What a relief it was after spending time in Dimapur, another Indian city-Moloch, to sit in a bus running up the steep forest cladded hills of Nagaland. Deep gorges and clear rivers surrounding us promising more to come.
Kohima is the state capital of Nagaland. You’ll feel maybe like in South-America when you get there: high mountains with houses clenching on to it like barn swallows nets, rolling hills, tribal indigenous culture and a society full of young aspiring people. No Hindi surrounding you any more, but up to 60 Naga dialects, related to Sino-Tibetan languages and spoken by – depending on sources 14-18 tribes and even more clans of the Naga people. Suddenly all your perception changes. The generators in front of doctors practices are exotic and cute, the candles during power cuts romantic, the dustbins – who are actually used in Kohima – very much appreciated and like a long-lost relic from home.
Make sure to get up early to stroll across one of Kohima’s markets, where villagers sell not only their crops, fish and all sorts of meat, but also snails for cooking. Go lost in the many tiny side streets with steep stairs leading to the next hill and millions of children welcoming you friendly. since travel in Nagaland has been restricted for a long time, people stop working when a stranger walks past and you’ll find yourself being the attraction of the hood.Be prepared to be asked not only he usual where you are from and how you like it – people are pious Christians in Nagaland and more than one person seemed to be interested in our spiritual hail discussing with us out of deep open-minded interest and true belief Christianity.
Check out the government district with its Ministry of Tourism like from a different area. It’s like time travel. We found ourselves in a completely empty ministerial building. Guarded by military, you’ll come in to a wide open hall, windows to offices facing the void over two (or three?) storeys and you can still guess that there used to be gold one day covering the window seals. The smell of Indian bureaucracy hangs thick in the air. A false-leather sofa from the 70ies winks at you inviting. You sit down, almost falling asleep from the ease and peace around you. A soldier keeps you awake handing you cordially a tourist magazine about Nagaland. Generations of school kids have been skimming through the pages…the worn out paper is telling their stories… You query the soldier, wondering about the whereabouts of the Ministry of Tourism staff. Tea break he informs you and smiles with a God-given calmness.
An eternal holiday. Finally you give up, go search yourself and understand that there are twice a day busses from NSTA – the main public transport in Nagaland – station to Khonoma. The place you want to go, coz a friend from Guwahati recommended it. Khonoma lies about 20km west of Kohima. Bus tickets are under 100 rupees per person.
Other posts from our India Travel Diary are:
I use Trains when travelling in India
Happy Holi – Spring in India
Running from Holi we took Rescue in Haridwar
Half Indian Doors and Memories in little red Note Books
Guwahati, Assam, North-East India.
Assamese Cuisine, German Spätzle And What’s Slime Got To Do With It
Tea Gardens And Kaziranga
Lovely People and Empty Ministries: Kohima
Twice a Day a Bus at the End of the Known World: Khonoma
Last Stop Paradise: Meghalaya, India
Another Travel Diary of mine takes you to Israel and Palestine in 2012. You can start reading it here.