Dimapur is Nagaland’s largest city with a history that goes back to the Middle Ages. Formerly the ancient capital of the Dimasa Kachari kings during the 10th–13th centuries, today it is a bustling trade and commercial centre that still displays several vestiges of its glorious past. From ancient fort ruins to unusual totemic memorials, temples, trenches, embankments and baths, Dimapur is a window to a rich heritage and culture. Being the only flat tract of land in an otherwise hilly region it also has the only airport and railhead to the remote North Eastern state, making it a gateway to Nagaland.
Named after the great River Dhansiri running through it, Dimapur translates to ‘Great city by the river’, (di-river, ma-great or big, pur –city). The remains of the ancient fort’s brick gateway at Kachari Rajbari Park, offers testimony to the architectural legacy of the Kachari Dynasty. Particularly noteworthy are the phallus-like carved stone megaliths, some 20ft tall, commonly called Chessman Figures that hint at elaborate rituals of the fertility cult besides excavated trenches and the royal tanks like Rajpukhuri, Padampukhuri, Bamunpukhuri and Jorpukhuri. The scenic Green Park run by the State Horticulture Department is a local haunt for boating and leisure. For a hands-on scientific experience that may fascinate children, visit the Nagaland Science Centre.
Dimapur weather is similar to what it is like in other parts of India, hot during summers and pleasant to cold during winters. When on your holiday here, take a short drive to popular attractions around Dimapur like Sumi Town Baptist Church (1km), venue of The Children Music Festival, scenic Triple Waterfalls in Chumukedima Village (24km) and the nearby Rangapahar Reserve Forest or the Nagaland Zoological Park (6km) showcasing the local flora and fauna.
With sixteen main tribes in the state, the Naga table packs a variety of traditional indigenous dishes and a share of common staples. However, many restaurants offer familiar north Indian items, Chinese and Tibetan cuisines since visitors assume that Nagaland is notorious for its unconventional non-vegetarian fare. Few know about the many vegetarian dishes to be relished here. Although authentic local food is best sampled in homes, a few restaurants have it on their menu.
With Nagaland’s Music Task Force (MTF), the State-initiative to promote and encourage music as a profession, you can catch regular gigs organized by the immensely talented local folk. To really get under the skin of Dimapur’s music scene, peek into Upstairs, a small but lively performance space and club for great music, a cool crowd and good food. Everyone knows about it but nobody wants to share this little secret! It’s easy to miss this hidden gem located unobtrusively in an apartment on Walford Road. Keep up with them on Facebook to keep abreast of the calendar of events as various music shows are held through the year that showcase incredible talent.
Dimapur’s sprawling Hong Kong Market is the local favourite for imported goods and branded apparel and accessories from Thailand, Korea and Myanmar at reasonable prices. If you like something more tribal and ethnic, visit Diezephe Craft Village, 13km from Dimapur to witness artisans working on bamboo, cane crafts and handloom weaving that have endured for centuries. This is the best place to pick traditional yet, atypical souvenirs. Several shops in the city and market areas have vibrant handicrafts, shawls and stoles, exquisite beadwork trinkets, decorative Naga spears, handwoven jackets and bags, besides eco-souvenirs made of wood, bamboo and cane.
Top tourist attraction and one of the biggest annual bashes, The Hornbill Festival in the first week of December is a fantastic annual seven-day cultural extravaganza of feasting, dancing, music and games that also features The Hornbill Rock Contest. It takes place near the outskirts of Kohima at the Naga Heritage Village of Kisama, 86km from Dimapur.
|3rd Mile, Dimapur, Nagaland 797115||DMU|