Manipur, this Northeastern state is multi-lingual and endowed with distinct classical dance, scrumptious cuisine all topped with a traditional aura that fumes like a lighted incense stick in sacred shrines.

Manipur is bordered by blue hills and encases an egg-shaped shaped valley in its center. It also happens to be the birthplace of Polo and is rich in tradition, culture, and art and holds one captivated in its beauty.

Things To Do In Manipur

Shop at Ima Bazaar, Watch Hiyang Tanaba Boat Race, Visit Andro, ancient village, Loktat Lake, Temple at Bishnupur, there is ample for you to do in this state. If not just spend your time relaxing in the quaint beauty of mother nature, still unspoiled by urbanization in many places.

Photo: River Islands at Manipur / CC0

Top Cities

This small state has a few cities worth visiting.

  • Imphal
  • Bishnupur
  • Thoubal
  • Ukhrul

Photo: Imphal Valley / CC0

Imphal

Imphal can be deemed as one of the leading tourist destinations in India because it offers everything from culture to nature, and from wildlife to adventure to all its visitors. The place is bejeweled with glittering lakes and waterfalls you’ll stumble across as you take a tour

Head to the valleys and behold the panoramic views of the surrounding, including important landmarks –

  • Ema Keithel (Mother’s Market)
  • Loktak Lake
  • Red Hill Lokpaching
  • Kangla Fort
  • Sirohi National Park
  • Manipur State Museum
  • Sekta Archaeological Living Museum
  • Manipur Zoological Gardens
  • Keibul Lamjao National Park
  • Jama Masjid
  • Shree Govindajee Temple
  • Khonghampat Orchidarium
  • Matai Garden

Photo:A Temple located in the Kangla Fort / CC0

Bishnupur

Adorned with lush forests and sprawling grasslands, Bishnupur is a popular pilgrimage destination in Manipur. This holy town has many wondrous temples and relics.

Some of the main temples in this town are –

  • Rasmancha
  • Jor Bangla Temple
  • Pancha Ratana Temple
  • Dal Madol
  • Susunia Pahar
  • Shyamrai Temple
  • Siddheswar Temple
  • Radha Shyam Temple
  • Sridhara Temple

Photo: Brick Temple at Bishnupur / CC0

Cultural Sites

Ima Bazaar

The Ima Bazaar that is almost 100 years old seems to take you directly into the land of the women and is held in Imphal. It is also called the Ima Keithel at the Khwairamband Bazaar. Ima in Manipuri language means mother and thus the whole market is dominated by the female sex.

The vendors are generally elderly financially independent, courageous, spirited and hard working ladies. Roughly about 3000 women put up their stalls at the market and sell just about anything from fruits to clothes, handicrafts etc. You name the article and you find it here. But mind you there is no male running a single stall

Photo: The all-female Ima Bazaar / CC0

Churachandpur

Despite its great loss and devastation due to the bombarding by the Japanese, Churachandpur has managed to keep intact its flawless beauty. Even today, the place is ideal for a vacation in Manipur.

Churchandpur is the second largest city in the state and has a deep historical significance. The city preserves a large portion of its rich history in its Tuibuong Tribal Museum.

Photo: A waterfalls at Churachandpur / CC0

Andro Village

Andro is a small village which indeed is one of the most stunning places to visit in Manipur. The pottery craftsmanship of this place is something which has always caught the attention of the visitors.

If you’re a keen traveler, you’d love getting your hands on pottery too. The museum displays a variety of traditional pots, such as Walom, Pudong Makhong, Yukhum, and Ngangkha.

Photo: Traditional tribal houses at Andro / CC0

Khongjom

Right here, the revered major general, Paona Brajabashi with his troops fought with British during their reign. The was is known as the Anglo-Manipur War.

Today there is a memorial built in remembrance of the brave fighters, which holds historical importance. The place is perfect for an Indian patriot, or anyone with interest in military and the history of wars.

Photo: Khongjom War Memorial / CC0

Nature & Scenic Sites

Since Manipur is known for its flora and fauna, there are numerous beautiful spots for you to visit and spend your holiday at.

Ukhrul

This quaint little hamlet, Ukhrul is like a breath of fresh air. This is a picturesque destination that reminds one of an English countryside. Ukhrul is also one of the best-hiking destinations in Manipur, as it has trekking trails that are so scenic that you may never want to return.

Photo: Scenic trekking destinations at Ukhrul / CC0

Thoubal

You will for sure feel thrilled exploring Thoubal, which offers a spectacular view of Imphal city and River Thoubal from its highest point. The beauty of this humble town lies in the aligned bamboo trees, and Louis Lake, where you can enjoy boating.

You can also visit the Thoubal Market to buy some souvenirs, and spend a quality time amid nature in the vicinity of Ikop Lake.

Photo: Beautiful untouched nature at Thoubal / CC0

Chandel

You get the best of both worlds in this paradise, which is also one of the most beautiful Manipur attractions. An early morning trek here is a pure retreat, as the mist-laden grasslands and subtle sunshine greet you along the way.

While exploring the denser regions, you may spot a number of rare animals and birds, so keep your camera ready at all times.

Senapati

Get lost in the surreal nature in Senapati, a lesser known destination in Manipur. Its scenic landscape adorned with shimmering serpentine streams and rugged mountains make for a place that is no less than a heaven on earth.

Photo: The city of Senapati / CC0

Lokat Lake

Loktak Lake is also called the Floating Lake of Manipur. It is the biggest Freshwater lake found in North-Eastern India. It has got the name due to the floating diverse masses of vegetation, organic matter, and soil deposited on it. These floating masses are also called phumdis.

Photo: Floating vegetation mass at Lokat Lake / CC0

Tamenglong

What makes Tamenglong a paradise for tourists seeking bliss, is the presence of a delightful mixture of rare herbs, spices, waterfalls, lakes, and meadows. It is a place that many people like to call ‘the land of the Hornbill’ as many species of this exotic bird can be found here.

Photo: Orange fest is famous at Tamenglong/ CC0

Wildlife in Manipur

Keibul Lamjao National Park

You can spot the unique species of Eld’s deer/Brow-antlered deer which have been listed as endangered by the IUCN at this park.

Besides, this evergreen forest is a terrestrial land that consists of other animals like hog deer, wild boar, large Indian civet, bay bamboo rat, musk shrew. And the avifaunal species such as East Himalayan pied kingfisher, black kite, lesser sky-lark, northern hill myna, Burmese pied myna can also be found here.

Photo: Local animal Sangai at the National park/ CC0

Bunning Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in Tamenglong this Scantuary is an ideal spot to go spot some wildlife when in the city. Barking deer, Sambar, Leopard, Jackal, Pangolin, Wild boar, Tiger, Jungle cat, Martens, Clouded leopard; Golden cat etc. can be seen here.

Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in Tamenglong this happens to be more of a lake sanctuary. It consists of different kinds of fishes, migratory birds etc.

Photo: Lake Sanctuary at Tamenglong/ CC0

Sports and other activities in Manipur

Manipur’s valleys and hills provide the ideal platform for a range of adventure sports and outdoor activities. From rock climbing to long treks, adventure activities are aplenty. The Sangai Festival in November is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors of Manipur

  • Rafting: Manipur’s short rivers and their tumultuous terrain offer exciting rafting options. From the Lamdan institute, a 16km rafting course takes you up to Nungleiban and usually lasts for two hours.
  • Wind Surfing:  The expansive Loktak lake is ideal for windsurfing and after a crash course from the experts at the MMTA (mmtamanipur.com), you can stay out on the lake for as long as you like.
  • Rock climbing & ParaGliding: Rock climbing is usually part of a larger eco-tourism package but if you’re short on time you can ask for only a few hours on the rocks. Paragliding too is offered in the same facility and if the information is provided in advance power paragliding courses can be organized as well, but a much higher cost.
  • Trekking: Manipur offers a range of exciting treks of varying difficulty levels. Some of the more popular treks are the Laimaton trek. While the valley is easy enough to trek through when you set out from the Nagaland side, the Manipur side is considerably more treacherous and of a tougher difficulty level. Other popular treks are set in the districts of Senapati and Tamenglong.
  • Caving:  The caves in Manipur are usually hard to get to, some even requiring a few days of trekking to just reach them, but are worth the effort. The Tharon cave systems in Tamenglong and Ukhrul’s Khangkhui caves are must-visits while at Manipur.
  • Boat Festival: The Heikru Hitongba Festival in Manipur is celebrated in September with a boat race that takes place on the canal. Narrow long boats are used for the race which accommodates a large number of rowers. The race takes place on a 16-meter wide canal in Manipur.

Photo: Boat Festival of Heikru Hitongba / CC0

When to Visit

September to April is the best time to visit Manipur although the place has pleasant weather throughout the year. With moderate rainfall in monsoon and chilly but pleasant winters, summers see the maximum number of footfall in summers.

Culture of Manipur

The crafts of Manipur showcase the creativity of its people. Manipur produces a wide range of handicrafts and handloom items. Papier mache, decorative ivory, collectible dolls, bamboo, and cane work are some of the many crafts of this state. In fact, the state is counted as one of the largest producers of bamboo crafts in India. Wood carving, textile weaving, stone carving, block printing, and hand-embroidery.

Cane and Bamboo Crafts of Manipur are widespread due to the wide availability of the raw material. Products include sofa sets, stools, mats, basketry, tray, chairs, tables, flower vases, ashtrays, and many other decorative and utility articles are made out of this craft.

Kauna is a kind of reed that mostly grows in wetlands and marshes. In Manipur, this is used for making mats and cushions. Kauna Crafts are used for local use and for tourist consumption.

Pottery is an acclaimed craft of Manipur being produced by coiled technique. Potteries in Manipur come in different shapes and styles reflecting their socio-cultural background. Pots are handcrafted and painted using different bright colors.

Wood Carving is an art in Manipur developed out of necessity. People of Manipur utilized wood to create different items of their daily need out of this craft such as trays, spoon, drum etc.

Block Printing is a specific handicraft in Manipur. This craft makes hand block printed towels and dresses, among many other items.

Photo: Kauna Crafts / CC0

Local Cuisine

Manipur can be a non-vegetarians delight with a lot of fish dishes along with other forms of meat.

  • Eromba– Vegetables and potatoes boiled with a lot of red chilies or Umorok with ngari (fermented fish), dry fish and mashed together.
  • Umorok – literally ‘tree chilli’ u=tree; morok = chilli. It is garnished with maroi( maroi namakpi, maroi nakuppi, awa phadigom, mayang-ton, toning-khok tilhou,coriander leaves and many more).
  • Singju is a salad prepared with finely chopped cabbage, onions, lotus stems, tree beans, coriander leaves, sinju pan, ginger, heibi mana and lots of seasonal vegetables mixed with ngari.
  • Chamthong or Kangshoi is a stew preparation of any seasonal vegetables with coarsely chopped onions,maroi, ginger, and salt, topped with ngari, fried fish pieces (optional)and water. It’s soupy in nature and is eaten with rice.
  • Morok metpa is a coarse-paste prepared with green or dry red chilies. The chilies should be boiled with ngari in a pan and then it should be mashed with salt; fried fish pieces can also be added to it. chopped onions and coriander leaves should be added to it and mixed.
  • Other dishes are- kang-hou (various vegetables fried dry in oil with traditional spices), paknam (fish cake), nga-thongba (fish curry), ooti, pakora thongba, chagem pomba, keli chana, alu kangmet (boiled potato mashed with fried red chilli and salt and dressed with mustard oil), sana thongba which is prepared with paneer in Manipuri style, a-nganba (steam vegetables, such as pumpkin, sweet pea, carrots, French beans etc.).
  • Ok thongba: Local pork curry with bamboo shoots or mustard leaves with U-morok.

Photo: Non Vegetarians can reakky have a feast at Manipur / CC0

Getting Around

Imphal Airport has regular flights to Aizawl, Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata, and Silchar. The second nearest International Airport is Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati, 490 Kms from Imphal.

Dimapur Railway Station is connected to the major cities of Nagaland. It is linked with the cities like Mariani, Guwahati, Kolkata, and Kamakhya through Jan Shatabdi Express, Jttn Intercity, and Ghy Intercity.

You can also use the road to get to that state. The First bus from Assam Travel GuideGuwahati (Assam) to Imphal is Non A/C Seater (2+2) by Network Travels departing at 14:30. Trip duration is between 15h to 20h-30m depending on the bus type and operator.

Where to Stay

Since tourism is now blooming there are numerous guest houses and hotels which offer a place to stay at in all the major cities.

Depending on your budget you can check in on online sights like Make my trip or Yatra to get the best deal.

How Safe Is Manipur

Many plains people (the Meiteis) resent the Indian government. The hill tribes (Nagas, Kukis, Zomi/Chin) resent the Indian government, the Meiteis and each other. The Zomi/Chin would like to be united in an independent state with their co-tribespeople in Burma.

There are multiple competing tribal militias, who extort money from their countrymen, block roads, and occasionally erupt into warfare/killing. Imphal is generally safe (see the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office website), but other areas should only be visited with good local information, and the word ‘disturbed’ means no-go.

January 28, 2019 1:04 am Published by

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