Manipur – The Jewel of India

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The little state of Manipur, which is located in North-East India, is one of the most under-explored tourist destinations in the country. One of the prime reason is the remote location, but for those tourists who have traveled to Manipur and explored the beauty of its natural scenery, rich culture and warm and friendly local population, the experience lasts for a lifetime. Manipur may not get a lot of attention as yet from tourists in India and abroad, but that is set to change soon, as the whole of India’s North-East is emerging as a prime tourist attraction. The reason for this is that, once ravaged by armed militancy, the North-East of India is today a largely peaceful region, with wonderful locals who are innocent, curious and friendly.

Manipur may be described as an oval shaped valley with thick evergreen forests covering the hills dotting the landscape. The little state has received many accolades from those who have visited it and fallen in love with it, at first sight. Some call it the “Jewel of India”, others call it the “Switzerland of the East”. What makes Manipur special is the sheer variety of flora and fauna, the beauty of the crystal clear rivers with clean, transparent water running through the landscape, the vast lakes, the blooming flowers and the exotic wild animals. We pack in as much information as we can about Manipur in this article. So, read on for more!

The People of Manipur

Like all North-East states, Manipur is a largely tribal dominated area and the tribes dominating Manipur are the Meitei, Nagas and Kuki-Chin-Mizo. Manipur also has Gorkhas and Muslims, who add to the diversity of its population. The indigenous tribes of Manipur have a rich and diverse culture that abounds in folklore, where music and dance are celebrated, and martial skills are aspired for and martial arts experts are valourized. The people of Manipur are also known for their art and craft – their handcrafted handlooms and other designs are much appreciated by tourists.

Tourist places to visit in Manipur -

Dzuko Valley

Any visit to Manipur would be incomplete without a visit to the Dzuko Valley, perhaps one of the most stunning natural valleys in India. The Dzuko Valley is partly in Manipur and partly in Nagaland, as it lies on the border between the two states. This is a place of great peace and quiet, and a wonderful spot for those who want some solace in solitude and practice meditation or say their prayers. It has the exotic and very rare flower Dzuko Lily. Mount Iso, which is the highest peak in Manipur, is also located here. It is snow clad during the winter, and this represents a truly awesome sight for tourists.

Khwairamband Bazar/ Ima Market

This is a unique market as only women or “Imas” (mothers in Manipuri dialect) are allowed to run stalls here. Tourists will have a lot of fun bargaining for exquisite handlooms and handicrafts here.

Shaheed Minar

This is a memorial built in the honor of the Meitei tribal martyrs who gave up their lives fighting British rule back in a great war fought between the British forces and the tribals of Manipur in 1891, which many of us don’t know about. Anybody visiting Imphal must visit the Shaheed Minar.

Shree Shree Govindajee Temple

One of the most beautiful temples in India, Shree Shree Govindajee Temple brings out the devotion in the tourist, whether he or she is a Hindu or not. It has two lovely domes, a paved courtyard and a vast hall where devotees congregate. The presiding deities here are Lord Krishna, Lord Balaram and Lord Jagannath.

Manipur State Museum

This museum has a vast collection of displays and artifacts belonging to the exotic tribal culture of Manipur. It also has a wonderful collection of costumes, arms & ammunitions, relics and historical documents once owned by the rulers of Manipur.

War Cemetery

History students may visit the War Cemetery in Imphal and say a prayer or two in the honor of the brave departed soldiers of the Allied Forces, who died fighting against the Japanese invasion during World War II.

Manipur Zoological Garden

Tourists can find the Sangai deer here, a rare and exotic species in its natural habitat. The Sangai is also called the “Dancing Deer of Manipur”.

Loukoi Pat

Tourists may go for a peaceful and tranquil boat ride in this scenic lake located at Bishnupur. This is also a great spot for a family picnic.

Bishnupur

Bishnupur is a historically famous town just an hour’s drive from Imphal, which is famous for its lovely stoneworks, which is inherited from the time of King Kiyamba. This is particularly special for the obvious Chinese influence, showing the cultural and historic diversity of India.

Red Hill (Lokpaching)

This was a site of a hard fought battle between the Allied forces and the Japanese, in which many brave soldiers from both sides lost their lives. An “India Peace Memorial” has been constructed here, in memory of the Japanese soldiers who died in this battle. Japanese tourists consider this to be a pilgrimage spot and honor those brave men who died for them.

Kangchup

This is a lovely picnic spot just 16 kms from Imphal.

Loktak Lake

The Loktak Lake is a remarkable sight and is the largest fresh water lake in the North East. Tourists can indulge in boating and several water sports here.

Keibul Lamjao National Park

This is the floating national park in the world, right in the middle of the Loktak Lake and known to be the very last natural habitat of the dancing deer of Manipur, the Sangai. Anybody who loves wildlife and treasures what is left of it, must visit this place. This national park is also a habitat for the Hog deer, Otter and several water fowls and migratory birds.

Khongjom War Memorial

Khongjom War Memorial honors the memory of the great Manipuri warrior, Major General Paona Brajabashi, who put up the last stand against the British forces in 1891 and fought courageously till the very end.

Mutua Museum

This museum located at the Andro village, just a short distance away from Imphal, has an excellent collection of pottery, rare manuscripts and coins, lovely paintings, jewelleries, handmade wood carvings and so on.

Churachandpur

This is a little tribal town located at an hour’s drive from Imphal. Tourists love this place, love buying the handcrafted items from here, and find the local people really friendly as well. It is also a great place for a picnic or for a short vacation.

Ukhrul

Manipur is a state filled with hilly regions and Ukhrul is the highest hill station in. Ukhrul is also the place the Tangkhul Naga tribe calls its home. The most notable aspect to Ukhrul is the Siroi Lily, a most beautiful and rare flower, that grows abundantly here.

How to get to Manipur?

Getting to Manipur is quite simple. Fly to Imphal. Manipur’s capital city Imphal has the second largest airport in the North-East of India. There are any number of flights here from Kolkata, New Delhi and Guwahati. The airlines that operate here are Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo, Kingfisher & NE Shuttles.

You may also visit Manipur by train. If you’re visiting from the other parts of India such as Kolkata, Bangalore or Chennai, you should get to Dimapur in Nagaland first, and from there catch a train to Imphal.

Travelling on luxury buses is another way of getting there. There are 3 national highways connecting Manipur to the rest of India. The N.H -39 (from Nagaland), N.H -53 (from Silchar) and 3. N.H -150 (from Mizoram).
There is also a brand new Sourashtra – Silchar Super Highway coming up, which will connect the rest of India to Moreh, border Manipuri town. There is also soon going to be an international highway between Manipur (from Moreh) to Myanmar.

Do you need any permissions to visit Manipur?

Yes, unfortunately, since in the past the North-East of India was ravaged by militancy, people from the rest of India and abroad need special permissions to go to North Eastern states such as Manipur, even though there is no longer any militancy there anymore. Indian residents from the Indian mainland need an Inner Line Permit and foreigners need to get a Protected Area Permit. But fortunately, these permits are easy to get. For more information, visit the website of Manipur government.

JayB

A self-described travel enthusiast...

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