India on the Road

From Guwahati (Assam) to Kohima (Nagaland)

19 NOVEMBER 2016,
The Hornbill Festival
The Hornbill Festival

The Driving Trail: Guwahati (Assam) to Kohima (Nagaland)
Distance: 390 Kms.
Driving Time: 7 Hours.
Notes: One of the most fascinating road journeys in the North East of India is the 390 Kms drive from the gateway city of Guwahati in Assam all the way to Kohima, the capital of the mountainous state of Nagaland.The state of Nagaland is located on a narrow strip of mountainous terrain. The state lies 25º2’ and 26º47’ N and 93º20’ and 95º15’ E. Nagaland is renowned for being the tribal capital of India and there are as many as sixteen major tribes and sub-tribes. The Nagas belong to the Indo-Mongoloid group. Their fascinating lifestyle has been attracting the attention of Anthropologists and research scholars for a long time. It is a land shrouded in mystery and even today you find primitive tribes who practice Polygamy, Shamanism and Animistic traditions of their forefathers. It is one of the remotest states of India and offers awesome scenic vistas.

Guwahati - The Start of Point

Guwahati is renowned for the holy Kamakshya Temple perched atop the Nilachal Hills. For the quintessential Tantrik believers, this temple is the ultimate. After offering Puja at the sanctum sanatorium of the temple, one can bask in the uninterrupted vistas of the city of Guwahati, which appears like a multi hued carpet. The ethereal sight of the mighty Brahmaputra River ceaselessly flowing through the city of Guwahati makes for a kaleidoscopic vignette.

As the gateway city of the North East, Guwahati has indeed come of age. Trendy multi cuisine restaurants, neon lit bars, deluxe hotels and a youth brigade which is constantly evolving to the demands of the new age are characteristic features of the city.

Where to Stay:
The ITDC run Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok, Hotel Dynasty, Belle View Hotel, Hotel Ambarish, Hotel Nandan, Stadium Guest House, Hotel Raj Mahal etc..offer the very best of Assam’s famed hospitality.

Where to Eat:
Guwahati has numerous good quality restaurants that offer a range of culinary delights ranging from Continental to Chinese, with the local Assamese cuisine thrown in to pamper the taste buds of the discerning visitors. Trendy restaurants like Paradise Airport, Sagar’s In Flight, The Door Chester and Utsav offers delectable menus.

You start of your journey from Guwahati to Kohima along the National Highway 37 all the way to Nagaon passing through Jorabat and Raha. From Nagaon, turn right and hit the National Highway 36 all the way to Kohima passing through Howraghat, Bokajan and Dimapur.

The Terrain

The stretch from Guwahati to Nagaon on the NH 37 is more or less a simple affair and one encounters typical mountainous terrain from Khanapara to Jorabat and a little beyond. Thereafter, the drive to Nagaon is a smooth one and the road condition is extremely good with vehicles regularly touching speeds of 80-90 Kms.

The road from Nagaon to Kohima along the NH 36, isn’t all that good. There are a few stretches that are badly in need of repair. After covering a distance of 75 Kms. the hilly terrain starts, which is replete with hairpin bends at regular intervals. The picturesque surroundings of the enchanting Naga Hills overwhelm the first time visitor to this remotest state of India.

Although light vehicles like Maruti, Wagon R, Matiz, Indica etc… can be relied upon to cover the stretch, it is always advisable to embark on your journey on a 4 Wheel drive vehicle. TATA Safari and Scorpios are the best options.

Nagaon

Most tourists make a short stopover at Nagaon to have lunch or snacks in the town’s many popular restaurants. This is also a very good place to do a routine check of your vehicle and if you spot something that is not in tune, you may set them right in the many motor mechanic shops of Nagaon.

From Nagaon, you will drive non-stop for 2.5 - 3 hours to reach Dimapur, passing through serpentine roads and curly bends that literally tests the best of drivers. The surrounding countryside is charming and you will pass by intriguing tribal villages. The womenfolk with their naughty little ones carefully tucked on to their backs with the help of a tight fitted fabric is a sight to behold.

Dimapur

As you arrive in Dimapur, you will get the first whiff of Nagaland’s predominantly tribal landscape. The people are robustly built and very resilient. In the day’s of yore, Dimapur used to be capital of the Kachari tribes. The remnants of old Kachari establishments along with ruins of ancient temples can be seen in Dimapur. Today it is the gateway town to Nagaland and the state of Manipur.

What to See:
Diezephe Craft Village and Rangapahar Reserve Forest.

What to Eat:
Dimapur has numerous good restaurants that serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most restaurants are on the central marketplace. The Momos are great and the Chinese dishes too are cooked to perfection by the resident chefs.

Where to Stay:
Hotel Saramati, Niathu Resort and NITO Tourist Resort. The later has facilities like Cottages, artificial lake along with Childrens Park and immaculately maintained rubber plantations.

Kohima

Kohima was the scene of action during the Second World War. This picturesque town was built by the British and most of the Raj era edifices were literally razed by bombing in World War II.

What to See:
The War Cemetry, Catholic Cathedral, Aradurah Hills, Kohima Local Ground, The State Museum, Khonoma Village and the Dzouko Valley.

Where to Eat:
Japfu, Fira and a few Chinese specialty restaurants offer delectable Chinese fare. Make it a point to be there in time as they close by 8.30-9 P.M.

Where to Stay:
Hotel Japfu, Hotel Fira, Dimori Cove, Hotel Pine, Viewpoint Lodging, Holiday Inn and Hotel Grandeur. The Department of Tourism has a list of Paying Guest accommodations available for visitors along with Rural accommodations at Khonoma Green Village and Touphema Tourist Village.

What to Buy:
Traditional Naga fashion accessories, intricately embroidered Naga Shawls and a variety of handloom products available at the Government Emporium.

Mon District

Mon is at a distance of 275 Kms. from Kohima and is located at an elevation of 897.64 meters above sea level. The population of the district is 2,59,604 as per the census of 2001. It is the land of the fascinating Konyak Nagas. One can witness how the tribal Naga villages are governed by “Anghs” or Village Chieftains. The Angh of Longwa village for instance has 60 wives and his jurisdiction extends all the way to Myanmar (Burma). Nagaland’s only coalfield founded by the British East India Company in 1907 is located at Borjan in close proximity to Naginimora.

Where to Stay:
There is a Circuit House at Mon, which is run by the Government of Nagaland. It offers comfortable accommodation and provisions for dining also exist. There is also a Tourist Lodge in the enchanting village of Longwa.

Where to Eat:
Circuit House, Tourist Lodge and few fringe restaurants.

Hornbill Festival

It is advisable to coincide your trip to Nagaland during the annual Hornbill Festival that showcases the very best of Nagaland’s art, culture, tradition and heritage. The Festival is held every year in the first week of December at the exclusive Kisama Heritage Village. The festival draws visitors from many parts of the globe. The WTN (Window to Nagaland) located inside the complex offers curious visitors a peek into the fascinating lifestyle of the various tribes of Nagaland, including the traditional Naga “Morungs” or dormitories where the 16 officially recognized tribes of Nagaland are highlighted through a variety of exotic tribal cultural programs.

Permits:
Domestic Tourists must obtain Inner Line Permits while foreign tourists must obtain the Restricted Area Permit. Permits are issued by –The Assistant Resident Commissioner, Nagaland House, 29 Aurangzeb Road, New Delhi.
Telephone: 91-011-23017123 / 878
Foreign tourists can apply for Restricted Area Permits valid for 10 days at all Indian Missions abroad as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi.