Nagaland has always been a mystery to the outside world, with very little being known about this as-often-termed ‘godforsaken’ place. Considered as the ‘wild east’ Nagaland is home to some 16-odd headhunting tribes, who, until very recently, valiantly fought off any intruders. They would chop-off their enemy’s head and ostentatiously hang it on the entrance of their house as a showpiece, with a simple belief that more heads one claimed the better is his reputation. And to tell you the truth, this was prevalent in many places in Nagaland until the late 20th century, before the British missionaries came and finally turned the entire state into a big Christian community.
Though of course, Nagaland, as we know it today, is only a remaining shadow of its once fierce self, and much of the south of the state has already been fairly developed, in the north, however, one can still find tribespeople in exotic attire who continue to live a traditional lifestyle (minus the headhunting ritual of course).
And in search of ‘that’ exotic, I visited the border town of Longwa, in the district of Mon.
A King With 60 Wives
It is said that the king of Longwa (locally known as ‘Angh) eats in Myanmar and sleeps in India because a part of his house is located in India, and apart, in Myanmar. He has 60 wives in total and he rules over more than 70 villages extended to Myanmar and Arunachal Pradesh — a lavish life indeed!
And that’s not it, the king, in addition to all the residents of Longwa, hold dual citizenship for India and Myanmar, though it’s a different thing that most of them mustn’t have stepped outside of the tiny boundaries of Mon in their life.
Five Reasons For Visiting Longwa. And My Biggest Fascination
There are many reasons for Longwa to be falling under the tourist radar. For one, Longwa is home to an influential king, and his house (I repeat, a part of which is located in India and a part in Myanmar) remains a dominating attraction. Accessible without any prior permission and without any cost, the king’s house in Longwa takes you back in time and through some of the rare artifacts of a losing Naga (and the local Konyak tribe’s) culture.
Two, Longwa is one of the biggest villages in Mon and a rather ‘tourist-friendly’ one, with enough information on it and enough tourist homes for anyone to spend a night or two. Compared to the main town of Mon, it’s also much cheaper to stay in Longwa. So all in all, if you’re visiting Mon and want to experience Nagaland’s culture, there can’t be a better & a safer place.
Three, the town is known for being India’s opium den, where tourists can enjoy the company of opium sucking locals (though not advised, as it’s illegal to do so) and be merry. One can also see the complete process of cooking the opium and locals sucking it through bamboo pipes with tribal engravings on it.
And last but not the least, it’s one of the rare places in Nagaland where spotting the last of the tattooed hunters is an underlying possibility. Tourists can moreover photograph them, though of course at a fixed price of 100 Rupees per photograph, and if one wants them to show off their tattooed bare-chest, they always have the option of paying a little more.
Longwa: An Ideal Place To Understand The Rural Nagaland
Despite being a popular tourist trail, Longwa offers an unparallel experience for tourists to understand the village culture in Nagaland. Come here for spotting the last of the tattooed headhunters or getting closer to the border on Myanmar, travelling with locals in a shared taxi or driving your own car, come here for anything, because if you happen to spend a day or two in Longwa, you will get a good idea about the everyday life in this part of the world, where most families have no money to survive and where younger generation still thrive on no employment, yet everyone, as a society, live beautifully, eat well and be merry.
- Devesh Joshi
- : My name is Dev, and I am a New-Delhi (INDIA) based travel blogger/Youtuber. I started blogging in 2016 after quitting my corporate career as a writer/film-maker. Since 2016, I've been travelling around the world, blogging, and making Youtube videos.
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