The name of Khonoma came from an oil bearing plant which grew abundantly in the area when the first settlers arrived. Locally called “Khwüno”, its scientific name is Glouthera Fragrantissima.
Khonoma was famous for its resistance to British intrusion into the Naga Hills in the 19th Century. It was in this famous Naga village that the last battle with the British took place in 1879-80, lasting over four months. This warrior village made the British Empire change its policy several times as to whether to come to the Naga Hills as they saw no economic advantage. But, later, this was to prove crucial in saving the British Empire from ignominious defeat and humiliation during the World War II when the Japanese forces, along with the Indian National Army arrived and the Battle of Kohima became the turning point of the War in the Asian Theatre.
Khonoma Village is 20 km drive from Kohima. Built on a high spur and trickling down the hill to its fields, this village is worth visiting just for its spectacular views of mountains, waterfalls, and its varied and beautiful orchids.
The Nagas are fiercely proud of Khonoma, for this is where Naga fighters made a last stand against the British in 1879. On approaching the village, you will see memorial stones commemorating the Feast of Merit. Walking up a steep flight of stone steps, through a traditional carved gate, you reach the highest point of the village. This is where the battle took place; you will see a white pillar memorializing some of the British and Indian soldiers who died here.
Khonoma’s paddy terraces are famous for allegedly producing 20 distinct varieties of rice, each specific to the elevation and soil condition of a field.
The Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctury (KNCTS) was set up by the people of Khonoma in 1998 to rear the Blythe’s Tragopan pheasant. The 70 sq km sanctuary is the privately owned and managed by the villagers of Khonoma.
Khonoma was not just a leader in battles and wars. It led in other ways too. In keeping with their culture and value/knowledge systems the people of Khonoma were well versed in conservation methods. In 2004, recognising the efforts of the village, the Government of Nagaland and Government of India initiated Khonoma as the first Green Village in India. Ecological and Community tourism was made an alternative for village people to earn their living.