By Oken Jeet Sandham
Most of these areas are highly potential for making tourist destinations if they are properly developed with basic infrastructures. Rural tourism can really be developed and that will give economic and social benefits to the rural people. This is also one development that will discourage the exodus of rural people to the urban areas searching for their livelihood.
With this idea in mind, Speaker of Nagaland Legislative Assembly Chotisuh Sazo organized a whole day survey on May 31 with a team that included tour operators, officials and media persons to many sites which are highly potential for the development and promotion of tourism.
After briefing all of us by the Speaker, the team under his stewardship left Kohima at about 8:00 AM for a day’s trip to survey many sites highly prospective for the development of tourist circuits. The route is Kohima-Mao Gate-Makhel-Khezhakeno- Pfutsero- Phesachodou- Thepuzu- Chesezu-Chozuba-Kohima. It is like a one-day tour package.
We reached Mao Gate, Manipur at about 9:00 AM and had early lunch there. Generally, travelers stop and have food, besides buying local fresh fruits and vegetables here. Hundreds of passenger vehicles ply on this NH 39 daily and have stopover at this bazaar. Every tourist passing through this historic bazaar can visit the Mao Village which also preserves 2nd World War wreckages. Foreign goods are also sold here at relatively cheaper rates. Travelers can enjoy shopping here.
Then we left for the Makhel Village. It is about 10-minute drive from Mao Gate. The Village bears the testimony of the Nagas. The Makhel Village holds a central place in Naga tradition in connection with a belief that the Nagas at one point of time settled here and later dispersed to their present areas of habitation. The village of Makhel and the surrounding areas have several historical as well as mythological monuments and relics that are of interest to ethnographers, historians and cultural anthropologists. Monolith written about the significance of the Nagas is still preserved at this village.
Some village elders narrated us the importance the village.
After spending about 40 minutes at the Makhel Village, we proceeded to Chida Lake which lies at the periphery of Khazhakenoma Village under Phek district. The Lake can have boating facilities and variety of fishes which can give attraction to tourists. You can move around the scenic green hilltops which surround the Lake. Form the hilltops; you can see the beautiful Tungjoy Village of Manipur. In fact, the areas are pristine sceneries which will have vast tourist fascination.
We had light refreshment at the hilltop overlooking the Tungjoy Village before proceeding to Khezhakenoma Village.
On the way to Khezhakenoma Village, you will find a wayside Medicinal Plant Conservation Area where herbal nursery of locally available medical plants is maintained. The locally found Naga ginseng and other medicinal herbs are grown in the place. Many of us were thrilled seeing at the way medicinal plants were grown in this place, more so of the Naga ginseng plants. These unique herbal medicinal plants will give a charm blend to the tourists. The tourists can also get treated if they so desired.
While going to Khezhakenoma Village, you will come across Zuketsa junction. There is a monolith erected which had inscription written of a friendship treaty between the Phesachodouma and Khuzha Netho Ketshu. It said a stone got split into two. One erected at this Zuketsa Junction while the other at Phesachodou village with the same inscriptions of the friendship treaty written.
At Khezhakenoma Village, historical objects are still preserved. The Speaker was kind enough narrating the significance of the Village. C Kemvu Koza, Village Council Chairman, also shared of the Village’s history. Visitors will never return without knowing the story of this village.
After spending about an hour at Khezhakenoma Village, we set out for the next destination towards Pfutsero Town. Pfutsero Town is the commercial hub in the Phek district. We inspected the Mini Tourist Lodge maintained by the Pfuteromi Women Welfare Society. The double-bedded room is charged at Rs 700 while twin-bedded at Rs 500. They are bathroom-toilet attached and reasonably cleaner and cheaper. Sazo also personally checked all the rooms, dining and conference halls and the records of visitors.
Pfutsero headquarters has two Tourist Lodges and a few hotels. And accommodations for the tourists should not be the problem. The town also has a Baptist Theological College and also Government College. Churches of various denominations add to the beauty of the town. From the Mini Tourist Lodge you can not only see the complete town but also beautiful pristine peripheries of the magnificent town.
From here, we proceeded to Pfutsero’s Glory Peak. From this Glory Peak, you can see the birth’s eye view of Pfutsero Town. Picnics, workshops, meetings etc. can be organized in this place. This place can also be one of the tourist circuits as they can see the town, far off Chakhesang villages and even Kohima and Manipur.
Speaker was narrating every nook and corner of Pfutsero Town to us and the tour operators while having our 2nd light lunch here. Sometimes, we joked with him that “your head is the dictionary of Chakhesang areas.” Although he is Speaker of the Nagaland Assembly, he acted like a tour guide to all of us. In fact before setting out for the trip, he briefed all of us at his official residence saying that, “Today, I will be your tour guide and not as Speaker of Nagaland Assembly.” We spent about one-and-half hours here.
Then we again proceeded towards Phesachodou village. The Speaker is from this village. His village has cultural significance and that is widely known to outsiders. The villagers can present variety of traditional dances and songs to the visitors at the drop of a hat. It is a cultural hub itself. This could be one of the important tourist destinations.
On the way to Chesezu Village, one can see K-Basa Village below the highway. This village has been declared as “Green Village” with all village house roofs painted green under the initiative of Sazo in 2010 when he was Parliamentary Secretary for Social Welfare.
And before reaching Chesezu Village, we had one stopover at Thepuzu hilltop. It was leveled purposely to construct a new village church there.
From this hilltop, you can see a very steep mountain peak called Curhanyi from where it said the Naga army shot an Indian army chopper that was carrying a GOC. He was grievously injured. In retaliation, the Indian army started herding the village male folks but the GOC ordered not to harass them.
The last and the most important one come here. That is Chesezu Village where one of the historical significances took place during the infamous 2nd World War. The leader of the Indian National Army (INA), Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, came to this village and lived here. The villagers extended material helps to Netaji and his INA troops during their stay in the village. In memory of him, a Committee constituted started constructing a Memorial Center of him. A huge statue of Netaji carved out of stone in sitting position yet to be given a final touch is also here. Near the statue, there is a spring well from where Netaji used to fetch water for his personal use. All these important places including the spring well are still well preserved. Just one km away from the statue, a guest house with amphitheater in the name of Netaji Memorial Center is about to be completed. This will be one of the important tourist destinations once it is dedicated.
So the survey of the tour mapping is unique in the sense that “one-day complete tour package” can be organized - Kohima to Mao Gate to Makhel to Chida Lake to Medicinal Plant Conservation Area to Khezhakenoma Village to Pfutsero and visit Glory Peak at Pfutsero and from there have a birth’s eye view of the town (Pfutsero). Then proceed to Chesezu Village to have a final look at the INA Chief Netaji Shubas Chandra Bose Memorial Center. On the way to Chesezu, one can still enjoy looking at the green village of K-Basa Village and also visit Thepuzu maintain peak from where one can see a very steep and historic mountain peak called Curhanyi from where the Naga army shot an Indian army chopper that was carrying a GOC who suffered grievous injury.
In fact, ecotourism has become one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry, growing by 10-15% worldwide. One definition of ecotourism is “the practice of low-impact, educational, ecologically and culturally sensitive travel that benefits local communities and host countries.”
Rural tourism can thrive as we can showcase our rural life, art, culture and heritage at rural locations and in villages, which have core competence in art and craft, handloom, and textiles as also as asset base in the natural environment. The rural tourism will also give economic dividends to local communities so also socially. By developing rural tourism, there will be economic development in the villages and thereby preventing the exodus of rural people to the urban areas.
Source: Asian Tribune