Eco-Tourism Destinations in Nagaland: vis-a-vis Economic Opportunities

Z Nzanmongi Ngullie

Assistant Professor, Department of Tourism & Service Industry, St. Joseph’s College, Community College, Jakhama, Kohima.  

Tourism has tremendous employment potential. It varies from that of highly trained managers of deluxe hotels to room boys, transport workers, sales girls, artisans and others. This activity has also a high potential for self-employment in a variety of ancillaries such as horticulture, handicrafts, handlooms, guides etc. As an activity, tourism is highly suited to women particularly, if they also have to look after their families and children as in the case in most developing countries. While tourism, also upgrades human skills, some of the skills required and promoted by this activity are not difficult to master.  

The key elements of Eco-Tourism include a natural environment as the prime attraction, an optimum number of environment friendly visitors, activities which do not have any serious impact on the ecosystem and the positive involvement of the local community maintaining the ecological balance. Just as the World Tourism Organisation defines Eco-Tourism as “tourism practised in relatively undisturbed natural areas, for the main purpose of admiring and learning about them”, Nagaland possesses enormous potential for the promotion of eco-tourism. Its landscapes, scenic beauty and friendly people make Nagaland an exotic Eco-Tourism destination. The entire rural areas of Nagaland have potential of becoming Eco-Tourism destinations. The prospect of Eco-Tourism in Nagaland is to educate the traveller about natural destinations to provide ecological conservations and awareness, to benefit economic developments, the political empowerment of local communities and respect for the local culture.  

Some of the best Eco-Tourism destination in Nagaland that have proved valuable asset for the tourism promotion are listed below.

Doyang Hydro Project & the Amur Falcon Conservation: About 110 Km from Kohima Town, Doyang is one of the largest river in Nagaland. Several Hill streams fall into the river from the central and western parts and give it the most fascinating look. Hydel Dam has been constructed here. This project has a large quantity of water impounded in a Dam which is visible from many hilltop villages in the surrounding areas. It’s a home to varieties of fishes which are preserved and also serves as a daily bread for some fisherman in the nearby villages. Small wooden boats adorn the river for the purpose of fishing or to give a ride to interested tourist. Adding more to its beauty, there exist numerous mini and small Islands. Over the years, these place has become the roosting place of migratory birds Amur Falcon (Falco Amurensis), known to be one of the world's longest-distance migratory birds as they travel up to a staggering 22,000 km a year. These birds arrive in Nagaland from Mongolia en route to South Africa. In Nagaland, they start arriving from the second week of October and roost in Doyang and some other places for 1 to 2 months. With continues and concerted effort, the campaign to conserve the Amur Falcon was a resounding success and the Village Pangti has been rightly declared as the “Amur Falcon Capital of the World”. There has been zero killing since, 2014 and the year also saw more than 4000 tourist visit. It is worth a visit as One million bird can been seen in just 30 minutes. In recognition of their conservation effort for protecting the Amur Falcon during their migratory halt, Pangti Village was awarded, the Earth Hero Award from the Royal Bank of Scotland in the year 2014 from New Delhi. This award credits the effort of the mobilisation done by the local communities of that village.  

Khonoma; The Green Village

Located 20 km west from Kohima Town, Khonoma Village houses nature’s pristine beauty in the form of its alder trees and terraces carved out of its hilly slopes and the Khonoma Nature Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS). KNCTS conserves a large variety of rare species of plants and animals within its 25 sq km area. This is almost a virgin territory for birdwatchers, animal watchers and botanists who have the entire area to explore and discover. A model village for Eco-Tourism, Khonoma is one of the cleanest villages in the entire Asian subcontinent. The beautiful terraces which are carved out of the hill slopes surrounding the village are sight to behold. These terraces grow over 40 different types of paddy at different elevations.  

Dzukou: The Valley of Eternal Charm

This valley of eternal charm with its emerald green rolling hills, interspersed by gentle flowing streams, is tucked away at an altitude of 2,438.4 metres. It lies about 30 km south of Kohima Town. This famous valley beckons the intrepid trekkers and is the highest visited by tourist all throughout the year. It is known for its pristine forests, beautifully landscaped green valleys, varieties of flora and fauna etc. During the months of June and September, the valley turns into a carpet of varieties of wild flowers, including white & yellow lilies, aconitum and euphonies. It is believed that more than 360 varieties of orchids grow on the hill sides. Come winter, Dzukou reveals its other face as the meandering stream remains frozen, dry grass dominating the landscape which looks like a featureless desert. Besides the crystal clear water of the stream leisurely meandering through the valley, one can be completely at peace with nature. Though Dzukou valley is known for its biodiversity, especially rhododendrons, the predominant plant is the tough bamboo brush. The numerous clusters of low hillocks surrounding the valley contain natural caves and rocks overhands, which makes the valley an ideal place of camping. Few places on earth can offer this natural luxury.  

Shilloi Lake

Shaped like a footprint, Shilloi lake located in Meluri is 300 km from Kohima. It is a beautiful natural lake and falls in a valley surrounded with pine forest and interesting landscapes. Migratory Siberian cranes visits this lake in the month of March to June, where the locals contributes their support for their hospitality stay. The lake is rich in varieties of fishes and the best season to fish is during the month from June to September. Also a folk tale is attached with this lake; the locals believe that a Queen reign over this lake and therefore no one has drowned from this lake till today. Many of the locals in this area survive with fishing as their livelihood which they sell in the markets, yet they do not harm the Eco-System or any intention to destroy the existence of the fishes in the lake. This lake is also learned to be one of the most Eco-Tourism destination in Nagaland throughout the year because the climatic condition in this area is favourable for any kind: either for picnics, trekking or to view the beauty of the lake.  

Lohwo: the twin lake

Located in Khezekhano village also known as the “Ancestral Village of the Nagas”, this lake is 55 km from Kohima town. Legends made us believed that this twin lake (Husband & Wife) was co-joined from below the small hillock that separates them from outside. One will be mesmerized with the beauty of how the lake stood there undisturbed, unknown yet so fresh and a folk tale behind its existence.  

Saramati Peak

This peak has a height of 3841 meters and is the highest peak in Nagaland located on the Nagaland – Myanmar border in the district of Kiphire. The peak is covered with snow throughout the winter season. During the spring season the mountain offers a beautiful climb with views of Rhododendrons along the paths.

Japfu Peak

At 3048 meters high, this peak located at only 15 km South of Kohima offers a tough yet scenic climb for the more adventurous. The largest and the tallest Rhododendron tree lies in the Mt. Japfu standing at the height of 109 ft, as recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records.  

Ghosu Bird Sanctuary

Located 8 km away from Zunheboto town, this bird sanctuary is managed by the Village Community. It provides habitat to more than twenty species of endangered Avifauna (Local bird). Migratory birds are also sighted here between the months of June and September. The village community has strictly prohibited hunting and poaching animals and birds in that area and the nearby localities as well. This Village Community gains logistic support from the State Government towards the maintenance and preserving of the Sanctuary.  

Nagaland the ‘Land of Tribal’ is a place of magical beauty and bewildering diversity. A land nestled in myths and mysterious, lore and legends and in many tender dreams today, finds a place of admiration in many hearts. R. Kumar and S. Ram in their book Tourism in North East India while paying rich admiration attributed North East India region as, “The melting pot of variegated mosaic of people and races. It is on ethnic tapestry on many hues and shades. It is a virtual paradise for travellers, searching for joy in pilgrimage, adventure, culture, Nature, Heritage, Wildlife, Golf and Polo and many more. It is a land in the twilight of imagination and reality. It’s tourists’ delight…” Truly, Nagaland with its rich historical, cultural and panoramic landscape is a traveller’s paradise.  

(This Article is part of the Paper Presentation titled “Prospect of Eco-Tourism in Nagaland” presented by the Writer during the 4th International Conference on Social Sciences Research, held on 18 July, 2016 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)