KOHIMA

The capital of Nagaland, Kohima, was built alongside the Angami village of the same name by the British who arrived here in the 19th century. In the Angami language, Kewhima translates to ‘the land where the flower Kewhi grows’. Anglicized to Kohima by the British, the district of Kohima and the town that now serves as the capital of the state of Nagaland is a picture-perfect hill station, with serpentine roads spread across a series of ridges and hilltops.

ORIENTATION

Kohima is spread over many hills and ridges, and is navigable solely by car or motorcycle. Public transport is largely unheard of, and trudging up and down the town won’t get you very far if you’ve got limited sightseeing time. Hire a cab for the day to make the most of it.

Guneet Narula
Members of a Naga tribe performing a traditional dance
Members of a Naga tribe performing a traditional dance

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Kohima has everything going for it – from lovely weather and views to charming, friendly locals. You can easily spend a few days exploring the city. It’s also worth remembering that Sunday is truly a holiday here – everything, except hotels and eateries, is closed.

War Cemetery

A garden of space and serenity in the middle of the urban sprawl and traffic jams that have come to define busy Kohima (especially during tourist season), the War Cemetery has become as much a place of respite as a historical outing. This immaculate and well-maintained space contains the gravestones of nearly 1,500 Indian, British and Commonweath soldiers who died during the brief three-month Battle of Kohima, which is said to have taken the lives of over 10,000 soldiers. The cemetery is located at the junction of the two roads that lead to Dimapur and Imphal respectively.

Entry Free Timings 8.00am–4.00pm summer; 8.00am–3.00pm winter

Kohima State Museum

Located on Bayavu Hill, approximately 2km away from the main town, the state museum is a well-laid-out microcosm of the culture and history of Nagaland.

Exhibits include tribal artefacts, dioramas of women and men from the different Naga tribes, miniature depictions of the different houses and traditional huts across Nagaland, weapons, tools, and various household goods. The museum also includes a display of human skulls from the days of head-hunting. Especially well-documented articles presented here are the ornaments and fabrics of different tribes, exhibited on the ground floor of the museum, a display that was developed by the Indian Museum, Kolkata.

Courtesy Wikipedia
Mokokchung Village, as seen from a vantage point
Mokokchung Village, as seen from a vantage point

The museum though small is a simple yet wonderful representation of the richness and variety of cultures that comprise Nagaland. Now some-what overshadowed by similar displays in Kisama Heritage Village, it’s still worth a stop if you have an extra day in Kohima.

Entry ₹5 Timings 10.00am–5.00pm Closed Sundays and public holidays Photography Still ₹20; Mobile ₹10 Videography ₹100

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Kohima has quite a few good options, but keep in mind that December can be impossibly busy and expensive, so book your accommodation as early as possible.

Hotel Japfu (Tel: 0370-2240211-13; Tariff: ₹3,252–7,588) is the biggest and the best. Hotel Vivor (Tel: 2806243; Tariff: ₹3,360–9,864) near Kohima Bible College is a luxury option with a restaurant and Wi-Fi, as is Hotel Legacy (Cell: 08415922086; Tariff: ₹3,794–8,672) on Bayavu Hills near the Secretariat.

The Classic Aradura (Tel: 2241079, Cell: 08119890194: Tariff: ₹2,200–4,950) located on Aradura Hill, has beautifully furnished rooms, gorgeous wooden floors and furniture, and snug beds.

The Heritage (Cell: 09436215259; Tariff: ₹2,500–3,500) on top of the Officers Hill near the Governor’s House, is a heritage bungalow – it was once the commissioner’s residence – with modern amenities. Hotel Cimorb (Tel: 2242248; Tariff: ₹2,000–6,000) on Old Minister’s Hill near BSNL Telephone Exchange and Dimori Cove (Cell: 08575494111; Tariff: ₹1,500–3,500) on Imphal Road are also good options.

Every year the number of restaurants and eateries in Kohima seem to double. Apart from the pedestrian-only Night Market set up during the Hornbill Festival, there is a wealth of culinary options. The Classic Aradura’s restaurant serves lovely north Indian and Chinese food, with some Naga specialties. Good local food options include Chungtsuong at Razhu Point, The Hut opposite the post office. Cafés include the lovely Brewberry Café on High School Road, and Café Caffeine above Jasokie Place in the main town.

Location At 4,904ft, close to the border with Myanmar

MOKOKCHUNG AND AROUND

A lively town located 160km north of Kohima, Mokokchung is the base for visiting the nearby Ao villages. According to local lore, the Aos sprung from ‘Longtrok’, meaning ‘six stones’. After founding and staying in ‘Chungliyimti’ village – in present-day Tuensang District – they crossed the River Dikhu via a sturdy cane bridge, leaving some people behind. The people who did go ahead came to be known as ‘Aor’ or ‘Ao’, meaning ‘going’ or ‘gone’.

The main festivals amongst the Ao are the Moatsu and the Tsungremong. The former, Moatsu, is celebrated in the beginning of May in honour of Lijaba – the creator of the world – to ask him for blessings after the busy sowing season. Tsungremong is a harvest festival held during the first week of August. Of course, in contemporary times, Christmas and other Christian festivals have become important amongst the Aos.

One of the most fascinating Ao villages in Mokokchung’s vicinity is Longkhum, which is 17km away. It has a guesthouse and a quaint museum. Also visit the villages of Ungma, Impur, Moponchuket, Chungtia and Aliba. These trips are best organised by tour operators; try Greener Pastures (Cell: 09435747471; W thegreenerpastures.com).

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Hotel Metsuben (Tel: 0369-2226373; Tariff: ₹700–3,500) and Whispering Winds (Tel: 2229743, 2226935; Tariff: ₹1,200–1,800) are good options here.

Location In northern Nagaland

AROUND MOKOKCHUNG

Tuensang (115km)

Tuensang is home to different tribes – the Khiamniunhan, Chang, Yimchunger, Phom and Sangtam.

GETTING THERE

Air Dimapur (74km/ 2.5–3hrs), via Air India. Taxi costs ₹1,500–1,800, shared taxi ₹400 from the NSTC bus stand

Rail Dimapur is well connected to Guwahati, Kolkata and Delhi

Road From Guwahati take NH37 till Nagaon via Jorabat. At Nagaon turn right and take NH36 to Dimapur and then NH39 to Kohima Bus Daily bus service from ISBT to Kohima

FAST FACTS

When to go Best time to visit Kohima is from October to March. In summer, temperature ranges from 18 –29°C and in winter from 11–24°C.

Tourist and Permit offices

Nagaland Tourism Office, Kohima, Tel: 0370-2243124, 2223680

Resident Commissioner, Nagaland House, 29, APJ Abdul Kalam Road New Delhi, Tel: 011-23013751, 23794680, W tourismnagaland.com

Inner Line Permits

These have to be be obtained (carry valid ID) from either address above

STD code Kohima 0370