Let us help you plan your holidays to the State of Manipur in India’s North East. Manipur has World War II sites, Loktak Lake, rare Sangai Deer and much more. A short holiday there is a great idea.
India’s North-East is a fascinating abode that traditionally has not been on the radar of the Indian traveler. This enchanting land is now fast catching up with better “connectivity (read access)”. At the same time, it is also catching up with the imagination of the traveler 🙂
Northeast is the land of gripping scenic beauty. It is blessed with imposing lush green valleys, mountains and verdant landscapes. Add to that, its ethnic customs, indigenous culture, amazing lifestyle of simple and reverent people makes it an unmissable destination for a discerning traveler.
Over the last two decades, I have had my fair share of travels across the length and breadth of India. These perquisites comes with the job of a Tourism Professional. However, I did not get many opportunities to travel to the North-East. I finally decided to break the shackles in year 2018! Committing to myself that hereon I will visit at least two of these seven states every year, I visited Assam and Meghalaya in 2018. Year 2019 took me to Manipur and Nagaland.
This time around, my partner in this exploration was my colleague Rahul Rao. We decided to travel to Manipur in November end followed by visit to Kohima for Hornbill Festival. Hornbill Festival is a colorful festival of Nagaland that begins on 1 Dec.
I have tried to answer Frequently Asked Questions for Travel to North-East India with specific reference to the States of Manipur and Nagaland in previous blog post. Please Click Here before you read the information below.
Highlights of Manipur :
Most of us in mainland India have heard of Imphal (and Kohima) as the ONLY towns in India that were engaged in fierce World War II battle. Expectedly, there are War Cemeteries, Memorials and Museums in both these towns. But there is so much more in these two States.
The monument that you will prominently note in Imphal is the Kangla Fort.
It was the traditional seat of the past Meetei rulers of Manipur. It is guarded by a majestic gate and concentric moats. Being a site of political and religious centre, Kangla has grown into a formidable fortress city through the centuries.
Kangla Fort came to be occupied by Britishers after Anglo-Manipur War of 1891. From 1891 to 2004, Kangla Fort was under the occupation of Assam Rifles. Till 1947, it was under British. Post Indian independence in 1947, it changed hands to the Indian Army).
In 2004 is a key-year in the life of a proud Manipuri when Government of India handed over the Kangla Fort to them. This was a decades old demand for Kangla Fort considering its socio-religious importance.
Today, there are ruins, a museum and temples within the Kangla Fort Complex. The palace complex also consists of the 19th century Shree Govindjee Temple. Pillars and domes of the Temple are a treat for anyone who is interested in art and architecture.
A guided walk to Kangla Fort is must to know about the history of Manipur, its Royals, customs and Anglo-Manipur War. It will be a good idea to keep Kangla Fort as a first monument in your exploration list and will serve as a good introduction to Manipur and its way of life.
Ima Market / Khwairamband Bazar :
Ima, literally translate as “Mother” is a unique market of Imphal. Its unique because it’s an “all women’s market”!!! It has 3000* or more “Imas” who run the stalls.
* 3000 is the figure in the official website of Manipur Tourism. You will hear figures varying from 3000-5000. Forget the figures! The numbers are huge and it’s a complete monopoly of Women!
Ima Market is an excellent example of “evolution”. Men have been required to make themselves available for Wars and for Centuries. Women, especially of Manipur, took it to themselves to run the show. It’s a bustling market that thrives on its merit and strength and thankfully, not as a “government incentivised initiative for women upliftment and empowerment”!
Some interesting facts about The Ima Market :
The Ima Market has a history of 500+ years.
The stalls here can only be run by married women.
Current “Ima” can choose the next Ima who could be her daughter or a daughter in law.
Women dominate most of the markets across Manipur.
It is splitted into two sections on either side of a road. Vegetables, fruits, fishes and household groceries are sold on one side and exquisite handlooms and household tools on the other.
WORLD WAR II MONUMENTS AND CEMETERIES
War Cemeteries :
A bloody war was fought in Manipur and Nagaland during World War II. Indians fought with Japanese alongside INA (Indian National Army) of Subhash Chandra Bose as well as alongside British. Japanese had, more or less a free run, in Burma (present day Myanmar). Manipur and Nagaland provided stiff resistance to them.
War Cemeteries (two of them in Imphal and one in Kohima) commemorate the memories of the British and Indian soldiers who died during the War. Holidays to the State of Manipur in India’s North East will be incomplete if you do not visit these historic sites!
Red Hill (Lokpaching) :
Red Hill is a hillock about 16 kms. from Imphal on Tiddim Road. This is where British and the Japanese forces were engaged in a fierce battle during World War II. Britishers inflicted major losses to the Japanese here and were successful in stopping the movement of Japanese Army here. The Japanese Army could not enter Imphal and had to eventually retreat.
A War Memorial has been constructed here as a homage to the warriors. This “India Peace Memorial” is a place of pilgrimage for Japanese tourists.
This can be seen enroute to Loktak Lake.
MOIRANG AND LOKTAK LAKE
INA museum :
INA Museum (Indian National Army) of Subhash Chandra Bose at Moirang is a historic place in the context of India’s Freedom Struggle. This army fought alongside Japanese Forces to liberate India from Britishers. Indian tricolour was first unfurled by the INA even before India’s independence at Moirang. The museum exhibits several rare images and letters of Subhash Chandra Bose.
Loktak Lake :
Loktak Lake is the Northeast India’s biggest freshwater lake and is serenely beautiful. The “phumdis” are the most important and unique part of the habitat. “Phumdi” is the local name for the floating mass of entangled vegetation formed by the accumulation of organic debris and biomass with soil.
Boating on Loktak Lake seeing fishermen fishing in their narrow boats is a sight to behold.
Keibul Lamjao National Park
Keibul Lamjao National Park is the only floating(!!!) National Park in the world. It is located on Loktak Lake. The Park is the natural habitat of the Sangai deer of Manipur. Sangai is endemic to Manipur and is an endangered specie of deer that needs to be saved. A glimpse of the deer in this unique wetland ecosystem is a must for any wildlife enthusiast. Holidays to Manipur and to India’s North-East is incomplete without visit to this floating National Park.
Manipur is considered as the gateway to South-East Asia. Manipur shares a vast border with Myanmar. Moreh (Manipur) and Tamu (Myanmar) are the official border crossing points.One can go to Moreh from Imphal as a day excursion (start early) and crossover to Myanmar. Cheap imported goods are available on the Myanmar side of the Border and the locals can simply go shopping there with minimum of formalities. A traveler though is happy to step into another country and see some Monasteries on the Myanmar side. The ride through the Rickshaw / Tuk Tuk is “standardized” for the Tourists with visit to a few monasteries and lunch in one of the Restaurants of Myanmar.
Moreh and Tamu were “hot and humid” even in the month of November
Manipur, true to its name is a land of jewels. When are you visiting this land of dazzling beauty?
Plan your holidays to the State of Manipur in India’s North East with Infinite Journeys. Do get in touch with us!
Author : Rahul Bhusari
More about him on : Click Here
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