Kohima is the hilly capital of India’s north eastern border state of Nagaland which shares its borders with Burma. It lies in Kohima District and is one of the three Nagaland towns with Municipal council status along with Dimapur and Mokokchung.
Kohima is the land of the Angami Naga tribe. The name, Kohima, was officially given by the British as they could not pronounce the Angami name Kewhima or Kewhira (Tenyidie for “the land where the flower Kewhi grows”). It is called after the wild flowering plant Kewhi, found in the mountains. Earlier, Kohima was also known as Thigoma. Kohima is located south of Kohima District (25.67°N 94.12°E)and has an average elevation of 1261 metres (4137 feet).The town of Kohima is located on the top of a high ridge and the town serpentines along the top of the mountain ranges as is typical of most Naga settlements.
The British incursions into the Naga territory, beginning in the 1840s, met with stiff resistance from the independence-loving Nagas, who had never been conquered by any empire before. The stiffness of the resistance can be gauged by the fact that it took nearly four decades for the British to conquer a territory that is less than 10,000 square kilometres (the eastern region was left free). Kohima was the first seat of modern administration as the Headquarters of Naga Hills District (then under Assam) with the appointment of G.H. Damant as Political Officer in 1879. When Nagaland became a full-fledged state on 1 December 1963, Kohima was christened as the state capital.
In 1944 during World War II the Battle of Kohima along with the simultaneous Battle of Imphal was the turning point in the Burma Campaign. For the first time in South-East Asia the Japanese lost the initiative to the Allies which they then retained until the end of the war. This hand-to-hand battle and slaughter prevented the Japanese from gaining a high base from which they might next roll across the extensive flatlands of India like a juggernaut.
Kohima has a large cemetery known as the War Cemetery in Kohima for the Allied war dead maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 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, the Battle of the Tennis Court. The epitaph carved on the memorial of the 2nd British Division in the cemetery
“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”
has become world-famous as the Kohima poem. The verse is attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds (1875–1958), and is thought to have been inspired by the epitaph written by Simonides to honour the Greek who fell at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.
Nagaland is the home of the hottest chili in the world, bhoot jolokia, or the ghost peppers whose hotness scale is 855,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units, internationally used for the calculation of hotness of peppers). All the tribes of Nagaland have their own cuisine, and they use a lot meat, fish and fermented producted in their dish. However, the state dish is smoked pork cooked with fermented soya bean. The Naga dishes includes a lot of locally grown herbs, ghost peppers, ginger and garlic. Bizarre food that can be tried by die hard adventurers, here in Nagaland, are snails cooked with pork, silk worm larvae, which is an expensive delicacy of the state. There are options for vegetarians as well, galho, a porridge cooked with rice, leaves and condiments.
There are traditional drinks as well, dzutho and thutse, beers made with sticky rice. Nagaland is a food heaven for the food enthusiasts.
Media and communications
State-owned All India Radio has a local station in Kohima, which transmits various programs of mass interest.