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Finding Shangri-La

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If you are on a quest of the unknown, head to Kohima—the mountainous capital city of Nagaland is India’s best-kept secret. Surprisingly, it is easily accessible and waiting to be discovered. The Niraamaya Retreats Aradura, Kohima lets you explore countryside living, surrounded by the enchanted beauty of the majestic mountains.

Kohima very rarely features on India’s tourism map. As a region, it is both pastoral and forest-swaddled—the perfect setting for Niraamaya Retreats Aradura, Kohima.

Untouched paradise of emerald green
The capital city of the predominantly tribal state, perched at an altitude of 1,495 metres above sea level, is blessed with deep valleys, meandering streams, and a rich landscape. The mountain city is just a three-hour drive from Dimapur, its nearest airport.

Much like Shangri-La, the beautiful fictional city described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton, Kohima lies hidden amidst impenetrable rainforests. Even Tolkien couldn’t have imagined a place so stunning. His fabled misty mountains of Middle Earth, about which he wrote in several of his books, seem inspired by the fog-draped mountains of Kohima. It is almost impossible to believe that such untouched beauty lies so close to a major airport and a national highway.

South of Kohima city is the resplendent Japfu Peak at 3,940 metres above sea level, which can be accessed from the Kigwema village. Dzükou Valley, right behind the peak, is crisscrossed by fresh water streams. The view from the top is glorious.

Dzükou Valley, also known as Nagaland’s Valley of Flowers, is covered with several varieties of white lilies and rhododendrons, especially in spring. The valley is part of the topography of the Tragopan sanctuary, and you’ll often witness herds of deer and elephants crossing it.

The Naga legacy
Kohima is the microcosm of everything that is fascinating about Nagaland’s culture. Every year, the charming city plays host to the unique and colourful Hornbill Festival.  A perfect introduction to Nagaland’s cultural fabric, it’s held at the Kisama heritage village near Kohima during the first week of December. Nagaland’s 16 tribes celebrate their culture with folk dances, theatre and indigenous sports like Naga wrestling. The festival gives travellers an opportunity to explore the tribal morungs (or sleeping huts) made with thatched roofs, bamboo furniture, log drums, and also sample their food. Adding a modern touch to this old festival are rock bands from all across the northeast of India, who perform under the star-spangled sky in the night. On sale are Naga dresses, shawls, jewellery, bamboo artefacts and artworks.

There is more to Kohima than just the festival. Aradura Hills, on which Niraamaya Retreats Aradura, Kohima is located, has immense historic significance. The tranquil surroundings give you no indication of its rather violent past. It was the location of the Battle of Kohima, which is often referred to as the Stalingrad of the East. The battle was the turning point of the Japanese U-Go offensive, against the British Empire, where the Allied Forces and Japanese soldiers clashed during World War II–eventually, forcing the latter to retreat.

At a walking distance from the retreat are some of Kohima’s best-known monuments. The Cathedral of Kohima has a gabled red-tiled roof, stained glass window, and architectural elements drawn from Naga houses. The Kohima War Cemetery has memorials dedicated to the soldiers who died in the Battle of Kohima and is located on a wooded spur on Garrison Hill, which is still maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

A walk through the colourful local bazaars will allow you a brief glimpse into the Naga lifestyle, especially their culinary choices. From wild mushrooms to honeycombs and all sorts of unusual meat, the marketplace is a treat to explore. Besides food, stores also sell artefacts, Naga shawls, bamboo furniture, and much more.

Kohima Local Grounds also host Naga-style wrestling competitions that are a lot of fun to watch.

A retreat in a magical setting

Niraamaya Retreats Aradura, Kohima is set within an old home of a family that came from Dimpaur, before they converted it into a lovely homestay, open only during the famous Hornbill festival. In 2017, Niraamaya Retreats stepped in and transformed it into a boutique luxury wellness retreat.  Aradura Hill is spangled with pine trees, fresh-water mountain streams and deep valleys, visible from most of the public and private spaces. The quaint retreat offers rooms with soul-stirring views of the glorious mountainous landscape.

Niraamaya has always had a holistic approach to luxury; its properties are famed for their excellent immersive wellness programmes. Niraamaya Retreats Aradura, Kohima is no different. You can indulge in various therapies at the Niraamaya Spa that are bound to rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. Soak in the mountain air and the scent of the pine trees while enjoying a meal including regional specialities and world cuisine. Head here with your family or friends to enjoy mountain-living against a perfect setting.

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