Monday, 22 January 2007

Khonoma Village

Our first day in Nagaland was used for an outing to Khonoma, a picturesque village an hour's drive from the capital Kohima. Khonoma, a village of the Angami tribe, was the cradle of the Naga national movement, and indeed this is where the Nagas made their last stand against the invading British in 1879.

Khonoma seen from a neighbouring hill. The village occupies a small hill and is completely dominated by green tin roofs.

A closer look at the village's green roofs. Notice also the ring made of square stones at the bottom of the hill. This is a gathering place for people in the village to have meetings or feasts.

Adding greatly to the charm of Khonoma is the fact that it is surrounded on three sides by rice terraces. Allegedly more than 30 types of rice are grown here, each suited for it's particularly type of soil and altitude. Maybe that explains the different colours of the terraces.

Some of the rice even seems to be under water.

A colourful wooden Naga relief.

A memorial to martyrs fighting for the cause of an Independant Naga homeland, a yet unfulfilled goal. This particular memorial covers the years from 1956-1992, so these must be people resisting central Indian rule over Nagaland. The flag on the top is Nagaland's unofficial national flag.

More houses in the peaceful village being hit by the last rays of the sun setting behind nearby hills.

Wild apples drying in the sun on one of the few non-slated roofs.

We got invited into the homes of one of the elderly ladies in the village. We were served rice beer and sat and talked by the fire. A very basic, but atmospheric home.

a view of the kitchen. Notice the plates on the wall. They have built-in legs meaning it can stand on the floor like a mini-table, letting you eat directly from it.

Susanna walking down a path to the lowest part of the village with her niece Alovi on her back.

Alovi safely resting in her aunt's arms.

An amazing Naga pavillion with a fantastic view near Khonoma. It is literally hanging over the edge.


fido said...

Hi Esben,

I'm looking for travel-related writing on Delhi and North India for a book. Would you be interested in the project. Please contact me at: if you are and then we can take it from there. Hoping to hear from you soon.

warm regards

oreneta said...

Esben, Your photos continue to be amazing...that form of rice cultivation is SO labour intensive isn't it....what a lovely place to get a chance to see.

sidvicious said...

Esben interesting pictures..... more interesting is the fact that those "martyrs" are dead insurgent that are disrupting the peace and tranquility of the Indian Union and are still delusional to not accepting the fact that they are a part of the Union!!

God pictures otherwise... Cheers from the other part of INDIA

Esben said...

Thanks for your comment Sid.

It's a difficult debate. I certainly won't endorse terrorism in any form, but on the other hand I also know first hand the hurt and resentment many Nagas still bear in their hearts because they never got the independent homeland they were promised by Nehru. And I also know that the vast majority of Nagas, don't feel the least bit Indian.

I don't know the background of those people honoured in Khonoma (whether they were militants or not, whether they target civilians or only military targets), but still I can't help wonder if their position is so different from that of the Indian martyrs who rebelled against British rule in 1857. Isn't the only difference that their goal of independence from outside rule is still unfulfilled? After all the victor writes the history books.

I think most Nagas DO realise that there is little chance of withdrawing from the Union by now, and thus I think most have lost sympathy for the armed resistance (also because the armed resistance aren't very good neighbours, since they consider themselves above the law). But that doesn't necessarily stop them from honouring those who fought for a Naga homeland in a different time, when the Nagas were brought into a Union they never wished to join.

Manzhuna said...

Hi Esben , How are you? I am manzhuna from chennai(South India).I worked in nagaland a year ago as a teacher.Its marvellous , Full of news , exciting and bizarre to look for yours amateur photograph and Consequently I am experiences your trip and way of life .
Håbe på at på gensyn og nitoli. Hjertelig hilsen


Sao Tunyi said...

Hey Esben,you have nice photos there.I'm a naga in Delhi..How do u know so well about nagas?

Esben said...

Hi Manzhuna and Sao

Thanks for stopping by my little site here.

Sao, to answer your question, I am married to a Naga girl, so it is mostly through her and her friends from back home that I have learned a lot of things about Nagaland.

All the best,


dire said...

Hi Esben,

besides working in IT sector, UR a really great photographer. ur pictures sure do tell a million words!
m happy u married one of my kind( m from Nagaland too). and m more happy about the way u tell our story and present us thro ur beautiful pictures. lets hope U keep posting more.
May U and ur lovely wife have a blessed n happy life!!

kind regards,
Meru. New Delhi.

Esben said...

Hi Meru,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. If you like the posts from Nagaland you should stay tuned for more. I am going back to Nagaland in November and will be posting more after that.

All the best,


avizinyu said...

Hi Esben,
I'm presently serving as an Officer of the Indian Army and happens to be from Khonoma Village (the only one so far). I saw the photographs of the village you posted with some feelings of nostalgia. My heart is also warmed by the deep unprejudiced understanding and the intimacy you have for Khonoma and her people.

My best wishes for all your future endeavours.
Zinyu (

Esben said...

Hi Avizinyu

Thanks for your greeting, and interesting story you have. I knew there were some nagas in the Indian army, but never met one :)

I recently visited Khonoma a second time with my parents and brother and will publish more posts about that (but that will be some time from now).

My Friends said...

Hi Esben,

your beautiful photos made me feel more home. I really love to see me village fotos in your blog. Do come visit again.

Asa said...

Esben, sorry I could not help commenting about sidvicuos said on your post here. Thanks for your honesty when you say that you don't know enough about the background of our people to call those who sacrificed their lives as martyrs or terrorist militants. Well, being from Khonoma myself, with a lot of patriotic blood still running in me, I would like sidvicious to know that those 'dead insurgents' were people just like us who wished to live in freedom without causing any harm to any other fellow men but which they were not able to do so. Yes, if we compare them with the present generation nationalists, or those who claim to be one, those were the most innocent bloods shed. And among those in the dead list, there were many who were not even in the military wing of the resistance but innocent civilians who got killed in the process. We still hold their blood precious in our hearts and salute them.

Asa said...

nice phots, btw :)

Esben said...

Hi Asa,

Thanks for your input. I'm glad you liked the photos - if you check the frontpage you'll see I just put up pictures from my second visit there.

George said...

Nostalgia. I used to work there in Khonoma quite some time back,(1974)in a school. It is indeed a beautiful place ! The trek from Zuza Hydro project was terrific-- oh the pear orchards and the fig orchards were such wonderful places!

Esben said...

Hi George,

Thanks for your comment - you stayed in Khonoma before I was even born! But I'm glad this post took you on a little stroll down memory lane.

Diz said...

Hi Esben
Seen your great photos, I feel proud of my village Khonoma as i am a member of it. please do visit us again.

grace said...

It is for insensitive highhanded people like Sidvicious that many Nagas still prefer to sacrifice our lives as true patriots rather than call ourselves Indians. I suggest that you don’t make such sweeping remarks about people through assumptions.

The pictures are amazing!

Kevi Aku Mor said...

Hai have you been to Dzulakie? Its a little away from Khonoma village. I have posted some pictures on my facebook. You must have enjoyed in Khonoma? Lovely pics