Khonoma village is located about 20 km from the state capital, Kohima. The village, referred
to as Khwunoria (named after the Angami term for a local plant, Glouthera fragrantisima),
is estimated to be around 700 years old and is spread over an area of 123sq.km. The total
population of the village is about 3000, settled in 600 households. Khonoma is famous for its
forests and a unique form of agriculture, including some of the oldest terraced cultivation in the
region. The terrain of the village is hilly, ranging from gentle slopes to steep and rugged hillsides.
The hills are covered with lush forestland, rich in various species of flora and fauna. The state
bird, Blyth’s tragopan, a pheasant now nationally endangered, is reprtedly found here.
Over a hundred years ago, advancing British troops found themselves facing a determined warrior
tribe in the highlands of Nagaland. The Angami men of Khonoma, famed for their martial prowess
and strategic skills, fought a resolute battle to safeguard their territory, inflicting heavy casualties on
the foreign soldiers. The village is recorded to have resisted British rule in the region from 1830s to
1880. Finally a truce between the two stopped further bloodshed, but meanwhile Khonoma village
had etched its name into the history of Indian resistance to the colonial invasion. Christianity was
introduced in the village in 1890, and today most of the villagers are of this faith.
Preliminary ecological studies done so far record the use of about 250 plant species, including
over 70 for medicinal purposes, 84 kinds of wild fruits, 116 kinds of wild vegetables, nine varieties
of mushrooms, and five kinds of natural dyes from the surrounding forests in the village. Local
people have recorded about 204 species of trees, nearly 45 varieties of orchids, 11 varieties of
cane, and 19 varieties of bamboo. Villagers also record 25 types of snakes, six kinds of lizards, 11
kinds of amphibians and 196 kinds of birds (of which English names for 87 have been identified,
including the grey-billed or Blyth’s tragopan, a threatened bird mentioned in the red data book of
IUCN). 72 kinds of wild animals have also been reported by the local people; however English and
scientific names for all have not been recorded yet. These include tiger, leopard, serow, sloth bear,
Asiatic black bear and common otter..
Today, Khonoma is witnessing another historic struggle. In an incident reminiscent of the British
invasion, in the mid-1990s the villagers had to physically resist timber merchants who came with
several dozen elephants to carry out logging, unfortunately aided by some insiders. Over the last
decade Khonoma, inhabited by the Angamis, one of Nagaland’s tribes, has made giant strides
in establishing or strengthening systems of natural resource management, conflict resolution, village administration and appropriate development, all coupled with a resolute will to conserve
biodiversity and wildlife. All this is embedded in the traditional ethos of the village, without fighting
shy of experimenting with new technologies and thoughts from outside. The results are impressive
enough to warrant yet another key historic place for this village, this time in the annals of India’s
Wildlife hunting is a way of life with the Naga tribes, and a large number of birds and animals
are killed every year, including the endangered tragopans. In 1993, 300 Tragopans were reported
to be killed for their meat in the village. This magnitude of killing concerned the more ecologically
sensitive people of the village and they launched a crusade against hunting. These included some
villagers and some who belonged to the village but now resided and were employed outside.
In 1998, the Khonoma village council declared its intention to notify about 2000 ha (20 sq km)
as the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS). This was motivated by
some of the village elders, notably Tsilie Sakhrie, who had in the 1980s been a contractor dealing
with the Forest Department. During this time he had been having discussions with forest officer
T. Angami, who motivated him to consider dedicating a part of the village forests to wildlife
conservation. In the 1980s, Tsilie proposed that the village do something to this effect, but could
not achieve a consensus. In 1995, he became a member of the village council. Concerned by
the high number of birds being killed every year, Tsilie again broached the subject. A number of
villagers were opposed to the idea, since hunting was so much a part of their culture. However, over
the next three years, through extensive discussions in the village, the majority were convinced.
The sanctuary’s foundation stone was laid in December 1998; it was also decided to ban hunting
in the entire village, not only the sanctuary area.
Conservation is only one of the elements of social empowerment at Khonoma. Visitors to the
village are confronted with a bewildering number of activities and processes that its residents seem
to be engaged in. Some of these are new, some age-old. Khonoma may well be the only village in
India that has a global citizenry with an active self-identity; every year, 1 September is celebrated
as the village’s ‘birthday’, with Khonomaians from far and wide coming to the village to celebrate,
or carrying out celebrations wherever they may be.
How to reach
The state has its airport in Dimapur, which is regularly serviced by major airlines. The city is linked to Kolkata by air. Indian Airlines operateregularflights to Dimapur. Tourists then have to travel to Kohima by road after reaching Dimapur. It takes 2 and a half hours to reach Dimapur by road. Khonoma is 20kms from Kohima.
By Rail: The major railhead nearest to Khonoma is Dimapur, which is linked to Guwahati. Guwahati is in turn connected to the rest of the country by important trains. Visit www.indianrail.gov.in and www.irctc.co.in to book rail tickets online.
By Road: A good road network covers the state. The state capital Kohima is linked to Shillong and Guwahati, which are important cities in North Eastern India. First proceed to Dimapur and then travel to Kohima. Khonoma is 20kms from Kohima.
Entry Formalities - Permits:
Before embarking on a journey to Nagaland, acquiring the entry permit is a must.
Domestic tourists should obtain the Inner Line permit issued by the following authorities : Deputy Resident Commissioner, Nagaland House, New Delhi, Deputy Resident Commissioner, Nagaland House, Kolkota, Assistant Resident Commissioner In Guwahati and Shillong, Deputy Commissioner of Dimapur, Kohima and Mokokchung
Foreign tourists no longer require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) / Protected Area Permit (PAP) to enter Nagaland. Previously, tourists were required to travel in a minimum group of four people. They were allowed to visit all 11 district headquarters and specified places with this permit, valid for 10 days, with an option to extend for up to a month. The new rules only require foreigners to register themselves at the local Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) of the district they visit within 24 hours of their arrival. This is a temporary change in effect for one year.
Note: RAP/PAP is still a requirement for Pakistani and Chinese nationals.