Amid festivities, tourists take time out to visit Kohima War Cemetery
KOHIMA — Hundreds of tourists and visitors, who came to witness the vibrancy of the Naga cultural milieu at the Hornbill Festival, also took the time out to spend some solemn moments at the famous World War II Cemetery located in the heart of Kohima.
For Dr. Avlokita Sharma, who came with her husband to the Hornbill Festival, the motivation to visit the Kohima War Cemetery was to pay tribute to the “unsung heroes.”
“I wanted to come here and pay my tribute because this cemetery is about the unsung heroes,” said Sharma, who has connection with the armed forces through family ties.
“So I think it’s the duty of every citizen to come here, visit, and do our bit,” she told Eastern Mirror.
“I can’t even feel or imagine the pain that families would have gone through losing their loved ones at such a young age…It’s a feeling of a different kind altogether,” she said after the poignant realisation hit her that many of the soldiers were very young.
Sharma, a dentist by profession, lauded the cemetery’s maintenance and expressed hope that the government and workers would continue their commendable efforts.
Snehasis Sur, the president of Press Club Kolkata, said he embarked on the journey to Kohima with the primary goal of witnessing the renowned Battle of Kohima site.
Despite having limited knowledge about this pivotal World War II battle, Sur said he was drawn to the historical significance it held in shaping the post-war scenario.
“I have no hesitation in saying that I didn’t have much idea about the Battle of Kohima and that this battle played a significant role in changing the history in the post-World War II scenario,” he admitted.
The juxtaposition of Subhas Chandra Bose’s forces and the Allied forces adds a layer of intrigue to the city’s history, prompting Sur to underscore the need to preserve and propagate this heritage for future generations.
“The valor with which the battle was fought within this city is something we must acknowledge and comprehend. It’s not just for us, but we also need to pass down this knowledge to the next generations,” the senior journalist said.
Sur’s further said that his visit to Kohima and Jakhama was not a mere tourist experience, but a profound exploration of history, culture and education.
Mel Watson, an 84-year-old woman from the United Kingdom, was overcome with emotion as she narrated her poignant visit to the cemetery alongside her loved ones.
Sharing her close connection with the consecrated site, she explained that her family members too had fought in World War II in Kohima.
However, she expressed sadness at not finding the names of those she knew and cared for engraved in the cemetery.
“Only God knows where they are,” she said, her words laden with emotion.
In addition to her wartime reflections, Watson disclosed that she had attended the Hornbill Festival in Kisama, where she purchased numerous traditional items.
Before leaving, Watson took a moment to appreciate the beauty of Kohima, adding a positive note to her reflections on the meaningful journey.
Jaydeep Sarkar, a pharmacist from Kolkata, found the prospect of exploring the Kohima War Cemetery intriguing and significant.
Visiting the cemetery with his wife, Sarkar said, “As a newcomer to this area, I recently recorded my thoughts, guided by the suggestion of my hotel personnel who highlighted the presence of a noteworthy tourist destination — the war cemetery.”
“Upon my visit, I discovered a solemn place where diverse individuals are commemorated, cemented into the history of this region. The experience has been valuable for me as I navigate this new environment,” said Sarkar.
For Dr. Fr. Tomy Palely, the administrator, Diocese of Diphu, the visit to the cemetery and participation in the Hornbill Festival have been enlightening experiences, deepening his understanding of the sacrifices made and the rich cultural heritage of the Northeast.
“During my visit to the cemetery, prompted by the intriguing mystery surrounding it, I sought to comprehend the sacrifices made by individuals fighting for our nation’s freedom,” Fr. Palely said.
“I am captivated by the poignant expressions of love from families to their children who sacrificed their lives during the war. Some tombs bear beautiful sentiments, testaments to the enduring love and remembrance bestowed upon those who gave their all for the nation,” he said