One of the seven sisters of the East, Manipur has got it all; from nature to culture and adventure.

A picturesque land, surrounded by hills, holds refreshing waterfalls, exotic orchids, and a large fresh water lake — if this enthrals you, then Manipur should be your destination.

Literally meaning a jewelled town, you will find yourself lost in the rich culture, tradition and ethnicity of the city, but that is if you are not already lost in the breathtaking scenic beauty! Home of the land lily Siroi (grown only in the Ukhrul district in the entire world) and a host of other rare species of flora and fauna, Manipur is one of the seven sisters of the north-east and is an emerging sports power. The “Sagol Kangjei”, better known as Polo, an indigenous game of Manipur is now played worldwide. There are a number of indigenous games in the State namely Yubi Lakpi (Manipuri Rugby), Khong Kangjei (Manipuri Hockey), Kang, Hiyang Tannaba (Boat race), Thang-Ta, etc.

Places of interest

The tourist attractions of the State include picturesque lakes, beautiful landscapes, historic monuments and display of arts and ethnic traditions. Some major tourist centres are:

INA Memorial at Moirang: About 40 km from Imphal, the town of Moirang has a special place in the history of the Indian freedom struggle. It was here that the flag of the Indian National Army was first hoisted in 1944 by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

There is a Netaji Memorial Museum in this complex displaying letters, photographs, badges of ranks and other memorabilia reminding the noble sacrifices made by the INA.

Loktak Lake and Sendra Island: Some 45 km from Imphal, Loktak is the largest fresh water lake in the North East region. It has an enchanting landscape.

From the Tourist Bungalow set atop Sendra Island, visitors get a bird's eye view of the unique lake and the floating masses of water hyacinth. If in the mood for a day picnic, this is the place to hit! Keibul Lamjao National Park: It is the only floating park existing in the country and the last habitat of Sangai, the brown-antlered deer. Panther, fishing cat, wild boar and water birds are the other interesting wild animals and birds seen here.

War Cemeteries: Commemorating the memories of the British and Indian soldiers who died during the Second World War, these cemeteries are managed by the Common Wealth War Graves Commission. Serene and well maintained, the graves carry little stone markers and bronze plaques, recording the sacrifice of those gallant soldiers.

Khonghampat Orchidarium: Seven kms from Imphal, on Highway No. 39 is the Central Orchidarium, which covers 200 acres and houses over 110 rare varieties of orchids, which include almost a dozen endemic species. The peak blooming season is March - April.

Khwairamband Bazar: A unique all women's market, 3000 “Imas” or mothers run the rows of open stalls in concrete sheds, all hawking their fare.

It is split into two sections on either side of the road. Vegetables, fruits, fish and household groceries sold on one side and exquisite handlooms and household tools, on the other.

Other places worth visiting are: Shri Govindajee Temple, Sahid Minar, Manipur State Museum, Langthabal, Manipur Zoological Garden, Singda Dam.

For the adventurous, seeking some trekking, the Mountaineering Institute might be of interest. The scenic Djuko valley on the Nagaland- Manipur border, the Baruni mountains and Koubru Leikha are other places worth checking out.

Culture and Heritage

Handloom, dance and sculpting form an integral part of Manipuri culture. The Manipuri handloom and handicraft are world famous for its craftsmanship as well as ingenuity, colourfulness and usefulness. Every house possesses a loom, and Manipuris weave with a passion and style, unrivalled by any other state. Manipuri bed covers of Moirangfee and flower designs, silk and cotton sarees, scarves, blankets and shawls, in distinctive shades and weaves, make for an enchanting collection. A wide range of artistic handicrafts from bamboo, papier mache, decorative ivory, dolls and jewellery make for prized souvenirs. The classical Manipuri dance is a unique form of dance, usually related to the Raas Lila.

Lai Haroba (feast of dances, representing celebrations of Gods / Goddesses), Pung Cholem (Mridanga dance), Mao Naga dance, the Priestess dance of Malbe Jagoi, Thangal Surung dance etc. reflect the vibrant culture of the 29 different tribes of Manipur. Witnessing the exquisite Manipuri dance-drama, in its original colourful settings, is simply an unforgettable experience.

Manipuri cuisine

The traditional Manipuri fine dining was a sit down affair with banana leaf plates. An interesting fact of Manipuri feasts is that once a group starts their meal, they all get up together in the end, and no one can sit in between once the serving starts. People serve in dhotis with a white cloth tied around their mouth in pin drop silence. Rice is the staple food; some take rice with meat and others prefer a fish delicacy along with the main dish. Over 10-15 varieties of vegetables and side-dishes compliment it. For those interested in trying the traditional Manipuri food, Gopal Pizza at the Iscon Temple and Yaisena hotel (MG avenue) are some options.

Fact File

Area: 22,327 sq km

Religion: Predominantly Vaishnavite Hindu

Capital: Imphal

Language: Manipuri

RELATED NEWS

From good old timesMay 14, 2010

Wet and wonderfulMay 12, 2010

Blue hills, meandering riversMay 12, 2010