The land of forgotten world
Bounded by Myanmar in the East, Assam in the West, Arunachal Pradesh and a part of Assam in the North with Manipur in the south, Nagaland is a state with incomparable traditional and cultural heritage. The inhabitants of Nagaland are called ‘Naga’ which has incepted from ‘Nagna’ means naked. It is so because the Nagas are known for avowed for their sparseness of clothes. The state has witnessed much struggles and conflicts than any of the other North-east states of India. It is today known as the ‘Land of Forgotten World’.
Nagaland is largely a mountainous state. The undulating state of Nagaland is extremely charming and lovingly beautiful. The Naga Hills rise from the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam to about 2,000 feet (610 m) and rise further to the southeast, as high as 6,000 feet (1,800 m). Mount Saramati at an elevation of 12,552 feet (3,826 m) is the state’s highest peak; this is where the Naga Hills merge with the Patkai Range in Burma. Rivers such as the Doyang and Diphu to the north, the Barak river in the southwest and the Chindwin river of Burma in the southeast, dissect the entire state. Nagaland has a largely monsoon climate with high humidity levels. Annual rainfall averages around 70–100 inches (1,800–2,500 mm), concentrated in the months of May to September. Temperatures range from 70 °F (21 °C) to 104 °F (40 °C). In winter, temperatures do not generally drop below 39 °F (4 °C), but frost is common at high elevations.
There are fourteen major Naga tribes namely the Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khemungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sema, Yimchunge and Zeliang. It is a land of folklore passed down the generations through word of mouth. Here, music is an integral part of life; folk songs eulogising ancestors, the brave deeds of warriors and traditional heroes; poetic love songs immortalising ancient tragic love stories; Gospel songs that touch your or the modern tunes rendered exquisitely to set your feet a-tapping.
Nagas, by nature, are lovers of fun and frolic and here life is one long festival. All the tribes have their own festivals which they hold so dear. They celebrate their distinct seasonal festivals with a pageantry of coulour and a feast of music. Most of these festivals revolve round agriculture, it being the main-stay of Naga society. The Hornbill Festival which has become widely famous, is not a traditional festival of Nagas but a showcase of of Naga culture, cuisine and handicrafts. Different tribes display their own unique cultural assets. Musical gigs and various entertainment programs keep the tourists and the participant occupied with conviviality.
Often referred to as the Switzerland of India, Nagaland is so blessed and spoilt by nature. The state is very rich in flora and fauna. About one-sixth of Nagaland is under the cover of tropical and sub-tropical evergreen forests—including palms, bamboo, and rattan as well as timber and mahogany forests. Agriculture is the most important economic activity in Nagaland, with more than 90% of the population employed in agriculture. Due to increasing requirement for cultivation of land, cycle of cultivation followed by leaving land fallow has reduced from 25–30 years to 2–3 years. Earlier the fallow cycle was of 20–30 year duration, thereby permitting the land to return to natural condition. Due to reduction of cycle to 2–3 years, the resilience of ecosystem has broken down and the land is increasingly deteriorating.
Forestry is also an important source of income. Cottage industries such as weaving, woodwork, and pottery are also an important source of revenue. Tourism is important, but largely limited due to insurgency since the last five decades. While some forest areas have been cleared for jhum (cultivation), many scrub forests, high grass, reeds, and secondary dogs, pangolins, porcupines, elephants, leopards, bears, many species of monkeys, sambar, harts, oxen, and buffaloes thrive across the state’s forests. The Great Indian Hornbill is one of the most famous birds found in the state.
The state has two wildlife sanctuaries viz Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary and Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary. The Fakim Sanctuary in Nagaland is nearby the border of Myanmar. The trees of Bonsum, Bogipoma, Khasi Pine, Oaks, Amari, Gamari, Hollock, Nahor, Uriam, Alder, Kachnar, Sasi are found here. The fauna of the sanctuary is packed with Tiger, Hoolock gibbons, Panther, Jungle Cat, Himalayan Bear, Bison, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Slender Loris. Some beautiful birds that are found in this sanctuary are Indian Horn Bill, Tragopan Pheasant, Grey Pheasant, Jungle Fowl, Green Pigeon, Doves etc are the important birds of the region.
The Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary in Nagaland is preserves by the Forest Wildlife Department. The sanctuary is a home to Hoolock Gibbon (the only Gibbon found in India), Elephant, Mithun, Sambar, Barking Deer, Goral, Flying Squirrel, Wild Dog, Tiger, Sloth Bear. The birds you can locate here are Kaleej and common pheasant, Hornbill and Black Stor.