Travelling Nagaland Part 3: Kohima & Surroundings.
This time we took a private taxi for our trip to Kohima because it’s much more pleasant than a bus and we wanted to treat ourselves a little bit. We stopped a few times along the way because there were various checkpoints where we had to register (again). We showed the passports and had to answer curious questions (why were we here? what our plans are?). It wasn’t easy for the police officers to understand that we just wanted to see the area and its people…
The heavy military presence continued throughout the entire way to Kohima. Every few hundred meters the road was flanked by really good looking Indian soldiers (sometimes on strategic little hills sitting behind walls made of sandbags). Everything seemed so serene; the road winded along upwards to Kohima but obviously there are tensions in the area. A movement for an independent Nagaland is silently active and occasionally some home-made bombs explode or some influential people are killed… For me as a traveller there didn’t seem to be any danger around, though the presence of the army told me differently.
- A good source for Nagaland information is the Nagaland Post.
We passed a bad accident along the way; a truck didn’t make it around a curve and said hello to a step divine (we assume he drove too fast). The area smelled badly of petrol, so we only took a quick look and then drove off before the thing was going to explode. Also it’s pineapple season in summer and along the road were lots of pineapple vendors and we’ve never tasted better pineapples than here. The fields of pineapples looked really beautiful planted along step hills. Some other food stalls sold fresh herbs & fruits like basil, oregano, tiny bananas and passion fruits. It’s a good in-between snack for this long drive.
It’s a 5-hour-drive up to Kohima and the temperature was getting a bit cooler. We were welcomed me with a heavy shower and another police checkpoint – “Passport number, visa number, where you come from, where you go to?” same old bla bla bla.
Anyway, our hotel was a bit Spartan but well situated near the main road and the WWII cemetery. It was the Battle of Kohima where British and Indian soldiers fought alongside to stop the Japanese invasion in 1944. The war cemetery is the final resting ground for 1.400 brave soldiers who lost their young lives there. Today it’s a place where loving couples walk around or students sit in the sun and study. A quiet place in an otherwise bustling little city…
Kohima is a town perched on a few hills. It’s a bit stretched out and you can walk for hours. It’s an important trading point for all the small farmers who live in the area and as far as we noticed, everybody is really friendly. Our black headscarfs helped a lot though because we were not immediately picked out as foreigners.
The market was a heaven for strange food and lots of grubs, frogs, different insects and freshwater fish were on display. Of course, as I started to walk around I was curiously looked at by many people plus every policeman directing the traffic, so I bought a black scarf to wrap my blond hair into to be a little less recognizable as a foreigner.
Travelling Around Kohima.
There are various bus and taxi stations, depending on the direction you wish to travel. We decided to continue to Imphal, the capital of Manipur. We decide on a shared taxi this time, to keep the costs down. It was a bit of a discussion with which car we should travel. We didn’t find out why, but we assume some taxi drivers knew, that with a foreigner in the car there will be delays along the way due to the checkpoints. One taxi driver was finally convinced when we told him that we’d buy three seats so we could take pictures on the right and left side when driving. The trip to Imphal passed through an impressive area, but this adventure will have to wait for another post.
More Nagaland Stories.
Travelling Nagaland: Part 1 – Getting There.
Travelling Nagaland: Part 2 – Impressions Of Dimapur.
Travelling Nagaland: Part 3 – Kohima & Surroundings.