Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Kohima - Proud Capital of Nagaland

We had actually stayed in Kohima when we first arrived in Nagaland, but due to trips elsewhere and Susanna getting sick we didn't actually see much so we went back on a day trip along with Magdalene, Elizabeth and her boyfriend Toka.

Kohima is the proud capital of Nagaland. While Dimapur down on the plains is the largest city and the most important commercial part, Kohima situated in hilly land is undoubtedly the cultural and political heart of Nagaland. It may look large on the picture above, but in fact less than 100,000 people live there. The imposing, white building on the hill top to the left is the brand new Police Headquarters.

Despite being a fairly small town Kohima has major trouble supplying it's inhabitant with basic amenities such as electricity and water, especially the latter. In fact the town has more or less given up on delivering tap water and most of Kohima's inhabitants must have water driven to their house by large road tankers. This explains that, whereas Kohima is a wonderfully charming city for the tourist, Dimapur holds a much larger appeal to the locals.

A very large, beautiful gate on the way to Kohima.

Kohima holds a very special place in world history. This is where the WWII Japanese advance into mainland Asia was finally halted by allied British-led troops. This is the British War Cemetary situated on the exact location of part the battle in 1944. It occupies a high ground with fine views to Kohima town surrounding it.

Much of the initial fighting in the Battle of Kohima was centred around the deputy commisioner's besieged Bungalow, where the war cemetery now is. A big cross has been erected on the spot where the most heavy fighting took place, but the outline of what was originally here has been preserved: A tennis court. Enlarge the picture if you don't see it.

The War Cemetery is an extraordinarily neat and well kept place, probably due to the fact that it is still under the direct financing and control of the British.

Above you see one of the countless tombstones. In these days of vilification of certain ethnicities and religions, a sober reminder that many Indians of all faiths fought and paid with their lives to defeat fascim. This particular soldier named Muhammad was 21 years old.

Elizabeth and her boyfriend Toka sharing a moment at the war cemetery.

This is the high profile Cathedral of Kohima. It was built after the war with considerable financial support from Japanese survivors of the battle of Kohima. It was meant to be a symbol of reconciliation and forgiveness.

WARNING: Once again I will show some pictures that might be unpleasant to sensitive people, especially those that feel strongly about animal rights. They are not as gory as last post's pictures so no asterisks around the warning this time.

Once again we visited a local market, and once again we saw some unusual stuff. On the banana leaves you see tomatoes, squash, scallions and then of course red worms in the plastic buckets and HUGE cream coloured worms next to them. Even better notice what is hanging on the wooden post in the right side of the picture. Yes, that's right: Rats, and living ones even.

Don't they look yummy?

Elsewhere in the market a bunch of large frogs have met with a destiny not any better. Still alive they are packed into plastic bags ready to be carried away. Not the best place for animal rights activists (or perhaps it is).

Elsewhere in town roosters fight for the safe corner in the cage to avoid being tonight's soup.


Alison said...

Hi there,
Thanks for adding me to your links list. I'm enjoying reading through your adventures and you have some great photos here!


oreneta said...

OK, I have avoided this question in an attempt to look dignified and couth (is that a word? You can be uncouth, so why not...)

Anyway, I am dying to find out if you have knowingly eaten any of the meat products that most westerners would find rather shall we say, extreme? Slug anyone?

You can of course ignore this question with great dignity, but I am dying to know. Frogs, they don't count, the French eat them all the time...

Esben said...


Thanks you and likewise :)


I don't mind answering your question, although it might not be a horribly interesting answer. I have in fact never eaten rat, frogs or dog. I did have the questionable pleasure of eating bamboo worms and silk worms, but that was in Thailand 3-4 years back (and only because I was drunk!). The bamboo worm was crisp and fairly nice, but the silk worm was very gooey on the inside and certainly not anything I would recommend.

The truth is that these days I stay more or less on a vegetarian diet, when traveling and even at home (perhaps meat once or twice a week). Back in Denmark I used to be a proud meat eater, but since coming to India I have realised that I can live quite well on a mostly vegetarian diet. India is undoubtedly the best place for vegetarian food in the world: About half the population are strict vegetarians and therefore tons of good veg. recipes are common knowledge here.

I do get a craving for a big steak once a while though. So I'm not completely off the meat bandwagon.

oreneta said...

Thank you for your honesty...We also are near vegetarians, although we tend to jokingly refer to ourselves as opportunists, we don't buy meat for all manner of environmental and health and financial reasons, but if someone tosses some good looking meat in front of us...we're right there.

I like to think I am open minded, and I have eaten sea-cucumber - picture old leather that has been left in water for several months till it is slimy, then stir-fry it. I have to confess, your endorsment of silk-worms will probably keep them off my plate for a while.

anaga said...

I am appalled by comments on Kohima food market. is this the way an educated person comments on a people's choice of food? Frogs? For a dish made from frog legs you will pay in Euros in France -- but I suppose that is high culture, Nouvou cuisine? Shame on you for harping about animal rights. would you like to ban all meat production in the West?????? And think of it you are marrying a Naga and do not quite respect the choice of food people from her land make? Yes many Naga do not eat dog meat but there are many others who do--it is regarded as therapeutic. Come on, going around taking photos of meat stalls and pretending queasiness, what is this hypocrisy.

Esben said...

Hi Anaga

Firstly, let me say that many Nagas including my wife have read the post without taking any offense, so I don't think this is as insulting as you have made it out to be in your mind.

Let me answer your comments one by one:

As for the general point of respect for the food choise of Nagas, I don't see where I show any disrespect. I have no problem with people eating worms, rats or even dog. It's not something I would wish to eat for myself (just as you would probably find a few things from my country's cuisine a little unappetitely), but I'm not disrespecting anyone for eating such things. Each to his own. What this post was meant to convey was simply the exoticness of the food items here, seen from a Western perspective. Perhaps I invoked some sort of ickiness factor, yes, but there is absolutely no value judgement in the post on the issue of food choice.

And no, I do not wish to ban all meat production in the West, just as I would not want to ban meat production in Nagaland. But I do believe that some standards of animal rights should be adhered to in the process. And just as I don't sympathise with Westerners transporting pigs, chickens etc. in tiny cages over long distances, I don't particularly like it in other places either - including India and Nagaland. Again, I have no issue with people eating frog whether they are French, Nagas or whatever, but it does make me a bit uncomfortable seeing so many live frogs crammed into a tiny plastic bag. This is not in my opinion anything I should be ashamed of. Neither is it hypocricy in my opinion, unless you make the assumption that I favour everything which is done in the West - but obviously I don't. Perhaps you don't care for animal rights, in which case we simply have a difference of opinion. But simply disagreeing with you does not equate hypocrisy.

I think this answers your points.



Sun Tzu's disciple said...


frogs & snails are French delicacies
many cultures may not appreciate the sausages made from animal intestines common in west..or the dishes made from hooves of hogs, or tongues..so theres nothing ' unwestern' about the Naga food..you simply eat what is available in your neighbourhood.

The commercially grown silkworm & bamboo worms dont hold a candle to the plump organic ones from the Northeast, believe me :)

Sun Tzu's disciple said...

the last paragraph was to contrast the tasteless THAILAND grubs with northeast one sorry ;)

kranthi P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.