Manipur, meaning the ‘Land of Jewels’ is one among the eight Sister States of India located in the North Eastern region of India bordered by the States of Nagaland (North), Mizoram (South), Assam (West) and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (East). Covering a total area of 22,327 sq. km. Manipur has a total population of over 3 million people with the tribal population of Meitei, Kuki, Naga and Pangal people. Since the ancient times, Manipur has been known to have the richest intellectual heritage in South East Asia with roots relating to the Indus Valley civilization. Manipur is the Gateway to South East Asia connecting to the major countries of Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia. Manipur is a State of great cultural diversity where various ethnic people have resided since ages.
Although the State of Manipur is blessed with unending bounties of Mother Nature from exotic landscapes, blue hills, lush valleys, rivers and green forests, Manipur has not been able to grab the attention of tourists due to many years of insurgency across the State. However, since the past decade, the State of Manipur is seeing much better days from all stand points and has gradually opened up among travelers who have started the inflow of tourism in Manipur.
The Meitei people are the main ethnic group of Manipur and the primary language spoken in Manipur is the Meitei language. Predominantly an agrarian community, Manipur has a vast potential of offbeat tourism being home to the largest freshwater Loktak Lake, the only floating National Park in the World, the endangered Sangai Deer Species and the pristine Dzukou Valley at the border of the States of Manipur and Nagaland.
Geography and Climate of Manipur ~
The State of Manipur lies on an oval shaped valley surrounded by mountains at an elevation of 2,590 feet above the mean sea level. Manipur has a total forest area cover of around 60% rich in flora and fauna. The forests of Manipur consists of semi-evergreen, dry temperate and tropical moist deciduous forests filled with trees like teak, pine, oak, bamboo and cane. Manipur covers four major river basis viz. Barak river basin, Manipur river basin, Yu river basin and Lanye river basin. The rivers of these basins of Manipur mostly deposit their sediment load at the Loktak lake which makes the Loktak region one among the best biodiversity regions in North East India.
Dominant Flora at Manipur consists of the trees like teak, pine, oak, laiho, bamboo and cane. Rubber, tea, coffee, orange and cardamom are grown in the hilly areas of Manipur. Manipur is home to over 500 species of orchids with the Siroi Lily being the most sought after among all. Dominant Fauna at Manipur consists of the likes of Hoolock Gibbon, Slow Loris, Clouded leopards, Burmese Peas fowl, Pheasants, the Sangai Deer which his locally called as the dancing deer. More than four species of the prized Hornbill species is found at Manipur.
Located at 2,590 feet above the mean sea level, Manipur enjoys a temperate climate around the year with chilly winters with the coldest month being January anf the warmest July with a maximum temperature hovering around 34 degree Celsius. The rainy season in Manipur starts in the month of May extending upto the month of October.
Culture and People of Manipur ~
Manipur has a total population of over 3 million people. Out of this total, 59% of the peole live in the valley region of Manipur and 41% inhabit the hilly regions. The people inhabiting the hilly areas are the Kuki, Naga and other tribal communities. The valley region of Manipur is inhabited by the Meitei, Manipuri Brahmins and the Manipuri Muslim. The primary tribal population of Manipur are the Meiteis, the Kukis and the Nagas.
Each of the ethinc groups of Manipur have their own distinct culture and traditions with traditional dances forming an integral part of the culture of each of these communities. Manipuri Dance has been the subject of many literature enthusiasts who have written of its lyrical beauty and rhythm. The dance form of Manipur is characterized by exotic costumes, graceful rhythm and devotion to Mother Nature. Some of the dance forms of Manipur are Khamba-Thoiba and Raas Leela dance performed to depict the Life of Lord Krishna in an art form.
Manipuri people are naturally born athletes and many age old sporting traditions have been home at Manipur. Manipuris are adept in various form of Martial arts and play games like football and archery with profound proficiency. The Sagol Kangjei is said to be the origin of modern day polo which the British adapted from Manipur in the early 19th century.
The people of Manipur are also expert craftsmen and produce exquisite products of handicrafts and handlooms. At Manipur, age old practices of weaving are still prevalent and the designs are inspired by the ancient culture of Manipur. Various varieties of bamboo handicrafts an handlooms are put on display at the local markets of Manipur.
Festivals of Manipur ~
Some of the major festivals of Manipur are ~
Ningol Chakouba – Celebrated every year in November
Kut -Harvest festival celebrated in November
Yaosang – Celebrated in March is the biggest festival of Manipur
Khuado Pawi – Harvest festival of the Tedim people celebrated every year in September
Cheiraoba – New year festival of Manipur celebrated in April
Sangai Festival -Promoted by the Department of Tourism celebrated every year in November
Siro Lily Festival – Promoted by the Department of Tourism celebrated every year in May
Tourism in Manipur ~
1| Loktak Lake Manipur
The Loktak Lake in Manipur is located at arond 48 Kms. from the capital city of Imphal and is the largest freshwater lake in the Northeast Region. Located at the Loktak Lake is the Keibul Lamjao National Park. Keibul Lamjao is the only floating National Park in the world famous for its population of the highly endangered dancing deer species called the Sangai. The Loktak Lake and the Keibul Lamjao National Park are the last natural habitat of the Sangai (Rucervus eldii eldii) the dancing deer of Manipur. A glimpse of the deer in this unique wetland ecosystem is a must for any wildlife enthusiast. Other wildlife to mention a few are ~ Hog deer, Otter and a host of water fowls and migratory birds can also be sighted during November to March. The forest Department of Manipur maintains watch towers and two rest houses within the park.
From the Tourist Bungalow set atop Sendra Island, visitors get a bird’s eye view of life on the Lake small islands that are actually floating weeds on which the Lake-dwellers live in the backdrop of the shimmering blue water of the Lake, labyrinthine boat routes and colorful water plants. The Sendra Tourist Home with an attached Cafeteria is an ideal tourist spot. Boating and other water sports are organised here in Takmu Water Sports Complex. The Loktak Lake is an ancient lake and it plays an important role in the economy of Manipur. It serves as a source of water for hydropower generation, irrigation and drinking water supply. The lake is also a source of livelihood for the rural fishermen who live in the surrounding areas and on phumdis, also known as “phumshongs”.
2| World War II Cemetery Manipur
Commemorating the memories of the British and Indian soldiers who died during the World War II, the Imphal World War II Cemetery was built and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Serene and well maintained, the War Cemetery carries little stone markers and bronze plaques recording the sacrifice of those gallant soldiers.
Dedicated to all the brave soldiers who lost their life in the Battle of Kohima, the Imphal World War II Cemetery initially had 950 burials of war dead. Following the end of the Second World War, the burials in two other smaller cemeteries in Imphal and in other isolated locations were also shifted to this cemetery taking the total war burials at the cemetery to 1,600. The memorial has markers with brass plaques with the name of each of the fallen. The war dead commemorated are from many commonwealth countries, such as 1300 from the United Kingdom, 10 from Canada, 5 from Australia, 220 from India, 40 from East Africa, 10 from West Africa and 10 from Burma.
3| Dzukou Valley Manipur
Located at the Border of the North East Indian States of Manipur and Nagaland, the Dzukou Valley is a very beautiful green valley and the most picturesque place in Senapati District bordering Nagaland. It is famous for its rare terrestrial lily called Dzuko Lily and the enchanting snow clad valley during January & February. The highest peak of Manipur Mount Iso is also located behind this valley.
4| Ima Keithel ~ Largest all Women run market in Asia Manipur
The Ima Keithel aka the Khwairamband Bazar is a unique all women’s market, having 4,000 or more “Imas” or Mothers who run the stalls. The Market is split into two sections on either side of a road. Vegetables, fruits, fishes and household groceries are sold on one side and exquisite handlooms and household tools on the other.
There are approximately 4000 women traders who sell their wares here every day. Earlier the market was an amalgam of scattered sheds but now the market is housed in an RCC structure in Khwairamband Bazar. The shift to a more organized setting meant that many vendors lost their space but that hasn’t in any way deterred them from carrying on their business.
5| Kangla Fort Manipur
The center of Manipur’s power till 1891, the historical embodiment of Manipur Rulers and the people of Manipur, Kangla have a significant place in the heart and mind of the people of Manipur Govindajee temple, outer and inner moat and other relics are perfect reflections of the rich art and culture of Manipur and her civilization. The word ‘Kangla’ means dry land in Manipuri or Meitei language. Kangla was the ancient capital of Manipur and a number of Meetei monarchs have ruled the destination from this fort.
The existence of this fort dates back to 33 AD, when the mythical God-King of Manipur, Nongda Lairen Pakhangba first ascended the throne. It was gradually renovated and developed by successive kings who ruled the place. King Khagemba (1597-1652) ordered the construction of a brick wall on the western gate of the palace. Afterwards, Khunjaoba (1652-1666), his son put in immense efforts in beautifying the fort. It is believed that he excavated a moat on the western side of this palace. In 1891, it was taken over by the British army after the Anglo-Manipur War. Later, the Assam Rifle took control of it, until 2004.
The impressive coronation hall of kings named Uttra is of immense historical importance. Unfortunately, large part of the hall was ravaged during the World War II by Japanese air raids. Now, you can only see a part of the foundation and flight of steps. Beyond the steps two statues of brick made dragons used to stand. These were called ‘Sha’ in Manipuri language and supposedly they were emblems of the Meitei rulers. The British forces destroyed the brick made statues after their invasion of Manipur, as recorded in the archives. After the fort’s handover to Manipur government, two replicas of original dragons were set up.
6| The Shree Shree Govindajee Temple Manipur
A historic Vaishnavite centre, adjoining Manipur’s former Maharajas’ Royal Palace, the Govindajee temple is one of the most attractive sights for the tourists. Twin domes, a paved courtyard, and a large raised congregation hall form a perfect backdrop for priests who descend the steps, to accept offerings from devotees in the courtyard. The shrines of Lord Krishna and Balaram and Jagannath flank the two sides of the presiding deity. Early hours Prayer (Aarti) is a must for devoted followers, exuding spiritual fervor and ecstasy.
7| The India Peace Memorial Manipur
The India Peace Memorial was constructed by the Japanese Government on the site of the Battle of Red Hill or Maibam Lokpaching, on the Tiddim Road. The Battle took place from May 20-29, 1944, and was the closest the Japanese got to Imphal from the south. The Memorial was inaugurated in 1994 on the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Imphal.
8| Moreh and the Border of India and Myanmar at Tamu Manipur
The Town of Moreh in Manipur is a busy market town on the Indo-Myanmar border, located at a distance of 110 km from Imphal. A commercial town and a real shopping paradise for shoppers where sundry products ranging from electronics to daily consumables are available in plenty. This place holds importance for the visiting tourists not only for being a border town but also for providing a unique opportunity to experience the different cultures, lifestyles of Myanmar through its border town at Tamu which is only 5 kms. away from here.
Tamu is a town in Sagaing Region in north-west Burma near the border with the State of Manipur. It is the administrative seat for Tamu Township. Tamu is something of a transport hub for cross-border traffic to India, being just across the border from Moreh. It is on the alignment of a proposed railway connecting the two countries. Tamu is an important commercial town serving the Indian border town of Moreh. The town is mainly populated by the Burmese, Chin ethnic people and lots of other people from different corners of the country.
We welcome you to the the State of Manipur in North East India!