Posted 30 November 2022

Why you need to plan a trip to Imphal in Manipur right now

Imphal is the capital of Manipur, the beautiful state of north-east India which is called the “Land of the Jewel”. Exploring Imphal is a great privilege and honour as the beauty of Manipur is mostly untainted and untouched. The people are warm and peace-loving, the city is drowned in rich history and culture, and the natural scenic landscapes of Imphal are like a spectacular painting made by God.

Imphal is blessed with lush and natural greenery, delectable and palatable local cuisines, clean and spotless roads, and friendly locals. The state of Manipur is extremely quiet and peaceful, making Imphal an ideal destination for tourists who are looking for a relaxing and comfortable holiday.

Khonghampat Orchidarium, which is a stunning orchid garden, Loktak Lake - the largest freshwater lake in the northeast, Kangla Palace which speaks volumes about the history of the state, and the local Manipuri dances are some of the top reasons to plan an Imphal tour.

Here’s are the top reasons to plan an Imphal tour:

1. Khonghampat Orchidarium

Khonghampat Orchidarium is an iconic orchid garden which is located right in the heart of Imphal. Managed by Manipur’s forest department, the orchid gardens are known to be visited and revisited by many tourists from all over the world due to their exquisite and unique beauty. The orchidarium houses over 120 varieties and species of orchids from all over the globe, and during the spring season, when the orchids are in full bloom, the entire garden appears to be a vast sea of beautiful flowers.

Not only orchids, but the garden also has rich biodiversity and is home to rare and unique species of birds, bees, lizards, and moths. Orchid varieties, like cymbidium, vanda, cattleya, and dendrobium, call Khonghampat Orchidarium their home. The Phalaenopsis orchid is mostly used in weddings and other important ceremonies in Manipur and is grown extensively in the orchidarium in pink and yellow colors.

Any trip to Imphal is incomplete without a trip to Khonghampat Orchidarium which leaves an imprint on the minds, souls, and hearts of all those who visit. The orchidarium is one of the top reasons to plan an Imphal tour. Travellers must visit the garden during the spring months of April and May when the orchids are in full bloom and the entire garden is blooming with bright colours. The weather is also favourable to explore and marvel at the gardens. One important point to note is that the orchidarium shuts at noon every day, so travellers must make plans to visit the gardens before that time.

2. Kangla Palace

Kangla Palace is one of the most popular places in Imphal and is located right in the middle of the city. The palace is located along the banks of the Imphal river and was the throne of the ruler of Manipur before the British forces captured it.

Rich in history, Kangla Palace was the throne of Pakhangba, the ruler of Manipur, who sat in the palace in 33 AD. The palace has numerous mentions in Cheitharol Kummaba, the Royal Chronicle of Manipur.

Currently, the palace is open to visitors and is a must-visit in Imphal for patrons of art and history as it has great historical, cultural, architectural, and archaeological values. The palace has several shrines which the locals, and people of the neighbouring northeast states worship to.

Travellers can take the guided tour to learn about the twin battles of Kohima and Imphal. The palace also houses a large pond which was the abode of Pakhangba. Till date, all ceremonies and ancestral worship programs are performed from the water of this pond. The palace also houses a site where enemies of the state were beheaded. The priest would perform a ceremony, behead the enemies, and give them as offerings.

3. Shaheed Minar

Shaheed Minar or Martyr’s Gate is a tower that was erected to pay respects and homage to the brave Manipuri soldiers who lost their lives for the state, fighting against the British soldiers during the Anglo-Manipuri battle of 1891. The Shaheed Minar tower has three vertical beams that come together at the top. The beams are etched with carvings of three mythical dragons.

A popular tourist spot, Shaheed Minar is situated in the Bir Tikendrajit Park, and travellers can explore the beautiful, well-maintained gardens, and read about the brave soldiers. The Bir Tikendrajit Park has been built in honour of Yuvray Bir Tikendrajit and General Thangal, who were publicly hanged by the British in 1891.

4. Loktak Lake

Located about 48 km away from Imphal, Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in NorthEast India and is a must-visit spot for all tourists. The lake holds immense value for all the locals, by providing water to over 55 villages, and helping the locals by providing them with occupation, food, shelter, water, and sustenance. The local fishermen owe their livelihood to Loktak Lake.

One of the most unique features of Loktak Lake is that it is home to the world’s only floating national park. The Keibul Lamjao National Park has vast biodiversity and is surrounded by acres of wetlands with floating vegetation. The national park has some of the world’s rarest flora and fauna. Home to Manipur’s dancing deer, Sangai, the national park was declared as a sanctuary in 1966 to preserve the endangered deer. Sangai is the brow-antlered deer and has a graceful gait, which has earned it the name of Manipur’s dancing deer.

There are water sports and boating opportunities organised by the Takmu Water Sports Complex which make for a fun trip at the Loktak Lake. Also, the Sendra Tourist Home is a good spot for tourists to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the lake and has a cafeteria that provides snacks as well.

5. Three Mothers Art Gallery

A must-visit for all art and history lovers, Three Mothers Art Gallery is a museum that shows the rich culture and heritage of Manipur. The art gallery also has a museum and is sprawled over 1,000 sq ft. The art gallery is called the Three Mothers because it signifies the three mothers - the motherland, the mother tongue, and one’s own mother.

All exhibits in the gallery are unique because they are carved from a single piece of the root of the trees. There are chairs, animal figures, carvings of mythological figures, and carvings of famous people. There are carved battle scenes and indigenous wildlife that show the skills and artwork of the state. The artist is featured in the Limca Book of Records for his artwork, which is called the Wooden Artistic Figure.

One of the rare hidden gems of Imphal, the Three Mothers Art Gallery is a must-visit and is a unique experience. Entry to the gallery is free of charge and is open every day from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

6. Tharon Cave

The 655-metre long cave, Tharon Cave, is a unique tourist spot in Imphal and has five exit points, and 34 connecting points. The cave holds evidence of the Hobonian culture of North Vietnam. The cave has maps inside, which help archaeological enthusiasts explore, reach the remote corners, and find streets.

Historically, Tharon Caves were a shelter for the tribal people, but now, the caves are in ruins and an archaeological site, most popular among adventure seekers and admirers of archaeological sites.

Another reason to tour Imphal - Local cuisine

  • The local food of Imphal is palatable and delectable, which is healthy and nutritious. The Manipuris cook their food with spices and herbs, which is a tribute to their attachment and connection with nature.
  • The weather and soil of Imphal make it ideal to grow different long and short grained varieties of rice. Rice is the staple food of locals. The state also has numerous lakes and ponds, making seafood easily available. The locals dry and ferment the fish called “ngari”, and it is another delicacy of the state.
  • A typical meal at Imphal will have steamed rice, a vegetable stew made with fermented fish, a curry made from peas and chives, stir-fried vegetables, a salad, and pudding made from black rice which is the speciality. The Manipuris enjoy a spicy paste made from red chilis, ngari and garlic as condiments.

Travel tips

How to reach Imphal?

  • By road: The Indian national highways connect Imphal to the rest of the country, making it easy for travellers to reach the state of Manipur by road. The visitors can either drive down, rent a cab, or hail an interstate bus. The National Highway 39 connects Manipur to Assam, and the National Highway 53 connects Manipur to Nagaland. There are daily buses plying from Guwahati, Kohima, and Dimapur.
  • By rail: There is no direct train to Manipur, despite it being an extremely popular holiday destination. The nearest railway station from Imphal is Dimapur, which is in Nagaland, at a distance of 200 km. It is easy to get to Imphal from Dimapur, as there are several local buses that ply via the NH 39. The journey from Dimapur to Imphal will take about 8 hours.
  • By air: IndiGo has daily non-stop flights to Imphal Tulihal international airport from almost all major cities in India.

Best hotels to stay in Imphal

Some of the most comfortable hotels in Imphal are:

  • Hotel Daani Continental
  • The Classic Grande Hotel by Radisson
  • Hotel Imphal by the Classic
  • Sangai Continental
  • The Castle Hotel

Weather & Best time to visit

The onset of winter to summer is the best time to visit Imphal as tourists get pleasant weather, making it the ideal time to explore the city. September to April are most favourable. In winters, the temperature goes down to 4℃, so tourists must pack accordingly, and carry warm clothes. During the summer months, the temperature will be about 30℃, and lightweight clothes must be carried.

Conclusion

Imphal is a paradise for all visitors who are looking to relax in a picturesque and beautiful environment, with lovely warm people, and delectable cuisine. There is so much to do and explore in Imphal while giving travellers the opportunity to take a break from the hustle-bustle, and just relax and unwind. The spectacular orchid garden, the pristine Loktak Lake, and the historical Kangla Palace are some of the top reasons to plan an Imphal tour.

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