toursim phone

Free SIM cards to all tourists upon arrival in India?

INDIA’s Home Ministry has given the go-ahead to give out free SIM cards to all tourists upon arrival in India. The cards will be provided to those with eTVs – Electronic Travel Authorisation or electronic visas.

Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said, “We had a number of meetings with the Home Ministry with regards to providing SIM cards to foreign tourists when they land in India. The Ministry has finally agreed to our proposal. Now, it will take some time to start the facility.”

The SIM cards will be loaded with an undisclosed amount of free credit, and will come in a tourist kit comprising of maps, tourist information, guidelines, dos and dont’s, and emergency contacts.

State-owned telecom operator BSNL is likely to provide the service to foreigners, and that discussions have reached the “last level”.

The initiative could be rolled out as early as September 27. Not likely but I’ll keep you posted.

About Explore Nagaland

Nino Zhasa - Explore Nagaland

The best way to visit Nagaland, Nino Zhasa offers an experience of her hometown Kohima

Explore Nagaland founder, Nino Zhasa, has recently been collaborating with the Roadtrip Experience Project as they visit the North East of India. Featured on the RTX blog, Nino gave this interview about her passion for developing sustainable tourism in Nagaland and how it's helping local communities.

Nino Zhasa is redefining the tourism industry.

Read on about the unique and memorable experience she offers you…

You can count on an RTX collaborator to stray off the beaten track. This week, we’d like you to meet Nino Zhasa, founder of Explore Nagaland and a woman with big plans for tourism in the North-east.

Nino is involved in rural tourism in Nagaland. She promotes rural homestays and building the local tourism trade with the local youths and SHGs [Self Help Groups]. In her own words: “My vision is to let the local community benefit and take pride in their surroundings, environment and preserve local culture.”

From the very beginning of our interaction, it’s clear the Nino is the kind who loves to really get to know people. Unsatisfied with our phone conversation, she wishes we could meet in person and chat over a cuppa.

“The experience that I’m trying to give people has a unique and personal touch. When you go to a place and the people showing you around are from there, when that’s their own home – they’re proud to show you places, they’re happy to tell you all they can. It isn’t just a job for them, it’s an interaction.”

“When you go to a place and the people showing you around are from there, when that’s their own home – they’re proud to show you places, they’re happy to tell you all they can. It isn’t just a job for them, it’s an interaction.”

Nino talks about the personal and human parts that are missing from pre-packaged tours that seem all the rage these days.

“When I have guests in my house, I look after them. That’s the same idea behind promoting rural homestays. The locals absolutely love to have these guests. The women play an active role in interacting with them, making them comfortable. It makes them amazingly happy. To add to it, they benefit because they earn money. So when we send guests to them, they not only prosper financially, but also interact with the guests, learn from them. They take pride in their culture while showing it to an outsider. And so organically, the local community becomes socially and economically stronger.”

Even during our conversation, I can hear laughter and sound reverberating in the background in Morung Lodge. Nino explains: “Right now, I have a local musician, a folk singer as a guest. He, along with my other guests from Mumbai who have come for the Ziro Music Festival, are having a lovely jam session right now. They explored Kohima, and went trekking around the place. Imagine that – there’s actually a guest at my house who’s singing, and we have a live band. These aren’t everyday experiences, definitely not something you get in a tour package!”

Nino speaks of her inspiration for her work. “I’ve always loved interacting with travellers and people from different regions. I’ve travelled all over India and abroad over the years, and I’ve learnt a lot, and gained a lot of experience. My love for travel and working holidays took me to many places in the Himalayan region as well as abroad (where I’ve worked in the hospitality sector). But deep inside, I’ve always meant to come home and promote Nagaland and the North-east. Once I came back and started this, I really knew that this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be my own boss, and help people have life experiences.”

“These aren’t everyday experiences, definitely not something you get in a tour package!”

As she delves into her childhood, it’s clear that this was what Nino was born to do. “Personally, I’m born and bred in Kohima and my parents have really influenced what I am today. My dad being an administrator had to travel a lot, so most of my holidays were spent in those outposts. Both he and my mum were very charitable and hospitable people and I think that has really moulded me.”

Says Nino about the whole Road Trip Experience: “I’m really looking forward to the RTX road trip. A few years ago, I had been a part of a similar global collaboration, with interactions with artists and local people over a month, and it was amazing. The idea of a road trip makes this unique and beautiful in a new way. My only complaint, if you can call it that – it’s such a short time! Only three days, I’d love to stay on for longer, get to know all these people better, learn from them!”

Nino is looking forward to a great interaction with fellow creative minds over the RTX experience. She believes that she can inspire people to promote National Integration through creativity and would love everybody to experience the North-eastern hospitality and to take back all the positivity of the region.

Nino signs off, even as she makes me swear to visit Nagaland sometime:

“The North-east is not a dangerous place, but a place of beautiful people and tribes who need support and hand holding to develop positively. Come, experience it for yourself. These are real human interactions that you will never forget.”

© aabir, RTX project, October 2015

Hornbill Festival International Rock Contest

Hornbil Festival

Hornbill Rock Festival Tickets now on sale

Most international visitors come to the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland to experience the cultural and Naga heritage aspects of the festival. Equally important, especially to the young people of Nagaland is the international music festival. This year the Hornbill International Rock Contest and music festival, organised by the Music Task Force, Government of Nagaland may well be the longest music event in the country. Attractive cash prizes and music loving crowd makes the event a unique experience for performers.  

Performers this year include:

Date : Wed 2nd Dec 2015, 06:00 PM

Date : Mon 7th Dec 2015, 06:00 PM

Tickets for the Hornbill International Rock festival are avalable from

Hornbill Festival – the festival of festivals

Hornbill festival, Kisama Heritage Village, Nagaland

Hornbill photos: thanks to Rupert Dean

The biggest and the most important of all festival in the north east India is hosted in Nagaland annually from 1st – 10th December at the Naga Heritage Village of Kisama, near Kohima, this is an increasingly commercialised festival that attracts tribes from across Nagaland all dressed up in astonishing and beautiful finery.

Located in between the villages of ‘Ki’gwema and Phe’sama’, where it has derived its name ‘Kisama’ from the land donated by the two villages.
The Hornbill festival started in 2000 as a main event to promote tourism in the state and to bring all the tribes to unite them in one platform and under one roof. Now in its 15th year, the festival draws travellers and tourists from the region, mainland India and around the world.  The festival serves the visitors as a window to Nagaland to experience the way of life and traditions, Along with traditional dance, song, food, wrestling, craft and archery, there is also the Naga chilli-eating championship, Miss Nagaland contest, a rock concert and a motor rally.

The area where each of the traditional huts called  Morungs were built is in the shape of Nagaland map with each location depending on the districts they belong to. These morungs offer traditional food and drinks and depict the way of life in the tribal house over the 10 days of festival and celebrations.

Hornbill Festival site, Kisama Heritage Village, Nagaland

Contact Explore Nagaland if you'd like to visit the Hornbill Festival

We can arrange Hornbill festival, accommodation, guides and local transport - use the form to get in touch and jet us know what you need.

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Aoleang – The Konyak’s spring festival in Mon


Aoleang is the main festival of the Konyaks from northern Nagaland. It is celebrated in the first week of April every year, this year Mon will be witnessing the celebration from 1st - 6th April.

It is observed after the time of sowing seeds in new fields. Aoleang celebrations also mark the end of the current year and welcome the begining of the new year with the spring season. It is the time to pray for a bountiful harvest of crops in the current year. Aoleang is spread for six days from 1st to 6th April. It is celebrated with much pomp and fervour. Each day of the festival has its own significance, custom rituals and merry making. It is a festival of sharing and forging ahead with renewed vigor into the coming year.

This festival also showcases the rich cultural heritage, with indigenous dances, songs and games combined with the modern music talents of the district. It aims to develop relationships between the government and the people, bridging the communication gap, promoting peace, culture and progress.

If you are interested in visiting Mon to experience the Aoleang festival, please contact me.

Sekrenyi – Angami festival of purification


Sekrenyi is the major festival of the Angami. It is a 10 day celebration which signifies purification and sanctification (before going to war).

Two days prior to the main festival firewood is collected. On the next day animals are hunted in preparation for the meal. Next day the main celebration starts.

The males clean the wells outside the village at night in preparation for the first day,  Zukhophe. Only young and pure bachelor boys are allowed to do this work. Next morning, the men go to the well and washe all their bodily parts and then sprinkle the washing water on their clothes and weapons. Then they fetch water from the same well for the women of the household as no one else is allowed to fetch water on that day. On their return from the well, the men each slaughter a chicken. 

Young boys are only allowed to join in the Sekrenyi celebrations after they turn 6-7 years of age, and their first slaughter is the cock not a chicken. It is only after their first offering that they are allowed to slaughter a chicken as according to myth 'cock must die in hands, and is then dropped on the ground, if the right leg of the cock comes above the left leg, then it is considered to be a good omen'. The bottom part of the chicken is cut away and the intestines pulled out. On the top of the appendix, feathers are inserted and this is hung at the entrance to their house.

The chicken is cooked in a separate (temporary) oven made of wood away from the household's main kitchen. Before eating the meal, they offer the liver of the chicken along with some wine and pray 'If any enemy comes, give me the strength that I kill the enemy before he kills me'. Women and girls are not allowed to eat from tis meal. Afterwards the men put some water in their mouths and spit it out to mark the day's end. People make local rice beer which they offer it to the spirit of the well and pray that the well never dries up continuing to provide pure water to the village.

Next day people collect wild fruit to decorate their houses particlarly the house of a common ancestor. On the third day they cut bamboos which they fry.

The most interesting part of the festival is the thekra hie. The thekra hie is a part of the festival when the young people of the village sit together and sing traditional songs throughout the day. Jugs of rice beer and plates of meat are placed before the participant

The 4th day is important for the young couples. They go to the jungle and collect corks, stones, wood pieces etc. to make necklaces and bracelets and various other ornaments. There is an exchange of gifts between them as well as between closely related friends. If someone wants a favor or a gift then he or she can ask for it from their friends but they must do something for them in return. By doing so, they are considered to be very close friends.

On the 5th day the young people go to their parents houses and make things such as ornaments, spears, dao and other items which they keep for future use.

The 6th, 7th  days are holidays. On these days people just stay at home and enjoy with friends and family. although in some villages the you men hunt on the 7th day.

On the 8th day is the most significant part of the festival, the  bridge pulling or gate pulling as well as inter village visits

On the last day they cook meat and distribute it amongst the villagers.

Festivals of Nagaland

Festivals of Nagaland

Festivals of Nagaland
Hornbill festival

Hornbill Festival – the festival of festivals

The Hornbill Festival is celebrated each year for 10 days at the start of December. The festival takes place at Kisama Heritage Village, around 12 km from Kohima.

The Hornbill Festival is a great opportunity to experience the wide variety of Naga food, handicrafts, songs, dances and customs of Nagaland and, as the festival is attended by all the major tribes of Nagaland, the cultural diversity of the Naga people.


Sekrenyi festival

Sekrenyi – the festival of purification

Sekrenyi - the festival of the Angami tribe is celebrated in the month of February and falls on the 25th day of the Angami month of Kezei. It is a 10 day festival of purification and sanctification (originally before going to war) with feasting and singing and is celebrated in Kohima Village, Khonoma and Tuophema.



Aolaeng festival of the Konyak Nagas

Aoleang – festival of the Konyak Nagas

Aoleang is the main festival of the Konyaks from northern Nagaland. It is celebrated in the first week of April every year in the Konyak district.  Every village celebrates Aoleang, but especially the Konyak capital, Mon.

Aoleang is celebrated with much pomp and fervour. Each day of the festival has its own significance, custom rituals and merry making. This festival showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Konyak, with indigenous dances, songs and games.