Nagaland, Vist the last HeadHunters in India.

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Getting around Nagaland takes time, the roads are by far some of the worst in India, you will have problem finding place to stay since a number of hotels/guesthouses in the area is very limited, and only a very few of them accepts foreigners and at last, very few people speak English in the area.

So Nagaland is absolutely not set up for tourism yet. They only other foreigner I saw in the 2 weeks I stayed in Nagaland was an older American guy with a private driver and guide.

Another “problem” you will face in Nagaland is that EVERYTHING closes down after dark, and absolutely everything is closed on Sundays, no shops, no restaurants and no transportation, so if you’re in a hurry, you should probably skip Nagaland.

But if you do have the time and you’re a patient person, ill say go for it.
nagaland,india,tribe,head hunter,face tattoo

Normal Scenery in Nagaland, a lot of green hills, but very few trees around.

Normally when I travel I’ll try to stay away from mainstream places as much as I can, going to tourist places “gives” me nothing, they are often overpriced, seems very fake, and often you even have to pay to take photos.

Luckily you can still find real authentic places, that’s not mentioned in guidebooks, got no guesthouses and no busloads of tourist, but it’s getting harder.

One of the last authentic places you can visit in Asia is Nagaland in North East India

The state is inhabited by 16 major tribes while most of the tribes lives in cities and got a “normal” life these days you also got some tribes that still tries to live a more traditional way.

nagaland,india,tribe,head hunter,face tattoo
This is one of the last living headhunters in India and Asia. The face tattoos symbolise that this man was a warrior when he was young.

Longwa Village

The best place to meet the headhunters is the village of Longwa in North East of Nagaland in the Mon district, the village is literally on the Burma (Myanmar) border, the house of the king (yes they do have real king) is located on the border so half the house is in India the other half is in Burma (Myanmar).

The first thing you have to do when to arrive in Longwa is to visit the King,  to present him with a gift, preferably a bottle of rum or whiskey.
The king  had passed out for the evening when I arrived after some heavy opium smoking, but one of his 60!! wives allowed me to stay.

It’s not much to do in Longwa except soaking up the culture and enjoying the view into Burma, its no shops, no restaurants, or guesthouses.  But some of the locals invited me to join them for hunting with very old hunting rifles(with black powder), dynamite!! and fishing with electricity!

nagaland,india,tribe,head hunter,face tattoo
My hunting party.
nagaland,india,tribe,head hunter,face tattoo
Fishing Nagaland Style

Disappointingly the hunt was a bit of a letdown, we didn’t catch anything, but I didn’t expect to catch anything either since its seems like the locals have been overhunting for years, even walking around the thick jungle for hours we didn’t even see or hear a single bird.  The Konyak tribe have killed everything in the jungle along time ago.

When I got back to the village after hours of tough hiking I got meet some very stoned locals.
The only thing the local seem to be doing is to smoke opium and walk around.

And of course since the next day was a Sunday and Sunday = no transportation, I got stock for another day, that day I used to seek out some on of the headhunters for some photos.

nagaland,india,tribe,head hunter,face tattoo
Face tattoo symbolise he was a warrior, chest tattoo symbolise that he had killed another person and cut of the person’s head in the tribal war.

Additional info about Nagaland

How to get there

Like I have already mention, getting to Nagaland takes time, it’s no airport or no train going to Nagaland, so the only option is to take the local buses that only run when it got enough passengers, or to hire a jeep.

Assuming  you are already in North East India, the first thing you have to do is to head to the city Sivasagar in the state of Assam, from Sivasagar there’re 2busses leaving a day IF there enough passengers to the town of MON in Nagaland, it’s only about 100km between those to towns, but the road is absolutely horrible and can take up to 8hours!

You will not make it all the way to Longwa from Sivasagar in a day, so you will have to spend a night in Mon

From Mon, there’s 1buss and a few jeeps leaving in the morning, the distance from Mon to Longwa is only about 35km and that road is probably the best in all of Nagaland, but it will still take 2hours coz it’s very narrow and steep.

I took the jeep to get to Longwa, but the bus back to Mon, the bus was more comfortable then the jeep, BUT everyone on the bus was sick and was vomiting the whole way.

You will most likely also have to spend a night in Mon on the way back towards Assam.

Where to sleep

Mon

Got a few guesthouses, but only one that accepts foreigners, an unnamed guesthouse next to the Bank with the only Atm in town.
800rps for a double room with western toilet and shower. The owner speaks English and is very helpful, they got a tiny restaurant on the top floor.

Longwa

No guesthouse in the village, have to ask around for home stay. I paid 1000rps a night for a tiny room with 2 beds, included breakfast and dinner.

Safety

Safety in Nagaland is the concern, “all” the men in Longwa is stoned from opium smoking 24/7, and since most of them is old warriors you should be a bit careful, the local kids started to throw stones when I didn’t have candy or a pen for them.

Nagaland is a dry state so it’s nowhere to but alcohol, so it’s a lot of home-brew or liquor smuggled in, and, unfortunately, the locals got aggressive when drunk.

Money

There’s an ATM in Mon that accepts foreign bank cards (visa), but don’t count on it having any money.There is NO way to get money in Longwa.

In General, Nagaland is more expensive than the rest of India.

Beer

No beer in Nagaland

Other

Nagaland is famous in the west for one thing, that’s not the headhunters, but for their Chilli: Bhut Jolokia or more famous as the Ghost Chili Peper,

In 2007, Guinness book of Records certified that the ghost pepper was the world’s hottest chili pepper, 401.5 times hotter than Tabasco Sauce(2500), the Ghost chili is rated at more than 1 (1,041,427)million, Scoville heat units (SHUs).
I’m a big fan of spicy food, but in Nagaland I did the big mistake of ordering spicy food, I can’t describe the shock got when I took a big bite of the Bhut Jolokia, I instantly started to sweat, got a huge headache and my hands started to shiver.

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16 Comments
    1. Brave or maybe abit stupid, i was in ALOT of pain after i had it:p
      No i visited all the 7states in the North-East, i have already a post online here about Kaziranga National Park in Assam, and im working on a post about Arunachal Pradesh these days.

      Unfortunately i started to run out of time with my visa expiring when i was in Manipur,Mizoram and Tripura so i didt have time to see much down there, it takes alot of time to travel in the area. And in Megahalaya i had awfull wheather everyday. So i will probaly not post any article about those places, i dont feel like i have enough info to share with people.

      BUT

      Im already thinking of returning to India soon, and then the seven sister states gone be my main destination.

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for telling me, ill get on the problem as soon as i can.
      And ill add you to the mailing list when the problem is sorted out.

      Thank you.

      Christian

  1. You have written about some truly unusual places. Being an Indian , i haven’t been to north east myself. But after reading your posts i look forward to going there. Have a trip planned there in the month of November.
    Keep writing and inspiring.

  2. I appreciate your enthusiasm in visiting an interior place like Mon district in Nagaland. At the same time I would encourage you to put your experiences in a beautiful language/manner, appropriate vocabulary, simple English construction, correct spelling etc. It would be good if you approach someone who could help you in those areas before you posted. Thankyou.

  3. well what u write about is good.But I say that it is not that much hard if u have a guide.So as it said book for a guide before visit….u will feel the pleasure….and one thing naga children are not as bad as that…..and also have a little sense of humor….your society n our society is quite different.

  4. The conclusion is that every tourist follow the Lonely Planet guide book and travel to Longwa, which is equivalent to the most photographed and visited tourists destination like Varanasi, Agra or Japiur. They only go to Longwa village and then write the conclusion about the whole Konyak tribe in general. There are about 130 more Konyak villages. Yet, the same persons in Longwa has been photographed over and over and are pasted on every photographers blog or website. Sorry, the rest of the other villages have stopped smoking opium about 40 years ago, and also it is the safest place one can ever be. Children walk and play about freely in the streets, and there is no record of crimes against them. Tourists are welcomed warmly!!

  5. I arrive in Dimapur 21.01 – and back 3.02. I would like to visit villages – mainly Konyak and Apatani people. I would like to make budget trip and the best for me is to sleep inside villages. I would like to do photography in the villages. I am searching for good guide who can help me to organise this trip in reasonable price. Do you have any contact?

    My email: office@selvastore.com

    Thank you for yours help!

    Best regards,
    Adam

  6. Wow! What an experience. So interesting to read how people live remote areas in different parts of the world. You have great pictures that capture the essence of the place. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Sounds like an awesome experience! I definitely have to go to the Seven Sister States next time when I’m in India! I was planning to head over when I was in Myanmar, but then I ran into some other issues. 😉

  8. Sorry… But its very harsh for u to say that about Nagaland! You should have visited Kohima and dimapur too,and ofcourse you do get beer there..you should be in Kohima,kisama village during december between 1-10 that’s the time when we have our largest cultural festival called the hornbill festival..i know you will love it,the places you have visited are ofcourse a bit back ward but thats the beauty. And the major language of Nagaland is english.. Its odd u say that no one spoke.. Tourism is popular and outsiders are welcomed warmly. Thank you!

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