Surprisingly, for some strange reason, North- East India is always treated as a secondary option for travelers. And I was no exception. In fact, for many of my acquaintances, telling the names of the seven sisters of North East (with capitals) is a big challenge. So when I was invited to the ITM (International Tourism Mart) Nagaland this time, I was pretty excited. And this blog post is on that experience.
Dimapur to Kohima
There is no airport in Kohima and the nearest one is Dimapur, Nagaland. It’s basically a 2.5 hours flight from Kolkata with 1 stopover at Guwahati. Dimapur airport is a typical small scenic airport, with mostly ATR’s flying in and out. The registration was super smooth at the ITM Nagaland registration desk and we were taken to the cars waiting for us at the parking.
Lunch was organized at Niathu Resorts, Dimapur– which is one of the most premium hotels in Dimapur. It was a typical working buffet lunch and was my first tryst (definitely during THIS trip) to Pork with Bamboo shoots. Please check the video below for a better glimpse.
Dimapur to Kohima is a 3 hours drive and honestly, is pretty dusty. The good part is, roads are being made and are expected to be ready soon. Kohima is the capital of Nagaland and now is pretty cold. I mean, you need woolen to survive there. There is one-way traffic, and traffic congestion is a regular issue there.
Our stay was organized at Hotel Eden, Kohima. And the rooms are pretty decent. The room tour is there in my Instagram Highlight (named Nagaland ITM). I got a corner room (Room No 206) and the view from these corner room balconies is amazing. There is no lift, but the rooms are pretty good.
Inauguration of ITM, Nagaland
And in the evening, we were taken to the venue for the grand inauguration of ITM, Nagaland. The 9th International Tourism Mart, an annual event organized in the North-Eastern region with the objective of highlighting the tourism potential of the region in the domestic and international markets. It brings together the tourism business fraternity and entrepreneurs from the eight North Eastern States. The event has been planned and scheduled to facilitate interaction between buyers, sellers, media, Government agencies, and other stakeholders.
The North East Region of India comprising the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and Sikkim, is endowed with diverse tourist attractions and products. The idea of ITM Nagaland is to project and amplify this diversity. Buyers from different regions of the country will be participating in the Mart and will engage in one-on-one meetings with sellers from the North East Region. This will enable the tourism product suppliers from the region to reach out to domestic buyers, with the objective of promoting tourism to the region.
And now let me talk about the dinner at the inauguration festivities. On one side, there was Naga spread and regular North Indian food on the other. And naturally, I went for the former. The menu comprised of hardcore naga dishes
- Naga sausage
- Smoked pork with axone
- Pork with Bamboo shoot
- Fish in rupu
- And some interesting salad, including Slow Braised Bittergourd
I am quite habituated to the North-Eastern food, but I’d say, it’s quite an acquired taste. You may or may not like the smell at the first meeting. The reason is simple. Instead of the regular spices, that we use, they use natural herbs and extracts. The aroma is quite strong. And the use of ghee or artificial oil is very very limited. Thus, it’s actually healthy food.
The Hornbill festival ground
During Day 2, we were taken to the inauguration of the Hornbill festival. There were stalls, with artisans showcasing local handicrafts in well-made stalls/ kiosks. Now, the interesting part is, in one state, there are multiple communities- with each differing from the other- dress, food habits, even language. Thus it was a riot of color and multiple cultures co-existing.
Tasting of local beer at a Naga village
But after the inauguration and media interaction session, it was interesting. We were taken to a local community village to experience some local beer. Or should I call it the wine? It was white in color and extremely flavorful. And the snacks, which were served along with it, were rather interesting. Do check the video here for the details.
For a paid tour of this village, please contact Mr. Rutsa 7005086669
A luxury homestay in Kohima
though during the ITM Nagaland, we stayed at a hotel, we were taken to visit a typical luxury homestay in Kohima. And honestly, it was stunning. We were actually thinking, why didn’t stay here. It’s a village house and the entire ground floor is rented out. The property is available for booking on different portals.
And you can also check: Akim Homestay 6909931295 / 8837072034 / email@example.com
Kohima war memorial
In the morning, we visited the Kohima war memorial. It’s a war cemetery dedicated to the soldiers from the allied forces in the 2nd world war. The soldiers died on the battleground of Garrison Hill in the tennis court area of the Deputy Commissioner’s residence. The interesting part is, Hindu/ Muslim and Sikh soldiers are buried/ cremated here in different points, as per their religious custom and faith. If not anything else, it’s a place of peace and solitude. And a must-visit place for a panoramic view of the Kohima town.
Jotsoma is an Angami Naga village located about 8 km west of Kohima. The hilltop, Pullie Badze (at 7500 ft altitude) offers an excellent view of the entire Kohima city. But that’s a 1.5 km steep hike from the car parking area. We were offered a great lunch cooked by local homemakers. And though, naga cuisine, it was THE BEST lunch in the ITM Nagaland trip. The road is not that great and work is going on. But definitely good for a half-day trip from Kohima.
Khonomas are known as warrior tribes. And they are the ones who fought with the British for their identity. But probably, that was the past and Khonoma is now a quaint green picturesque village- 1.5 hours drive from Kohima. There are few homestays, with basic facilities. But that’s not really the point. There is an environment of mysticism there. We experienced Naga was music and dance performance there. And honestly, I can’t describe the feeling. With darkness settling in, it was surreal. I’ll probably go back again for a couple of days there, alone- to discover my inner self.
BTW, let me tell you the story of Rikivu. Once we reached that quaint green Khonoma village of 17 tribes, this little fellow became my shadow. Wherever I go, he used to be there with a questioning face… “This is my village, what are you doing here? And why are you not playing Hide and seek with me? How dare you? ” He was hell-bent on not posing for the camera, no- definitely not. He was busy. important scheduled work- checking on his doggy friends, checking whether the hens are safe or not and whether these unknown mortals are doing anything mischief.
He was not afraid, hell no. After all, courage runs deep inside his blood. He is from the warrior village- being a headhunter WAS considered as a matter of pride for the clan. Maybe, as the darkness sets in, his mother will sing him a lullaby of his great ancestors. And he’ll go to sleep, only to welcome the virgin sun the next morning.
Now, Naga wine is not something really popular. But definitely, it’s interesting. We visited a Naga boutique for items Made in Nagaland, with the same name. It’s basically an NGO working to promote Naga handicrafts and culinary items. For some shopping from Kohima, this is definitely a recommended halt.
Nagaland is an interesting place and a place to intrigue all your senses. I went there for a B2B conclave and thus couldn’t travel much. But definitely, would like to go back again someday. This trip was organized by the MOT, Government of India, and Incredible India and I would like to express my gratitude towards them.
Do let me know if you have travelled to Nagaland or any of the states in North East India? Let me know your experience.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org