The world’s only floating biomass islands: Loktak Lake, Manipur
Loktak Lake is located around 55 km from the state capital of Imphal and is the largest fresh water lake in North East India. The lake is situated at an altitude of around 2520 feet above sea-level and is home to world’s only floating biomass islands which are called Phumdis.
Phumdis are a rich source of vegetation. The Phumdis float during the rains and sink during the dry months, sucking nutrients from the lake bed to replenish their roots and float again when the next monsoon cycle begins. This has been their life cycle for centuries and has supported mankind in Manipur since then.
In the heart of the lake is the largest phumdi, the 40 sq. km Keibul Lamjao National Park, home to the endangered brown-antlered deer, the sangai, whose habitat is under threat. A visit to the national park is a must while visiting the lake.
Loktak Lake stretches for around 250-270 sq.km during the dry months from November to end of March. During the monsoon, the lake swells up to a massive 500sq.km and during this time the floating Phumdis are at their gorgeous best.
Getting to Loktak Lake from Imphal is relatively simple, you first hop onto a shared vehicle to the town of Moirang which is roughly around 50 km from Imphal and then take another shared Tuk-tuk to the lake area called Tanga. The entire journey takes around an 90-100 minutes and is an extremely smooth and enjoyable ride.
The last three kilometres of your drive from Moirang to Tanga is when you’ll start to see the first glimpse of the lake and its surely going to be love at first sight. Loktak is a place which few have heard about and even fewer have travelled to.
While at Loktak lake, there are no such tourist attractions or sites to see, so the first thing to do is take a boat ride into the lake to have a glimpse of the floating Phumdis and the tiny fisherman villages which exist on these floating biomass. These narrow boats can accommodate only one passenger and one paddle man.
Around the lake are numerous villages and it’s really worth visiting them. The villages are inhabited by the Meitei Tribe and the villagers are very warm and will happily invite you into their courtyard. A walk through the villages and you’ll get a first hand feel of what living life along Loktak Lake feels like.
Later take a shared tuk-tuk to the small inhabited island of Karang. From the island, there are plenty of viewpoints to click some really stunning pictures. After all this is done, the final thing is to climb the hill around sunset time to get a bird’s eye view of the entire lake and the floating Phumdis on Loktak Lake. The sunset from the top of the hill is simply magical.
All the above is possible if you plan on spending more than a day around the lake. But if you are staying at Imphal and just visiting the lake for the day, then a boat ride is the maximum you will be able to achieve. Since most drivers insist on returning back to Imphal before sun down.
Around Loktak, your options of staying are limited to a luxury lake side resort or a home stay run by one of the villagers. The home stay option is much better than the lake side resort since staying with a Manipuri family is literally the best way to experience the place.
Eating options around the lake don’t exist there are no such restaurants or even dhabas around, just a couple of straw huts selling rice and fish curry. Not the ideal place for a city person to dine at. But nonetheless tasty food.
The best time to visit Loktak is during the dry months from mid-October to end of April. The rest of the year it rains so much that travelling around the region becomes near impossible.
Loktak Lake has surprisingly extremely good network connection with excellent 4G coverage. The nearest town is Moirang which has plenty of ATMs, make sure to carry cash in all denominations while travelling here.
If you put aside your fears and misconception about the place, Loktak and Manipur has some of the warmest people and a couple of nights stay near the like is highly recommended. Loktak Lake is the kind of place which will grow on you.
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