What a waistcoat: in which we visit a rival village

22 10 2015

what a waistcoat

#2 guide with his unfailing smile and Naga waistcoat

After Jakhama, we drove to the nearby village of Kigwema.

Local materials

The two villages were once enemies, but reconciled 40 years ago. Because it did not co-operate with foreign troops during the war, Kigwema does not have any old buildings, but it did seem a little more prosperous than Jakhama.

agriculture outside the village


heart of the village

With her fans

morning walk

Morning walk

a modern morung

another village, another morung

all the flowers


a matter of pride

you can't have too many plants




Local call available

local call available

Christian Revival Church

Revival time

Christian Revival Church

local transport

Not going far

village information

Towards the summit

— words by Elizabeth
— pictures by Paul & Elizabeth
— more pictures in Assam & Nagaland album and Kohima album.


Proud father: in which we visit our first village in Nagaland

20 10 2015

proud father

Having forbidden our ailing Australian anything but plain rice for dinner, we generously allowed her to eat a boiled egg and dry toast for breakfast. It was quite the task stopping her eating unsuitable things while she was still recovering from the gastric infection, involving many resounding choruses of ‘NO! NO! NO!’ from the rest of the group at mealtimes and on the bus. She did thank us in the end, after she’d recovered.

After breakfast we left for the village of Jakhama, belonging to people of the Angami tribe. (The population of Nagaland is comprised of 16 major tribes with individual cultures.) Jakhama was all tiny, footpaths winding up and down the hillside, full of flowers and beautifully stacked firewood.

location, location, location

Tin roofs

flowers improve everything


as above, so below

flowers everywhere

It’s a very well-preserved village with traditional old buildings. This is because during WW2 the village co-operated with the Japanese troops and was therefore spared. Villages that refused to give aid were destroyed. Both British and Japanese forces used the villages and took advantage of existing antagonisms between communities.

Each village has a communal building called a morung, like a village hall, in which, traditionally, the boys all sleep once they are over the age of about seven. The morung, the village gates, and the houses are decorated with images of the mithun – an animal very like a bull – mostly in a very stylised form, or in some instances with actual skulls.

traditional roof

never enough wood


mithuns make handy shelves

state animal

not just paintings

The village made much use of rescued and recycled materials, creating so many walls of marvellous texture and pattern that we went a bit wall-crazy:



let in the light

a different wall




One of us was, unsurprisingly, concentrating on what had been painted on the walls.

Good message

Make the right choice

Grid and spiral

There were huge churches around the village, all with signs indicating their denomination, and suggesting a rather ‘People’s Front of Judea’ situation. We saw huge, man-sized baskets for storing rice, pet monkeys, beautiful dogs, colourful cockerels and many baby chicks, a few cats, happy children, and lots of graves. The graves were everywhere, in people’s back yards, in the walls, in the street, and new houses are built with basement burial chambers and holes in the walls ready to received bodies. Everyone greeted us with great friendliness, including the drunken man we encountered. It’s a dry state and the villages are dry, but #1 guide observed that it’s the part of India in which he has seen the most drunks.

picture this

Robot boy

watching the tourists

The children were in their church-going finery, it being Good Friday.

— words by Elizabeth
— pictures by Paul & Elizabeth
— more pictures in Assam & Nagaland album and Kohima album.

Kohima shines: in which we stare out of the window for a long time

18 10 2015

Poured boxes

Before lunch, from Kaziranga to Dimapur, we’d been travelling along smooth, wide roads; the national or state highway. There was very little traffic but lots of rain, and no view through the bus windows because of the condensation. One of us occupied themselves with crochet, the other with music. We crossed two police checkpoints without problems, but starting to see people with guns. Lots of guns. Everyone appeared to be carrying them, including children and youths, something we would have to try and get used to in Nagaland.

After lunch, the rain had dried up and though the roads from Dimapur to Kohima were smooth, they were very winding and not conducive to crochet (though the music was unaffected). Anyway, the windows had cleared and it was interesting to stare out of the window, reading the signs, noting what was familiar and what was different. There were lots of pots of flowers outside the shops and homes, and lots of ‘educational’ signs about earthquakes, about the dangers of smoking, about HIV/AIDS.

We approached Kohima late in the afternoon towards sunset. Lovely mountains. Clouds. Evening light. Kohima spread across the peaks and pooled in the dip between. It looked shiny and white in the sun and from a distance, but the buildings are actually rather colourful and tightly packed on steep roads. The churches are huge and numerous.

on the spot

Kohima sprawls

Our hotel, The Orchid Boutique Hotel, was down a very narrow winding street and seemed very urban and unwelcoming. The rooms, and the staff, however, were very pleasant. Our room had a bathroom bigger than many hotel rooms we’ve stayed in, and our balcony had a spectacular view over the city.

Flower entry

balcony view

Skeletal worship

look the other way

We drank a smuggled beer on the balcony and listened to a Christian rock group rehearsing nearby.

“One way, Jesus, you’re the only one that I believe for…”

They didn’t have a big repertoire, so we were soon more familiar than we really wanted to be with ‘one-way Jesus’. Drums okay, guitars almost there, vocals less so.

Kohima by night

A blaze in the night

Spilt light

— words by Elizabeth & Paul
— pictures by Paul & Elizabeth
— more pictures in Assam & Nagaland album and Kohima album.

Scooped: in which we avoid looking at meat

16 10 2015


Before starting today’s journey we sat around at the hotel reading the local newspapers. The favourite headline, and one we should have photographed, was “Two Held With Arms”.

We finally set off two hours behind schedule and, abandoning all plans to stop along the way, arrived in Dimapur, Nagaland in time for lunch. Number 2 guide ordered lunch for us, while number 1 guide led us on a stroll around the nearby market.

The walk to/from the market was at least as interesting as the market, starting from the classic 70s hotel, built on a much greater scale than expected.

Strong windows

We then walked by a small shopping complex, again very 1970s and looking like it had seen little use since then.

Better days to come?

Then along a busy concrete colonnade, still in the 1970s.

On the way home

Medical supplies

…finally we arrive at the market

by the sackful

Awaiting customers


Our guide bought one of these gigantic knives to take home with him. We would have liked one too, but we were travelling home by plane, not train.

not allowed on the plane

after the rains

all kinds of chillies

We were told they sell dog at this market, but we studiously avoided the meat section. (We don’t really understand being squeamish about some meat, but not others – we are squeamish about all meat.)

We walked back along the colonnade, and past the auto-stand back to the hotel for lunch (which again was much better than the surroundings would suggest). The restaurant had place mats with various local world records. Did you know that the largest ever guitar ensemble was in Nagaland? You do now.

Food and drink here


— words by Elizabeth & Paul
— pictures by Paul & Elizabeth
— more pictures in Assam & Nagaland album and Dimapur album.

Pattern, texture, colour: in which we fail to leave on time and buy a tea tray instead

14 10 2015

how to make an entrance

We should have started the day with an early departure for Nagaland but one of our fellow travellers needed a visit to the doctor (successful: she soon recovered). Making the most of the extra time, we went for a walk through the village and along the main road, enjoying the inevitable photo opportunities.

all the features

Use of colour

how to make an entrance

red gates

Entrance instructions

someone's piece of heaven

Squares meet

signs and graphics

Three together

Join the AJYP

Come rain or shine

When the heavens opened we took refuge in a cane furniture shop, making ourselves at home on the products. We also indulged in some light retail therapy, buying three tea trays betweens us. Ours was an excellent buy that we use most days.

outside the shop

The morning's journey

brutally assamese


Shrine to concrete

When it rained again we took shelter in a small chai stall, where our guide enjoyed time chatting with the Nepali proprietor. There was no sign of the rain ever stopping so we called the bus to collect us.

the chai wallah's arm

A very welcome refuge

— words by Paul & Elizabeth
— pictures by Paul & Elizabeth
— more pictures in Assam & Nagaland album and Kaziranga album.

An actual hornbill: in which we fail to find tigers

12 10 2015

Our elderly Australian fellow-traveller announced, as three of us moaned about our aching legs, that she is a masseur, fully trained in therapeutic massage. Before lunch one of us took advantage of her offer to treat us all to a calf massage, and the other followed suit after lunch. That woman has magic fingers. The effects were immediate and lasting; getting in and out of the jeep for our third safari of the day in Kaziranga National Park became manageable. (Our third walker got her massage before dinner.)

Having seen so much wild life in the morning, our jeep drivers decided that our afternoon safari would be dedicated to finding tigers. This meant we had a long drive along the road to the area where the tigers were known to be, and then spent the rest of the trip listening for warning calls, racing off in the indicated direction and then sitting waiting and watching the drivers scan the horizon and react excitedly to deer calls. We didn’t see any tigers, but they were apparently close by. It wasn’t a disappointment, and we still saw lots more birds and deer.

Towards the end of the safari it got quite dark and cold, and threatened to rain. At this point our jeep decided it had had enough and twice refused to start. Fortunately the problem turned out to be something that could be fixed by hitting the engine with a piece of wood, so we didn’t have to worry about too close encounters with tigers. It was at this point that the guide in the other jeep spotted a hornbill, symbol of Nagaland, and something we hadn’t seen before – perfectly timed to raise our spirits.

an actual hornbill

The storm didn’t arrive until we were safely tucked up in bed, but though the drive back to the hotel wasn’t wet it was cold and dusty and a big dupatta was needed for warmth and for protection from the dust and wind.

— words by Elizabeth
— pictures by Elizabeth
— more pictures in Assam & Nagaland album and Kaziranga album.

Crested serpent eagle, with serpent: in which we go on a jeep safari

10 10 2015

Watch out

After our elephant safari and then breakfast, we headed out again at 8:30am back to Kaziranga National Park for an optional jeep safari. One our of group, feeling rather under the weather, decided to stay at the hotel, so we ended up with two open jeeps each with two tourists in the back and one of our two guides in the front with the driver. We were happy to be in the real, old, battered jeep that showed evidence of having been repaired many times over many years. As it turned out, the driver as well as the vehicle was the real deal, with an phenomenal talent for spotting and identifying wildlife.

Among the things we saw were: rhinos, buffalo, storks of many kinds, deer, sambar, vultures, a crested serpent eagle with a snake in its talons, a changeable hawk eagle, wild elephants, common kingfisher, pied kingfisher, India roller, herons – including a purple heron, pelicans, Assam roofed turtles sunning themselves, wild boar, lesser adjutant storks…

crested serpent eagle, with serpent

crested serpent eagle, with serpentwild boar

wild boar

just a drongo – not rare, but I like the photo

just a drongo

a family of elephants

family with mynahs

the wild ones

and more

jungle full of elephants


stork reflections

tree full of storks

changeable hawk eagle

changeable hawk eagle

nesting vulture

vulture's nest

open-billed stork – dismissed by our guides as very common, but not at all common for us

open-billed stork

pied kingfisher

pied kingfisher

Indian roller

Indian roller

Whenever we saw cows or buffalo, each one seemed to be equipped with its own personal egret

my own personal egret

Personal Egret became one of the songs of the trip.

An added architectural bonus of this part of the Park were the observation towers: elegant modernist structures, both functional and beautiful.

Lake view

— words by Elizabeth & Paul
— pictures by Elizabeth & Paul
— more pictures in Assam & Nagaland album and Kaziranga album.

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