Traveller Trails magazine and also acts as an Advisory Member, NGO - Sarvahitey. His travel philosophy is exploring new places, meeting new people, knowing the culture, eating like a local. He always believes in the idea-“ Don't just be a traveller but a Responsible one”.

 Special Thanks: Prem Prakash, Founder – Sarvahitey NGO

“Nagaland has always evoked 

a sense of mysticism and awe, 

intensified by the remoteness of its 

geographical location.”

Background of Nagaland:

Nagaland is a mountainous state in northeast India, bordering Myanmar. It’s home to various indigenous tribes, with diverse festivals and markets celebrating the culture of the different tribes. The capital city – Kohima, suffered heavy casualties during World War II which is commemorated by memorials in the Kohima War Cemetery. The Nagaland State Museum exhibits ancient weaponry, a ceremonial drum and other traditional Naga cultural artifacts.

My Association with NGO Sarvahitey and The Traveller Trails Magazine

I have been working in a corporate legal department for 14 years now and am still  enjoying and loving my work. But, in my quest to become a successful human being, I also devote time to the NGOSarvahitey and also write for the magazine – The Traveller Trails. It fills me with contentment and meaning in life and also founded the travel portal NomadLawyer.

Do visit the website: https://nomadlawyer.org/

I am curious to know if it is that difficult to wear different hats? To juggle between work and priorities? However, I always believe in the saying: “Run the race that is worth running and know your goals”.

Kohima

Establishing Libraries in Nagaland with NGO-Sarvahitey

With dreams of establishing libraries in Nagaland, we set out on our journey to one of the most remote and less explored parts of India. There were multiple questions flashing on our mind: How will we set up the library? What resources do we have? Will we get local support? Will the state government help us? Will insurgency problems in Nagaland act as an impediment? 

These questions were unanswered till we reached there. But we were undeterred by all these questions. As the saying goes: “When there is a will, there’s a way.”

Road trip from Guwahati to Kohima-  350 Kms / 7 hrs.

After a heavy breakfast, we started our early morning drive from Guwahati via NH 37 and reached Nagaon in two hours approx, traversing 120 kms. We were joined by some friends in Nagaon, and we decided to call it a day there. As I hail from Nagaon myself, I had a lot of memories of this beautiful place. This place has a strong historical and cultural significance in the history of Assam. It is in this place where the much revered saint – Shrimanta Shankar Dev took birth, in a place called Barduwa

Next morning, we commenced our journey from Nagaon to Nagaland.

Route taken:

  • From Guwahati, take NH 37 to Nagaon, 120 Kms.
  • When you reach Nagaon Bypass, take NH36 from the roundabout and go directly to Dimapur via Doboka and Manja.

The road from Nagaon to Dimapur is an absolutely pleasurable drive because of the thick forest and the elephant corridor where one needs to be careful. Most parts of the road except some patches are smooth, you can just zoom in on full acceleration of the throttle. The road leading to Kohima presents a picturesque view and some scenic waterfalls.  After about 7 hours of driving, we reached Dimapur.

Naga Cuisine: A gastronomical delight!

After an exciting road trip, we finally reached Nagaland and checked-in to the homestay booked for our local friends – Lima Asen and Asther Eye for us.  In the evening, we had a delicious Naga meal arranged for us which consisted of red rice, bamboo shoot pork, smoked beef, fermented rice beer and chutney made from Naga Mirch aka The Ghost Chilli. This place is indeed a gastronomical delight. If you are a foodie, the Naga Cuisine is an absolute must in your list. It’s significance is its complete diversity from other mainland cuisines.

Local Naga Cuisine

How Sarvahitey established the libraries:

Meeting local Community at Diphu, Karbi Anglong.

Next couple of days were spent in meeting local people, state authorities and officials from the judicial circle. The local people were most welcoming and hospitable in nature. They understood the importance of libraries in these remote areas and its impact on the local communities. We were finally successful in reaching a collaboration with the State Legal Services and they assured us complete support in our endeavor of establishing libraries in various places of Nagaland.

Library at Tuensang Village, Nagaland.

With the support of the local authorities, the State Legal Services and the various local tribes, we successfully established three libraries in Tuensang, Kohima Law College and the last in District Jail, Dimapur. These libraries were inaugurated under the aegis of Mr. L.S Jamir, serving Judge – Guwahati High Court and the Hon’ble Chairman of State Legal Services, Nagaland. 

Library in Dimapur Jail

Prem Prakash from Sarvahitey NGO, also carried out the initiatives of Cleanliness Drive during his trek to the beautiful Dzukou Valley.

The enchanting Dzukou Valley

Volunteers cleaning the Dzukou Trail

This is how we travelled for a cause and there is nothing more satisfying than bringing some positive change and impact to the community where we travelled to. 

Be not just a traveller, but a responsible one!

Things to do in Nagaland:

  • Go trekking: As the terrain is mostly mountainous in nature, trekking should be in your to-do list here. The Dzükou Valley trek is the most popular trek here. Other places that you can trek to are: Veda Peak, Japfu Peak and Saramati Peak (a part of which falls in Myanmar). A carpet of wildflowers can be found on most of these trails, which are visually very delightful! Satoi Range is another unspoiled location, and a nature lover’s paradise.
  • Fairs & Festivals: Nagaland is also the home of some of the most colorful festivals. Singing, dancing and drinking of locally prepared rice beer marks the essence of these Naga festivals. Sekrenyi is a festival that belongs to the Angami tribe. This festival signifies the end of the agricultural cycle and lasts for 10 days. Konyak Aoling is another festival that denotes the coming of the New Year among the Konyak tribe. This festival is celebrated in the month of April. Moreover, there are festivals like Ao Moatsu and the non-traditional tourism festival (like Hornbill) in May and October that draw huge crowd.
  • Hornbill Festival: Hornbill is one of the most famous festivals of Nagaland and is celebrated by the locals with a lot of zeal. The festival is named after Hornbill, a peculiar species of bird in the state whose importance is reflected in their tribal music, dance and culture. The Hornbill Festival is one of the largest celebrations of the local warrior tribes of Nagaland. The festival is held at the Naga Heritage Village in Kisama, which is about 12 kilometers from the capital of Nagaland – Kohima.
  • Naga Cuisine: Naga cuisine is known for its variety and simplicity. Just like their tribal culture and ancient traditions, their cuisine is distinct and stands apart from the rest of the regional cuisines in India. You will find many exotic ingredients such as fermented soybean, bamboo shoots and dry fish transformed into simple yet delicious dishes along with a plethora of ghost chilli chutneys and smoked beef. You need to travel to Nagaland to understand the richness of this cuisine.
  • Rice Beer: Rice beer is a traditional drink for not only the Nagas but a major part of the North-East India population. The raw material for rice beer is quite expensive and the process involves a high quality sticky-rice which is dried and then placed into a container. This rice is then placed in a cauldron and brought to boil by placing it over the traditional Naga hearth. Once done, it is taken off the fire and mixed with yeast and left to be fermented. In two day’s time, the beer is ready for consumption. 

Best Time To Visit Nagaland:

The climate of Nagaland is comfortable all throughout the year. The temperature of the state ranges from 16°C – 31°C in summer (May to July) and 4°C – 24°C during winter. The monsoon that spreads from the month of June to early September is marked by heavy showers.

Travel Information

Entry Permits

Foreign tourists no longer require Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit Nagaland since January 2011. However; they are required to register with the Foreigner’s Registration Officer (FRO) of the District they visit or the nearest Police Station within 24 hours of their arrival.
Domestic tourists should obtain Inner Line Permit (ILP) issued by the authority mentioned below.


Entry permits for Indian Nationals (ILP):

The Deputy Resident Commissioner, Nagaland House, New Delhi.

Phone: +9111-23012296/ 23793673.

By Air:

Dimapur is the only airport in Nagaland at the moment. Direct flights connect this airport to Guwahati and Kolkata and thus connect to all other airports in India including Delhi.

By Rail:

Dimapur has a railway station on the main line of the North East Frontier Railway.
It is well connected to Guwahati and on the other hand, has direct train lines with most major Indian cities.


By Road:

A number of taxis ply from Dimapur to Kohima throughout the day. Night buses connect Dimapur and Kohima to Guwahati and Shillong (Meghalaya).

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