Manipur – Overview
Manipur literally meaning “a jewel of a land”, is a small state nestled deep in a lush green corner of north-east India. Set in an oval-shaped valley amongst smoky blue hills, Manipur seems much like an excellent work of art executed by mother nature herself. The beauty of Manipur once inspired Mrs. St. Clair Grimwood who described it as “A Pretty Place more beautiful than many show places of the world”. India’s first Prime Minister, Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru described it as “Jewel of India”. Manipur, was also once a princely state.
Manipur is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Assam to the west and Mizoram to the south. Besides, it also shares border with country of Myanmar to the east. Manipur spreads over an area of 22,327 sq. kms, according to the 2001 census report, its population was 2, 388, 634. Manipur is the home of the Meiteis who dominate the populace, which is a mixture of Naga and Kuki-Chin Mizo groups. Imphal is the state capital, which has harmonized itself wonderfully into its beautiful natural environment.
So, when you plan a trip to India don’t forget to include the beautiful state of Manipur in your itinerary. Get the Restricted Area Permit from the concerned offices in Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata, board a flight to Imphal and enjoy a vacation of lifetime.
Manipur – History
From the earliest times, Manipur had a proud history, but only the records starting from British period is available. In the year 1891, the British intervened, defeated Burma (Myanmar) and took over Assam, and brought Manipur under British paramountcy. During the Second World War (1939-45), Manipur witnessed several fierce battles between the Japanese and Allied forces of Burma. Later the Japanese swept over the East Asia and came up to Manipur. The Japanese forces and factions of Indian National Army under command of Subhas Chandra Bose were defeated by the Allied Forces.
In 1947, with the Indian independence, Manipur once again became an independent kingdom. In the year 1949, King Budhachandra was invited to Shillong, where he was forced to sign an agreement for annexation of Manipur into India. Once Manipur became part of the Indian Union, the State’s Constitution Assembly was dissolved in October, 1949 and it was designated as a part C state. Further, in 1956, Manipur was degraded to the status of a Union territory and finally in 1972 Manipur was given the status of a state.
Manipur – Tourist Destinations
Manipur, a small state, comprises nine districts namely Bishnupur, Chandel, Churachandpur, Imphal-East, Imphal-West, Senapati, Tamenglong, Thoubal and Ukhrul. Although these districts house several attractions for tourists, but the State Tourist Department has suggested two tourist circuits, first – Imphal – Moirang – Loktak Lake – Keibul Lamjao National Park-Imphal, second – Imphal – Ukhrul – Imphal. State capital Imphal is home to a number of attractions such as Shri Govindaji Temple, Khwairamband Bazar, Shaheed Minar, War Cemeteries etc.
Manipur – People & Culture
Manipur is inhabited by various ethnic communities that include the Meiteis, Nagas, Kuki- Chinas, Meitie Pangal, Nepalis, Bengalis, Marwaris and several colourful communities. They have been living in the state in complete harmony for centuries. Manipur is known all over the world for its own distinct art-forms. You will find a glimpse of Manipur’s rich cultural art forms in its dances, music, folklore, myths and legends, indigenous games and martial arts, exotic handlooms and handicrafts. Song and dances forms like folk, classical or modern is inherent in the people and you will hardly find a Manipuri girl who cannot sing or dance. Popular dance forms of the state include Ras Lila, Nupa Pala, Pung Cholom, Maibi Dance and Khamba Thoibi Dance.
Manipur – Cuisine
Just like other north-eastern states, the cuisine of Mainpur is rich in rice and meat and some prefer fish. Even today, Manipuri people follow the old dining tradition of ‘sitting down’ on the floor with banana-leaf plates. Amongst the variety of cuisine, some of the local delicacies include Kabok (fried rice with vegetables), Kangsoi (a vegetable stew with dry fishes) and Iromba (combination of fish, vegetables and bamboo shoots). Apart from local delicacies, you can also savour Chinese and Continental food at restaurants of the state.
Manipur – Fairs and Festivals
Manipur is a land of festivities, people celebrate several fairs and festivals round the year. In fact, fair and festivals are a symbol of cultural, social and religious aspirations of the state. Some of the important festivals of the state include Ras Leela, Yaosang (Feb-March), Cheiraoba (April), Lai Haraoba (April/May), Ratha Yatra (June-July), Heikru-Hidongba (September), Ningol Chak Kouba (Oct-November), Gang-Nai (Dec-January), Kwak Yatra and Chumpha (December), Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha and Christmas.
Manipur – Wildlife
Around 70 percent of the total geographical area of Manipur is under forest cover that houses amazing variety of floral and faunal species. Depending on the heights of hills, the climatic condition of Manipur varies from tropical to sub-alpine. The wet forests and pine forests are found between 900 to 2700 m above sea level and is home to rare plants as well as animal species.
Some of the faunal species which you can see in Manipur include Clauded Leopard, Hoolock Gibbon, Sloe Loris, Spotted Linshang, Blyths Tragopan, Burmese Pea-Fowl, Mrs. Hume’s Barbacked Pheasant, Hornbills, Sangai (the dancing deer), Salamande etc. Manipur is known all over the world for housing 500 different varieties of orchids. Visit the Central Khonghampar Orchidarium (7 kms away from Imphal) to see at least 110 species of Orchids. March – April is the finest time to visit the Orchidarium as during this period the orchids bloom at their very best.
Manipur – Adventure
Adventure sports have helped Manipur a lot to promote tourism. Over the years several nodal agencies have been set up in the state to promote adventure sports and to impart training as well. The indigenous martial arts and games of the Manipur is world-famous and form an important part of the tourist experience in this beautiful state. Some of the noted agencies of Manipur include the Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association, the Manipur Adventure and Allied Sports Institute and the Adventure Academy of Manipur.
Manipur – Shopping
Shopping is an essential part of any trip to Manipur, so don’t forget to indulge yourself in some shopping. Of course, you will not find any big air-conditioned shopping complex in the state, but whatever shopping options available are enough to fulfil your shopping urge. Manipuri people are traditional craftsmen, they make exquisite handicrafts and handlooms. The traditional handwoven textiles are main shopping attraction of the state.
Among the variety of items, the Manipuri dance doll is a beautiful memento to buy for family members and friends. While you shop in Manipur, check out Cane and bamboo work, Wood carving, Hand-woven and embroidered textiles, Shawls and blankets, Manipuri bed covers of Moirangfee and Mats made of water reed. Visit the popular IMA ‘Khwairamband Bazar’ where you will find all varieties of goods. Other noted shopping outlets are Handloom House (Paona Bazar), Manipur Handlooms & Handicrafts Development Corporation (Paona Bazar), Eastern Handlooms and Handicrafts (Paona Bazar) and Manipur Development Society (Uripok).
Manipur has a moderate type of climate. April, May and June are summer months when the temperature reaches to a maximum of 31oC. December, January and February are winter months and temperature drops to a minimum of 4oC. The monsoon season arrives the state in June and ends by October.
Best Time to Visit
October to March is the best time to visit Manipur.
Manipur – Transportation
Airlines: Imphal airport is the main airport of Manipur, which is 7 kms away from downtown. Flights of Indian Airlines, Alliance Air and Jet Airways connect Imphal with Delhi (3 hrs 45 min), Kolkata (1 hour), Guwahati (50 mnts), Jorhat (35 mnts), Aizawl (30 mnts) and Silchar (30 mnts). From the airport, taxis (about Rs. 150) and auto-rickshaws are available for the city.
Railways: Nearest railhead is Dimapur or Manipur Road in Nagaland at a distance of 215 km from Imphal. From Dimapur, buses are available at regular intervals to Imphal, the journey takes around 8-9 hours. Jiribam on Manipur-Assam border is another railway station which is 225 kms away from Imphal.
Roadways: Good network of roads connect Manipur with important cities in the North East. From Silchar (Assam), you can reach the capital city, Imphal by taking a road journey on National Highway 53. Buses are available between Dimapur (Nagaland) and Imphal (215 kms) and from Guwahati to Imphal (495 kms). Road distances of some of the important destinations from Imphal are Kohima (145 kms), Kaziranga (346 kms), Aizawl (374 kms), Itanagar (413 kms), Agartala (535 kms) and Shillong (595 kms).
Manipur is considered a sensitive border state of India, so foreigners entering the state must posses a ‘Restricted Area Permit’ that can be obtained from the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata or from certain other state goverment offices. One must remember that permits are valid for only 10 days, and tourists must travel only on tours arranged by authorized travel agents, in groups of four people. Next, visitors are allowed to come to Imphal only by airways and they are not be permitted to travel outside the capital city.