On the border with Myanmar, Nagaland is at easternmost extreme of the subcontinent. There are issues of safety in the relatively uncharted eastern fringes of the state but cities like Kohima and Dimapur are safe and permit restrictions have been eased in the last few years. The best time to visit the area is between November and March. Like most hill towns, Kohima shuts down at sunset and can be eerily silent after that. Dimapur on the other hand is much more chaotic. It’s also the only city in the state with an airport. Dimapur is connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati by air. It is also the nearest railhead.
This city is a good starting point for your travels through Nagaland. It’s charmingly tranquil and has plenty of history. The Catholic Cathedral on Aradurah Hill, with its red-tiled roof, is the city’s most prominent landmark. It’s supposed to be the largest cathedral in the Northeast. The other big tourist draws here are the World War II Memorial to the brave Naga soldiers as well as the war cemetery designed by Lutyens. Close to the cemetery is the supermarket area - a narrow alley lined with shops where local women sell farm produce and pretty trinkets and shawls. The lane ends at the Kohima Local Grounds, where traditional wrestling competitions are held. The State Museum is a good place to see the many fascinating elements of the traditional Naga way of life. Like most public places in the city the museum shuts early (3pm) and is closed on Sundays. Your best bets for accommodation are Hotel Japfu (0370-2240211-13) or Hotel Fira (2245006).
Immediately south of the city (15km) rises the spectacular Japfu peak (3,940m), one of the best treks in the area. Right behind the peak lies the Dzuokou Valley, watered by a meandering stream which sometimes freezes in the winters. In spring the valley is full of lilies and rhododendrons. The Dzuokou valley is part of the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary. You can hire local guides to take the four-day trek into the heart of the sanctuary. There are no hotels near the sanctuary and transport is limited to a twice-a-day bus service. Hiring a taxi is the most convenient way to travel here.
Dimapur, which lies 75km northwest of Kohima, is Nagaland’s most biggest and most industrialised town. Its name, which means ‘the city of the river people,’ is the only major Naga town not in the hill country. Standing on the edge of the city’s river, Dimapur’s Kacheri monuments are the biggest points of interest here. Located just 37km from Dimapur is the Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the Hoolock Baboon, the only gibbon found in India. The sanctuary also has elephants, tigers, mithun, sambar, wild dogs and sloth bears. Accommodation options in the area include Hotel Tragopan (03862-230291) and the Tourist Lodge (226355).