THROUGH THE EYES OF A TRAVELLER
Wanderlust like me would definitely love to explore Kohima … be it the natural environment… the exotic wild flowers…. a type of orchid by the name of Blue Venda grows in abundance ….. there are marigolds in deep maroon and shocking orange, chrysanthemums in white, magenta, yellow and maroon, gazennias in orange and reds… angel trumpets and a whole lot of other wild flowers (the names of which… I am afraid I don’t know) engulfing the mountains and the valley… the drop in the temperature as you go higher up the altitude…the smell of the pine tress and the zigzag curves makes it for a splendid escapade from Dimapur to Kohima … soothing to the eye as well as the senses…
A walk around the local bazaar was very apt to explore the new place. And it wasn’t the usual clothes & shoe shops that I strolled around. My first stopover was the groceries, just one look around and I literally wanted to dart helter-skelter! First my eyes fell on a basket full of snails, and then as I tried to divert my attention to something more pleasant I saw another basket full of caterpillars light pink in colour….. frog in pairs sealed in polythene followed the suit…. I also saw people busy buying some kind of red meat….only to be confirmed later that it was dog!
Nothing to be astonished, but for a soul like me who prefers to be fed almost vegetarian except for the occasional eggs, these over the counter products rendered me thunderstruck for a few moments!
The Cathedral of Mother Mary stands majestically on a hillock near BOC Gate, which can be viewed from any angle in Kohima. Once inside, I sat on the pew and did some soul searching. The tranquility was delightfully absorbing. Paintings of Jesus, the Last Supper, Noah’s Ark, Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Christ adorn the pillars inside the cathedral. It has the largest crucifix in Asia and this cathedral is also known as the enemy’s church as it was built in the memory of the Japanese soldiers who lost their lives in the 2nd world war.
My next visit was to the State Secretariat, a place which I had to go out of compulsion! If you carry less cash and tend to rely heavily on the ATMs, Kohima is a place which might leave you quite disillusioned. There is only one ATM counter and it is inside the State Secretariat. And it’s literally at the fag end of the town. At the gates you’ll be questioned by the security guards and would also insist to see the ATM card. Once you are inside, you have to walk at least a kilometer and half and a few steps before you finally reach the ATM machine, and after the mammoth marathon you might actually end up without withdrawing any cash! The machine might not be able to process your request to withdraw cash! So my advice is “please do not make the mistake of relying heavily on ATMs when in Kohima!”
Quite nearby the State Secretariat is the flower nursery which I suppose is a “must” halt for all those with a “floral fetish”! Here you’ll find different varieties of orchids, cactus with flowers, impatience in bright magentas…. bonsais…some of the best flowers are not for sale but for display only. The prices of orchids can shoot up to 1100/- bucks! With a cafeteria along side the nursery, sipping the hot cuppa coffee feels rather divine …. Get The Flower Power!
A drive on the national highway which takes you to the next state – Manipur, you’ll come across small settlements either on the valley below or up on the hills… the prominent trait are the flowers adorning every house and the entire highway … either on pots or grown wild… the brightness and the finesse of these flowers are because of the congenial temperature…. I couldn’t stop myself and collected as many saplings as I could, but keeping in mind the humidity and temperature back home in Guwahati, I wonder if ever I’d achieve the desired results!
About ten kilometers from Kohima as we were driving on the national highway we reached Dimora Cove, a resort. The place goes by the name Khikwema. The resort has a restaurant, play area for children, a skating ring, board games and a swimming pool, which lacks proper maintenance – I guess no one relishes the idea of taking a dip in the chill! There’s accommodation available if you wish to spend the overnight in the resort. The resort also has a small outlet where you can purchase mementoes and indigenous artifacts.
Shopping in Kohima is a costly affair, and you can win the battle only if you have a flair for bargaining! While staying there its better to start your day early…. Everything shuts down after five in the evening. You won’t even find gas stations open to refuel your car. But at the same time there are outlets that sell all the emergency needs (a.k.a. fuel, booze)… off course at a higher price. Being a dry state you wont’ find any wine shops. The shady watering holes are better left unattended…. But if your observation is sharp you’ll find booze even in the basic provision stores!
Kohima is a place which can be enjoyed only if you are a traveler who enjoys bending the rules and the unusual. Having friends is always an added bonus, because after dark the place is lifeless…. So if you can equip yourself with a four wheeler and the right people around you, you might never miss the big city night life of the metros….
At dusk we’ve driven to hillocks…. at times parked the car across the road and kept gazing at the entire town…the view is breathtaking…. You might get the feeling that all the stars have touched down! And stars…..! I don’t recall when was the last time I saw millions of stars shining so brightly….! And off course you’ll see so many shooting stars that you might exhaust your entire wish list too!