Manipur: The Crown Jewel of India
At the eastern-most corner of the Northeast, lies a radiant jewel. Oval shaped, emerald bright, and brimming over with things to do, see, experience and taste – this is Manipur. Largely untouched and undiscovered by the outside world, Manipur retains all the charm of its origin – from its culture, to its cuisine, to its landscapes. The state is cupped in the loving embrace of hills, studded with sapphire blue lakes and jade green forests. It’s no wonder that the name Manipur is literally translated into “the land of gems”.
|Manipur: A Quick View of the state|
|Official Language||Manipuri Meiteilon|
|Population||2.267 million (as of 2018)|
|Currency||Indian Rupee (INR)|
|Time Zone||UTC+05:30 (IST)|
|Area||22,327 square kilometers|
Highlights of Manipur
The past lingers in many pockets in Imphal. The untouched beauty of the city will take your breath away. In prominence is the site of the Imphal battle in World War II, where battle cries of yore were heard. If you haven’t indulged your love for history yet, then head to Kangla fort with its main palace, pilgrimage sites and Nungjeng Pukhri – a sacred pond. Immerse yourself in Manipur’s rich culture by visiting the Manipur State Museum, which includes the display of a boat named Hiyag Hiren, which is over 54 feet/ 16 feet long.
Peek into the green waves and folds of Manipur’s hills and you will find a rich array of wildlife. The state boasts of species like the endangered Brow Antlered Deer, the Stump Tailed Macaque, the Cloud Leopard and others. Manipur is also home to over 500 varieties of orchids.
If you’re seeking spiritual meaning from your trip, Manipur will feed your hungry soul. The state is a patchwork of religious beliefs – each of which beautifies the other. Hindus, Christians and Muslims live together in harmony and religious sites rest peacefully side by side. You can take a trip to Iskon temple and Shree Shree Govindajee Temple. Babupara Mosque is the most significant place of worship for Muslims in Manipur. Take a trip back in time to the Phungyo Baptist Church, which is the first church to be built in Manipur in 1901.
The lake, serene, blue and beautiful, is a natural tourist destination when you visit Manipur. It is also the largest freshwater lake in the Northeast. What makes this lake unique is the presence of phumdis – masses of organic matter that float on the surface of the lake, forming shallow islands. The largest of these phumdis covers an area of 40 square kilometres. The Keibul Lamjao Natural Park is situated on this floating phumdi.
Meitei culture is soaked into the very fabric of Manipur. The state is famous for its fairs and festivals and every day is a reason for celebration. However, if you’re looking for cultural diversity – Manipur has that too. The Kukis, Nagas, Manipuri Brahmins and Pangal (Manipuri Muslims) come together to create a varied and wonderful state. The most famous festival in Manipur is the Cheiraoba (Manipuri New Year). The state also boasts of a rich entertainment repertoire, including the Manipuri dance known as Jagoi. For a slice of Manipuri theatre, visit the 200-seater Chorus Repertory Theatre, which features shows that revolve around Manipuri lives and Manipuri stories.
From the vast depths of the Manipuri cuisine, come delicious dishes like Eromba (a lovely chutney boiled with vivacious red chillies), Singju (a salad prepared with chopped banana stem, banana flower, cabbage, lotus stem and herbs and seasonal vegetables) and Chamthong (a stew of vegetables, fish and rice) to name a few. Cuisine here is typically spicy, as the locals use chilli peppers rather than garam masala.
Interesting Facts about Manipur
Location: Gateways to Greatness
Manipur shares its borders with its sister North-eastern states – Nagaland in the north, Mizoram in the south and Assam to the east. Its eastern border is the reason it is referred to as the Gateway to the East and it shares it with Myanmar (previously known as Burma). Moreh town in Manipur is the only feasible route for trade between Myanmar and India and other South East Asian Countries.
Timings: Best time to visit
Manipur is a beautiful state that saves its best for the winters. From October to March, Manipur opens its doors to cold, chilly winds and temperatures that drop as low as 8 degrees Celsius at night. During daytime, the state is bathed in weak and warm rays of sunshine. While summers are hot and humid, the temperature never reaches scorching levels. Moderate to heavy rainfall bathes the mountains during the monsoon season and the state is lovely to witness in all its green glory.
Manipur: Way to the Valley
By Road: If you’re travelling to Manipur by road, your best bet is the route alongside NH2, from Nagaland, which connects Kohima to Imphal. You can also reach Manipur by road via Silchar in Assam. Many state tourist buses are available from neighbouring areas like Aizwal, Itanagar, Kohima, Dimapur, Shilling and more.
By Rail: Although Manipur is one of the favoured destinations of the Northeast, the state capital Imphal has no station of its own. However, many tourists take a train to the closest station to Imphal, which is Dimapur in Nagaland. From Dimapur, daily buses take tourists to Manipur via National Highway 39 – travelling a distance of approximately 215 kilometres. Dimapur station is open to trains from many cities in the country, including Avadh Assam Express, Rajdhani Express, Amritsar Dibrugarh Express, New Delhi Dibrugarh Express, amongst others.
By Air: Manipur’s airport is approximately 8 kilometres away from the main city of Imphal. The airport is well connected to the major cities in the county like Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata. Most major carriers in the country fly to this airport. The closest international airport, however, is in Kolkata. Outside the airport, there are many prepaid and private taxis, which will take you to where you need to be, for fares as low as INR 150.
History: Millenniums of Monarchy
Manipur’s history is captured by the stories (Puyas or Puwaris) of the indigenous Manipur Meities, in the archaic Meitei script. (The hill tribes of Manipur chronicle their own stories, myths and legends separately). Throughout its history Manipur has been referred to by many names – Tilli-Koktong, Poirei-Lam, Sanna-Leipak, Mitei-Leipak, Meitrabak and more. Its capital was also referred to by different names – Kangla, Yumphal and finally Imphal.
In over 3500 years of royalty, the indigenous Meitei people have recorded the events of over 108 Kings that have ruled the region till 1955 AD. However, Manipur has also experienced periods with no rulers between 1129-44 BC. Finally, in 1891 AD, the Meitei’s were defeated by the British in the Anglo-Manipuri war of Khongjom. It was then that the sovereignty of Manipur, thriving for over 3 millennia, was put to an end. In 1926, it became a part of British Burma and remained there till 1947. On 14th August 1947, it regained its freedom and two years later, on 15th October 1949, Manipur was unified with India.
Let the rich, royal history of Manipur inform your journey, as you walk the path of kings and commoners alike.
Indian Rupee (INR)