Your search for transport seemed endless, but then your bus turned around the last corner of the dirt road leading to this tiny gem et voilà: Khonoma green village, empty, even though it’s promoted by the (equally empty) state tourism board of Nagaland. Only 20km west of Kohima, but on the way you were wondering, if the overloaded bus will make it across the halfway falling-apart bridges and through the washed in deeply potholes. Roads here have got a tough life.
We arrived mid-day, streets as empty as the blue crisp skies above us, only the occasional bird song and bee’s humming disturbing the peaceful silence. Where do we stay? Where do we go? Two smiling faces walked down the path winding through the houses towards us.
Hello, good day. Where can we go? Where can we stay? – The girls looked at each other and started discussing. We looked at each other and started to worry.
Finally, one of them waved us over, asked us to follow and went up the steep stairs. Her aunt runs a homestay in Khonoma. Well, she runs the homestay in Khonoma, the so far only accommodation available in the village.
Three clans of one tribe are living in Khonoma, it has a population of around 3000 people, many living in houses without running water, most streets not accessible by car. Small shops, more stairs than canals in Venice, flowers, lots and lots of flowers, very crisp, clean air, houses with green tin roofs all surrounded by rice fields. You’ll feel like you are sitting in a movie: Your kids playing peacefully in the meadows, your partner bringing a hot tea from the fire-place. Peace. Birds around you. Ah!
This is when you are a tourist. Doing homestay you are not only becoming part of the family, the insight in to the life of the Naga people is also priceless:
Hard work from sunrise to sunset with only Sunday off, living in houses with stone foundation but bamboo walls,
windows often without glass in an area where you got snow each winter for a few days, heating with charcoal in buckets, carrying each liter of water up the hill. Each liter you wanna have in this tea-pot or you’d like to use for cooking, for your laundry, to wash yourself or to even flush the toilet – it filled me with deep respect.
Still the Naga people seem to have enough energy, to foster beauty around them, to plant flowers and paint houses in the most beautiful colours. A lot of happy people we saw, not one angry or unfriendly person crossing our path. Never a complaint to hear of a fight to witness. Heaven on earth.
After a few days we realized that the large stone monuments to be found all over the village are tombs. The death are kept close to the living and the inscriptions showed ages proving the Khonoma life-style must be not so bad for people – most reached an age far beyond 80, we even met a happily alive 112 year old woman, who lives alone close to our hosts house. Her husband died three years ago aged 103. The church’s books prove the age. We are impressed.
Lot’s lot’s more to tell about Khonoma – traditionally sustainable rice farming with the help of trees collecting nitrogen on their roots, meeting an agriculture scientist who studied in Tel Aviv and speaks Hebrew, amazing food cooked by Baby Vikedono and her nice Meza, a terrace with a view you wanna swap a kingdom for if you’d had one, an uncountable amount of orchids growing in the dense forests, world’s last remaining retreat of the Blyth’s Tragopan, the feel of total isolation from the known world – you name it.
Homestay: do it! Amazing food, amazing insights, amazing friendliness flooding your heart and mind. – Amazingly feeling at home.
And last not least: try to reach the Dzukou Valley. Not accessible by car, from Khonoma the Dzukou or Dzuko is only a steep but easy to find two-hour walk and if you look at some images here – you can only imagine the paradise you’ll find.
Here you’ll find the secret behind the velvety structure of the Dzukou Valley and some lovely images of Khonoma as well.
For homestay in Khonoma please contact Vikedono directly – she speaks an excellent English with a much larger vocab than I got to offer in fact…
Phone for homestay in Khonoma from outside India +91 94366 19378
Or write to:Vikedono aka Baby running Baby’s Home Stay Khonoma, Nagaland Pin-797001
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.