The village of Mopungchuket is one of the oldest and biggest Ao Naga villages, located in the central regions of Mokokchung district of Nagaland state. It is a popular rural tourism destination and was formally declared as a ‘rural tourism village’ by the government of Nagaland in the year 2007.
Pearched at an altitude of 1324 meters above sea level, Mopungchuket is blessed with many historical, mythological and cultural assets and is blessed with serene natural landscape and pleasant moderate climatic conditions. The total geographical area of the village measures 55 Km2 approx. There are five river eco-systems in the territory of Mopungchuket village and swathes of lush virgin forests. It is located 16 Kms from the district headquarters, Mokokchung town, and is well connected by all-weather roads.
Many travel writers and tourism publications in India have labeled Mopungchuket as “the best kept village in Nagaland.” Recognized as one of the cleanest villages in Nagaland, Mopungchuket is also famous for the legendary love story of Jina and Etiben, regarded as “Romeo and Juliet” of the Ao Nagas.
Mopungchuket is a village where ethnic culture is manifest in so many forms including folklore, art, folk songs and dances. It is a quaint Naga village, a land where myth and history coexist, whose allure makes a visitor to linger on.
Mopungchuket village has much to offer any visitor – panoramic views, nature walks, tea gardens, wooden sculptures, parks, memorabilia exhibit and artifacts in the museum and a warm smile from the friendly villagers wherever you may wander.
PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST
Etiben Tower and Jina Tower: The boundless yet unconsummated love saga of Jina and Etiben is romanticized and immortalized in the village; their songs are sung and their stories told to this day. There are two towers in the village built in their memory. Atop of these two towers, one can see the who of Ao country and beyond.
Süngkotenem Park: This park is perhaps the best kept community owned park in Nagaland. The mystical Süngkotenem Lake, a deer park, an amphitheater, wooden sculptures and towering trees makes visits to this park a unique experience. Süngkotenem Lake is more of a mystical lake than it is a historical one. The stories associated with the lake are wrapped in myths and legends. Süngkotenem Park is perhaps the jewel of Mopungchuket village.
Mopungchuket Museum: Established in the year 1956, this museum could be the oldest museum in Nagaland. There are many memorabilia exhibits and artifacts put on this display in this museum.
Mopungchuket Library: The village library was established in the year 1939 by the village’s early scholars. Perhaps the oldest rural library in the region, the library holds books of historical and cultural importance.
Traditional Morung: The village Morung or traditional men’s dormitory is another attraction in the village. Today, it no longer serves the practical purposes it used to during the past but it still represents a vital visual aid to the folk narratives. Some customary practices and conventions are still carried out in the Morung, especially during festivals. The most important usage of it today is for its aesthetic value, however.
Log Drums: There are three log-drums in the village. The 35-feet long Mongsen log-drum carved and dragged in the year 1880, the 30-feet long Anüngsa Log-drum carved and dragged in the year 1890 and the 26-feet long Pongen Log-drum carved and dragged in the year 1927.
Wooden Sculptures: There are six giant wooden sculptures and a totem in the village’s Süngkotenem Park that is a must-see for any visitor. Each sculpture has a story to tell.
Mangkolong Tea Garden: This is a popular site for picnickers and is the first tea garden in Nagaland. The first tea plant was planted on 12-6-1980.
Church Building: The Mopungchuket Baptist Church was established in the year 1900 although the present church building was build much later on. The church bell here is said to be the biggest church bell in the region.
Longrangtenem Park: A walk in the pine grove of this park is any visitor’s delight. This park if of historical significance for the village as the village got its present name ‘Mopungchuket’ after an incident that happened in this park.
Fan Palm Groves: The are numerous fan palm groves in the backwoods of the village. Not only is the fan palm important for its practical usages in the life of the villagers, it is also associated with the history of the origin of the village’s name. The fan palm is also the emblem of the village.
Oak Tree Avenues: The villagers since the olden days planted oak trees along the roadsides. These oak trees are pollarded from time to time in a practice that is associated to the traditional village administration system of Mopungchuket. Longzüng road and Mangkolong road are the two favorite oak tree avenues for visitors.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Mopungchuket village is connected by an all-weather road from Mokokchung town. There are daily bus services between Mopungchuket and Mokokchung town. Taxi services are also available to commute between Mokokchung town and Mopungchuket village at affordable prices.
WHERE TO STAY:
Travellers’ Inn, a lodge with four double-bedded rooms with attached bathrooms. Interested visitors can also avail homestay services if booked in advance. For booking inquiries, call 7085855328 or 9436003699.
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
October to May
LANGUAGES: Ao, English, Nagamese
This writeup and photos were contributed by Mr. Limalenden Longkumer who is a native of Mopungchuket and he is a active member of this village