Kohima: Buried beneath the earth and surrounded by woods, Rokosakho Chase, a 29-year-old physical education teacher, built his fantasy ‘hobbit home’ in the forest of Khonoma village, making the fascinating house one of a kind in the state.
Although not a fantasy fan, Chase, popularly known as Asakho Chase, told EastMojo that he initially came up with the idea of constructing a fantasy field hut, and later ended up hand-building a Shire-inspired hobbit home with little help from the internet and his friends.
It took Chase about two months to construct the 10×14 feet hobbit home in the forest, of which three days were spent in digging 5ft of the fresh soil. The front wall of the hobbit home is built with alder wood and highlights the round-shaped colourful door and window. Topping it all, Chase’s mother planted flowers around the house and set up a vegetable garden, making it even more homely.
“The idea was to build a hut for the field and make use of it during my holidays,” said Chase, an adventure enthusiast. However, due to the unique structure of the house, it quickly gained attention among locals, leading to bookings from people outside of the state.
With people showing interest in the hobbit home, Chase intends to add some furniture and upgrade the interiors so that adventurers like him can utilize the ‘hobbit home’ and get to experience life in the woods.
“I do not want to raise the expectations of people. I want to keep it as natural as possible and make people experience the vibe of living in the jungle. I just want people to relax, refresh and revive if they ever visit here, once Khonoma opens for tourists,” he said.
The hobbit home can accommodate around seven persons at a time and comes with a separate kitchen. Chase plans to make a badminton court outside the hobbit home. He is excited to share how many locals, including prominent musician and Yamaha artiste Nise Meruno, who is also a native of Khonoma village, have expressed desire to visit the hobbit home once the village allows reopening of tourism activities.
EastMojo spoke to Meruno, who is very excited after seeing pictures of Chase’s hobbit home — a fantasy home for many. “It looks rustic but tastefully done. As an artist, I found that very appealing and I really appreciate the thought process behind it,” he said.
Meruno is not an adventurous person, and when he travels, he looks for comfort. “I am so used to town and city life, the glitz and glamour of music and concerts. So, I feel that it will be enriching — getting to enjoy nature at its best and experience life in nature’s lap.”
Chase is currently sports teacher at Charis High Academy at Chumoukedima under Dimapur District and is a certified football coach. Besides his interest in adventures and fitness activities, he enjoys taking photos and videos in his free time.
Akhrielie David Solo, President of the Nagaland Tourism Association (NTA) lauded Chase’s unique initiative. “I think this is brilliant. Anything new and innovative is always a very good idea. I was very happy to learn about it and I am also looking forward to visiting the place.”
Solo said tour operators have appreciated the novel initiative and hope to promote tourism activities. While the hobbit home is a “fantastic idea” towards tourism promotion, he said, the team will visit it once relaxations are made and further work out on how to promote tourism activities.
“I don’t think anywhere else in the North East we have done anything like this. If it is viable and economical, we will be 100% behind them to promote tourism,” Solo added.
The popularity of his humble hobbit home has, however, made Chase realise the need to create awareness about responsible tourism. “I keep no dustbin here at my hobbit home. So, even in the days to come, I am planning that visitors who come here will have to take back the trash they bring. I am sceptical of people being critical about my decision but that’s how I want to do it. I think we should all be responsible travellers,” he said.
According to Chase, winter will be the best time for visitors to come by the hobbit home, as he intends to light up the surroundings with Christmas decor, hoping to create a festive environment in the woods.
As schools are closed in Nagaland, Chase is spending a lot of time at the hobbit home by attending to students’ online when required, and upgrading his Shire-inspired home. “The kitchen is not so monsoon-friendly, so I am planning to make an extension for an all-weather kitchen,” he said.
While living in the woods is a fantasy for adventurers, Chase is all too familiar with the problems that may come with it. Recently, his vegetable garden was destroyed by the Mithuns. “I feel really sad that the vegetable garden is destroyed as we put in a lot of hard work. But, I think this is part of the reality of living in the forest,” he said.
Meruno, the musician, said he is looking forward to experiencing the joy of having to cook in the wild, trek, hike, and have scenic views. “There is so much beauty in simplicity. Also, to go to Khonoma, for me, is going back to my roots. It will be a very personal journey in finding myself, and I am definitely looking forward to visiting when it opens,” Meruno said.
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