Visiting Nagaland? Skip Kohima For These Quieter Alternatives With Exciting Trekking Trails

Photo of Visiting Nagaland? Skip Kohima For These Quieter Alternatives With Exciting Trekking Trails by Footloose Dev

During my recent trip to attend Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, I ended up staying in Kohima for a couple of nights, and to tell you the truth, I hated the city. Kohima is dusty, noisy and bustling with life, and no part of it speaks of a peaceful holiday experience, as one may otherwise expect, for Kohima is a hilly tourist destination, and apparently the most visited place in the state of Nagaland. But being a first timer visitor in Nagaland, and having no idea about its surprising customs and about what to expect from the smaller towns, staying in Kohima felt like a safer plan, at least for the initial few days.

Staying In Kohima & Attending Hornbill Festival

Contrary to the common belief, the festival of Hornbill does not happen in Kohima but around 12 km away from it (and a couple of hours long traffic, during the festival) in a village called Kisama Heritage Village.

So for those visiting Hornbill for only a few days, it’s anyway not a very smart idea to be staying in Kohima and losing a few hours in the traffic everyday. Rather, consider staying in the village of Kigwema, located at only a walking distance from Kisama.

Kigwema: A Peaceful Alternative Near Kohima

Photo of Kohima, Nagaland, India by Footloose Dev

After two days of continuous struggle with the dreadful traffic congestion in Kohima, I moved away from the city and decidedly spent a few nights in Kigwema, and it only turned out to be a great idea. Dominated by the Angami tribe, Kigwema offers beautiful views to the adjoining valleys with the many gilded paddy-fields being visible at a distance. Beautiful campsites and traditional homestays in Kigwema, over the commercial guest-houses (the only option in Kohima) moreover add to the charm.

Despite getting more and more exposed to tourism every year, practices of traditional lifestyle of the Angami people are still preserved by the villagers in Kigwema. Few traditional houses with engraved folk art and decorated village gateways still remain intact. The majority of local residents can be found relying on agriculture and conventional money-making techniques. Unlike Kohima, Kigwema promises a deeper insight of rural Nagaland.

Photo of Kigwema, Nagaland, India by Footloose Dev

For trekking enthusiasts, several hiking trails lead to different viewpoints. For serious hikers, however, the trekking route to a 2,500 m high Japfu peak, in the popular Dzukou Valley, remains a highlight.

With more campsites than there are brick and mortar tourist lodge, Kigwema can be a great place for outdoor lovers. One can easily find enough half-board camping options for 1000 Rupees per person. If looking for something more comfortable, and a proper homestay, one can blindly choose Vicha Homestay, located in Kipfuzha, in Kigwema. The homestay offers a budget option for backpackers (400 Rupees per bed in a 4-bed dorm), a peaceful environment for holidayers, and an eager host for all.

Unlike in Kohima, any number of days spent in Kigwema doesn’t grow mad on you.

Khonoma: Asia’s First Green Village

Photo of Khonoma, Nagaland, India by Footloose Dev

Some 20km from Kohima lies the beautiful hamlet of Khonoma. What appears as a world made of a saturated green and a highlighted yellow, Khonoma is also Asia’s first green village. Why first, because it was in Khonoma village where people had long stopped cutting trees and relying on forest as a source of energy. It's a living testament to the will-power of the tribal groups of Nagaland to help protect and conserve their natural habitat.

What makes Khonoma even more special is that the Naga tribes, who lived here, are traditionally known to be largely dependent on nature for their food and hunt, but now they’ve given up on anything that harms the ecosystem and with that, their way of living - all to protect their environment.

Photo of Visiting Nagaland? Skip Kohima For These Quieter Alternatives With Exciting Trekking Trails by Footloose Dev

On its entire area of 120 sq km, it’s hard to find a plastic carelessly forgotten on the ground. At every few steps, a green colored dustbin makes things easier for public. With a massive ancestral home and showpieces belonging to a time when Nagaland was nowhere in the map and (neither were its people) Khonoma reveals itself a magical place being artificially restored from the ground.

There are enough places (though not in abundance as Kigwema) to sleep in Khonoma with most places charging about 1000 rupees per person per day. Dovipie Inn is one of the popular places in Khonoma.

Tuophema: The Unheard-of Nagaland

Photo of Tuophema, Nagaland, India by Footloose Dev

Around 35 km (or a one hour drive) from Kohima, lies the town of Tuophema, popular for its natural surrounding and an offbeat charm. Not many people who visit Nagaland end up in this unsung village. Those plying for public transport from Kohima have a daily bus service to Tuophema (arom Kohima) leaving at 1 pm. Shared taxis can take upto 200 Rupees per person, per trip.

Dominated by the rich history of Angami tribe and the folklore that alights beautiful with the village, Tuephema offers tourists a rustic environment. A fairly new to tourism, though decently prepared for it, the villagers have beautifully maintained the village and have installed a few tourist huts with necessary equipment for visitors for a comfortable stay. A large variety of wildflowers and cherry blossoms that adorn the village pathways keep the nonchalant Tuophema a visual treat.

Visit Tuophema for an offbeat Naga experience, some locally brewed (and very cheap at 30 Rs per liter) rice beer, unspoilt nature and a sumptuous delight of Angami Naga cuisine.

TIP: Please note that in Nagaland no public transportation works on Sunday