The Bara Basti literally means the ‘big village’ and is believed to be the second largest village in Asia. It forms the north eastern part of Kohima and is located on a high hill, facing the Kohima town. The village is known for its abundance in natural beauty, traditions, culture and handicrafts.
Bara Basti, also known as Kohima village, is considered as the point of origin of Kohima, and according to legends, was established by a man called Whinuo hence Kewhira, the original name. Bara Basti has a population of 13,705 people and 3965 households divided into four ‘khels’ – Dapfütsuma [D Khel], Lhisema [L Khel], Pfuchatsuma [P Khel], and Tsütsonuoma [T Khel]. ‘Khel’ is a distinct Naga institution that brings together several clans within the village community. Ones membership into a khel is either decided by birth or heredity. No village decision can be taken without a consensus from all Khels in the village thus making it the effective institution in village governance.
The village has a ceremonial and imposing gateway - the traditional entrance to all Naga villages. The gate is carved with motifs of warriors and guns the symbol of prosperity the ‘Mithun’ (The Indian Bison). The Naga houses have upright crossed horns crowning the house, carved mithun, ox heads to indicate the status of the owners, a huge basket granary in the verandah, and a trough used to make rice beer. The Nagas carve objects and handicrafts in teak, gaman khasu, and bonsurai wood, procured from nearby forests. These artefacts are associated with religious beliefs and practices, especially carvings of Mithun, hornbills and human figures, on the morungs, dormitories, for the youth that once functioned as centres of education, art and discipline.
The main handicrafts of Bara Basti which are exported include wooden carvings and Kophi – Cane baskets. The women keep themselves busy by weaving shawls and wraps which have distinctive colours and motifs due to their use in ceremonies and are also sold. Another important attraction is the Zoological Park, where the rare Blythe’s Tragopan is reared. The widespread fauna of the park also attracts the tourists.
Best time to visit
Kohima is characterised by heavy rainfall during the summer months from March to June. Winters last from November to February and are generally chilly with minimum temperature going down to subzero degree during nights. Summers have a temperature range of 16°C to 31°C.
The important festivals in Kohima which attracts many visitors are Chega Gadi (October), Sekrenyi celebrated on 25th January, Hega celebrated in February and Ngada (celebrated in the last week of November) also give another reason to visit the place during these months. The best time to visit Bara Basti is from the months from October to March.