Kohima

The Second World War Cemetery
Cemeteries are, generally gloomy places. Kohima's second world war cemetery, however, is not such a place. No place so beautifully situated, so superbly maintained, and dedicated to the memories of those who sacrificed their fives regardless of race, nationality or religion can be gloomy. The Kohima war cemetery is serene and beautiful. Roses bloom in season, the grass is always billiard-table smooth and two tall crosses stand at the lowest and highest points of the cemetery overlooking Kohima. between them, and stretching all the way across this gently rising hill in the centre of the town, are stone markers with shining bronze plaques. Each commemorates the name of a single man who gave his fife for freedom. At the base of the. upper cross there is an inscription which says : "Here, around the tennis court of the deputy commissioner he men who fought in the battle of Kohima in which they and their comrades finally halted the invasion of India by the forces of Japan in Aprd 1944". To one side of this memorial cross, and often n-dssed by visitors, there is a tree with a small plaque on it. The plaque says : This flowering cherry tree is of historical interest. The original tree was used as a sniper's post by the Japanese and was destroyed in the fighting which raged round the tennis court and marked the limit of the Japanese advance into India. The present tree is from a branch from the old one. And at the base of the lowest cross, an inscription reads When you go home Tell them of us and say For your tomorrow We gave our today.

The State Museum
A fascinating place filled with dioramas showing the lifestyles of the many individual tribes of Nagas, carved gateposts, status pillars to record feasts of honour, and traditional jewellery. An essential item used in Naga jewellery is the seashell. Visitors should also examine the ceremonial drum housed in a shed of its own in the grounds of the museum. The drum not only looks like a huge, dugout war canoe, but it also has a figurehead on its stem, stylised waves painted on its prow and paddle-like drum-strikers. These cultural pointer lend support to a Naga belief that their ancestors came from the sea. Scholars speculate that the ancestors of the Nagas were venturesome seafarers from Sumatra who settled in the mountains of North-East India after a long migration but still retained memories of their Island's past in their legends, ceremonial jewellery and their great village drums.

The Market outside the supermarket
This is a visual delight. Village women in their bright, tribal costumes offer for sale the products of farm, field, forest and stream : Rice, Mushrooms, Fruit and Fish of great variety. Also a host of other things which would tempt the most adventurous palate.

Kohima Village (Barra Basti)
This is where Kohima began, according to Naga belief. Barra basti, the big village, is reputedly the second ranking village in all Asia for its sheer size but there is a lot more to the village than its dimensions. There is, for instance, a ceremonial gateway- the traditional entrance to all Naga Villages- carved with defensive motifs of warriors and guns, and the symbols of prosperity the Mithun. Further up. and to the side of the road, the old gate still stands in its own little shelter, still respected in its retirement. And still further into the heart of the steeply- rising Alage is a house built in the traditional Naga style with the upthrust crossed 'horns' crowning the gable, carved Mithun heads to indicate the status of the owners, a huge basket granary in the Verandah, and a trough in which to make rice beer for the whole community.

The Zoo
Built into a green and wooded hillside, this is a caged Zoo of the old Menagerie type with very few open enclosures. Of particular interest to visitors is the semiwild Mithun Bison of the Nagas, to the left of the entrance. Also the beautiful golden langurs discovered by an India-based naturalist E.P. Gee, in this century, in the forested mountains of the Indo-Myanmarborder and named after him. Keen ornithologists might also want to see the rare Tragopan pheasant in its cage at the highest point in the Zoo. Open : Summer 9 to 1 1 AM and 1 Winter : 9 to 1 1 AM and 1 to 4 PM. Closed on Monday.

Khonoma Village
The 2Okm drive to this village, which is held in great esteem by the Nagas, offers excellent mountain vistas, distant views of waterfalls, close-ups of varied vegetation such as orchids and bracken ferns. But the journey should be attempted only if you have your own vehicle because the public bus schedule does not permit visitors to go to Khonoma and back before nightfall. On approaching Khonoma visitors should notice the memorial stones erected to commemorate feasts of merit, and the intricate system of bamboo pipes which carry water from long distances. Khonoma village is built high on a spur but spreads down to its array of paddy terraces : 20 types of rice are reputedly grown in Khonoma, each suited to the specific elevation and soil condition of a particular block of fields. The pride of Khonoma is its ancient bastion approached through a traditional carved gate, up a flight of steep stone steps, and on to the highest point in the village. Here the Naga warriors made their last stand against the British in 1879. A simple white pillar commemorates G. H. Damant, Maj. C.R. Cock, Lt. H.H. Forbes and Sub. Maj. Nurbir Sai who died fighting the Nagas in Khonoma.


Dimapur

Dimapur, from a Kachari word 'Dimasa' after the river which flows through it, is the gateway to Nagaland and its only railhead. The only airport of the state is also here and Indian Airlines operates a daily Fokker Friendship service from Calcutta to Dimapur via Guwahati and back. It is an important trade and commercial Centre on National Highway No. 39, and wears a rather cosmopolitan look. In the medieval ages, it was the capital of the Kachari rulers. In the heart of the town there is an old relic of the Kachari Kingdom which speaks about the once prosperous era. The relics, being preserved by the archaelogical department, are only 1 km from the NST bus station and railway station.Among other places of interest for the tourist are Ruth's and Haralu emporia where one can see women weaving exquisite Naga shawls on traditional looms, and also make purchases of traditional handicrafts. An excursion can be made to Intanki wildlife sanctuary, 37 km from here.

Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary
111 km from Kohima, 37 km Dimapur. An exotic wildlife sanctuary, Intanki is- the home for Hoolock Gibbon, the only Gibbon found in India; other wildlife includes Elephant, Mithun, Sambar, Barking Deer, Goral, Flying Squirrel, Wild Dog, Tiger, Sloth Bear, among Birds are Kaleej and common pheasant, Hornbill and Black Stor. There is a Forest Rest House and transport on hire subject to availability.

 

Other Places

Mokokchung
160 km from the capital, the centre of the culture and traditions of the Ao Nagas. The warriors of this tribe used to wear the beautiful black and red handwoven shawl with its white decorated band to signify their prowess over their enemies. Situated at 1,325 metres up in the hills, it has a very pleasant climate.

The two main festivals celebrated here are connected with sowing, 'moatsu' in early May, and harvesting, 'Tsungremmong' in August. The highlight of Tsungremmong is the Tug-of-War between men and women's teams.

Wokha
80 km. The district of the same name, Wokha is the home of the Lotha Tribe. A picturesque Town, 80 km each from Kohima and Mokokchung, and 58 km from Furkating Railway Station, Assam, Wokha is surrounded by a lot of eye-catching hilltop villages where one can see monoliths erected by rich ancestors. The Lothas are also famous for their colourful dances and folk songs. 'Tokhu Emong' and "Pikhuchak" are their principal festivals. Wokha district is covered with luxuriant vegetation and the best varieties of oranges and pineapples are grown here.

Phek
134 km. The district headquarters and home of the Chakhesang (a combination of three tribes: cha of chekru khe of Khezhe and sang of Sangtam) their culture and custom is distinctly different from other Nagas. 7sukhenyie', the principal festival, is observed during March-April. The famous rare tragopan birds are found in abundance here. One can also see a great many varieties of beautiful Orchids.

Zunheboto
150 km. Located at an altitude of 1,875 metres, Zunheboto, the district headquarters, can be reached from Kohima via Chazouba (150 km) and from Mokokchung (68 km). Zunheboto is spread out on a cluster of hillocks inhabited by the Semas, the martial race among the Naga tribes. The Sema tribes are renowned for their colourful war dance and folk songs, and their ceremonial war dresses. 'Tuluni' is one of the most important festivals observed in the second week of July every year.

Japfu Peak
1 5 km South of Kohima, 3,043 metres high. From November to March, during the dry season of Nagaland, the air is clear and the peak affords an excellent view of Kohima town and of distant, snow clad, Himalayan Peaks.

Dzukou Valley
25 km from Kohima, at an elevation of 2,462 metres. This interesting valley, behind Japfu Peak, looks like a mown lawn from a distance and is watered by a meandering stream which often freezes in winter. In spring it is rich with wild flowers and pink and white rhododendrons. There are also interesting caves in the low hdlocks that cluster inside the valley. The best time for trekking is November to March