Places of Interest

Mt. Saramati (Sacharamërüv Vong/ Noi Mauk)
The Mt. Saramati is the highest peak in Nagaland and it is 12553 ft high.
The name “Saramati” is derived from Makury origin which is originally known as “Sacharamërüv Vong,” (Sachara= our spirit, guardian; mërüv= making noise; Vong= mount, hill or mountain) in combination which means the mount on which the our spirit(s) make noise or sound. It is said that the spirits or guardians of the mount themselves speak in Makury language as witnessed hearing by people. Thus, the  name for this mountain came to be known as Saramati. Some say it is “Theottsakheng Vong,” which means the mount from which we can hear the spirits calling and shouting for their pigs (domestic animal). But the local people said this name is colloquialized form of the previous one. There is also another name known as “Noi Mauk,” this term is coined by the Shan Saw Bwa who once happened to settle on the east bank of the Chindwin River. When the British Deputy Commissioner asked the Saw Bwa or Chief  about the huge snow-capped mountain rising high which they could see at the west bank far of the River. He simply said, “Noi Mauk,” which means “the mountain which is seen covered with snow during winter” (Brown: 1910).

The Shans did not claim for the ownership of the mountain but they made chief sacrifices every year and offered to the Mt. Saramati. The Red-Shans usually refer to the Nagas as the owner of the mount Saramati. This practice of offering sacrifices to the Mt. Saramati is similar to the Nagas especially who usually claim to be the first inhabitants of and around the Mt. Saramati. This is a plausible point to note that the so-called Red Shans along the banks of the Chindwin River are mostly Nagas who are considered “lost tribes.” Grand Brown also witnessed that those people who claimed to be Shans were once Nagas coming down from Somra tract (Brown: 1910). Some are sure that they migrated from Saramati Hill areas. For instance, the village chief of Twetwa nearby Tamanthi village said, “We are actually Nagas and we are not Red Shans! Our leaders once told us that we had to claim as Red Shans because if we claim our originality then we will be beheaded [1] by the people who come from Mt. Saramati.” (Poe Maat, 1990 However, use of the name “Saramati,” itself needs some clarifications. It was introduced to the outside world by the outsiders (British) when the outsiders heard the local people answering, “Sacharamërüv Vong,” they recorded as nearest as they could. Thus, it came to be known as Saramati.
Mt. Saramati has been an interesting subject for the researchers and tourists for research and tour. It is true that this mount has many stories to unfold for the Nagas and the Nagas take this mount so dearly. Saramati region is also rich with natural resources, precious flora and fauna and many kinds of animals and some are exclusively found only in the region. Prior to 2007, an EIA team reported that there are 332 species of birds, 59 species of mammals, 333 species of insects, 57 species of reptiles, 67 species of fish, and 526 species of plants but the team made mention of the fact that the actual presence of the flora and fauna would be more if they were given sufficient time and proper access for the survey.
The route to climb this mount from Myanmar side is easier from Layshi township. After reaching Layshi town, one has to travel on foot till the peak as the transporation is still very poor in Eastern Nagaland. It takes at least four days from Layshi to reach the peak. En route to the mount there are villages where the visitors can take a rest and experience a good socilaity of the Nagas. A rough journey schedule may be made as follows:
Day 1: From Layshi to Mëtori village
Day 2: From Mëtori village to Lakte village, a very close village to the mount.
Day 3: From Lakte village to Këtak ti
Day 4: From Këtak ti to the peak.
On the way to the mount, one can also observe and study the culture and people around the mount. Around and near the mount are dominated by the Makury Nagas from which the name Makury itself is derived. The road to the mount is hilly and hard but extremely educational and adventurous. It is sure the Mt. Saramati is where many things are to be experienced and discovered exclusively. Welcome to Saramati!!! Kuknalim…

Naungyan lake (Mysterious lake), also known as the Lake of No Return
This mysterious lake is located at the border of Arunachal Pradesh of India but that falls under the area of Pansau a border town of the Nagas in Myanmar. It is also close to Ledo road and easy for the travelers to get to. Its length is almost two miles and the breadth more than a mile. It is usually known as Lake of No Return for the Indians (Arunachalees and Asamese). It is said that this lake has a mysterious story that makes people to think of it in a special way. The oral tradition of the local people says its story interestingly. Once there was a village nearby the lake and the villagers live on the fishes from the lake. But, on the fateful day the villagers caught a strange and huge fish they never caught before. Happily, the whole village took part in eating with making merry but leaving an old woman and her granddaughter uninvited. At that very night, the spirit/ the guardian of the lake appeared to them that they had to run for their life lest they be punished with the rest of the villagers. Then the old woman and poor granddaughter left the village immediately to the jungle by inserting the fresh bamboo staff of the old woman upside down nearby the lake. Soon after they left, the whole village was submerged under the lake. But very strangely, the bamboo staff which was inserted upside down got life and grew as it is. Which is why, we can still see this strange bamboo growing with the joints upside down and this type of bamboo is exclusively found only in this surrounding. In fact, this place is a very good place that attracts many people from all over the world and the neighbors even. Hopefully this place can be a good tourist point in the future. The fish found in this lake are poisonous and but tasty if cooked well, said the villagers.
Further, it was told that the guardian of the lake is very powerful. The localities narrated the story interestingly. It is said that the guardians (mythical dragons) of the Naungyan lake and Naungsai lake found on the mount are very close friends. The story tells that the Naungsai dragon eloped the daughter of the Inn Daw Gyi Lake’s guardian/dragon and he was chased and attacked by the Inn Daw Gyi dragon but fortunately he defeated the Inn Daw Gyi dragon with the help of Naungyan guardian at the place nearby the Ledo road where the two guardians made a fortified refuge with rocks and boulders against the Inn Daw Gyi dragon. After the victory, Naungyan guardian allowed him to hide on the mount nearby the Naungyan Lake. Thus, they are known as very close friends according to the local myth.
The localities say that during World War II, the British army threw many bombshells, arms and weapons into the lake as they were not able to carry them at the attack of the Japanese troops. The surrounding villagers usually dig out those left bombshells and use gun powder for hunting and the shells are used for blacksmith. The surrounding area of the lake is a very fertile land where people till and grow crops. It is also known as the pot of rice for the local people.
Shwelong Pagoda
Shwelong Pagoda is another place of interest in Eastern Nagaland. It is located between Naungbin and Goya villages, above Homlin town. This pagoda is constructed on the rock that stands tall in the middle of the Chindwin River. Previously, the pagoda was not found but only the altar on which the Nagas made sacrifices for the spirits they worship. But later, it was replaced by building pagoda of the Red-Shans with the influence of Buddhism which they received from Burmese and Shan Saw Bwas since they also emerged as Red-Shans losing their Naga identity. There were two important arguments and debates on the ownership of Shwelong. It is said that during British time once argued with the so-called Red-Shans claiming that they were never Nagas and also Shwelong was never of the Nagas. As the argument went on serious, the two sides agreed to unearth the treasure which is the deciding point for their argument. As they unearthed, they found that there were Naga traditional stuffs such as Nagas shawl, tiger fangs, brass bungles, elephant task, spears, etc which are usually known as of the Nagas. Thus, the two sides stopped arguing as they came to know who should be the owner. The second time, during late 1970’s, they again debated that it was of the Red-Shans and of the Nagas. Then, they came together with a solemn promise that they would call out the huge fish which are found near the rock during the month of April (usually this period is marked by Buddhist water festival). They agreed that the one who could make the huge fish appear at the call by beating hands on the water. At this time also, the fish appeared miraculously when the Naga chief called them by beating on the water with his hand.
Since this festival is celebrated by the Red-Shans as part of Buddhist water festival at present, the origin of Shwelong is getting blur in modern time. During this festival, the pilgrims around and near Shwelong came together for the celebration and fed the huge fish which appear only once a year. They believe that they are blessed when they feed the fish and assured of prosperity if the fish are pleased.

[1] The main reason they were being attacked is that they were known for practicing black magic and witch craft which is usually punished by death and excommunication among the Nagas. Later, they were well protected by the British government as they paid their tribute to the British other than the Makury headhunters (cf. Brown, 1910)