Nagaland Express - the train from Kamakhya to Dimapur is aptly named. To get the ILP for Nagaland we visited Nagaland House, (Tel:0364 2520083) Laitumkhrah, Nongrim Hills at Shillong. To reach here, ride a taxi or bus up to Fire Brigade and walk across the football field to Bethany Hospital. Pay Rs.60 for a permit and no documents or photographs required-gives access to entire Nagaland for two months. Interestingly foreign tourists no longer need Protected Area Permit (PAP) since January 2011. Later we learnt that all the northeast states except Arunachal Pradesh do not need PAP/RAP for foreigners. Refer www.tourismnagaland.com
You can board a bus from Shillong to Dimapur, there is a Network Travels counter right next to Bethany Hospital. Buses go through Assam (NH52) and takes 12 hours. We took Nagaland Express from Guwahati at 11.30 pm and reached Dimapur by 5.30am. Taxi to Kohima leave the railway station when full and cost Rs.220 for 75km. Despite good roads, taxi fare is highest in Nagaland and goes up as the sun goes down.
Prices sky rocket and very high demand makes it impossible to find an accommodation during Hornbill Festival. Book very well in advance (6months). Holiday Inn (Tel: 9863156696, s/d Rs.450/600), Hotel View Point (Tel: 9856346445/9856360163, s/d Rs.550/1000), Hotel Fira (Tel: 0370 2240940, s/d Rs.550/800, dormitory Rs.200), Hotel Pine (Tel: 0370 2243129/2240269/ 9436001041, s/d Rs.500/900), Viewpoint Lodging (Tel: 0370 224182, s/d Rs.700/1000). These hotels are at Kohima and the venue of Hornbill Festival is 12km away at Kisama Heritage Village. A taxi ride will cost Rs.30 to Kisama and staying at the city centre will be ideal to enjoy the night bazar during the festival.
For a truly Naga cultural experience, stay at one of the guest houses in Kigwema village, walkable distance from Kisama, albeit pricey. Contact Nino (+919856343037) for bed/breakfast homestay accommodation, who coordinates with women in the village to offer a true homely experience to guests from across the globe at a price range of Rs.1000 per person. Bring your own tent and sleeping bags in the worst case and Nino will find a space to pitch the tent.
We stayed at Akieno's house (9856259469) who runs Dawn Boys Hostel for the boys studying at Japfu Christian College, Kigwema. Akieno's mothering love was obvious when she dished up various local dishes. She ensured to keep us warm by replenishing the coal in metal buckets . It was like staying at a home with truly lovable people as hosts.