Martial arts and a demure
dance. The green state of Manipur, and Imphal its capital, has all the
fine, merged, tints of a water colour. Faiths and traditions and life
styles seem to flow into each other with a softedged grace so that it
is impossible to know where one ends and the other begins. The so-
called Manipur valley is really a plateau about 700 meteres high,
watered by rivers threading out of the dark, mist-topped, ranges.
Bright green fields stretch all the way to the distant mountains. And
the character of the terrain changes from parts resembling the
delicate valley of Kangra, north of the plains of Punjab, to that of
the flat-sub-mountain lands of Kerala deep in the warm south of India.
Like the Nair women of Kerala the women of Manipur are trained in the
fierce local Martial art known as Thang-ta. Both the men and women are
dressed in black and they wield their swords like slicing, flashing,
propellers; and when their swords clash, sparks fly. They look like
lithe, vicious, felines. And all the while, drums grumble and murmur
In marked contrast, is the
delicate, marionette-like, Manipuri dance. The choreographers of this
very feminine dance must ensure that the faces of the women are veiled
at all times, that there is no gesture or eye-contact between the
dancers and their audience, that the movements of the lower part of
the body are minimal, that the bottom half of the costumes are heavy
and concealing, and that the mudra gestures and movements merely
suggest the relationship between the dancers and their Divine Master,
Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna in his manifestation as Govindji is the
presiding deity in the revered Sri Govindji Temple with its twin
golden domes. The principal deity here is carved out of a jackfruit
tree in response to a dream which Rajarshi Bhagyachandra had in the
18th century. Older forms of worship, however, continue to exist in
the veneration of forest deities known as Umang Lais. They are
represented as metal masks, similar to the deities of other Himalayan
people such as the Himachalis of Kulu. Thus Imphal gives a fascinating
insight into an archetypal Indian trend: multiple ethno - cultural
streams merging into patterns like a gently blended water-colour.
Accommodation is available
in a few budget hotels
Imphal, the capital of the
easternmost state of Manipur, is the centre of all cultural,
commercial and political activities. Manipur, popularly known as the
"land of jewels" splits up naturally into two parts - the hills and
the plains. The inhabitants of these two divisions have their own
distinctive dialects, customs and tribal costumes.
Though small in area,
Manipur is rich in its culture, traditions, festivals, dances,
handlooms and handicrafts.
: 4 Lakhs-Imphal; 18.27 Lakhs-Manipur (1991).
AREA : 29.57 Sq Km
ALTITUDE : 790 metres above at MSL.
RAINFALL : 1980.8 mm (May to October).
CLIMATE : 32.0 Deg. C. (Mean Max.); 0.0 Deg.
C. (Mean Min.).
BEST SEASON : October to February.
LANGUAGES SPOKEN : Manipuri, Hindi and
AIR : Indian
Airlines flights connect Imphal with Delhi via Guwahati on Mondays,
Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays. Imphal is also connected with
Calcutta via Agartala and Silchar by Indian flights.
: The nearest railhead is Dimapur-215 km.
: Motorable roads connect Imphal with Agartala-465 km,
Aizwal-374 km, Dimapur-216 km, Guwahati-579 km, Itanagar-413 km,
Kaziranga-346 km, Kohima-123 km, Shillong-643 km.
: Nagaland State Transport runs a semi-luxury bus
daily from Dimapur to Imphal (9 hrs). The Manipur State Transport
also runs a service, BLUE HILLS TRAVEL, with its centre of
operations in Guwahati, with luxury buses connecting all the State
capitals of the North-Eastern region.
Unmetered taxi,Autorickshaw & Cycle Rickshaw available here
SHRI GOVINDAJEE TEMPLE:
This temple, adjoining the palace of the formar rulers of Manipur,
is a historic centre for Vaishnavites.
KHWAIRAMBAND BAZAR : The
market is very special because all the stall-holders are women.
MANIPUR STATE MUSEUM :
This interesting museum near the polo grounds has a fairly good
display of Manipur's tribal heritage and a collection of portraits
of Manipur's former rulers. 1000 to 1630 hours. Closed on Sundays
and Hholidays. Entrance : Adult- Re. 1, Child-00.50.
THE OLD PALACE : In the
heart of the town, and in grounds now occupied by the para-military
forces for their training, there are interesting ruins of an old
fortress wall and a palace. The sentry at the gate stops vehicles
but visitors are permitted to enter once the guard is assured that
they have come to see the ruins.
WAR CEMETERIES : The
British and Indian Army Cemeteries commemorating those who died in
the 2nd World War are serene and well-maintained with little stone
markers and bronze plaques recording their anguish and sacrifice.
GARDEN : About 6 kms off Imphal, towards the west, is this
zoological garden at Iroishemba on the Imphal-Kangchup road.
: The Orchid Yard of the Forest Department, on National Highway
No.39, about 7 kms from Imphal, is another place of interest. Peak
season is April-May.
SAHEED MINAR : The Minar
at Bir Tikendrajit Park in the heart of Imphal commemorates the
indomitable spirit of Manipur martyrs who sacrificed their lives
while fighting against the British in 1891.
LANGTHABAND : 8 km down
the Indo-Burma road lies this small hill feature with the relics of
an old historic palace.
BISHNUPUR (27 KM.) : The
single-celled, conical roofed temple of Bishnu.
PHUBALA (40 KM): To the
south of Imphal on the western fringes of Loktak Lake lies this
charming resort. Acco : Tourist Home. Rs. 25 (S), 50 (D).
Resv.: Deputy Director of Tourism, Govt.of Manipur, Imphal, Tel.
MOIRANG (45 KM.) : From
Imphal to the south, is one of the ancient villages of Manipur
contributing mush to her culture. Traditional " Moirang Lai Haraoba
" is celebrated sometime in the month of May every year from the
olden days. During the festival, men and women in hundreds dance and
sing in honour of Thangjing. On the time of Second World War Moirang
was the H. Q. of the Azad Hind Fouz where Netaji hoisted for the
first time the flag of I. N. A. on the Indian soil. Moirang offers
I.N.A. memorialwith the Statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
LOKTAK LAKE (45 KM.) :
The largest fresh water lake in the North-Eastern India.Its vast
expanse of water with both resident & migratory birds offers scope
for shooting, fishing and boating. The importance of Loktak Lake is
the little Islands Thanga and Karang in the centre of the lake,
labyrinth of boat routes amidst the floating marshes.
SENDRA (48 KM.) : An
islet in the middle of Loktak Lake is a view point overlooking the
lake and its surroundings. A telescope is to be installed here to
watch the animals in their natural habits in Keibul Lamjao National
Park. Acco : Tourist Home. Rs. 25 (S), 50 (D). Resv: Deputy Director
of Tourism, Govt. of Manipur, Imphal, Tel. 220802.
KEIBUL LAMJAO NATIONAL
PARK (53 KM.) : Inside the famous Loktak Lake, the only floating
National Park of its kind in India. It is the natural habitat of the
rare Browentelered deer found nowhere else.
CHURACHANDPUR (59 KM.) :
District H. Q. of Manipur south and an advanced tribal ( Kuki ) town
where local hanicrafts are available in the market. Acco : Tourist
Bunglow. Rs. 50 (D). Resv. : Deputy Director of Tourism, Govt. of
Manipur, Imphal, Tel. 220802; Hotel Rajdoot, Rs. 30-80 (S), 50- 150
(D); Hotel International, Rs. 40 (S), 70 (D), 110 (T), 150 (4 Bed);
Green Hotel, Rs. 20 (S), 40 (D); Hotel Eden, Rs. 25-30 per bed.
KANGCHUP (16 KM) : At an
altitude of 921 metres from Imphal in the west is a health resort on
the hills over-looking Manipur valley. It is also a mountain pass on
the road to Tamenglong. Acco : Inspection Bungalow.
KOUBRU HILL (50 KM.) :
8404 feet high Koubru Hill is a pilgrim centre.
MAO (106 KM.) : 1757
metres high Mao is a hill station half-way between Dimapur and
Imphal on N.H.no. 39. The place is rich in Mao Naga culture.
UKHRUL (83 KM) : To the
east of Imphal,the district H.Q. of Manipur East is the highest hill
station of Manipur. Acco : Circuit House. Rs.25 (S), 50 (D). Resv. :
D.C. Ukhrul; Hotel Iceland, Rs.75 (S), 120 (D), 150 (T); Hotel
Rebekah, Rs. 25 / bed; Hotel Soso, Rs. 25 / bed. & Other hotels.
KAINA (29 KM.) : A
beautiful hillock, can be reached by bus via Thoubal. Acco : Kaina
Tourist Home. Rs. 25 (S), 50 (D). Resvn. : Deputy Director of
Tourism, Govt. of Manipur, Imphal, Tel. 220802.
WAITHOU LAKE (16 KM): On
Indo-Burma road by the side of the lake is a picturesque village fam-
ous for its pineapples. Acco : Waithou Tourist Home. Rs. 25 (S), 50
(D). Reservation : Deputy Director of Tourism, Govt. of Manipur,
KHONGJOM (36 KM.) : On
Indo-Burma road it is a place of great historic importance. Here
Major Genrl. Paona Brajabashi one of the great warriors of Manipur,
proved his valour against the invading British Army in 1891. The
hillock at the foot of which he laid down his life in defence of his
motherland. A war memorial on the top of this hill feature adds
charm to this historic site. Khongjom Day is celebrated as a state
function every year on April 23. Acco. : Khongjom Tourist Home. Rs.
25 (S), 50 (D). Resvn : Dy. Director of Tourism, Govt. of Manipur,
Imphal, Tel.: 220802.
TENGNOUPAL (69 KM):
Highest point of the Imphal-Burma road and from here one can have a
full view of the valley of Manipur. MOREH (110 KM.) : The border
town of India on the Indo-Burma road. Acco. : Forest Bunglow.
Rs.20/bed. Resv : Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Forest
Department, Imphal. P.W.D. Inspection Bunglow. Rs. 25/bed. Resv :
Executive Engineer P.W.D., Khuyathong Bazar, Imphal. Hotel Eastern
Palace. Rs. 40 (S), 75 (D),100 (T); Rachna Hotel. Rs. 25 (S),50 (D);
River View. 30 (S),50 (D). Hotel Imphal. Rs. 20 (S), 40 (D), 15 /
bed in the Dormitory.
TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE
GOVT. OF INDIA TOURIST
OFFICE, Jail Road, Imphal 795001. Tel. 221131.
CENTRE, Directorate of Tourism, Govt. of Manipur
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Department of Tourism. Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
Government of India.