Posted 21 October 2022

Reasons that make Manipur, The Land of Jewel- A once in a lifetime destination

Manipur is not only famous for its rich culture and traditions but also for its vibrant dance forms and music, scenic landscapes and delectable local cuisines. The people of Manipur believe in simplicity and are extremely friendly, making it a must-visit destination in India.

The state, also known as “The Land of the Jewel," has nine hills surrounding an oval shaped valley, thus resembling the shape of a necklace. Home to the largest freshwater lake in the northeast, a breathtaking orchid garden and the local Manipuri dance, the place is a once in a lifetime destination, which is sure to impress and delight all tourists.

What makes Manipur a once in a lifetime destination?

The Palace of Kangla

Situated in the capital city of Manipur, the Palace of Kangla was once on both banks of the Imphal River. However, today, only the ruins of the grand palace remain on the western bank. In the local language, Kangla means dry land. The palace was once the traditional seat of the old Meetei rulers of Manipur.

Currently, the palace is open to visitors and is a major tourist attraction of Imphal. The palace holds tremendous archaeological, historical and religious values and is a must visit for all patrons of art and history. It has several shrines that the locals and people of the adjoining states worship.

Things to do at the palace of kangla:

  • Take a guided tour to see various sites and learn about the Anglo-Manipur battles of Kohima and Imphal.
  • Visit the large pond which is said to be the abode of Lord Pakhangba. The holy water from the lake is used to perform a number of traditional ceremonies, and ancestral worship.
  • Visit Nunggoibi, the site where enemies were beheaded after a religious ceremony performed by the priest. The beheaded enemies were known to have been given as offerings to the gods.

Khonghampat Orchidarium

The famous orchid garden is located right in the middle of Imphal and is managed by Manipur’s Forest department. The gardens are so exquisite that they are known to be visited by tourists from all across the globe who come to marvel at the natural beauty of the garden. The Khonghampat Orchidarium has over 120 varieties of orchids from all over the world. Some of the special orchid species like cattleya, cymbidium, vanda, and dendrobium are housed in the orchid gardens. Also, the wildly popular Phalaenopsis orchids grow in abundance in yellow and pink colours. The garden is also home to rare species of bees, lizards, and moths.

The best time to visit the garden is during the spring months of April and May when the flowers are in full bloom.

Loktak Lake

One of the largest freshwater lakes, Loktak Lake is a must-visit for all tourists visiting the state of Manipur. The lake has been the main source of water to over 55 local Manipuri villages and has provided the locals with food, shelter and occupation. There are several fishermen who call the Loktak Lake their home. The lake is about 48 km from the capital city of Imphal.

The Loktak Lake houses the world’s only floating national park, the Keibul Lamjao National Park which is home to unique flora and fauna, creating a great biodiversity zone. The area around the national park has acres of wetlands with floating vegetation. In 1966, the national park was declared a sanctuary to preserve the endangered brown antlered deer or ‘Sangai’. Sangai is also known as Manipur’s dancing deer because of its spectacular and graceful gait.

Things to do at the Loktak lake:

  • See the beautiful and unique floating islands called “phumdis” on which the fishermen live in floating huts called “phumsangs.”
  • Make a visit to Sendra Tourist Home which is a popular tourist spot with an inhouse cafeteria offering spectacular views of the lake.
  • One can indulge in various water sport activities being organised by Takmu Water Sports Complex at the lake.

Manipur Sangai Festival

One of the brightest and most colorful festivals of Manipur, the Manipur Sangai Festival is celebrated in the month of November every year. Started in 2010, the festival has grown to be a platform for displaying the state’s unique culture and artform. The main aim of the festival is to improve and boost tourism in the state. Tourists visiting the state during this festival can enjoy the various dance forms, music, local food and walk through various exhibitions which showcase local handicrafts.

The Manipur Film Festival is a part of the Manipur Sangai Festival which screens movies and short films made by local directors and actors. The idea behind the festival is to promote the local culture and give a global platform and recognition to the artists.

Things to do in Manipur Sangai Festival:

  • Witness the breathtaking Raas Leela, which is the most famous dance form of Manipur and is popular worldwide. Also, see other traditional dances like the Bamboo dance, Maibi dance, Kabui Naga dance and the Lai Haraoba dance.
  • Enjoy the delectable local Manipuri delicacies like Nga Thongba or fish curry, Eromba which is made from fermented fish and boiled vegetables and Paknam, which is a local cake.
  • One should witness the display of native sports like Yub-Lakpi which is rugby played with a greased coconut, Thang Ta which is a demonstration of sword skills and Sagol Kangjei which is the local version of Polo.

Lui Ngai Ni

Lui Ngai Ni, or the seed sowing festival, is the main festival of Manipur which is celebrated with great gusto and fervour. The festival is celebrated by the local Manipuri tribes and is organised in the month of February, which is the beginning of the seed sowing season.

The tribes celebrate this festival before sowing the seeds and pay tribute and homage to the God, praying for a good harvest. They appease the gods by singing and dancing. The tribes display their grand culture and tradition. Folk dance, attire shows, playing of drums, lighting fire are few of the highlights of the events. In current times, the festival has provided the young generation with a unique opportunity to connect with their roots and go back to their traditions. One must also savour the local Manipuri cuisine during the festival.

Things to do at Lui Ngai Ni:

  • Witness the lighting of the sacred fire, which is one of the most popular and traditional Manipuri performances.
  • Enjoy the local dancing and singing, which the tribes perform with great zeal and enthusiasm.
  • Taste the local Manipuri cuisine which is in full display during the festival.

Manipuri cuisine

One of the biggest reasons, which makes Manipur a once in a lifetime destination is the scrumptious and delectable cuisine of the state. The cuisine of Manipur is said to be healthy and nutritious, with extra chillies and spices. The local food is a tribute to the connection that the people have with nature and is bound to tickle the taste buds. A wide variety of rice is grown in the state.

Seafood is another very popular food item found in abundance. In addition to fresh fish, dry and fermented fish called “ngari” is a staple in Manipur

A traditional meal in this northeastern state will have steamed rice, kangsoi which is a vegetable stew made with ngari, ooti which is a thick curry made from peas, beans, kanghou which is stir fried vegetable dish, singju - a salad made from seasonal vegetables and a spicy paste made from roasted ngari, chillies and garlic. Chakhao is the local dessert, which is a pudding made from black rice.

Travel tips for Manipur

  • Take care of personal belongings, especially in public and crowded places.
  • Opt for a boat ride on Loktak Lake.
  • Be mindful of the timings of public places, and plan a visit accordingly.

Weather & best time to visit

The best time to visit Manipur is between September and April as the weather is pleasant during this period, thus making it the ideal choice to explore the state. During winters, the temperature goes down to about 4℃, so one is advised to carry heavy woollens.

How to reach Manipur?

  • By road: The state is well connected to the rest of the country, thus making the state accessible during all times. One can drive down or board an interstate bus to reach Manipur. There are buses that run daily from Guwahati, Kohima and Dimapur to the capital city, Imphal. Tourists may also hire a taxi to reach the state.
  • By rail: Despite being a popular tourist destination, there is no direct train to Manipur. The nearest railway station is in Dimapur, which is at a distance of 200 km from Imphal. One can get off at Dimapur and catch a bus to reach Imphal as the two places are well connected. The journey from Dimapur to Imphal takes about 8 hours.
  • By air: Imphal international airport being the second largest airport in northeastern India is well connected to Indian cities. IndiGo has daily non-stop flights to Imphal from almost all major cities in India.

Conclusion

The lesser explored land promises to be one of the most sought after destinations to visit. The state’s picturesque landscapes, rich art and culture, unique traditions coupled with ecstatic simplicity make it a must visit place which will surely leave a travel enthusiast spellbound.

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