Manipur

manipur

Manipur is a small state in North East India, The state is bounded by Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south, and Assam to the west. Mynamar lies to the east. It comprises an oval shaped valley surrounded by blue green hills with the Loktak lake in the middle. Its people include the Meetei, Pangal, Naga, and Kuki, who speak different languages of branches of the Tibeto-Burman family. The Meetei, who live primarily in the state’s valley region, form the primary ethnic group (60% of the total population). Their language, Meeteilon (also known as Manipuri), is the lingua franca in the state.
These are the people whose culture is rich with folklore, myths and legends, dances, indigenous games and martial arts, exotic handlooms and handicrafts. Some of the outdoor indigenous games played by the Manipuri people are Mukna Kangjei, Mukna, Yubi Lakpi, Sagol Kangjei, Arambai Hunba and Hiyang-Tannaba.

Manipur is also famous for its various graceful dance forms. The Manipuri dance is inspired by the theme of love between Lord Krishna and Radha.

Manipur has moderate climate throughout the year. Depending upon the altitude, the climate ranges from tropical to temperate. Though the state enjoys all the three seasons of summers, winters, and monsoons; precipitation dominates the valley for most of the year.

Travel restrictions have now been removed from Manipur. Least visited Manipur, may well become the great tourist discovery of the 21stcentury.

Historical panorama

The documented history of Manipur begins with the reign of Meitei King of Ningthouja clan who unified the seven clans of Meetei society. Introduction of the Vaishnavism school of Hinduism brought about significant changes in the history of the state. Manipur’s early history is set forth in the Cheitharon Kumbaba, a chronicle of royal events which claims to record events from the foundation of the ruling dynasty in 33–AD. Since ancient times, the Meitei people and Meitei-Pangals (Muslims, not original inhabitants) have lived in the valleys of Manipur alongside the Nagas and Kukis in the hills.

Manipur became a princely state under British rule in 1891; the last of the independent states to be incorporated into British India. During the Second World War, Manipur was the scene of many fierce battles between Japanese and Allied forces. The Japanese were beaten back before they could enter Imphal, which proved to be one of the turning points of the War.

After the war, the Manipur Constitution Act, 1947, established a democratic form of government with the Maharaja as the Executive Head and an elected legislature. In 1949. Manipur became part of the Republic of India in October,1965. It was made a union territory in 1956 and a full-fledged state in 1972.
Some of the main attractions of a visit to the Manipur Valley are given below.

Some of the main attractions of a visit to the Manipur Valley are given below.

LOTAK LAKEKHWAIRAMBAND BAZAAR-WANDERS DELIGHTANDRO HERITAGE VILLAGE AND CULTURAL HERITAGE EXHIBITIONRED HILL(LOKPANCHING)WAR CEMETRYKANGLAMOIRANGKHONGJOM WAR MEMORIALKHONGHAMPAT ORCHIDARIUMSHREE SHREE GOVINDAJEE TEMPLEMANIPUR STATE MUSEUMMANIPUR ZOOLOGICAL GARDENBISHNUPURMOREHCHURACHANDPURREACHING MANIPUR

The lovely and unique Lotak Lake, occupying an area of 287 sq kms, is the largest fresh water lake in the North East. The lake looks like a miniature inland sea. From the nearby Sendra island, visitors can get a bird’s eye view of this huge and beautiful stretch of water and the life on it. The fisherman and their families who live in neat huts on its shores are engaged in fishing and harvesting the water chestnut known as Heikak. Lotak is also called the Floating lake due to the floating phumdis (heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matters at various stages of decomposition). 116 species of birds have been noted in the lake including 21 species of migratory waterfowl. Also recorded were 425 species of mammals.

The Keibul Lamjao National Park is situated in the South Eastern shores of this lake, and is the largest of all the phumdis in the lake. This is the natural habitat of one of the most endangered deer, the Bow-antlered deer (Cervus eldi eldi) which was once thought to be extinct, This park was created only to preserve and conserve this species of Eld’s Deer.

This atmospheric bazar is a “must visit” site. What makes this market different is that it is run by women. 3,000 or more “Imas” or mothers run the stalls. It is split into two sections on either side of a road. Vegetables, fruits, fish and household groceries are sold on one side and exquisite handlooms and household tools on the other. Visitors get to see tribal women clad in colourful, traditional attire, selling everything from hand-woven shawls, skirts, vessels, mugs and mats to fish, lotus, oranges and orange-flavored honey. And if you wander in the quaint by lanes around the market, you will get a glimpse of Manipur’s customs and traditions.

26 Kms from Imphal the Andro village is home to the Cultural Heritage exhibition. In this Mini Complex, are exhibited all kinds of things that relate to the material cultures of different ethnic groups of Manipur along with their own styles of traditional houses.

The indoor exhibition contains items used within the traditional houses of different indigenous groups of Manipur The outdoor exhibition displays stone monuments of the tribal groups of Manipur in the form of models in tune with the Megalithic Cultural practices.

Andro village; is a living heritage village. It is an example of the age-old cultures and traditions of Manipur. . The practice of fire worshipping is still continued in the temple of Panam Ningthou. It is prepared in turn by every house-hold member of the village. A traditional system of village administration by nominating its members and the posts of authorities on the basis of lineages is practiced. The community still preserve the traditional rituals and norms relating to the process of pot making.
Moreover, the villagers are nature loving people and always maintain a good relation with nature to maintain a pollution free ecosystem.

Red Hill is a hillock about 16 kms. from Imphal on Tiddim Road (NH – 150). It was here that the British- Indian Army halted the Japanese advance into the Manipur Valley after a fierce battle during World War II. War Veterans have constructed the “India Peace Memorial” a monument in memory of Japanese soldiers who died in the battle. It is a place of pilgrimage for Japanese visitors.
Commemorating the memories of the British and Indian soldiers who died during the World War II, these War Cemeteries are managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Serene are well maintained, the War Cemetery carries little stone markers and bronze plaques recording the sacrifice of those gallant soldiers.
The centre 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 its civilization.
45 kms. from Imphal, and situated near the Loktak lake, this town is one of the main centres of early Meitei folk culture with the ancient temple of the pre-Hindu deity, Lord Thangjing, situated here. In the month of May, men and women, dressed in colourful traditional costumes sing and dance in honour of the Lord at the Moirang “Lai Haraoba” which is a ritual dance festival held every year. This town also has a special place in the history of the Indian Freedom struggle. It was at Moirang that the flag of the Indian National Army was first unfurled on April 14, 1944. The INA Museum containing letters, photographs, badges of ranks and other memorabilia is on display.
Khongjom War Memorial, 36 kms. from Imphal on the Indo-Myanmar road is a major historical place. It was here that Major General Paona Brajabashi, one of the great warriors of Manipur proved his valor against the superior might of the invading British Army in 1891. The hillock at the foot of which he laid down his life in defence of his motherland, is reminiscent of the past heroic deeds of Manipuri warriors. A war memorial has been constructed atop Kheba hill; and Khongjom day is celebrated every year on 23rd April.
10 kms. from Imphal on National Highway No. 39 is the Central Orchidarium which covers 200 acres and houses over 110 rare varieties of orchids, which include dozens of endemic species. The peak blooming season is March-April.
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.
This interesting Museum has a fairly good collection and display of Manipur’s tribal heritage and a collection of portraits of Manipur’s former rulers. Particularly interesting items are costumes, arms & ammunitions, relics and historical documents.

Manipur Zoological Garden at Iroisemba is only 6 kms. on the Imphal-Kangchup Road at the foot of pine clad hills . Here apart from various endangered species, visitors can have an opportunity to see the graceful brow antlered deer (Sangai), one of the rarest endangered species in the world.

27 kms. from Imphal on the Tiddim Road, is a picturesque town situated at the foot hills that rolls down to the valley. The 15th century Vishnu Temple built of peculiarly small bricks supposedly of Chinese influence during the reign of King Kiyamba is of a historical importance. Bishnupur is also famous for its chiselled stoneware.
This is a busy market town on the Indo-Myanmar border, located at a distance of 110 kms. from Imphal. A commercial town and popular with shoppers looking for sundry products ranging from electronics to daily consumables. A visit to this border town also provides a unique opportunity to experience the different cultures, lifestyles of Myanmar through its border town at Tamu which is only 5 kms. away from Moreh.

It is on the Tiddim Road, 60 kms. from Imphal and is a bustling tribal town and district headquarter where products of arts and crafts of the area are available in the local market. Kuki-Chin-Mizo are the dominant tribes.

Manipur is compact with a good network of roads, and all sights can be visited in 3 full days.

Manipur is best reached by air. However it is now feasible to travel by car from either Guwahati and visit the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram Manipur and Nagaland over a period of 30 days.

Air connections: Imphal airport has daily flights to Kolkata, New Delhi, and Guwahati, and 4 times a week to Aizwal, Silchar and Agartala.

Road connections are available to:-

Guwahati through Silchar and Shillong via NH 53 >44 and by NH 53> 54 via Haflong- Lumding and Nagaon

  • To Dimapur through Kohima via NH 39
  • To Aizawl direct via NH 150 and via Silchar through NH 53> 54
  • To Agartala via silchar by NH 53>44 and via Aizawl through NH 150> NH 44A

The Silchar- Gujarat East –West Super Highway Project is being extended to Moreh, the border town Manipur has with Myanmar. With the proposed Moreh to Thailand via Mynmar highway project, Manipur is poised to become the Indian gateway to South-East Asia.

Rail connections: Currently the nearesest Rail stations are at Dimapur in Nagaland ( 215 Kms) and Jiribam (225 kms). Railways are scheduled to reach Imphal by the year 2016.