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Date of Publish: 2015-12-24

Khonoma and Dzuleke – Two little gems of Nagaland

Three days of continuous coverage of Hornbill festival is getting hard on me and somehow I was missing the real aura of this land of festival- Nagaland. I was on the last part of my journey after covering Sangai Festival in Manipur and then Hornbill festival in Kisama. To break the monotony, I laid out the map of Nagaland and started searching for nearby places that I can visit in a day’s time. After hastily searching for an hour, I pinpoint a place called – Khonoma. To my surprise, if one ask the locals for nearby places to visit, Khonoma ranks first in their list. It was Friday night and the pre-Christmas celebration and carnival had just started in the town of Kohima. I dialed a few numbers and get hold of a driver named – Levi. By the time, during the hornbill festival, I also made a new friend, Puneet Arora from Delhi. We both decided to join hands in our mission to explore the village of Khonoma- Land of brave Angamis.

5:30 am and Kohima is engulfed in a thick blanket of fog. I frantically made some call to see if the other two person- Levi and Puneet is back to their senses. The idea is to start early for the journey as the sun sets very early and navigating in the hilly areas after dusk is an improbable task. As we three sets on our journey, we stopped at a concourse from about 20kms from the capital city of Kohima, where the road sign is written  as Dzuleke(left) and Khonoma(right).   We asked some local passersby if Dzuleke is of any worth. They moved their head in approval and we set on with confidence. Dzuleke is a small hamlet situated around 20kms from the village of Khonoma on the road to Peren. The newly developed eco-tourism initiative by Dzuleke Eco-Tourism board (DETB) facilitated by NEIDA (North East Development Agency) is helping the village marking its own identity in the tourism sector. One can find beautiful looking home-stays over there to experience the authentic Naga hospitality. But the real beauty of Dzuleke one can experience is by trekking through its majestic hills. One has to report in the Tourist information Centre before entering the village. More information about the trekking can be found there.

It was cold and breezy in Dzuleke. As we started downhill towards Khonoma, the climate is becoming more pleasant. There is a short puddle road that passes through a light forest and can help you reach Khonoma faster.  As we reach Khonoma, a big Baptist church can be seen just at the entrance. This church is completely made out of rocks. Khonoma is the land of brave Angami tribes. From the time of the 1830s, the village has been putting up fierce resistance to British colonial rule. The Khonoma fort is that symbol of resistance. Small yet tough build, this fort was demolished and rebuilt a number of times. Lastly, demolition took place in the year 1956 during conflict between Naga rebels and Indian security forces. 

Khonoma gets its name from the plant – Gaultheria Fragrantissima locally known as Khwunoria. Gone are those days when conflict and hunting were at the peak in Khonoma. Right now, one can see beautiful houses on the sides adorning the cobbled pathways which go around the village. From the top of the village, one is exposed to the magnificent view of the Jhum cultivation that resembles like a river flowing out from the crotch of the mountains. For tourists, many homestays have been constructed and one can view many monoliths and tombs of those died in yesteryear conflicts. For right now, Khonoma is rightly termed as the first green village of India and one just cannot afford to miss these two little gems of Nagaland.
Contact: Vizo (0310-2800516) , Tourist information centre, Dzuleke

Photo and text - Prabir Kumar Talukdar

( Prabir Kumar Talukdar is a freelance journalist. He travels around the country to capture stories. He is a recipient of  2015 Trust Women Photo Award by Thomson Reuters Foundation and Microsoft.  He can be reached at prabir008@gmail.com. His mobile no is  73995-02650 )




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