Friday, April 29, 2016

Experiencing The Angami Tribal Culture In Touphema Village

Every nook and corner of Nagaland is blessed with abundant natural beauty and we would have a tough time choosing the best destination in these hills, Touphema however, has stood out in the crowd by being a self sustaining village. The local community took onus to develop the village and are responsible for making it a tourist destination. They decided to construct a resort for tourists to come stay and understand more about their tribal culture.

This village is now considered as a model example and other villages too are following suit. This excellent initiative by the Angami tribe is very efficiently run by the local community. The land was donated by a villager for constructing this Tourist Village and this self funded resort has 12 cottages with each clan from the village sponsoring one cottage.

They have done a wonderful job of providing Ethnic Angami model huts with a fire place along with modern amenities and is a perfect place to experience an age old culture. The huts are aesthetically done giving it a very traditional Angami feel. They are made of wood with thatched roofs and once you enter, there is an area to light a bonfire. The huts do not come with a lock and key and instead have huge wooden logs that are used to lock the door. The room has the softest mattress, pillow and an amazing quilt. Once tucked in you are guaranteed to sleep like a baby.

Right behind the cottages is their grand and traditional authentic dining hall which is beautifully decked up with artifacts and jewelry. The large traditional Angami kitchen setup which houses a massive fire place is surrounded by livestock, pulses, grains and handwoven baskets. The large wooden tables are so inviting to sit on and have a meal. The lengths that the community has gone to give a true and authentic Angami experience is truly commendable. Skulls of Mithun, Naga spears and axes adorn the kitchen wall.

The pathway outside the huts is dotted with cherry blossom trees and a host of lot more trees and bushes. The entire area is filled with grass and of course the entire picture would be incomplete without a huge nursery with the colorful flowers swaying at the gust of the wind.

Now coming to the part that we loved and spent most time in the tourist village is a sit out facing the green valley providing unadulterated views with the magnificent orange sun setting in the background. It has a massive tree trunk that has been converted into a coffee table. Sipping a cup of hot tea on a cold evening made us want to stay back here forever.

We had  arrived at Touphema around Diwali and on the eve of Diwali we had an in-house bonfire symbolically celebrating the festival of lights. These little pleasures in life make for some great memories.

Around the resort is Touphema village museum which is a treasure trove of exhibits belonging to the Angami tribe. The galleries are dedicated to earthenware and wooden utensils that include a massive and all natural rice pounding table showing the different stages of the extraction process. Moving on, we saw hand knit woolen shawls, jewelry, head gear and beautiful ornaments. Then comes an extensive collection of guns of various sizes and the iconic axes, swords and spears.

The most amazing exhibits are the chairs made of buffalo horns and elephant bones. We have to give it to their creativity and smart usage of natural products. It houses an impressive massive elephant skull with ivory tusks and their most remarkable exhibit was the wooden tobacco pipe that had intricate engravings on them. Majority of the artifacts displayed in the museum have been collected from the families living in the village.

Right opposite the museum is a massive log drum on display. The log drum is a massive musical instrument made from a single chuck of tree and is very intriguing. In earlier times, the log drums were used during war- to announce the approach and retreat of an enemy forces. The drum is played by a group of men using wooden dumbbells.

If you still want more out of Touphema, fret not, starting from amazing and true village walk experience to interacting with friendly locals it is truly amazing to see how self sustained the villagers are. They breed their own livestock, grow as many trees, fruits and vegetables in their garden and all in a very organic fashion. Their respect for nature is a lesson that everyone should learn. A beautiful church at the centre of the village adds more charm.

A small pathway led us to the old village which is right behind the resort. On the way do checkout the warhead tree on which war trophies in the form of enemy heads were displayed once.The entrance to the old village is where the warhead tree is accompanied by a small compound wall made of stone slabs. Do stop by the demon, thunder stone and husband wife clutching stone.

As we walked into the secluded old village we were greeted by the Angami people with broad smiles and a cup of chai. It was amazing to see massive bamboo baskets that are used as storage containers being hand woven. We saw how labor intensive, time consuming it is and the high skill set required to weave just one basket. The road leads to the old baptist church near which lies the Husband and wife rock. The villagers were gearing up for a wedding in the nearby amphitheater and it was a very pretty sight. Do take a walk around to appreciate the architecture of this

Among many very first experiences, our first hitchhiking experience happened here. Driving or riding in your own vehicle though has its own perks but it takes away the experiences that a backpacker can completely relate to. Hitchhiking being one of them. These experiences make you meet new people and strangers instantly become friends. Even better, it makes you trust people more and brings back faith in humanity. People in these hills are very kind and helpful. The person who offered us a lift was more than happy to drop us to the tourist village. He made sure he drop us right at the reception and not just at the entrance of the property.

An ideal duration to stay here would be a minimum of two days as you could soak in and cover the entire village by foot. The kids in this village are not camera shy and are more than happy to pose. Watching these kids play made us realize that here all kids play football without any gender specific games. It was a relief to see that girls were not stopped from playing so called boys games, in fact the girls were better at scoring goals. Point proven it is all in the mentality of the people rather than how educated and well read you are.

It was at Touphema tourist village that we were introduced to exquisite Angami cuisine. They serve all vegetarian lunch and it is surprising to see the extent of vegetarian delicacies that were prepared. We were served dal with spinach and local herbs adding a lot of flavor. The vegetable curries were simple and organic- pumpkin, squash and potatoes blended with local herbs made for great accompaniments to go with dal. However, the one dish that completely stood out was 'Boiled beans and bamboo shoot,' the aromatic after taste of bamboo shoots lingered in our taste buds for a long time.Another must try would be their spring onion pickle blended with Naga King Chilli.

Their breakfast is simple but wholesome with omelette bread. jam and locally procured honey with a cup of tea or coffee. You would be amazed to taste the unadulterated mountain honey. Irrespective of the generous quantity of honey you consume in one sitting, you never feel like you have had an overdose of sugar rush. It is such a blessing to stay in rural India where the FMCG companies are yet to take over and replace the natural products with adulterated factory made ones.

All remote villages in Nagaland have one lone bus that leaves from the village to the nearest town early in the morning and returns to the village on the same day. These buses provide an excellent opportunity to travel with the locals and freshly felled bamboo, livestock and ration gives you company in the bus.

Locals here understood that connectivity was a big hindrance in their daily lives as there were no public transport services available even though the village was only 41 km away from Kohima. It was then that  the village community decided to pitch in and buy a mini bus so that they could commute to the capital and return the same day. All 600 families pitched in their savings in 1985 and bought a bus that runs till date and they try and accommodate everyone on the way.

Early in the morning you can spot villagers waiting for the local community bus to arrive. It was such a lovely sight to see villagers have lengthy conversations with each other and exchange pleasantries. As soon as we all boarded the bus and before the journey could commence the people in the bus came together and offered prayers for a safe journey.

If you are reaching Touphema from Wokha, then keep in mind that there is only one bus that leave from Wokha to Kohima daily between 6 to 7 am. If you miss the bus, taxis are your only hope. After a one hour bumpy ride in a shared taxi to Botsa village and hitchhiking a 4 km steep ghat road we reached Touphema tourist village.

If you want to have an even more awesome time in Touphema, visit during "Sekrenyi Festival" which is a purification festival held in the month of February. For reservations contact 9436832075, 8014926733. Each cottage is priced at Rs 2300 per night per couple while breakfast lunch and dinner are priced at Rs. 200, 250 and 350 respectively per person plus government taxes.


  1. Very interesting to read about the tribal culture and your stay at Touphema.

  2. Very informative post. Would love to try the Angami cuisine someday. And the Village looks so beautiful, thanks for sharing such an amazing post :)

    1. Thanks and glad you liked the post, it is certainly one of the prettiest village we have been to.

      Waiting to read your post on how you liked the tribal food :)