A tiny state in the northeast corner of India, Nagaland is inhabited by nearly two million people. Another two million Nagas live outside its borders. Although the sixteen Naga tribes have been fighting among themselves for decades – approximately 200,000 have died in these conflicts, including those killed by the Indian army – many Nagas dream of an independent ‘Nagalim’. Jonathan Glancey, the Guardian’s architecture and design correspondent, has trekked through Nagaland’s often punishing interior, which is inhabited by little-known peoples and ‘stunning’ but vanishing wildlife. Although headhunting in Nagaland ‘was still rife in the 1960s’, and in the 1980s Glancey saw ‘fresh’ heads on display, tourist information says of the Nagas that they ‘by nature, are lovers of fun and frolic, and here life is one long festival’.
Nagaland is hard to get to; India allows access only to a few controlled tourist areas, where willing Nagas dress, dance and sing ‘traditionally’. Other Nagas wear tee shirts, baseball caps and jeans. Girls compete to become Miss Nagaland. In a number of tribes women have the same