Kohima is the hilly capital of India's north eastern border state of Nagaland which shares its borders with Burma. It lies in Kohima District and is one of the three Nagaland towns with Municipal council status along with Dimapur and Mokokchung.
Kohima is the land of the Angami Naga tribe. The name, Kohima, was officially given by the British as they could not pronounce the Angami name Kewhima or Kewhira (Tenyidie for "the land where the flower Kewhi grows"). It is called after the wild flowering plant Kewhi, found in the mountains. Earlier, Kohima was also known as Thigoma. Kohima is located south of Kohima District (25.67°N 94.12°E) and has an average elevation of 1261 metres (4137 feet). The town of Kohima is located on the top of a high ridge and the town serpentines along the top of the mountain ranges as is typical of most Naga settlements.
The British incursions into the Naga territory, beginning in the 1840s, met with stiff resistance from the independence-loving Nagas, who had never been conquered by any empire before. The stiffness of the resistance can be gauged by the fact that it took nearly four decades for the British to conquer a territory that is less than 10,000 square kilometres (the eastern region was left free). Kohima was the first seat of modern administration as the Headquarters of Naga Hills District (then under Assam) with the appointment of G.H. Damant as Political Officer in 1879. When Nagaland became a full fledged state on 1 December 1963, Kohima was christened as the state capital.
Places of Interest in Kohima:
KOHIMA WORLD WAR-II CEMETERY :
Overlooking Kohima amidst scenic environs, the Kohima War Cemetery is a memorial in honor of those officers and soldiers killed during the World War II. Formerly known as Garrison Hill it is designed as a series of terraces with magnificent stone steps, bearing testimony to one of the most stubborn, close and bloody fighting in the whole of the Second World War.
On the 18 plots of the cemetery, there are 1421 slabs erected in memory of soldiers who were killed in the battle of Kohima. Of these, 1070 were from the United Kingdom, 5 from Canada, 3 from Australia, 33 from undivided India, 2 from East Africa, 1 from West Africa, 9 from Burma and 1 non-war grave. Each grave is supported by a bronze plaque with an apt epitaph. The cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Historians have called Battle of Kohima “one of the bitterly fought battles of the Second World War” and a “battle of Attrition” involving “fierce hand-to-hand combat”. The reasons are many. The most bitter battle ever fought lasted for three months. Only 20,000 of the 85,000 Japanese who had come to invade India were left standing. The cost of the allies has been 17,857 British and Indian troops killed, wounded and missing. Before leaving Kohima the British erected a moving memorial in memory of their fallen comrades:
“When you go home, tell them of us, and say: ‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today."
Though the Nagas cannot boast of any written documentation of how they came about, a look at the Nagaland Museum in the state capital can give the visitor an idea about the legacy of the Nagas. Located at Bayavü Hill, about 1½ km from the main town, it houses a rare collection of artifacts of each Naga tribe. The State Museum also has authentic Naga precious stones on display. Here one can see the most valued and expensive necklaces used by the Nagas. They are an assortment of precious stones which include cornelian, tourmaline, coral, core of xancus, ivory and other beads, brass and silver bells. Another interesting display is the Naga Morung/hut models. One can make out that the villages were located on hilltops. Perhaps it was to survey/watch the valley below for approaching friends or foes. The variations in architecture among the different tribes are just amazing. Musical instruments are also displayed.
The various instruments give an insight into how music formed an integral part of Naga life. Log drum, Tati, a single stringed instrument, and other instruments made of bamboo and buffalo horns are used during festivals and other social gatherings. For the art lovers the state museum has an art gallery which houses collections of paintings by different local artists. The themes vary from traditional to modern.
Visiting Hours : Timings: 10 A.M. - 4 P.M. (Closed on all Holidays and Mondays except Sundays.)
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.
By Rail: The major railhead nearest to Kohima 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.
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.