Kohima is the capital city of Nagaland in North-Eastern India. Nagaland, also known as the "Switzerland of Asia", is a breath-takingly beautiful place.
The people are very friendly and warm hearted. It had a population of 115,000 in 2011.
The name Kohima was chosen by the British as they could not pronounce the Angami name of Kewhi–ra (Tenyidie for "the land where the flower ‘Kewhi’ grows"). It is named after the wild flowering plant ‘Kewhi’, found in the mountains. Most local people prefer to use ‘Kewhi–ra’.
Under Meitei rule
King Raja Gambhir Singh (alias Chinglen Nongdrenkhomba) of Manipur kingdom recaptured Nagaland in 1832 AD after some gap of declining Manipuri influences over the Nagas due to the Burmese war of 1819-25. He engraved a historic stone inscription in the Naga capital of Kohima (Meitei: Thibommei) in 1833. The inscription mark the Meitei conquest and supremacy over the Naga Hills in 1832. It is known as the Kohima Stone Inscription or the Gambhir Singh's Stone.
Kohima was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. It was the turning point in the Burma Campaign because for the first time in South-East Asia the Japanese lost the initiative to the Allies. The battle is often referred to as the ‘Stalingrad of the East’. In 2013, the British National Army Museum voted the Battle of Kohima and the Battle of Imphal together to be ‘Britain's Greatest Battle’.
Over 90% of the population are Christians. There are different denominations like Roman Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Assembly of God and Seventh-Day Adventists.
Kohima has pleasant winters with little rainfall and very warm, very rainy summers. The coolest months are from December to February, when frost may occur and in the highest altitudes occasional snowfall is possible. During the height of summers, from June to August, temperatures range on average from 18–27 °C (65–80 °F), with heavy and frequent rainfall.
Most visitors to Kohima arrive by land from Dimapur. Expect the weather to get much cooler along the way, since Dimapur is on the tropical plain, and Kohima is higher in the mountains.
Dimapur Airport is 74 km from Kohima and a 2-hour drive.
Kohima is not connected by train. Dimapur, on the Guwahati-Dibrugarh line, is the closest railway station, with direct rail connections to Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, and Chennai.
- National Highway 39 connects Kohima to Dimapur. The drive from Dimapur takes about 2 hours (74 km).
By bus Kohima is connected to Imphal, Dimapur, Guwahati, Tinsukia and other major cities of North-Eastern India.
The bus journey from Kohima to Dimapur is 2½ to 4 hours (depending on the bus). Non-AC Nagaland State Transport buses leave from a state near Dimapur train station and charge Rs. 100 as of May 2023. They run frequently during weekdays, waiting to depart until tickets have been sold for all the seats. If you have a large backpack or luggage, consider taking a share taxi or nicer bus instead, since there's no place to stow luggage on these buses except in the overhead racks, and the seats are always full.
This is preferred way to get from Dimapur to Kohima for many locals. Expect to be packed tightly into the car with other travelers, but at least your luggage will be stowed in back or up top. Tata Sumos and other cars leave frequently on weekdays from near Dimapur Railway Station, across the parking lot from the main entrance. In May 2023 the price was reportedly Rs. 350 per person, but this might vary depending on the type of car you take.
Walking is the best way to feel the pulse of the capital.
- Bara Basti. Supposedly the second largest village in Asia. See the traditional Angami way of life.
- 1 Catholic Church on Aradhurah Hill (Cathedral Church). Located near the Little Flower School. This is the biggest church of its kind in the predominantly Christian north-eastern region of India. The view of the town from this church is outstanding.
- The Deputy Commissioner's Bungalow. For over a month, Japanese troops battled British and Indian troops at this small bungalow in Kohima. The battle, known as the Battle of the Tennis Court, was the turning point in the fight against Japan and the bungalow still stands in this state capital. The Tennis Courts are now a part of the Kohima War Cemetery.
- 2 Nagaland State Museum (Kohima Museum). Though information is somewhat limited the meuseum has nice displays and some rare Naga artifacts and archaeological finds, as of April 2019 there is a very interesting photographically exhibition and models of traditional sports equipment. There are also a few statues and a tank turret outside. ₹10, ₹50 for photography (you may be asked to pay both on entry).
- 3 Kohima War Cemetery, Garrison Hill. The cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Commission for the Allied war dead. The cemetery lies on the slopes of Garrison Hill, in what was once the Deputy Commissioner's tennis court, which was the scene of intense fighting known as the "Battle of the Tennis Court".
- Kohima Zoo. You can see the rare Tragopan bird, the state bird of Nagaland and the Mithun, the state animal.
- Naga Bazaar. You can find nearly anything that is living and moving here on sale. Nagas have a wide-ranging cuisine encompassing the entire spectrum of living things.
While you are visiting Kohima, you can go for a picnic/trekking in the forest. There are rivers where you can picnic and the forest are really beautiful. You can find different varieties of orchids which you will never find anywhere else in the world. Whether it is during winter or spring, the sight of the forest is breathtaking.
- Trek to the beautiful Dzüko Valley. You will never forget it your entire life. It's a valley at the top of the mountains that you can only reach by walking trail, including a portion of steep climbing through the forest. What is amazing is that you will find rivers and waterfalls in this valley which is situated at the top of the mountains. Make sure you carry very warm clothing for your stay there as this place is really very cold. There are three different routes, with one that can be done round-trip in a day if you're a stronger hiker, though most visitors opt to spend a night at the valley rim, either by camping with a tent or by staying in a very basic guesthouse there. Do your research in advance. The most popular entrance is from Viswema village.
- Trek to the top of Japfü peak, the 2nd highest in Nagaland, and also Pulie Badze Peak overlooking the suburb of Jotsoma. The views from atop these peaks are out of the world.
- Motorcycle ride - Kickstart Adventures, an adventure tourism firm, has pioneered motorcycle tours in Nagaland. This adventure motorbike tour covers not only popular places but also rural parts of Nagaland to experience first-hand of tribal cultures and traditions. Tours are conducted all round the year (season/off-season)
- There are several small billiards halls where men drink whiskey and hang out upstairs near the intersection north of the main bus station.
- Handknitting the famous Naga shawls from Naga women. One can find many women knitting these shawls in their verandahs. Just ask them to teach you and they would be most helpful in doing so. Nagas are among the most helpful people towards visitors.
The main occupation is agriculture and there are no big companies like call centre/BPO IT companies. However, there are the usual government jobs, banking sector, factories, etc. In any case, if you're not from Nagaland, you'll need a special permit to live and work here legally.
handicrafts, ethnic shawls, vests, artefacts from emporiums.
Second hand clothes are widely available if you need an extra jumper or waterproof jacket.
Pork, beef, mutton, chicken, dog meat and also lots of jungle animals are eaten. People are 100 percent non-vegetarian.
If you love pork you should definitely try pork cooked with fermented bamboo shoots in Naga style and if you love spicy food you should try the Naga chutney made with spicy green chillies and not to forget the spicy beef pickle made with Rajha Mircha (the world's hottest chilli).
Nagaland is officially a dry state, but if you ask the waiters you will get everything from Jack Daniels to local zutho (rice beer).
- Dream Cafe, located close to the War Memorial. It has some of the best coffee in Nagaland, which unfortunately isn't saying much.
- There is one backpacker oriented hostel behind the main bus station but dorms are ₹300/night so you will find better value in local hotels near the main bus station.
- Nearby and downmarket at the 'BOC' bus stand and market , are the budget "Holiday Inn" (from ₹700) and the "Grandeur" next door (from ₹1000), basic, scruffy but survivable in the Indian manner.
- Aradura Inn - is 3 or 4 km outside the city, close to the RC cathedral on Aradura Hill. Pine woods, great view, very cozy and quiet. Only practical if you have a car. A few tiny shops nearby, but no restaurants. Call ahead or no one may be there.
- Hotel Japfü Ashok at P.R. Hills. It is a dull three-star hotel, the facilities are good and the staff friendly. From ₹1500 (Feb 2012)
- Razhü Pru - on Mission road, across front the Baptist College, a few hundred meters uphill from central Kohima. Lovely old "heritage hotel" with cozy rooms, some brighter or roomier than others. Garden. Power goes off a lot, but that is the case all over Kohima. From ₹1800 incl. breakfast.
City buses (₹20) runs to the centre during daylight hours.
The centre, war cemetery and bazzar area are all within walking distance
If you are visiting Kohima during winter make sure you carry warm clothing with you. The air is very cold in the morning and after 2pm.
- Go south to Imphal, the capital of Manipur. Buses and private taxis are available.
- Head off the beaten track to Tuensang, a small town deep inside Nagaland
- Drive down to Dimapur and fly out or catch a train from there.
Note that Mon District (see Nagaland article for more information), at the north end of the state, is not easily accessible via Kohima. As of May 2023, the roads through the middle of Nagaland are so bad that it's faster for buses and shared taxis to travel back down to Dimapur and through Assam, re-entering Nagaland from the north side.