If you have long been planning a trip to the Northeast but undecided about where to go,Manipur may be the kind of destination you are looking for. From serene landscapes, exotic wildlife, floating islands to the warmhearted locals, there is no way you’ll not fall in love with this place.
Known as the ‘Switzerland of India’, Manipur lies in the deep corner of the northeast part of India. This beautiful land is surrounded byNagaland in the north, Mizoram in the south and Assam in the west, and shares a common international border with Burma in the east.
Places to visit
Imphal – The capital city
Surrounded by seven hill ranges, the capital city of Manipur is the hub for culture and commercial activity.
You get a glimpse into the matriarchal set up of Manipur at this bazaar. Known as ‘Ema Keithel’, it is the only and the largest market run by women in the country. From here you can pick up traditional Manipuri handlooms such as shawls, baskets, bags, clothes, household tools, and many more. Tourists popularly buy cane and bamboo handicraft from here.
The cemetery commemorates the British and Indian soldiers who died during the Second World War. It looks tranquil and is well maintained with stone markers and bronze plaques recording brief accounts of the soldiers.
Shri Govindajee Temple
Adjacent to the palace of the former rulers of Manipur, this temple is a sacred center for Vaisnavites. The temple has a simple structure comprising twin domes, a paved courtyard and a large raised congregation hall.
Gambhir Singh shopping complex: Wondering where to find those shoes and shirts worn by rock stars? Well, this is the right place to buy them from. The place is flooded with latest foreign fashion accessories. Also look out for tattoo shops; the tattoo artists here are quite creative.
Loktak Lake & Sendra Island
This place is a must see for the tourists. About 48 kilometers from Imphal, Sendra island is more of an elevated hill in the center of Loktak Lake, the largest fresh water lake in the northeastern, and opens up a wonderful panorama of small islands of floating weed dotting the glittering blue waters, aquatic flora and the locals going about their daily life. Loktak is like a miniature inland sea with a beautiful stretch of water, and is a good place to enjoy boating, canoeing and other water sports.
Keibul Lamjao National Park
The park is home to the rare and endemic brow-antlered deer called ‘Sangai’. About 53 kilometers from Imphal, on the fringes of Loktak Lake, this is the last natural habitat of the endangered Sangai deer. The unique characteristic of this park is it floats on water.
Moreh (Indo-Myanmar border)
Experience a little bit of Myanmar here in this place. Approx. 110 kilometers from Imphal, this border town is located on the lands of Tamu. It is an important commercial hub in Northeast. Enjoy the advantages of rupee at the Myanmar Shopping Complex. Here you get a cheap bargain on an assortment of Thai, Chinese and Burmese electronic gadgets, clothes, carpets and home decor range.
Must do in Moreh- Go for a short tour of Myanmar’s town like Kalimiew and Mandlay. Also enjoy a chariot ride near the border.
An honest piece of advice, avoid hooking up with Burmese prostitutes for the fear of STDs.
Other places to visit
Manipur Zoological Garden
Manipur state museum
Other things to do
– For those into music, must catch up a local rock concert in case it is on. Rock concerts are a common feature on the cultural calender of Manipur.
– Don’t hestitate taking a sip of the locally brewn rice beer and wine at local bars. They are as authentic as can get. The locals enjoy their drink with a platter of pakoras, momos, fish, singju and even dog meat.
– Watch Ras Leela dance at theatres. Ras Leelas are based on the eternal and celestial love of Radha and Krishna and tell a love story in the form of dance movements and musical compositions.
– Watch Manipuri films, which are totally inspired by Bollywood! The Manipur film industry is one of the fastest growing industries in Manipur. Kaiku, Kamala, Maya Choudhary, Sadananda are some of the famous actors.
– Don’t miss out to watch Polo sport ( Sagol Kangjei) at Polo Ground. Polo is believed to have been initiated in Manipur.
Where to stay
Classic Hotel, a new 3 star hotel in the city is highly recommended. Hotel Imphal, Anand Continental Hotel, Excellency Hotel, and Tampha Hotel are among the best hotels in Imphal.
How to get there
By air- Manipur is well connected to all the major cities in India by air.
By rail- There is no railway station in Manipur. But the nearest rail head is in Dimapur, 215 kilometer from Imphal.
By road- The roads here are in very good, motorable condition. The National Highway 39 connects the state with all the important neighbouring cities like Guwahati, Agartala, Dimapur,Shillong, and Kohima.
Local transport – Most of the hotels in Imphal provide transport facilities to tourists. The best way to travel inside the state is by unmetered taxi and private vehicles. For travelling around the city, autorickshaw or cycle-rickshaw is the best option.
Best time to visit – November to April