India on the Road

From Kohima to Mokokchung

Kohima landscape, Nagaland
Kohima landscape, Nagaland
19 AUG 2016
by

Route: Kohima – Wokha – Mokokchung along National Highway 61.
Distance: 162 Kms.
Driving Time: 5 hours.

Kohima

Kohima is the capital of the raw and awesome state of Nagaland, one of the most fascinating of the North Eastern states. Kohima is essentially a hill city, which was built by the British in the 19th century. India’s armed struggle for independence from the clutches of the colonial British rule commenced from this picturesque city under the astute leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose vis-à-vis the Azad Hind Fauz. It is renowned for its Blue Mountains, exotic Orchids and fascinating tribals. In the past, many a traveler, were so bewitched by the sheer beauty of this astonishing hill city that they began to refer Kohima as the “Switzerland of the East”. Kohima is nestled at an altitude, which is all of 1495 meters and is blessed with a salubrious climate. One of the best vantage positions is the impressive Japfu peak at an altitude of 3043 meters from where one can bask in the uninterrupted views of the Kohima city landscape.

What to See:
Kohima Cemetery, State Museum, Kohima Bazaar, Kohima Village, Catholic Cathedral, Kohima Local Ground, Khonoma, Dzouko Valley, Aradurah Hill and Japfu Peak.

Where to Stay:
Hotel Japfu (Tel: 0370-2240211-11), Hotel Fira (Tel: 2245006), Hotel Pine (2243129).

Where to Eat:
The in-house restaurants of Hotel Japfu and Hotel Fira offer wholesome food. Since they close their shutters by 8.30 – 9 P.M., one has to drop in early. Le Baron, Relax and Midland too offer delectable menus.

What to Buy:
Traditional Naga dress materials, Naga hats and cane and bamboo furniture.

Khonoma

The picture perfect village of Khonoma is a brisk 20 Kms mountain drive from Kohima. This is the quintessential village of the Angami Nagas who are renowned for their war skills. It would perhaps be apt to remind that the Angami Nagas put up a brave fight against the erstwhile Britishers in the 19th century and there is a memorial of the Angami martyrs in this picturesque village. The residents of this village rely upon agriculture to sustain themselves and most residents are in the fields by 8 A.M. So it is always prudent to start your journey from Kohima in the early morning hours if you are to catch a glimpse of the exotic Angami Nagas in their ethnic mountain homesteads.

Time permitting, you may also visit the Dzouko Valley, 25 Kms. from Khonoma village and there are endless fascinating trekking vistas and the valley is rife with Rhododendrons and Lilies.

Tuophema

Enroute to Wokha, most 4WD visitors make it a point to pay a cursory visit to one of Nagaland’s most renowned tourist villages – the unmatched and one of its kind Tuophema Tourist Village that showcases the very best of Nagaland’s tourism. This is actually an Eco-Tourism destination and the entire village has been designed keeping in mind the traditional Naga architecture. You will find the ethnic cottages irresistible.

There is one drawback though – the road condition isn’t all that good but whoever takes the trouble of reaching Tuophema village is assured of a rewarding touristy experience.

What to Buy:
Naga Shawls and ethnic Naga jewellery.

Wokha

After traveling 80 Kms. along the National Highway 61 from Kohima all the way to Mokokchung, you will come across the pristine Naga town of Wokha. Ideally nestled on the mid-western part of Nagaland, Wokha is an enigma.

The terrain is mountainous and travelers are bewitched by the sheer grandeur of the undulating mountain landscape that runs from the northeast to the southwest, creating a kaleidoscopic vignette of sorts. That’s not all and integral part of Wokha’s topography are the meandering rivers – Doyang, Chubi and Nzhu. River Doyang in particular is the cynosure of all eyes, being the biggest river of the state. The picturesque sight of gushing mountainous streams emptying into the Doyang River, particularly at the western and central parts, lends an altogether different charm to the landscape of Wokha.

Time permitting, if you drive to the interiors of Wokha, the once-in-a-lifetime ethereal sight of “Jhum Cultivation” or “Terrace Cultivation” which the natives of Wokha have been practicing for generations together on the undulating valleys is an absolute treat.

What to See:
Doyang River, Terrace Cultivation in the valleys, tribal hamlets.

Where to Stay:
There is paucity of hotels and lodges at Wokha. Most travelers are content with home-stay arrangements made by tour operators where they have the opportunity to experience the traditional Naga tribal lifestyle.

What to Buy:
Naga Shawls and hats.

Mount Tiyi

On the way to Mokokchung, most tourists make a brief halt at Mount Tiyi, which holds a sentimental attachment with the Naga people, as they believe that this mountain is the resting place of their forefathers. If local Naga folklore is anything to go by, there is a fairytale Orchard lurking somewhere within Mount Tiyi, which is revealed only to the fortunate few.

What to Buy:
Feather Caps and Ear Rings.

Mokokchung

Leaving aside the picture perfect locales of Wokha to the domain of the Ao Nagas – Mokokchung is barely 43 Kms. from Wokha along the National Highway – 61. Mokokchung may be a small town of Nagaland but it is every bit interesting. This the bastion of one of the most fearsome of Naga tribes – the Ao Nagas who call Mokokchung their home. In the days of yore, the Ao Nagas were renowned for their head hunting practice. The land of the Ao Nagas is mysterious and the topography nothing short of mesmerizing with extensive mountain ranges sloping tenderly down where they are greeted by cascading mountain streams. The more adventurous once would do well to venture to the East, which is dominated by the Chang, Sangtam and Phom tribes, to the west by the hardy Lotha and Kyong tribe, to the North by the renowned Konyak tribes and to the South by the Sema Naga tribes.

The Naga tribes are a unique lot and there are many who still practice polygamy, witchcraft, witch hunting and other awesome rituals that have been the subject of research by Anthropologists from all over the world. In Mokokchung the altitude varies between 155 meters to 2000 meters above sea level. The best way to discover the hidden treasures of Mokokchung is by embarking on a 2-hour walking tour. The weather in this part of the world is salubrious and the temperature never rises beyond 32ºC. Even during the scorching summer months, the average summer temperature is 27ºC. If you love rains, Mokokchung will never let you down as it rains for almost nine months, with the wettest months being July-August.

What to See:
Ungma village, Longkhum village, Fusen Kei and Mongzu Ki caves, Chuchuyimlang village and Tangkum Marok (the cup of life) spring.

Where to Stay:
Circuit House, Government of Nagaland (Tel: 0369-2226261), Madras Hotel, Hotel Grace, Secret Inn, Step Inn, Hotel Magnet, Monega, Kitu, Soaltee, Rainbow, Quinhol. Paying guest accommodations too are in great demand and can be arranged by tour operators.

Where to Eat:
In house restaurants of Madras Hotel, Hotel Grace, Secret Inn, Step Inn, Hotel Magnet, Monega, Kitu, Soaltee, Rainbow, Quinhol.

What to Buy:
Traditional Naga dress materials and bamboo products.