The undulating state of Nagaland India is extremely charming and beautiful. A home to as many as sixteen tribes, the state has much to explore. The virgin terrains of the state are breathtakingly enchanting. Nagaland, the land of the hospitable and warm Nagas, lies in the corner of India’s North-East-bordering Myanmar. Historically, the Nagas have always been brave warriors. They consider the safety and security of their guests as an honour and prestige and will never allow any harm to be done to any of their guests/visitors.
Nagas are by race of the Mongoloid stock and speak Tibeto-Burman group of languages. Although most of the Nagas have now become Christians, they still preserve the remnants of their early animist culture and ancient traditions. Topographically, Nagaland is mostly a hilly region with a pleasant and salubrious climate throughout the year.
The state of Nagaland has an area of 16,579 km2 with a population of 1,980,602 as per the 2011 census making it one of the smallest states in India. The state is mostly mountainous except those areas bordering Assam valley. Mount Saramati is the highest peak in Nagaland with a height of 3,840 metres and its range forms a natural barrier between Nagaland and Burma. The Naga Hills rise from the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam to about 2,000 feet and rise further to the southeast, as high as 6,000 feet.
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. 20 per cent of the total land area of the state is covered with wooded forest, rich in flora and fauna. The evergreen tropical and the sub-tropical forests are found in strategic pockets in the state.
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. While some forest areas have been cleared for jhum cultivation, many scrub forests, high grass, reeds; 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 Nagas are not composite people. They speak many languages. They differ widely in dress and other cultural traits, as well as in physical features. They belong to Mongoloid stock but yet there are great differences in the details between one tribe and other, as well as between different people of the same tribe. Some are tall, some are short. Some are yellow in complexion and some are even brown. There is no caste system among the Nagas, but each of the Naga tribe is divided into several or as many as twenty clans. Clans are mainly based on forefathers or such other things by which one group of people is differentiated from others. The bigger the tribe, the more is the number of the clan.
Colourful life and culture are an integral part of the 16 officially recognized Naga tribes of Nagaland. These 16 tribes are different and unique in their customs and traditions. These customs and traditions are further translated into festivals which revolve around their agricultural cycle. Songs and dances form the soul of these festivals through which their oral history has been passed down the generations.
Folk songs and dances are essential ingredients of the traditional Naga culture. The oral tradition is kept alive through folk tales and songs. Naga folk songs are both romantic and historical, with songs narrating entire stories of famous ancestors and episodes. There are also seasonal songs which describe various activities done in a particular agricultural season. Tribal dances of the Nagas give an insight into the inborn Naga reticence of the people. War dances and other dances belonging to distinctive Naga tribes are a major art form in Nagaland.
Hornbill Festival was launched by the Government of Nagaland in December 2000 to encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote cultural heritage of the state. Organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments, Hornbill Festival showcases a mélange of cultural displays under one roof. This festival takes place between 1 and 7 December every year.
This write-up on the State of Nagaland is just an introduction to the land and its people. It is not meant to be an exhaustive or authoritative document.