Situated in the southwest part of the northeastern state of Nagaland, Kohima is a hill station perched at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level. This capital town is at a distance of 339 km from Guwahati, 145 km from Imphal and 74 km from Dimapur. The National Highway 39 connects it to both Dimapur and Imphal. It experiences around 250 cm of annual rainfall. While summers are tropical, winters are dry and bitterly cold.
The highway from Imphal to Dimapur-the route along which the Japanese hoped to reach the plains of India-crosses the saddle at the foot of the World War II Cemetery. These immaculate gardens stand as a memorial to the Allies who died on this very spot during the three-month Battle of Kohima that ended in April 1944. Each grave is supported by a bronze plaque with a suitable epitaph.
The Catholic Cathedral at Aradura Hill is an important landmark; it is one of the largest cathedrals in the entire northeast and is home to the biggest wooden cross in the country.
The Nagaland State Museum, about 1½ km north, is a one-stop treasure trove where one can get a glimpse into Naga culture through history. Here one can find dioramas of each tribe being displayed. The main items exhibited are gateposts, statues, pillars, jewelry, and a ceremonial drum that looks like a dug-out war canoe in a separate shed. This canoe suggests that the Nagas may have originated from Sumatra. The basement of the museum has birds and animals of northeastern hill states.
The Zoological Park abounds in rich flora and fauna of Nagaland. Of special interest is the world famous Blythe Tragopan. In the heart of the town, one can see the last relics of the Kachari kingdom.
PLACES AROUND KOHIMA
Just 5 km away, on the Dimapur-Kohima Road is Ruzaphema, a place ideally suited for leisure and recreation with its colorful bazaars and a wide range of tribal handicrafts that are exquisite in their style, and unique in their own way. Around 10 km from Kohima is the village of Khonoma that abounds in stories of valor and courage. The terraced fields, which produce 20 types of paddy at different elevations, present a beautiful view. The Khonoma gate relates the tragic story of British infiltration into Naga Hills in 1879.
Situated at an altitude of 3,048 meters above sea level, 15 km from Kohima is the Japfu Peak. It is the second highest peak of Kohima and ideally suited for trekking and scaling. The sight of Kohima from here is breathtakingly beautiful.
Dzukou valley is one of the best trekking spots in the northeast region at an altitude of 2,438 meters above sea level, behind Japfu Peak and 30 km to the south of Kohima. The entire valley is overshadowed with a type of tough bamboo brush that makes the place appear like a mowed lawn. White and yellow lilies and numerous other flowers adorn the valley in summers, while rhododendrons ornament the hills surrounding the valley.
Mokokchung and Zunheboto, situated 160 and 150 km respectively from Kohima are picturesque towns at great heights. Mokokchung is a cultural center of the Ao Nagas. Here the main festivals of the Aos-Moatsu and Tsungremmong-are celebrated during the first week of May and August respectively.
Situated at an altitude of 195 meters above sea level is Dimapur, an important commercial center of Nagaland. Dimapur hosts the only airport in Nagaland and is also well connected with the neighboring states of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram by National Highway 39. It is also the main railhead in Nagaland.
Kohima has been profusely showered with Nature’s bounty. Besides the varied flora, the fauna of Kohima too boasts of its exotica. The Fakim Sanctuary, close to the Myanmar border, receives high rainfall and is inhabited by tigers and hoolock gibbons. The Pulie Badze Sanctuary is a ringed-in 9-sq-km area that lies in the proximity of Kohima. Located at a distance of 37 km from Dimapur, the Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary has some rare species of birds.
HOW TO REACH
BY AIR – The nearest airport is at Dimapur. Indian Airlines operates Boeing services from both Calcutta and Delhi every alternate day. Guwahati and Imphal are also connected to Dimapur by air.
BY RAIL – The nearest railhead too is Dimapur, and the Northeast Frontier Railway runs a number of trains from Dimapur to Guwahati. Guwahati is in turn well connected to the rest of the country.
BY ROAD – Nagaland State Transport runs buses from Dimapur to Kohima and the journey takes around 4 hours. From Guwahati, one can find a number of luxury private buses. Taxis and mini-coaches are also available, albeit at slightly exorbitant rates, from Dimapur.
WHERE TO STAY
Kohima offers very few choices as far as lodges are concerned. A few good private hotels and the Tourist Lodge are the only places to stay. Twenty-five percent of the rent for accommodation in the Tourist Lodge is required to be paid in advance either in cash or by money order at the time of booking.