Nagaland: We Came, We Saw, We … Left
Nagaland, the land of Maoist rebels, bad food and not much else. Nat and I learned in Kaziranga that the Restricted Access Permits to a number of the northeast states, including Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur, have been relaxed until the end of this year. This is apparently to see if the lack of permits will boost tourism in these often neglected states but, unfortunately, the experiment only affects people who were planning on visiting these states anyway as the Indian government didn’t even advertise this fact on the biggest Indian tourism website and we only heard about it by word of mouth from a couple other travellers.
We decided to head to the border of Nagaland, the closest state, and spent a very overpriced night in a hotel on the border city of Dimapur. The bus ride in was scenic and interesting but the city itself was crowded, dirty and mean. We met one nice person who spoke some English and pointed us in the direction of a restaurant that he said was ‘clean’. It was not the kind of restaurant we would have chosen on our own as the menu looked something like this:
Beef with rice
Intestines with rice
Head/leg with rice
Dog meat with rice (yes, dog meat was actually on the menu)
Pork intestines with rice
and chicken with rice
Needless to say we chose the chicken.
We spent the next day trying to find out if we were actually allowed to be in Nagaland and when we found we were, we headed for the capital, Kohima. Again the drive was beautiful, winding through the mountains with scattered mud and thatch huts, but the city was dirty and cold. We had trouble finding a room and only barely managed to convince the owners to bring us a bucket of hot water. Lucky for them the power went out (and they didn’t have a generator) so instead of hot water they brought us a candle and a half bucket of lukewarm water to wash with (there was no functional plumbing at all in the room). After a dinner of unidentified meat momos, we decided we really didn’t feel like spending Christmas in Nagaland and got on a bus next morning back to Kaziranga. We may not have given Nagaland enough of a chance as it’s well known for its interesting tribal festivals (most notably the Hornbill) but what seems to be left in the cities is only the shadow of its previous cultures.