Surrounded by hills and interspersed with lush green valleys, the small north eastern state has an untouched and undeveloped charm, and is gifted with magnificent natural beauty, picturesque landscapes, and a rich history and cultural heritage
Manipur is a melting pot of cultural and ethnic diversity. Surrounded by hills and interspersed with lush green valleys, the small north eastern state has an untouched and undeveloped charm, and is gifted with magnificent natural beauty, picturesque landscapes, and a rich history and cultural heritage. This land harbours secrets from the past, especially from World War II. Let us look at some of its major tourist attractions:
The Singda Dam is located 16 kilometres away from Imphal, the capital city. Rice fields and green hills make the route to the dam a joyful ride. With its beautiful views and quiet surroundings, it is a popular picnic and hiking spot. The 920-metre high dam overlooks a beautiful lake and is an irrigation project. The serene waters of the lake radiate warmth and peace.
Shri Govindajee Temple
Shri Govindajee Temple is one of Manipur's top tourist sites. The golden twin-domed temple was built in the Nagara style and is dedicated to Shri Govindajee. It houses idols of Lord Krishna, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram, Goddess Radha, Goddess Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. The white temple is a historical centre of the Vaishnavites. Early morning is the finest time to visit the temple for the deity-worshipping aarti ritual. The calmness is perfect for meditation.
Loktak Lake, one of Manipur's most picturesque spots, is India's largest freshwater lake. It is 50 km from Imphal. The lake and the Sendra Island, a floating island constructed of biological garbage, are must-see places. The lake's floating islands feed local fishing towns. In recent years, however, the lake has shrunk due to unabated human encroachment despite government efforts to maintain and conserve environmental assets.
Kangla Fort, the seat of the Meitei rulers of Manipur, represents the State's splendour and rich history. This ancient metropolis showcased Manipur's sovereignty till 1891 and bore testimony to the reigns of several kings. Located at the centre of Imphal, the fort once adorned both sides of the River Imphal, but now just a few ruins remain on the western end. Residents revere the few shrines that it has.
Imphal Valley is an oval-shaped canyon in Manipur. It is produced by several small rivers emptying here. Rivers Iril, Imphal, Khuga, Thoubal and Sekmai originate from the surrounding highlands. The valley covers an area of 1,843 square kilometres, over a tenth of Manipur's total land. This journey is combined with a tour of the valley's southern lakes and wetlands. The natural and manufactured features of Imphal Valley include the Palace of Kangla, Polo Ground, and the Manipur State Museum.
The Shirui Hills, part of the Shiri-Kashong range, are home to Manipur's state flower, the uncommon Shirui Lily. The pinkish-white beauties bloom only in the Shirui Hill Range in May. The Royal Horticultural Society awarded this unusual bloom in one of their London flower exhibits. In addition to the Shirui Lily, these mountains are home to thousands of orchids, rhododendrons and natural plants.
Santhei Natural Park
The Santhei Natural Park is a popular tourist destination amid the verdant foliage of which people are often seen enjoying food in family get-togethers. Locals helped build this park to safeguard the ecosystem and promote rational resource management. The inhabitants of Andro first built a reservoir on the foothills, and later the Santhei Natural Park. An artificial dam provides public water and enhances the area's aesthetics.
Keibul Lamjao Park
This floating national park is one of Manipur's major tourist draws. The Keibul Lamjao National Park is the only natural habitat for the Sangai, Manipur's dancing deer. Wildlife enthusiasts must visit this place to see this endangered creature in its natural surroundings and wetland ecology. You can also see hog deer, otters, waterfowl, and a variety of migrating birds from November to March.
This limestone cave – a renowned tourist spot located in Ukhrul district – is historically significant because of Stone Age findings. These caverns attract scholars and archaeologists from the rest of India and even abroad. Inside the cave, massive limestone deposits hang from the ceiling and sprout from the ground. The cave's five tunnels and two big chambers provide tourists a mystical experience.
Nillai Tea Estate
Manipur's gorgeous green tea plantations are popular tourist destinations. The Nillai Tea Garden lets you explore the wide tea estate and sample delicious black and green teas. In the Hallui Hills, guests can tour the estate and learn about tea-making. Locals hand-pick, sun-dry and naturally prepare tea leaves. Green tea can only be tasted authentically after being cooked twice.
The Khayang Peak near Ukhrul is among the notable tourist sites in Manipur. The landscapes there are mesmerising. Adventure seekers will enjoy the outdoor sports facilities. At 3,114 metres above sea level, the top offers a colourful view of the region's mountains, valleys, streams, and hamlets. Beautiful scenery makes the ascent to the Khayang Peak a popular trek.
Sadu Chiru Waterfalls
The Sadu Chiru Waterfalls are located about 20-25 miles from Imphal. The water falls from a height of 300 metres. Reaching the Sadu Chiru falls is a wonderful experience in itself, as you cross gorgeous meadows, woodlands, and streams before climbing rough stone steps for a spectacular perspective of the surrounding valleys. When you get a foggy view of the waterfall's milky white waters through deep woodland and greenery, the 20-km detour will be worth it.
Sanamahi Kiyong Temple
The Sanamahi Kiyong Temple mixes Manipur's natural beauty and customs. The temple is dedicated to the Meitei deity, Lainingthou Sanamahi. It was built on the Manipur Rifles Ground more than 100 years back. The brick building has an octagonal base and stairs to the entry on the south. The Gothic roof and entrance are pyramidal. Cultural exhibitions are held in the place during the Cheiraoba Festival.
Manipur Zoological Gardens
The Manipur Zoo is a popular tourist attraction where over 400 animal and bird species live on the eight-hectare "jewel box". The zoo's vegetation and fauna draw visitors from throughout the world. As many as 420 species of animals and 55 species of birds live in the zoo.
This is a historical monument inside the Kangla Fort. The site dates back to 700 AD. The temple has been renovated many times since 1846. Two white Kangla Sha statues stand outside the coronation halls, Uttara. When the British conquered the Kangla Fort, they had razed down the original Kangla Sha, the Manipuri mythical beast.
Millennium Garden is a spot for family get-togethers. Locally known as Haorang Sabol, the garden has green grass, slopes, and flowers. It has various man-made artefacts depicting Manipur's history and traditions. Children can play in the garden while the adults eat or stretch out after exploring the place. The garden has a gourmet restaurant and shops selling saplings and flower plants.
Waithou Lake is located in Thoubal district. Clean water and lush vegetation enhance the lake's beauty. Water from the Waithou Hill and paddy fields on the eastern and western sides drains into the lake. The lake, located 16 kilometres from Imphal along the Imphal-Myanmar Road, is bordered by pineapple farms. Ngaton fists used to breed in the Waithou Lake, but they vanished after the 1970s following construction of a barrage.
The Manipur Government recently built an ecotourism project near Thangmeiband Cheirao Ching in Imphal West. Visitors need to climb a hill to get a sweeping view of Imphal city. On top, roadside shacks serve breakfast and sugarcane juice. There is a children's playground just before the summit.
Khongjom War Memorial Complex
The Khongjom War Memorial Complex honours the Manipuris' major battle against the British, during which the legendary Paona Brajabashi died for his land. This war complex, located 33 miles from Imphal, chronicles the 1891 war. The Khongjom Day is celebrated on April 23. The 30-foot-tall entrance to the war memorial and the surrounding greenery add to the appeal of the place.
Mutua Bahadur Museum
The Mutua Bahadur Museum is unique in the fact that it is not a concrete structure made of cement. The museum contains coins, ceramics, paintings, manuscripts, jewellery, wood carvings, bell metal artefacts, and ethnic handicrafts in traditional Manipuri thatched houses. The museum simulates Kabui, Poumai, Kuki, Meitei and Tangkhul homes. One can explore Manipur's cultural legacy through wooden carvings, paintings and dolls.