Amazing Trip to Kohima

Prasanta Talukdar

Nagaland is a breathtakingly beautiful place and also known as the Switzerland of Asia. The people are very friendly and warm-hearted. Kohima is mainly dominated with majority population of Angami Naga tribe. The name, Kohima, derived from the Angami name Kewhi, a wild flowering plant, found in the mountains. The British met with stiff resistance from the independence-loving Nagas who had never been conquered by any empire before. Kohima was the first seat of modern administration as the Headquarters of Naga Hills District.

The Heritage is one of the few places in Kohima that require no introduction. The Old DC Bungalow which converted to The Heritage in 2009. From being one of the oldest bungalows of the Deputy Commissioner in the time of World War-II, it has been revamped as a small antique-looking guest house with charming rooms with all required amenities of current days, ground gardens and lawn, dark wood-floor veranda, dining room, and a spacious hall. In addition to its popularity, it adds a historical value to the city. It is the spot to celebrate cultures with events, music festivals, etc. This is the bungalow where Sir Charles Pawsey, a British colonial administrator, served as the Deputy Commissioner of the erstwhile Naga Hills during 1942- 1944. The part of this battle centered on Sir Pawsye’s bungalow was known as the Battle of the Tennis Court, because the Tennis Court of him was there. Showing great bravery and loyalty to the local Naga people, Sir Pawsey refused to leave Kohima during the siege by the Japanese did what he could to morale support the British and allied forces.

Kohima amidst scenic environs, the Kohima War Cemetery earlier known as Garrison Hill it is designed as a series of terraces with awesome stone steps. The cemetery is completely terraced with terrace levels ranging from 3- 5 metres high. The cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The cemetery now contains 1,420 Commonwealth burials of the World War- II. Each grave is supported by a bronze plaque with an apt epitaph. At the lower end of the cemetery, near the entrance, is a memorial to the 2nd Division. It bears the inscription: WHEN YOU GO HOME TELL THEM OF US AND SAY FOR YOUR TOMORROW WE GAVE OUR TODAY. It is a memorial dedicated to armies of the British leading Allied Forces who died in the World War-II at Kohima in 1944 which well known as Battle of Kohima. The Japanese advance into India was halted at Kohima in April, 1944. Kohima War Cemetery lies on the battle ground of Garrison Hill. No trace remains of the bungalow, which was destroyed in the fighting, but white concrete lines mark and preserve permanently the historic tennis court.

The Catholic Cathedral of Kohima is a place worth to visit for to see  its ideal blend of indigenous structural design. It is located on Aradura Hill in Kohima. It is one of the biggest cathedrals in North East India. Its splendid architecture makes it one of the important landmarks of Kohima. It is also home to the largest cross that is made of wood in India. The magnificent crucifix is carved in wood and is 16 feet high, possibly one of the tallest wooden carved crucifixes in Asia. Every bit of construction planned in detail with no space wasted and its façade is shaped like a traditional Naga House. An awesome flavour of Naga culture is available within the campus. The maximum portion of fund came from Japan, who wished to build a memorial which to be a place of prayer especially for the Japanese armies who laid down their lives for their nation in battle of Kohima during the World War-II. The construction of the church was completed in 1991. The Cathedral at this part of India has a very pleasant atmosphere for prayer and worship.

The village Khonoma is located about 20 kms from Kohima estimated to be around 700-800 years old. Advancing British troops found a determined warrior tribe in the highlands of Nagaland, i.e. Angami men of Khonoma. Known for their martial strategic skills, fought a resolute battle to safeguard their territory, inflicting heavy casualties on the British soldiers. The village is recorded to have resisted British rule in the region from 1830 to 1880. Finally a truce between the two stopped further war, but meanwhile Khonoma village had etched its name into the history of Indian resistance to the colonial invasion. Khonoma is famous for its forests and a unique form of agriculture, including the oldest terraced cultivation in the region. Khonoma is the first green village in India, where hunting and logging in the forests are strictly prohibited.

The hills are covered with lush forestland also rich in various species of flora and fauna. The state bird, Blyth’s tragopan, is found here.

Nature has been kind to the Nagas and their land by virtue of natural and scenic beauty and making it a tourist hotspot. Kisama, the Naga Heritage Village, situated about 12 kilometers from Kohima, offers a panoramic view and blend of natures. Its aim is to uphold and sustain the identity of dialects, customs and traditions of all the ethnic tribes of Naga. The Heritage Complex consists of a cluster of 16 houses, called Morung of each tribe created in the indigenous typical architectural designs and concepts with colorful life and cultures representing 16 officially recognized Naga tribes. The Heritage Village also has a World War- II Museum, Bamboo Heritage Hall, Bamboo Pavilion, Food Courts and Stadium for Live concerts, etc. During the Hornbill Festival, the Heritage Village serves uniting the various tribes of Nagaland to showcase their rich cultural heritage and tradition in one platform where one could have a glimpse and experience into the Naga Heritage Village at Kisama.

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