Laidback and serene, Kohima is situated in the north eastern region of India. Capital of Nagaland, Kohima’s leisurely pace of life attracts travellers who want to get away from the hurly burly of city life.
The original inhabitants of the place are the Angami Nagas and Rengma Nagas. But in recent times, people from other regions and states have also settled here.
The region consists of 16 principal tribes who form the Naga Tribes. They have linguistic and dialectal variations. This enchanting state with natural beauty and ethnic diversity is ruled by the warriors of the Naga tribes.
The town is named after a wild flowering plant called Kewhi, found in the mountains. Kohima was earlier known as Thigoma.
The British invaded Naga territory in the 1840s, but had to face stiff opposition from the freedom-loving Nagas. It took the British nearly four decades to conquer a territory less than 10,000 sq km. Kohima became the first headquarters of Naga Hills District in 1879. When Nagaland was declared a full-fledged state on December 1, 1963, Kohima became the state capital.
The British developed Kohima as a watch post for the eastern region. The town has been witness to the bloody World War II battles between the Allies and Japan. The Commonwealth War Cemetery is dedicated to 10,000 Allied soldiers who lost their lives during the Japanese invasion during World War II.
The Battle of Kohima lasted for nearly three months and the brave soldiers fighting for the Allied forces did an admirable task of blocking the Japanese invasion at the border of India. Allies suffered casualties to 17,857 British and Indian troops. Before leaving Kohima the British built this memorial in memory of their fallen comrades with the famous lines written on the entrance: ‘When you go home, tell them of us, and say: ‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today.’
The ethnic tribes have been successful in protecting their unique culture and identity. These people are warm and friendly.
Kohima Village, locally known as the Barra Basti, showcases the Naga way of life. The entrance gate is adorned with traditional Naga art and buffalo horns which is typical to all Naga villages.
Kohima Museum is a must visit for every traveler. It houses some of the rarest artifacts belonging to different tribes of the state. Colorful traditional dresses, clan motifs, etc are displayed.
The Catholic Cathedral on Aradura Hill is one of the largest and most famous cathedrals in the north-eastern part of the country.
Visit the Ruzaphema and Naga Bazaar for shopping. Ruzaphema is famous for trading of live stock and Naga Bazaar is known for sale of indigenous handicrafts items, like shawls, vests and other decorative items.
WHERE TO STAY
There aren’t too many options available for accommodation in Kohima. A standard economy hotel room would cost around Rs 500 to Rs 700. Deluxe rooms in hotels will cost between Rs 800 to Rs 1,500. Winter in Kohima tends to be quite cold. So opt for rooms which have heating. Some of the hotels provide TV, mini fridge and internet facilities too.
WHERE TO EAT
As the locals are generally non-vegetarian, you will find a variety of non-veg food in Kohima. Try the local rice beer called Zouthou. In Kohima you will find authentic Naga cuisine like Ghalo (pork and bamboo) and bamboo baked with fish.
Naga Bazaar is the main attraction of the town and is famous for the trade of live stock. Be prepared to see what the local people consider to be livestock; it consists of all living things including the black dog, which the Nagas love to eat! In the Central Market, tribal people sell delicacies such as Borol.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
One can visit Kohima throughout the year, though best is between November to March.
Kohima receives considerable rainfall during summers (March to June). The place has a pleasant and temperate climate. Winters (November to February), however, are chilly and temperature can plunge to subzero levels during nights. Snowfall is common during winters.
WHAT TO SEE
Japfu peak: The majestic mountain stands 3048 m above sea level and is the second highest peak in Nagaland. It is 15 km south of Kohima and a trek to the peak is popular with trekkers and tourists. It offers enchanting views of Kohima.
Kohima Zoo: This zoo is located on a hill. The slopes of the hill have been innovatively used to create free and natural space for animals. Best place to see the rare Tragopan bird, the state bird of Nagaland, and the wild buffalo, or Mithun, the state animal. It also houses a special play zone for children.
Tuophema: Located 41 km north of Kohima, it is an ancient heritage village. You will get to see the Naga social system, their culture and life in the village.
Dzukou Valley: Located at a distance of 25 km from Kohima, this valley is popular with trekkers. Though called a valley, it lies at a height of 2,462 m above sea level. A lush carpet of red and white rhododendrons, lilies and wild flowers covers the entire area during spring. Route to the Valley passes through several rivers and waterfalls. Carry your own food and lodgings if you wish to stay overnight and also carry warm clothes.
Mokokchung Village: It is the home of Ao tribe of the Nagas. This place is around 150 km from Kohima. The tribe celebrates festivals like ‘Moatsu’ and ‘Tsungrem Mong’, the harvest feast during March and August respectively. The village is self-governed.
Intaki Wildlife Sanctuary: About 35 km from Dimapur, it is home to a variety of animals. Elephants, wild buffaloes (Mithun), sambhar, rare Hoolok gibbons, barking deer, flying squirrels, tigers, wild dogs, sloth bears, hornbills and black storks flourish in the park. Rare varieties of orchids can also be spotted.
BEST TIME TO VISIT NAGALAND
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Nagaland is as given below. The best time to visit Nagaland is also specified.