Kohima is the state capital and the largest human inhabited area of Nagaland. It is the land of Angami tribe and was named after the wild Kewhi flower which grows in the mountains. Kohima is located at an altitude of 1500m and offers a beautiful view of the lofty Japfu Peak and the surrounding Naga Hills. The quaint town has become a popular travel destination in recent years as it hosts thousands of visitors every year during the colorful Hornbill Festival organized by the tourism department in the first week of December. Most travelers visit Kohima in December to witness the indigenous cultures of Nagaland during the Hornbill Festival when the town experiences a festive spirit and one can feel a carnival vibe in the streets. Despite, Kohima also has various attractions of historic and cultural importance which can be visited throughout the year.
1) World War II Memorial, considered as the main landmark of Kohima, is situated at the heart of the town and is a reminder of the Battle of Kohima in 1944 and the sacrifices made by the valiant British and Indian defenders against the invading Japanese forces. Many families of martyrs from Britain still visit to pay their homage to the brave soldiers. This memorial and its beautiful lawns are well maintained by the armed forces. It is a peaceful spot in the middle of the busy town. It is also well known for its citation, “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today”.
2) Reconciliation Cathedral is located on the Aradura hill overlooking the town. It is the largest church in India and has a fascinating architecture with an admirable modern design. The cathedral inside is adorned with beautiful life size mural paintings depicting scenes from the Bible. While the rest of the town is quiet on a Sunday, this cathedral happens to be lively place and one can also enjoy listening to melodious gospel songs of the choir.
3) State Museum is a very informative centre which showcases the life and culture of the sixteen Naga tribes that reside in Nagaland. Dioramas beautifully exhibit the traditional lifestyle of the people. The museum also exhibits tribal artifacts such as folk art, crafts, traditional dress, ornaments and as well as indigenous weapons and arms. The museum is well curated, the exhibits are well lit and beautifully presented. The museum may be small but is worth a visit.
4) Bara Basti was an old settlement of the Angami people which eventually grew into Kohima town. It is located on a hill above Kohima and is the old part of the town. The residents of Bara Basti belong to four Khel (clans). The Khels efficiently administer rural governance. Bara Basti has an imposing traditional gateway and also has a community house. Natives can be seen engaged in weaving and making crafts. It is arguably considered as the second largest village in Asia.
5) Kisama Heritage Village is located in the outskirts of Kohima and is the venue of the famous Hornbill Festival. It is a large complex which showcases the traditional architecture of the different tribes of Nagaland. Morung (dormitory) of every tribe shows the difference in the architectural styles of the tribes. It gives the visitors a glimpse of the ethnic lifestyle of the people. The Heritage Village complex also has the World War II Museum which displays the artifacts from the Battle of Kohima in 1944. It has numerous well preserved artifacts of the British, American and Japanese troops along with detailed illustrations and strategic maps of the Battle of Kohima. A section on the Indian National Army also exists. Vintage vehicles and war veterans begin a rally from this museum every year during the Hornbill Festival.
6) Kigwema, Jakhama and Viswema villages near Kohima can be also visited after seeing the Heritage Village at Kisama. Few practices of traditional lifestyle of the Angami people are still preserved by the villagers. Few traditional houses with engraved folk art and decorated village gateways still remain. A guided walk around these villages can be quite interesting for the culture enthusiasts, visitors can also interact with the friendly villagers to know about the local culture. A trekking path leads from Kigwema village towards Japfu peak and Viswema is the starting point for the trek to the beautiful Dzukou Valley.
For those spending more than a day for exploring Kohima and its surroundings, one can go on a day trip to Khonoma village of the Angami tribe. Visitors can leisurely walk around the terraced rice fields or venture into the community forests which are protected by the locals. The villagers have given up hunting of birds such as Hornbill and Blythe’s Tragopan. Tuophema village is another option for experiencing a rural stay in the ethnic cottages and trying out Angami cuisine, one can also visit nearby villages of the Rengma tribe near Tseminyu. Adventurous spirits can spend two days hiking through the rolling bamboo hills and meandering streams of Dzukou Valley south of Kohima; try to plan when the bamboos bloom them beautiful white and purple flowers. Tour of Naga Tribes is our popular itinerary allowing visitors close interaction with Nagaland’s rich tribal culture and history.
When to visit?
Kohima can be visited throughout the year. Since most visitors prefer to visit during the Hornbill Festival (1-10 December), it is highly recommended to reserve accommodation in advance during the peak season. Greener Pastures conducts tailored tours to the Hornbill Festival which is often included with other interesting aspects of nearby areas. The Sekrenyi Festival of the Angami tribe in February is also a good time to experience the local culture. Visiting Kohima for the Dzukou valley trek is suitable during the months of June to October.
Seasons of the Sun!
Kohima finds four seasons every year. The winters last from November to March when the weather gets really cold, especially in the nights. Day hours during the winters are comfortably warm and sunny. From April to October, the weather changes from spring to fall, with a mix of rainy and sunny days with overall humidity. The rains peak during the monsoons from July to September.
Where to stay?
With an approach to balanced tourism in the recent years, Kohima has quite many options to choose from for visitors to stay. From 4-star hotels and boutique guesthouses such as the converted District Commissioner’s bungalow, to homestays which provide a more interactive stay. As usual, Trip Advisor is a great place to start looking for that cozy perfect place.