Know your District: Longleng

Know your District: Longleng
The mighty Dikhu River (Fingerprints photo)

 

Location

Referred as the “land of clouds,” and located in the north eastern part of Nagaland, Longleng district is home to the Phom Naga tribe. Longleng District lies between 94°E – 95°E longitude and 26°N – 27°N latitude of the equator. The district is mountainous with an area of 1066.80 sq. km and bounded by Mon district in the east; Assam’s Sivasagar District in the north; Tuensang district in the south; and Mokokchung district in the west.

 

The boundary of the district is well demarcated by natural rivers such as Dikhu with Mokokchung district; Yongmon with Mon district; and Nyapa stream with Tuensang district. Longleng District is headquartered at Longleng Town located at an altitude 1067 metre above sea level.

 

History and People

Longleng town was established as an administrative outpost represented by an Assistant Political Officer (APO) in 1951 and till 2001 census, it was part of the Tuensang District. Longleng District was formed as the tenth district of Nagaland by transferring 3 circles namely Tamlu, Yongya and Longleng out of Tuensang District through Government of Nagaland and officially gained the status of full-fledged Revenue District on 24 January 2004 headed by the Deputy Commissioner.

 

The origin of the name ‘Phom’ is obscure. There are many opinions regarding the origin of its name. Some say that the name is derived from a beautiful lady named ‘Bhumla’ which means ‘the lady of the clouds’. Legend says that she and her husband had many offsprings and their descendants were called ‘Phom’. Some say that the name was given by the English after the word ‘Bhum’ which means ‘cloud’. They gave this name because the ‘Phom’ area was mostly covered by clouds especially during winter. Hence, the attribution as “the land of clouds.”

 

Other narrative says that the name ‘Phom’ came from the word ‘Bham’ which means rubber tree or Banyan tree given by the British when they visited the Phom area and found the Banyan tree in every main entrance of the Phom villages. When asked about the name of the tree, the natives replied that it was called ‘Bham’. Thus, the name ‘Phom’ came into existence.

 

Thus, it is difficult to give a definite meaning to the word ‘Phom’ nor is it possible to accurately say to which tradition it actually belongs but the Phoms accept the name and keep the name ‘Phom’ as theirs.

 

Except for setting up of an outpost with the establishment of a bungalow by the British Government at Tamlu, the rest of Phom area remained un-administered during the British rule. Dr. E.W. ClarK, the first Baptist missionary to the Naga Hills reportedly visited Tamlu village between 1881-1883, but he could not preach the gospel of Christianity. It was only on September 22, 1929 that the first 3 Phom converts were baptized and Christianity penetrated into majority of the Phom villages thereafter.

 

Several festivals are celebrated in a year but Monyiü is the greatest among them and is celebrated from April 1 to 6 every year. Traditionally it is a 12-day festival, which marks the end of winter and onset of summer. The festival involves community feasting, dancing, singing and social work (such as repairs and construction of bridges). During the festival, the men present their married daughters or sisters with pure rice beer and special food to show their affection and respect.

 

One or two days before the festival, its arrival is signaled by beating log drums with a distinct tune called Lan Nyangshem. The priests or the village elders predict whether the festival would bring a blessing or a curse. Other traditional festivals include Moha, Bongvum and Paangmo.

 

Another significant occasion for the Phom Nagas is the celebration of “Phom Day” on June 6 every year commemorating the Peace Making Day that was signed in June 6, 1952 marking an end to all head hunting practices and enmity among the Phom Nagas. This day is also declared as public holiday for the Phoms by the State Government.

 

Flora and Fauna

Longleng District is rich in natural vegetation. It enjoys the distinction of being one of the few places in Nagaland where virgin forests are still found. Sub-Tropical Mixed Forest characterized by broad-leafed evergreen trees and deciduous trees abounds. The main/dominating species in the high altitude are Bonsum, Gogra, Alder, Oak species etc. Wild cherries, wild apples, wild lemon, wild fig etc and a variety of edible plants and leaves at selected places are also found. At the foothill, Gomari, Holloc, Koroi, Mesua, Tita-Chapa, Neem, Wild Mango, Amla and Bamboo species are the dominant species.

 

Varieties of shrubs, herbs -many with medicinal values, climbers, ferns and grasses are found in patches throughout the District. The forest resource is one of the main sources of livelihood for the people. Rice is the stable food and agriculture is the main stay and majority of the people practice jhum cultivation. Rice, maize, colocassia, yam and soya bean are the main crops millets, maize, yam and varieties of vegetables such as pumpkins ginger mustard, potatoes etc and fruits like banana, mango, orange, sugar cane, pineapple and jackfruit are grown in abundance.

 

The mount Yingnyiüshang in the south-eastern part of the district bordering Tuensang with an approximate height of 2500 meters above sea level is the highest peak in Longleng district. Yingnyu mount is identified as biodiversity hotspot: it hosts species-rich tropical rain forest and supports diverse flora and fauna.

 

Coal deposits in Tamlu area, limestone in Yenchala and Ungnyangyen and crude oil in Shibiyen and Maingaji rivulet are some areas where exploration can be made with careful monitoring. Coarse salt is also found in Pongching, Buranamsang and Yongam villages.

 

Longleng District has a number of beautiful sightseeing, trekking, fishing, and picnic spots to attract tourists. It provides serenity, peaceful environment unlike disturbance of busy city life.

 

The Longleng town itself has good scenic beauty and along the sides of Dikhu river and Yongam River there are lots of tourist attraction for fishing and picnicking. There are places which are good for rock inscriptions and of attraction for ornithologists and traditional architecture and old sculptures provide historical background of the past of Longleng and their culture and tradition.

 

Some of the popular tourist spots are Bhumnyu Village; Yongshem/Ahom Raja Cave (3% km away from Longleng town): Pongo village to see official celebration of Monyiü festival; Yakang Morung, Yachem village; and Jechong Morung, Tangha village. One can also visit Yongnyah, Nian, Sakshi, Buranamsang and Hlikphang villages to experience typical Phom Naga tribal way of life.

 

Vital Statistics:

According to 2011 Census, Longleng has a population of 50484 with 26502 males and 23982 females transiting to 90 Persons per sq km. It was the least populated district in Nagaland.

 

With a literacy rate of 72.2 percent with 74.5 percent male and 69.6 percent female, it occupies 9th place in terms of population. Yachem was most populous village at 2962 person while Yotan School Compound with 11persons had the lowest population.

 

The Longleng District Human Development Report (LDHDR), 2014 informed that the district has 38 recognized villages and 2 compounds. There are 37 Governmental Departments in the district headed by district level officers. The following are the Central Government Departments in district: Postal Department, State Bank of India (SBI). Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB), National Informatic Centre (NIC), Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV), Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Assam Rifles.

 

The district has one college, 13 high schools, 17 middle schools and 77 primary schools. It has one District Hospital, 3 Primary Health Centres and 8 Sub-Centres.

 

Administration

The Administration headed by Deputy Commissioner is in charge of the District Administration, Law and Order, Protocol, Elections, Developmental activities and all extra charges from time to time. Deputy Commissioner (DC) is aided by sub-ordinate level Administrative Officers like Addl. Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Extra Assistant Commissioner (EAC), etc along with HODs (Head of Department) of various departments. The Administrative Units below the level of the district are based on the clusters of certain entities like circles, villages, households, etc.

 

The district has 6 administrative units namely Longleng Sadar (DC); Tamlu (ADC); Yongnyah (EAC); Sakshi, (EAC); Namsang(EAC); and Yachem, (EAC).

 

The district is also divided into certain blocks called Community Development Blocks (CD-Blocks) headed by Block Development Officers (BDOs) at – Longleng, Tamlu, and Sakshi.

 

According to the Nagaland Police Directory, the District has District Executive Force (DEF) is headed by one Superintendent of Police, Longleng; one Additional S. P. and a SDPO (Longleng). The District has two police stations viz., Longleng PS and Yanglok PS; and 1 Police Outpost at Tamlu.

 

Did you know?

  • Longleng District is also popular for its handicraft items specially shawls, woodcrafts and small items made by bamboo and is tagged as “The District of Handicrafts” by the Government.
  • A Morung is called Bang in Phom language and log drums are referred as Shem.

 

Source: Longleng District Human Development Report, 2014; Census of India, 2011; and Longleng.nic.in