The Jewel of India: Manipur
Manipur is a state in North East India and a part of the seven sister states. Manipur has Nagaland to its north, Mizoram to its south, Assam to its west, and shares an international border with Myanmar to its east.
For the longest time and even till date, Manipur is a state in isolation when it comes to tourism and any kind of updated information about the state or its people. The media at large portrays this tiny tribal state as a mini civil war zone.
These claims of safety and anti-Indian violence has been put to rest in 2012 when a major chunk of the underground militias were flushed out by the Indian Army.
Today, Manipur is a state stuck in limbo. The state has scarred its name so much that today no one from mainland India even considers doing a trip to Manipur. Safety is the biggest worry even today.
The sad part is that the violence is all but over and even if you hear any kind of violence it’s in the interiors where no one really travels to. But that hasn’t changed the image of Manipur with the outside world.
The first impression on arriving in the state is most people will get the chills. This is mainly because Manipur is a dust bowl with ample of open spaces and plenty of quarry work happening all around the capital city of Imphal. This has left the city with a dust epidemic.
But after the dust settles, you’ll see that the people are warm and extremely kind hearted. They love to talk and most will just smile if they can’t converse in the language. Manipuris as they call themselves are people who are naturally shy and hence their first impression might not be the best. But give the conversion a few minutes and they will open up.
Getting to Manipur is relatively easy, since the state has an airport at Imphal and there are daily flights from all major metro and two tier cities in India. Most flights are via Guwahati in Assam.
Manipur is a place which has been blessed with immense natural beauty and makes for a thrilling journey. The fact that there is so little information makes travel around the state even more interesting and exciting at the same time.
The main attraction in Manipur is the world famous Loktak Lake which is the largest freshwater lake in North East India and also home to the world’s only floating islands called Phumdis (biomass decomposed remains). Loktak Lake is around 55 km from Imphal, the state capital and is a place you can spend days if not weeks just admiring Mother Nature.
Around Loktak Lake is Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only floating national park in the world and is home to the Sangai (brow-antlered deer). To get there, head back to Moirang and ask for Keibul Lamjao. You’ll be pointed in the right direction for a shared taxi, which will drop you off near the entrance to the park. The national park has a very nominal entry fee and there are a couple of view points from where you’ll surely get a glimpse of Sangai in the biomass.
Another interesting thing worth doing is taking a ride to the border town of Moreh. It is located on the Indo-Burma border. As of 2014 August travellers are permitted entry into Myanmar via the friendship bridge between the two country. Travellers are given a day permit to enter Myanmar and can visit the neighbouring town of Tamu. The permit is valid till 16:00 HRS Indian standard time. Getting to Burma on foot is surely worth the effort once you make the journey to Manipur.
The climate in Manipur is a mix of extreme monsoon which starts from the first week of April till mid-October and then it’s the dry winter season. During the winter season, the temperature dips well below 10 degree celsius. The dry season is the best time to travel to Manipur since during the rains, landslides and road blocks are a common occurrence.
When it comes to cell phone network coverage that’s one area where Manipur is surely ahead of most other states in India. The 4G network even at the Indo-Myanmar border was flawless. Only thing make sure you have either BSNL, Airtel or Jio connectivity while heading to Manipur.
The cuisine in Manipur is dominated with rice. Here they have rice even for breakfast. Manipuris are big time fish eaters and along with rice it’s a part of their daily diet. The fish is from Loktak Lake and can be found all across the state.
Manipuri is the official language spoken around the state along with English. You’ll find more people in Manipur who understand English better than Hindi. Manipuri is a trade language which is a mix of Tibetan and Burmese.
An important thing to keep in mind while travelling to Manipur is that considering its geographical location. The state has a very early sunrise and sunset time. So be prepared to start and end to your day.
Manipur is one of the last existing places in our country where you will experience real wanderlust. Its actually funny that a place with such natural beauty hasn’t see the potential in tourism. It’s not every day that you get to live on a floating island and cross over to another country on foot all that in a span of just a week.
If Manipur is not on your bucket list, it should be added. A week long trip is more than enough to explore the entire state.
For a similar experience >> click here