Khonoma: The land out there…

This historic Angami – Naga village was the site of two ferocious Anglo – Naga war in 1879 – 80 and Indo-Naga war in 1956. Fondly tucked between towering mountain ridges, with emerald paddy fields carpeting the valley, Khonoma looks artistically traditional.

Ever heard of a village that twice, brought the British army juggernaut in the North East to a halt and forced the Indian Army to suspend its military operations (though for some time) in the 1950s, at the height of battle against insurgency in the state. This is Khonoma, some 20 Kms off Kohima, with a population of 3000, and a past dating back to centuries. Fondly tucked between two mountain ridges, with a liberating view of terraced paddy fields, forming a sea of yellow tufts in the valleys between the crotches of the mountain ranges.

 

Khonoma_Nagaland

Battle lines are still drawn in Khonoma, but this time between sustainability and long held traditions. This story began two decades ago, with the slaughter of around 300 Blyth’s tragophan, a pheasant with stunning plumage and the state bird of Nagaland. This massacre made the village elders cognizant of impending eco-war and Khanoma’s conservation movement was born. Today, it is India’s only eco-village. Logging and hunting stands banned today, a herculean task considering hunting is a cultural right of the Nagas. In 1998, Khanoma village council reserved an area of 20 sq. Km as Tragophan Sanctuary, India’s one of the first community led sanctuary. Soon, the forests which had gone silent, was alive with the calls of Tragophan and other birds. But a ban on hunting in Nagaland, is a rich affair. There is increasing pressure from the youth to revive the hunting culture. They forced the council to open a hunting window in the last years. Hunting has revived but is limited and only to maintain the carrying capacity of the forests.

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Living on the edge: Imphal

A chubby faced Ima in the Imphal’s sprawling Ima’s market was talking in sing song Hindi and insisting me to buy her traditional Manipuri shawl. By then I had spent all cash I had with me and I chose to quickly drift through this group of sharp eyed Imas’ calling out from beside their towering stacks of handicraft products and shawls. From there I landed up in another cacophonous section of this one of its kind ‘all women’s market’, devoted to fresh produce. The section was filled with aroma of the freshly procured, fertilizer free, mostly organic produces. It’s a colour on display; the bright orange of oranges, the dangerous red of the famed killer chilli of North East and the lavish green of the pineapple, joined by beautifully scattered yellows, umbers, shades of blues and greens and delicate pink of lotus flowers. Continue reading