Kohima State Museum offers tourists 360 degree insight into the history and culture of Nagaland and the tribes. Established in the year 1970 by the government of Nagaland, this museum is located at Bayavü Hill, about one-and-a-half kilometres from the heart of the town. The museum showcases various aspects of Naga life and tradition, including their arts and artefacts, ancient weaponry, colourful traditional dresses, Naga cuisine amongst others.
The museum has a rare collection of precious stones including cornelian, tourmaline, coral and other artefacts made out of brass and silver bells. Apart from this ceremonial attire of various Naga tribes, their musical instruments are also on display, including the log drum and Tati, which is a single-stringed instrument. The models of the Naga morung or the traditional huts of the different tribes are some of the biggest attractions of the museum.
The Kohima Zoo or the Zoological Park is one of the most well-maintained zoos in the country and serves as a great attraction for tourists coming to Nagaland. Built on a hill, the natural landscape offers a comforting habitat to the animals and birds. The hill has been innovatively utilised creating free spaces where the animals have been housed. It is an ideal place to trek and enjoy the magnificent flora and fauna of Nagaland.
The biggest attraction in the zoo is the rare tragopan bird, which is the state bird of Nagaland. It is a highly endangered species with an estimated 500 remaining. Apart from the tragopan bird, other attractions in the Kohima Zoo include mithun, a species of the wild buffalo which is also the state animal. Tourists can also catch a glimpse of the golden langur and Asiatic black bear in this zoo apart from many other wild animals.
“When you go home, tell them of us, and say: ‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today.’” This is the line on the stone memorial at the entrance of Kohima War Cemetery as a true tribute to the fallen heroes. The most important of all attractions in the town the Kohima War Cemetery, where 1421 slabs stand in memory of soldiers who were slayed in the battle of Kohima; it one of the fiercest in the Asian Theatre during World War II. Each of these graves has a bronze plaque with an appropriate epitaph.
The cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and was created on a plot of land which was formerly known as the Garrison Hill. Thousands of tourists from all over the world, especially United Kingdom and Canada, come here as a pilgrimage to honour the heroes who sacrificed their lives during the war.
Japfü Peak and Pulebadze Peak are the two most popular peaks in Kohima with Japfü being the more popular one. It is situated at a height of 3048 metres above sea level offering bird’s-eye view of the Kohima town. This peak is 15 kilometres uphill and offers a scenic ride. The tallest rhododendron tree on the planet is found in the Japfü range which has earned it an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. Spring is the best time to visit this peak, and you can catch a glimpse of the Blyth's tragopan and the hornbill birds here.
Pulebadze Peak which overlooks the suburb of Jotsoma is another popular peak on the outskirts of Kohima. A great place to trek, this peak is popular amongst the adventurous travellers. Along the route to the Pulebadze Peak you can catch a glimpse of the diverse flora and fauna with which this place has been blessed with.
A trekker’s delight, Dzukou Valley, located 30 kilometres from the town of Kohima, mesmerizes every visitor with its virgin beauty. Situated at an altitude of 2483 m above the sea level, this place offers a panoramic view of the mountains. Wild flowers and clear mountain streams add to the heavenly feel of this place. The mountain steam also offers nourishment to all the tourists who visit this place.
Spring is the best time to visit Dzukou Valley as the place comes to life with wild herbs and flowers of different shades and species adding sparkle to the landscape. Lillies, conitum, euphorbia and rhododendron can be seen all around here. It is estimated that about 360 different varieties of orchids grow in this valley. This place is even worth a visit during the winter as it represents a featureless desert due to extreme cold in this part of the world.
Greater Kohima is the urban agglomeration around Nagaland's capital city, Kohima. This agglomeration includes the village of Kohima, Jakhama and Jotsoma. There are a lot of attractions for the people in greater Kohima, including the Nagaland State Museum, which is a treasure house offering you a glimpse into Naga culture through the history of various Naga tribes. Apart from the museum, other places which are a much visit in the greater Kohima area include the Zoological Park, where you come across some of the rare flora and fauna.
A trip to Khonoma, Ntangki Wildlife Sanctuary, World War II Cemetery and the Catholic Cathedral is a must for any tourist visiting this part of the world. You should also pay a visit to the state emporium where you can shop for Naga arts and artefacts including the world famous Naga shawls. Don’t forget to try out on some of the exotic mouth-watering dishes.
Hornbill Festival is Nagaland’s biggest annual festival drawing tourists from all over the world; it is held in the first week of December. The festival is jointly organised by the departments of Tourism and Art & Culture at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama, located 12 kilometres from the town of Kohima, which gives a glimpse into the life and history of the Nagas. The seven-day mega event showcases the rich and vibrant culture of the various Naga tribes.
The festival has been aptly named after the hornbill bird whose feathers are a part of Naga headgear. The celebrations comprise dance performances, crafts, parades, games, sports, food fairs and religious ceremonies. Visitors taking part in the festival can take home various Naga souvenirs, including traditional paintings, wood carvings, shawls and sculptures, which depict various aspects of Naga life. The songs praising the brave deed of the Naga heroes are some of the biggest attractions during the festival.
Naga Bazar or the local market is one of the biggest attractions for any tourist visiting Kohima. This market is as old as the Kohima town itself. Located in the heart of the city, it is famous for trading in a wide variety of livestock. Naga cuisine is unique compared to other tribes in the Northeast as it accommodates a variety of living organisms and all that can be found here. Apart from the livestock there are many vendors who also sell varieties of fish, traditional Naga tools and artefacts.
A walk through the market allows you to mingle with the local people and take a look at their daily lives. Like most other daily markets in tribal states, you will come across a lot of saleswomen dressed in their colourful traditional attire selling goods to the customers. Apart from all these, Naga Bazaar is slowly evolving into a modern marketplace.
If you are a traveller and not a tourist, a motorcycle ride would be the best way to explore Kohima. One of the most picturesque places in the Northeast, Kohima has lots to offer to tourists with sharp peaks and valleys adding to your delight. There are a few agencies which let you hire motorcycles and explore the beautiful town. A ride to Dzukou Valley and trekking there is something you shouldn’t miss out on. Apart from this you should also pay a visit to the Japfu Peak and Pulebadze Peak.
It is highly recommended that you hire a local guide along with you as he or she will be able to take you to some breathtaking places, often unexplored by many tourists, and offer you insights into the legends of these places. The guide adds to your security as this place has witnessed insurgency and sectarian violence in the past.
The Deputy Commissioner’s Bungalow is one of the most prominent places for tourists visiting Kohima. This served as a residence of the administrative head of the Naga Hills District from colonial times until Nagaland gained statehood. The building is an architectural beauty encompassing the best of British and Naga architecture. Situated in the heart of the city close to the Kohima War Cemetery, its beautiful gardens add to the beauty of the bungalow.
This bungalow witnessed one of the bloodiest battles of World War II and was completely razed to the ground before being rebuilt again after the war. Known as the Battle of Tennis Court fought in the bungalow’s tennis court, it was one of the turning points of the war in Southeast Asia. It was here in the premises of this bungalow, specifically the tennis court, that about 9500 Allied and Japanese soldiers lost their lives during the battle.