28th November 2011: Sadanand Kamath (SK) and I left Mumbai by an Indigo flight and landed in Kolkata around 1:30PM. We took an auto to the nearby Hotel Airways, for a night stay.
Our Air India flight to Dimapur was early next morning, so we had decided to stay near the airport. This hotel was basic, but had wi-fi and TV in a DBL room for Rs. 1000/- The Veg Food in the Hotel's restaurant upstairs was quite Ok.
29th November 2011:
Next morning our flight to Dimapur was delayed and left at 10:45AM. We also discovered that it was first going to Dibrugarh and landing in Dimapur on way back to Kolkata! We landed in Dimapur at 1:30PM. An auto (Rs. 200/-) took us to Dimapur Taxi-stand (at Dimapur Railway Station) where we got a share-taxi to Kohima for Rs. 200/- per head.
We left Dimapur around 2:15PM. Went past the airport again and soon started climbing the Hills. The weather was getting cooler and we had to put on our sweater. We passed a Police Check post, where the driver got down to show his vehicle documents; but nobody came to check our Inner Line Permit (ILP). The taxi driver said that during Hornbill festival they don’t check ILPs, as there are many visitors.
The ride was hilly, scenic and green all the way. There were roadside stalls selling a variety of fruits and vegetables - especially Pineapples, Oranges and Naga Chilies.
We had booked a DBL room in Hotel Cimorb (very early in April-2011) in Old Minister's Hill, near BSNL Telephone Exchange for 6 days and the hotel turned out to be one of the best in Kohima, with well maintained rooms and excellent staff and service. At Rs 3500/- per night it was pricy for Kohima but during the Hornbill Festival everything goes up here. The room was large and well furnished and had hot water geyser. A restaurant in the hotel provided good food, both Veg and non-Veg. We were happy that our stay here is going to be very pleasant.
It was getting dark by 4:30PM and some of the Christmas lights were already switched on! The town had a festive look. It seems Hornbill is the biggest annual event with hoardings and poster all over town. Apart from the main cultural programs of Hornbill there was also a Hornbill Rock Music festival and even Kohima Car Rally program.
30th November 2011:
After a nice breakfast (of Cornflake-Milk, Toast-butter and Omelet) we left the hotel to do a walk-around the town to see for ourselves how Kohima looked.
We walked down hill from Hotel towards PHQ and asked a local what to see. He suggested we first go towards Raj-Bhavan and showed us the way to it. That area was quiet and tree-lined. Before we reached Governor's place we came across a nice old fashioned colonial-style property that turned out to be The Heritage Hotel. It was the DC's office-cum-residence in British times now turned into a Hotel. Beautiful Entrance Halls and Lobbies with plenty of colonial artifacts, paintings, pictures with guns, rifles and stuffed animal heads adorned the entrance lobby walls.
An old Naga man, draped in a shawl and speaking wonderful English in a guttural voice met us on the street outside The Heritage and pointed out many Kohima landmarks dotting the range of hills opposite including the Kohima Village and the Cathedral. He took us via shortcut to the Raj-Bhavan.
He offered to speak to the security there to allow us into the gardens of the Raj-Bhavan to see some WW-II relics - tanks and aircrafts - displayed there; but we decided to skip that and asked him to show us the way to the Kohima Cemetery. He showed us the shortcut way downhill via some pedestrian steps to the road below towards the Cemetery.
The Kohima Cemetery rises from a Chowk - where the road from Dimapur and road to Imphal meet. The road bends around the Garrison Hill; here the British forces fought a fierce battle with the advancing Japanese, during World War-II. The stopped the Japs here from proceeding further towards Dimapur and India. Over 500 soldiers British and Indian died here and the Kohima Cemetery is a memorial for all those fallen men. There was a District Collectors Tennis Court on the rise to this hill where the last of Japs were held back and so today a memorial has been built on that corner of the tennis court remembering those soldiers. Over 500 memory stones with names of soldiers mark the entire sloping hills side of this memorial with well maintained green lawns. We took many pictures here.
From the cemetery we walked down the road towards the Bazaar and had a lunch of cakes and savories at local bakery. Then caught a local bus towards State Museum, 2-3 KMs away from the main town area.
The Museum had several many exhibits of Naga Tribes handicrafts, weapons, tribal dresses and jewels. Several displays of Naga homes and models of Naga men and women in traditional dresses in front of their Morungs and Huts. Well worth a visit to learn some local traditions and rural lifestyles. We were back in hotel by 4PM as dusk settled it became dark.
SK poses outside Dimapur Terminal
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