Manipur: The Land of Pristine and Poised Beauty.
The erstwhile princely State of Manipur is a jewel of a land with its copious vistas of untrammeled beauty and ancient traditions. Set in an oval valley amongst hazy blue hills, it is the home of the Meitei (tribe) who dominate the populace, which is a mixture of Kuki- chin Mizo groups amongst other colorful communities. The serenity of this pristine and isolated vicinity has permeated the life style of these people with a lavish hand, allowing them to live for centuries in harmony. The Manipuri’s inspiration arises from the wondrous balance of the flora and fauna that abound in its environs. The stunning combination of wet forests, temperature forests and pine forests sustain a host of rare and rife plant and animal life. Denizens of the forest include the rare hoolock gibbon, the snow leopard and slow Loris amongst a galaxy of other rare fauna.
Set among the smoky blue hills, tiny state of Manipur is a land of myths and secrecy. Tourist attractions in Manipur lie mostly in its splendid landscape, bountiful scenery and its cultural affluence. Smokey blue hills and the lush forests, offer a stunning combination, which you can hardly ignore. Nature is intoxicatingly beautiful and the tranquility is overwhelming.
Dance & Music
Manipur is also known as the terrain of Radha and Krishna. In the best of traditions, Manipur has gifted to India’s classical dance repertoire her lyrical Ras Leela dance that re- enacts the love story of Radha and Krishna. Manipuri dances have a common feature – their devotion or nature – irrespective whether the dance is of the folk, classical or contemporary variety
Keibul Lamjao National Park : It is the only floating National Park in the whole world and is fifty three kms. from Imphal. This is the last natural habitat of the marsh-dwelling brow-antlered deer of Manipur called "Sangai". Many waterfowl and migratory birds visit the lake during November and March.
Shopping in Manipur
Imported goods from the smallest of sun-flower seeds to the big home theaters are all available at the markets but the best one is situated at the India-Myanmar border by the name of Naphalong (Moreh). If people are interested in the local product then they can buy at the Paona Bazar or Khwairambam market. Khwairambam Market is one of its kind. It is an all women's market with 3000 "imas" or mothers running the different shops in the market. Shoppers can buy the exotic shawl (Hauphee), the Tangkhul scarf, the various wood craft items and the most popular Moirangphee (a thin cloth). In Imphal, buying is quite easy as the markets are placed together.
Fairs & Festivals
The festivals of Manipur hold special importance to the people of the state. Most of their festivals are characterized by traditional dance and music along with some traditional refreshment. Yaosang is a festival celebrated on the full-moon day of February/March. This festival is also regarded as the festival to welcome spring season. Moreover, there are festivals like the Manipuri New Year celebration known as the Cheirouba and the festival to reassure the loving relationship of the siblings known as Ningol Chakaouba. Kut is another festival that marks the harvesting season in Manipur. Feasts, traditional drinks, and merrymaking characterize the festival.
The Manipuris' love fish and their favorite fish is Ngari, which is prepared by fermentation. Other than this variety of fish preparations are savored here along with potatoes that is included in almost every dish prepared in Manipur. Some of their popular dishes include, nga-thongba (fish curry), ooti (a typical Manipuri vegetarian dish), chagem pomba (made with fermented soya, mustard leaves), Kobok (puffed or roasted rice and molasses dessert), Iromba (fish chutney, bamboo shoots and vegetables) and Chamthong or Kangshoi, which is a stew cooked with seasonal vegetables.
POPULAR ATTRACTIONS & TOURIST DESTINATIONS IN MANIPUR
(1) IMPHAL - Manipur’s Capital city, Imphal, has harmonized itself seamlessly into its beautiful natural environment. It derives its name from Yumpham, which means homestead. The following are among the most important attractions of Imphal:
a) Shree Shree Govindajee Temple: - This is Manipur's pre-eminent Vaishnavite temple adjoining the palace of the former rulers of Manipur. It is a great historic centre and is a simple and beautiful structure with gold domes and a large raised congregation hall. The presiding deity, Lord Vishnu in the centre of the temple, stands flanked by the shrines of Balarama and Krishna on one side and Jagannatha on the other.
b) War Cemetries :- Commemorating the memories of the British and the Indian soldiers who died during the Second World War, these cemeteries are managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Serene and well-maintained, the graves carry little stone markers and bronze plaques recording the sacrifices of those gallant soldiers.
c) Manipur State Museum: - This interesting museum near the Polo ground houses Manipur’s tribal heritage and a collection of portraits of Manipur’s former rulers. Interesting items are costumes, arms and weapons, relics and historical documents.
d) Manipur Zoological Garden:-The Manipur Zoological Garden is few kms away from Imphal and situated at Iroishemba on the Imphal Kangchup Road. It houses "Sangai", a brow-antlered deer in sylvan surroundings and is situated at the foothills of the pine tree hillock.
e) Khonghampat Orchidarium :- This is the Orchid Yard of the Forest Department, on the national highway no 39 and is another place of interest where more than 110 varieties of orchids including several rare species are grown.
f) Sahid Minar :- The tall Minar at Bir Tikendrajit Park in Imphal commemorates the indomitable spirit of Manipur martyrs who sacrificed their lives fighting the British in the Anglo-Manipuri war in 1891.
(2) SINGDA - This is a hill resort on the hills, about sixteen kms. from Imphal to the west. The scenery is picturesque. There is an inspection bungalow and a nice artificial lake called Singda Dam, which is now a multipurpose project.
(3) SEKTA - Sekta Mound, locally known as the "SEKTA KEI" is a protected archaeological site, located at Sekta village, sixteen kms from Imphal. It witnessed the practice of secondary burial and was discovered by the Archaeological Survey of India together with State Archaeology, Manipur. It is preserved as a living museum.
(4) ANDRO - This is an ancient scheduled caste village about twenty seven kms. towards east of Imphal and here is one cultural complex established by the Mutua Museum. It houses potteries of the Northeastern region of India and there is a 'Doll-House' where dolls of 29 recognized tribes of Manipur are on display.
(5) KAINA - This is a scared place of Hindus and is twenty nine kms. from Imphal.According to a legend - Shri Govindajee appeared to Bheigyachandra, Maharaja of Manipur, in a dream and asked him to build a temple enshrined with His image carved out of a jackfruit tree.
(6) MOIRANG - Moirang is about fourty five kms away from Imphal and is a very sacred place for the Manipuri people. It holds an ancient temple of the pre-Hindu deity, Lord Thangjing. The flag of the Indian National Army was first hoisted here on April 14, 1944. There is also an Indian National Army Museum depicting their struggle for India's Independence.
(7) LOKTAK LAKE - Loktak lake is around fourty eight kms from Imphal. This is the largest fresh water lake in eastern India and is like a miniature inland sea.
(8) SENDRA ISLAND -Sendra Island is situated 39 kilometers away from Imphal and it offers a bird's eye view of the park and its occupants. One can explore the park by traveling around in tiny small boats and also climb up the watchtower located on the Bebet Ching hillock.
(9) UKHRUL - Ukhrul is situated 83 kms away from Imphal in the east. Undoubtedly, one of the highest hill stations of the State, Ukhrul is famous for a peculiar type of terrestrial Lily, the Siroy Lily (Lilium macklinae sealy) which is grown on the Siroy Hill and it is found nowhere in the whole world. Khangkhui Lime Caves are interesting places for excursion. Ukhrul wears gay and festive appearance during Christmas. Ukhrul is known for the natural hospitality of its people, it is the place where pioneer missionary, William Pettigrew was first offered a foothold.
(10) BISHNUPUR - Bishnupur is 27 kms away from Imphal City on Tiddim Road. Here stands the conical temple of lord Vishnu built in 1467 during the reign of King Kyamba. It is interesting because of its antiquity and architectural design which was influenced by Chinese style. Bishnupur is also known for its stoneware production. The bustling district headquarters is popular for hill-grown oranges, yongchak (tree-bean) and vegetables.
(11) RED HILL (MAIBAM LOKPA CHING) - It is a hillock about 17 kms. South of Imphal City on Tiddim Road. The place was an action-packed location where a fierce battle took place between the Allied Forces and the Japanese Forces in World War II. Japanese war veterans constructed a monument at the foot of this hill and it was significantly named “India Peace Memorial”.
HOW TO REACH
By Air: Imphal Tulihal Airport is located about 8km from the heart of the City and is well connected directly from the major cities of India namely Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati and major cities of North Eastern States .
By Rail: There is no direct train service to Imphal. But travellers can travel upto Guwahati or Dimapur (nearest rail head from Imphal) 215 kms from Imphal and then rest by bus or by air.
By Road: One can reach Imphal by road from Silchar, Dimapur and Guwahati.