Nagaland is a landlocked state located in north eastern India known for its amazing wildlife, indigenous tribes and natural beauty. Long standing political turbulence and clashes between the tribes hindered tourism potential of the state but things are changing for better with time. Along with a number of hotels in prominent cities, tribal home stays are growing in number and their popularity is also soaring upwards.
Why opt for Home stay setups in Nagaland
There are many reasons for tourists in Nagaland to opt for tribal home stay setups over typical hotels.
The hotels in Nagaland are mostly located in cities like Kohima and Dimapur which are away from the sightseeing and wildlife hotspots. On the contrary, you can experience rural beauty and tribal culture closely while staying in tribal home stay setups. These are mostly located away from cities and the natural bounty, serenity will make you enthralled. Now that the village councils have prohibited bird hunting, the tribal home stay setups have become ideal for avid bird watchers too.
With time, the local tribes have realized the potential of tourism and they are also keen on offering hospitality to the visitors. The Naga villagers are quite hospitable in nature.
You may not get the lavish comforts of a posh hotel in the home stay accommodations in villages of Nagaland. What you get is the scope of staying in decently adorned rural homes far away from the clutter and pollution of cities.
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The visitors also get the chance to experiences nuances of the tribes, learn their culture, food habits and enjoy festivals up close. They can also interact with the villagers freely. This is not possible for those staying in hotels in top cities of the state!
The additional attraction of tribal home stays is you get to taste authentic tribal food. The villagers offering the accommodations often offer fresh, home cooked meals to the guests. If you are strictly vegetarian- your taste buds will savor the taste of authentic Naga cuisine during your stay in these setups. A number of pork dishes are likely to be offered. You will also taste delicious sticky rice and spicy pickles.
Nuances of tribal home stay setups in Nagaland
The villages in Nagaland once hubs of Naga insurgency, offer amazing scenic beauty, peaceful ambiance and warm hospitality to the visitors. The lush greenery and hilly terrain with Churches dominating the landscape- evoke a unique feeling. The majority of home stays have sprung up in villages like Vishwema, Tuephema, Zakhama, Benreu. The Mt Pauna tourist village has also become popular. You can also stay in villages around Mokokchung.
The home stay setups offer the visitor glimpse into tribal life of Nagaland from up close. The influence of civilization has started seeping in those villages- albeit slowly. In nearby tribal households, you will find TV sets and mobile phones. Electricity has not reached most of the villages yet. It is an eclectic blend of ancient culture and modernity that you will witness. The wooden beds with skull engravings are there and traditional weaponry are exhibited on the walls. While Christianity has a major influence in the tribal life, the element of animism in their religious practices is evident.
The tribes encourage the guests staying in the home stay setups to learn their activities and experience the rituals. You can see how they cook foods and take part in it. Similarly, you can learn how the women make handicrafts and grind rice.
You will also experience the variety of dialects and linguistic nuances while staying in those tribal homestay setups in Naga villages. The Konyak Naga tribe, for example, speaks in Tibeto-Burmese dialect. Some of these tribes also speak Nagamese- a blend of Assamese and Naga language. Some of them have also learnt English.
Amazing as it may seem to you during your stay in these setups, Naga society is mostly matriarchal. So, the sight of men cooking meals is commonplace.
Tips for tourists opting for rural home stay setups in Nagaland
You can visit Nagaland during anytime of the year but for experiencing charm of home stay setups in proper way, plan your visit during a festival. The Hornbill festival is a major crowd puller and you can enjoy the merriment and celebrations to the hilt if you visit during this festival. You may also visit during the Aoling festival celebrated by the Konyak Nagas. Visiting between the months December to April is ideal.
Indians require an inner line permit and this can be acquired from Deputy Resident Commissioner Office in Dimapur, Kolkata and New Delhi. Foreigners having an Indian visa no longer require special permits to visit these tribal villages in Nagaland.
Need for govt initiatives
While the popularity of tribal home stay setups is growing in Nagaland the tourism potential is yet to be explored on large scale. Some tourism villages have been setup and the visitor count is quite encouraging. However, the Nagaland govt is yet to come up with State Tourism Policy. It is where the state is lagging far behind neighboring Assam and Manipur. So far, the state govt has been promoting the Hornbill festival heavily. However, more steps need to be taken. With govt endeavors, the Naga tribes can find more employment opportunities through rural home stay based tourism- feel the experts.
A few popular rural homestays in Nagaland
Below listed are a few rural home stay options in Nagaland you can pick from.
The SHAWL Rural Home stay was set up by Nino Zhasa associated with Explore Nagaland. Established in 2014, this tribal home stay setup is a bright example of women empowerment and employment prospect through multiple initiatives in an apparently backward state.
If you want to experience the amazing Hornbill festival while staying in rural accommodation, the Greenwood Villa in Kipfüzha, Kigwema is a choice. It is located close to the Kisama heritage village where this annual festival is held. They serve food and facilities are decent.
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The Dzuleke village is inhabited by the Angami tribe, where you can find rural home stays too. The home stay setups are part of a major eco-tourism initiative supported by the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and NEIDA- a non-profit society.