Thursday, August 27, 2009

NAGALAND - Where English is OFFICIAL language


Nagaland is the only state where the Official language is ENGLISH. This itself for motivation enough for me to plan a visit to Nagaland. The entry point by road, air or rail happens to be Dimapur, which located on the border of Assam. Innerline permits have to be obtained to visit Nagaland. They can be obtained from Delhi, Kolkatta, Gauhati, Shillong, &  Dimapur for 10 days. Dogs are delicacies of the Naga tribe. Some dogs are bred specially for their meat like their Chinese counterparts.

Liquor is subsidized due to excise and state tax rebates. This to an extent helped to quell rebellion among the tribes against Visitors. One can find some locals do seek money from visitors for WATER ( meaning Liquor ) Just keep a 50 or 100 bucks handly, one does not get any poorer after spending 1000s to visit this exotic land. I was taken by surprise by local snatching my Metal electronic pen at Dimapur commissioners office. He returned to find out how the electronic display works, I showed him how to manipulate and make it work. He was extremely happy to learn the technique, one last look at his possession and he returned it with Thanks.
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Battle of KOHIMA

When you go home, Tell them of us and Say,

For their Tomorrow, We gave our Today “

The above Epitaph is credited to John Maxwell Edmond ( 1875-1958 ) which has become world famous as Kohima Epitaph, which was inspired by Greek philosopher Simonides.

It was almost the final offensive by the Japs to invade India from April 4th to 22 nd June 1944 around Kohima. This invasion was code named U-GO and the British would Gone from India if they had met their Waterloo in Kohima. One can witness a well maintained Graves at Kohima which was originally the Tennis court.


DIMAPUR : Ruins of the Medeival kachari Kingdom, Diezephe Craft Village, Rangapahar Reserve Forest, Handloom & Handicrafts Emporium, North East Zone Cultural Centre.

Ruins of Kachar Kingdom :

Dimapur is the ancient capital of the Kachari tribe, whose rule existed before the 13th century AD. Reminiscences of the glory of this kingdom can be found on the ruins that are scattered in and around the town. These ruins give evidence of a culture that probably had a touch of Hinduism, but were predominantly Non-Aryan. besides monoliths, Dimapur contains other ruins of temples, embankments and baths.

DIEZEPHE Craft village :

Located 13 km from Dimapur, Diezephe Craft Village houses expert weavers and craftsmen, deft in the arts of woodcarving, bamboo and cane works. Under the guidance of the Nagaland handloom and handicrafts Development Corporation Limited, this village has taken significant strides in these crafts, in the recent times.


Dimapur houses the Rangapahar Reserve forest (20.20 hectares) in its vicinity. It is home to many animals and birds which make this reserve a nature lover's haven.

KOHIMA : World War II Cemetery, State Museum, Catholic Cathedral, Sales Emporium for souvenirs and ethnic crafts, Gurtel shop, Belho Weavers, Naga heritage Complex at Kisama – Kohima, Heritage Museum and Crafts Centre at Khonoma, Trekking and Camping in Dzukou Valley, The Heritage DC’s Bungalow.

Kohima CEMETRY :

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.’
The Battle of Kohima may have ended, the cemetery erected, but the scars still remained. Kohima since then has become a place for pilgrimage and reconciliations in the center of the cemetery had paid a special pilgrimage to the Kohima War Cemetery to remember fallen comrades.



Nagaland has had a very turbulent and extremely violent past, so many shots fired here and too many lives lost which is why this Cathedral in Kohima stands out. She is like a falcon spreading out her wings standing guard over the city. She is also a beacon of hope and peace, providing a lot of faith to the people of Nagaland and her visitors.

Located at Aradura Hill, the Cathedral dominates the landscape of Kohima. It has become an important tourist destination and is the largest cathedral in the Asia. As one enters the Cathedral, one can’t help but notice a slab on the right hand side-

“when you enter in here, bring before the Lord, all those who gave their life and all those who will give their all for your better and safer Nagaland”.

This was put up on the request of the Japanese who contributed towards the building of the church. In the spring of 1944, Japanese, British and Indian forces fought for the Garrison Hill during the Battle of Kohima. Thousands were killed. The Japanese survivors of the battle and bereaved families collected contributions towards the making of the Cathedral so that prayers could be offered in the memory of their loved ones. Spread over an area of 25,000 sq feet, it can accommodate 3000 seated and 20,000 if all areas are occupied. A permanent Olive wood crib from Bethlehem’s Olive wood has also been installed. For those wanting to experience an architectural treat of the modern and the indigenous, the Kohima Cathedral is the place to visit!!!


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 except Sundays.)


The Government sales Emporium is in the heart of the town. It has a collection of Naga handloom and handicraft items. Some of the more prominent outlets where mementoes can be purchased are GURTEL near the war Cemetery and Belho Weavers near Assam Oil Company (AOC). There are many shops dealing with Naga cultural items in the Super Market area as well.


The Naga Heritage Complex was inaugurated by the Government of Nagaland on 1st December 2003, where the HORNBILL FESTIVAL is celebrated annually. It is a permanent site at KISAMA situated 12 kms away from Kohima on NH-39. The Naga Heritage Complex serves as “Window to Nagaland” (WTN), aims to showcase the state in a single platform, through which one can have a peep into the Naga Heritage. The complex will also house the “World War II Museum”.

The WTN houses the traditional houses or “Morungs”, representing the 16 recognized tribes of Nagaland. Each of these units display the distinctive aspects of each tribe, in terms of crafts, cuisine, cultural activities, etc., as well as provide the market outlets for the many unique local products of all the tribes in the state. It also have a commercial complex for leasing out to local entrepreneurs for handloom and handicraft products, souvenir outlets, amphitheatre, PCOs, internet cafes, restaurants and other entertainment outlets. An added attraction are the “Flower Garden”, for display, sale and exhibition of flowers and plants, Trekking Route to the peak for the birds eye-view of the Heritage complex and her vicinities, Rope-Ways and the Amusement Park are off the offing. The Complex on completion will be opened through out the year, with various activities, shows, exhibitions, displays, cultural events, competitions, eateries etc., which can be enjoyed by all. The facilities at the WTN can also be hired out to interested parties/persons.


Considered as the point of origin of Kohima, it is believed to be one of the largest and populous villages in Asia. According to legends, Kohima village was established by a man called Whinuo hence Kewhira, the original name. Legend has it that after his selection of a place to settle down, Whinuo had a strange dream. He dreamt of an empty habitation but heard sounds of children laughing, playing and of mourning. He was greatly disturbed by the dream. He knew mourning implied death and sorrow but at the same time sounds of children were good omen. The villagers believed that he chose to believe in the good omen and decided to settle down in what is presently called Kohima Village. With a population of 13,705 people, 3965 households (2001 census) Kohima village is divided into four khels – Dapfütsuma [D Khel], Lhisema [L Khel], Pfuchatsuma [P Khel], and Tsütsonuoma [T Khel].

Khel is a distinct Naga institution that brings together several clans within the village community. Membership of a khel is either decided by birth or heredity. This is the most important and effective institution in village governance. No village decision can be taken without a consensus from all Khels in the village.
Kohima Village is an admixture of the past and present. In the olden days it was believed that Kohima Village had seven lakes and seven gateways. Till today a huge gate still stands at the entrance of the village, which is engraved with traditional Naga art and adorned with buffalo horns at the top. Stones of varying sizes and shapes implanted within the compound or skulls of buffaloes and Mithuns adorning the portico reminds the glorious status of the great ancestors who had performed grand feasts of merit.


Situated 30 kms south from Kohima, Dzükou Valley beckons the intrepid trekkers. At an elevation of 2483m, it provides a panoramic view of the mountains, wild flowers, mountain streams and the surrounding landscapes are second to none. There are two facets to Dzükou - During spring, Dzükou comes alive with wild herbs, flowers of varied hues and species dominates the landscape. Adorned with lilies of varied colors, aconitum, enphobias, wild flower, white, red, yellow and pink rhododendrons, yellow Caltha Palustris and white anemones!!!! Since all these various species of flowers bloom at different times every colour enjoys monopoly during different seasons. It is believed that 360 varieties of orchids grow on the hillsides. Dzükou reveals her other face during winter. With brown dominating the landscape Dzükou seems like a featureless desert.

The serpentine stream that provides nourishment to everyone who treads here also becomes frozen in time. One gets the feeling that nature itself is seeking illumination. This is also the valley which has been immortalized by Vikram Seth, an eminent Indian writer of A Suitable Boy fame in the poem entitled “The Elephant and the Tragopan”. Here Dzükou has been described by a different name- Bingle valley- for rhyming and from the conservationist point of view. There are also interesting caves in the low hillocks that cluster inside the valley and are a trekkers’ paradise. Though half of the route has to be approached through trekking of difficult terrain, it is one of the most frequented trekking spots in the whole of North East. A few tourist rest houses are constructed for trekkers.


Japfü Peak, at 3048 meters above sea level, is the second highest peak in Nagaland. Located about 15 km south of Kohima, it makes for an exhilarating scaling and trekking experience. Watch the sun- paint fascinating pictures over the entire sky, as it travels slowly beyond the horizon. Marvel at the ocean of mist at the crack of dawn. October- March is the right time to try this out. The Blythe Tragopan and other hill birds can also be found here. The vegetation type is sub-tropical, broad leaf on the slopes and temperate broad leaf on higher altitudes. Interestingly, the tallest rhododendron tree featured in the Guinness Book of World Records is found in the Japfü ranges. This tree is over One Hundred and Nine feet tall and at the girth of the base measures more than Eleven feet.

Enroute to Japfü and Dzükou, for a true off the beaten track experience one can take a sneak into some Southern Angami villages such as Jakhama, Kigwema, Viswema, and Phesama to get a taste of Naga culture. Also, the terrace fields carved out of the hills while passing through the National Highway 39 will make every trip worth the visit.


Located 20 kms west of Kohima is Khonoma village. Reputed for their courage and valor, it is the village of A. Z Phizo, Father of Naga Nationalist Movement. It has its own share of brushes with history. It was here that the Naga warriors made their last stand against the British in 1879. A simple white pillar commemorates G H Damant, major C R Crook, lieutenant H H Forbes and Sub-major Nurbir Sai, who died fighting the Nagas in Khonoma. The Khonoma gate tells the story of the British infiltration into Naga Hills. The village referred to as “Khwünoria” by the residents is estimated to be around 700 years old and is surrounded by hills that are as high as 9000 ft. It runs along a ridge which is a characteristic of Angami Villages and its domain extends from the terrace rice fields in the valley immediately beneath the ridge into the uplands of the Barail range all the way southwards till the border with Manipur, Senapati district. One of the outstanding features of Khonoma village is the presence of the fort called Kuda which literally means “a place of defense”. There is one fort in each of the three khels (Locality). It is believed that in ancient times the strength of the Khel is measured by the condition of the kuda and the presence of young warriors. Even today each khel takes responsibility for the maintenance of their khel fort. The terrain is hilly - from gentle slopes to steeply rugged crags and the hills are covered with lush forests, with numerous perennial trees. The Village is named after a plant locally known as “Khüno” that grows in the area. The alder tree (Alnus Nepalensis) is found in abundance in this region and Khonoma is famous for its management of jhum fields with alder trees, which fixes nitrogen in the soil and checks soil erosion.

Missionaries have done wonderfully well by keeping the Naga tribes under check with conversion to their faith.

ACK : Info on tourist destinations courtsey Nagaland Nic


Manuj said...

I really want to see these area. Once I was in Kaziranga, i enjoyed safari in the jungle and the sky looked more realistic than hubble pictures shown in planetariums.

dguide said...

Of course, once in a lifetime, if we get to see our own country and its heritage, we would have achieved a ton. I believe you got to visit Kohima, where you will feel that you are abroad.

Sannjay said...

Hate to rain on your parade, but Nagaland is not the ONLY state to have English as the state Language. English is the state language in Meghalaya too!Just thought you could do with greater accuracy for the record.

Deguide said...

@ Sannjay, well you are right when you state that English is official language in Meghalaya too. But it was first officially declared in Nagaland. Thanks for the pointer

Neeraj said...

Hi, great blog! NE India has been on my radar for a long time now. Can you comment on the safety issue? Is it safe to travel to NE states with wife?

Deguide said...

Hello Neeraj, this is a difficult question to answer considering the fact there are agitations and rebellion. However one safety factor is that most of the states are very well guarded by para military forces. Normally they don t attack or target families. There is a system of Inner line permits if you want get into AP, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram. There is no need of permit for Assam. Meghalaya i am not sure. But for a traveller an element of risk is always prevalent, one has to take it.

SJoseph said...

Just came across your blog. I was born and brought up in Dimapur. I have lots of beautiful memories associated with Dimapur. What wouldn't I give to see some photos of my beloved home town.
Long back when I was there. we didn't have any law and order issues but I think the same cannot be said of the situation now.

Neeraj | said...


I had commented on this post back in 2011. Just wanted to drop a line saying I visited all the 7 Sister States last year over 3-months. I traveled with my wife and did all the planning on our own - it was simply wonderful!

I will be writing about my experiences shortly on my blog.



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Basically i am down to earth, take friendship to its logical end. It is my endeavour to create a wealth of co-operative ventures. Basically being a marketing man i have the acumen to spot winners. I am privileged to travel the length and breadth of the country, courtsey my father, who was with Indianoil, my employers such as Nutrine, Kurl-on, Hindustan Pencils, Prestige, Crystal, Bell Ceramics, Pentel, Sezal, Commander. Currently i am involved in Tourism, Booking Air Tickets, Agent for Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited and Taj Group of Hotels and a numerous hotels across India. Depending on the needs of a traveller i would recommend the destination and accommodation best suited to their budget. Humour takes me on. Let us have a win win situation for all. I love travelling for sake of adventure, photography and discovering the heritage. Life is a journey and let us enjoy our drive. Come share your travel experience on indiabackpacker.