Travelling to Headhunter Basti “Mon”
It gives goosebump when we hear about travelling to Headhunter Basti “Mon” of Nagaland although we consider them as ‘uncivilised, extremely barbarous’. According to The Legendary Naga Village viz book “Headhunting was not the senseless killing of the enemy but a traditional connection with tribal principles of heroism, justice, honour, pride & recognitions. ”
Mon district was my first choice on this trip. The moment I stepped into the land of Mon it was a feeling of travelling back to the medieval period. The first glance of the place just kept me mesmerized. The town and villages are surprisingly clean & have beautiful landscapes. People in the town are polite and hospitable. The houses decorated by a variety of flora with an intense background of the mountain ranges. The town looks more beautiful at night when the blanket of stars covers the whole valley.
Shortcut to reach Mon (Simaluguri to Mon):
I boarded a direct train to Simaluguri from Kolkata. Although my initial plan was to visit
Nagaland to Mon, however, time wasn’t permitted to the same. So, I spent a night at Simaluguri in a local lodge near the railway station. Lodging facility is availed at a very affordable rate. You may also look for accommodation in the city which is much safer.
Simaluguri is a well-known historical place in Sivasagar district of Assam, which I came to know from Biplob, the descendent of Ahom. He highlighted some of the historical importance of Simalugurui and Ahom tribe. It was an early morning where I started my journey towards Sonari district of Assam.
So, I boarded a local van (local buses are also available) which took about an hour to reach Sonari bus stop. With the help of locals, I hired a small e-rickshaw which dropped me further into outskirts of Sonari town from where regional taxis and buses for Mon departs. Around 3-hours of the bumpy journey, I happen to reach the main market of Mon Town.
Places to stay:
If you believe in spot booking, it’s not a bad option. There are few homestays and lodges available with dormitories.
My second-day journey began with a local tour of a city taxi. The road conditions are extremely bad although after reaching the destination, a warm welcome by villagers left behind all the stress I suffered on the way. The village houses have a great variety of flora with colourful backgrounds of the rich natural environment.
The piles of stones in the village show the number of heads they have hunted. Very few Bastis with their old traditions is in existence now, as they have embraced Christianity. They have abandoned their traditional cultures. Few elders at the village dress up in their traditional costume for the tourists.
The chief of the village is more generous as he offered a cup of tea (klap) and a few bananas which show their hospitality towards their tourist. The last generation which experienced headhunting has tattoos on their face and skull head necklace that signifies the number of headhunted by him.
The Chi Village:
This is a beautiful deserted village near Mon town taken care by few men of the local tribal village area, located at the top of the mountain in Mon Sadar Tehsil. The village preserves its ancestral heritage with a beautiful children’s park. The conference house in the village is said to be the discussion room of their people.
The chief of the tribe used to sit on the throne surrounded by the tribes around the fire. The house is decorated with skulls of animals and birds they have hunted. The biggest skull I found was of an elephant. The famous Longkhai village is visible from the top of the hill which lies at the border of Myanmar.
The place is quiet and peaceful with very few tourists in and around the traditional village of Konyak tribes. The village is surrounded by a beautiful valley and will remain as a nostalgic snap in your diary. The caretakers of the village are very helpful and always ready to guide you around the village.
Important Tips before Travelling to Headhunter Basti “Mon”:
- The most important thing to remember before you visit this place is that most of the shops in the town close by 1:30 pm.
- On Sunday the whole town remains close. Local transportation facilities are unavailable.
- Very few ATMs are available in town. Sometimes they may go out of service. I recommend carrying sufficient cash.