Places to see in Manipur

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Loktak Lake
 

During a visit to Guwahati in 2013 a friend told me about the spectacular Sangai Festival in Manipur. I decided to plan a visit. Ishwar ki kripa see trip happened in 2014.

 

The Sangai Festival is held from 21-30 November every year. The flight was Mumbai-Kolkatta-Imphal. Left at about 7 am and reached Imphal by lunch time.  

 

The dance and musical programs were held every evening from about 5 pm onwards. During the day boat racing, polo, indigenous games etc were held at different locations. So I travelled during the day and made sure to be in time for the evening program.

 

The format in this travelogue is write-up with photo links at the end.

 

The day I landed spent the evening in IMA Market, India's only all women market. You get just everything there. There are shops and shops selling Manipuri textiles. A friend's sister from Delhi shopped as if there was no tomorrow. Do visit. 

 

1. Moreh

It is a border town adjoining Myanmar, a beautiful drive, some of it through dense forests. Do stop by at Tengnoupal considered to be the highest point and enjoy a super valley view.

 

You can visit Tamu town of Myanmar in your own vehicle or share a auto service. Make sure you get a pass to enter Myanmar.

 

There is a well known Buddhist monastery there that can visit only if you have a vehicle. Border market is a thriving but locals say it is a pale of what it used to be. Low cost Chinese goods are available and bought by Indians in truck loads.

 

You will find a number of Tamilians here, both Hindus and Muslims. Many of them run shops that make furniture with the famous burma teak. I spoke to one of them who said wood and labour came from Mynamar. It was made here and shipped across India.

 

On return stopped by the Khongjom War Memorial. It was here that Maj Gen Paona Brajabashi, proved his valour against the British Army in 1891.

 

Drive to Moreh is about three hours. Hire a vehicle. Note that taxi hire charges in Manipur / Nagaland are much higher than in the plains of India.

 

2. Loktak Lake Moirang

About 16 kms from Imphal is the Indian Peace Memorial. It is in honour of the Japanese soldiers who died in the British Japanese battle during World War 2.

 

At Moirang the attractions are INA Museum, Loktak Lake and Keibul Lamjao National Park.

 

It was at the museum that the flag of the Indian National Army was first unfurled on April 14, 1944. Go boating in the lake. During Sangai Festival sailing competitions are held there.

 

At a small hillock close to the lake is Sendra Tourist Complex. Very good view of the lake from here. Lovely rooms. Great place to spend a day or two.

 

On way back see Vishnu Temple. 

 

3. In Imphal there is lots to see

a. Kangla Fort is where the rulers of Manipur stayed. Do spend time exploring.

b. War Memorials.

c. World War 2 Airfields are at some distance from the city.

d. Shri Govindaji Temple is close to the royal palace.

e. Shaheed Minar is close to Ima Market.

f. World's oldest Polo ground is next to Shaheed Minar.

g. Boxing Academy is not too far away. A number of private boxing schools have sprung up due to Mary Kom's success. 

h. Manipur Dance Academy.

i. Walk around the main market. Lots to experience and shop.

 

Manipuri version of hockey is called Khong Kangjei, of rugby is called Yubi-Lakpi. Ningol Chak-kouba is a social festival held in November.

 

4. I missed visiting -

a. Ukhrul, 83 kms way, where you can see Khangkhui Lime Caves and Siroi Hills.

b. River rafting in Barak river - did not try.

c. Thoubal is very scenic, good for trekking and hiking.

d. 'Churachandpur abounds in natural beauty. Located amidst hillocks and valleys, the place is a scenic delight.'

 

5. Hotels in Imphal: There are many hotels catering to different price points. There are many quality hotels too. Here are a few names that I jotted down.

 

a. Tampha Hotel is for budget travellers. Contact 91 98561 89270 and 98638 14663.

b. Nirmala Hotel contacts are 91 81310 70373, 038524 59014, nirmalahotel@gmail.com

c. Anand Continental 0385 2449422/23, hotel_anand@rediffmail.com. Next to it is Apollo Hotel. You get decent Punjabi food in both these hotels. Rs 1,300 to Rs 2,000/ per day. 

d. For 4 star try CLASSIC Group hotels.

e. Close to Ima Market is a Marwari Thali place on 1st floor and fast food rest below where u get dhokla, dosa, puris, milk shakes very good stuff. There is a Marwari Dharamshala too.

 

In Imphal food is not a problem for non Manipuris. There is a place in the main market where you get very good paranthas too.

 

6. Sangai Festival

The first four days and last three days were very good is my experience. One could use the in between days to travel overnight outside Imphal for e.g. Loktak Lake.

 

Recommend you see days programs of indigenous games (awesome), polo matches and boat racing. During evening watch the opening and closing ceremony for sure and every program which features Manipuri music and dance. Some very watcheable performances in 2014 were LAI HAROBA, PUNG CHOLOM, VASANTA RAAS, THANG-CHUNGOI YANNABA, THABI KAKPA, Lhou Sha Dance, Raas - Leela, Kirtan, MEIBI Dance, Bamboo dance, KAHMAI PHUNGBO, Chakpa dance, NATA CHOLOM, Taal Nachom, DHOL DHOLAK CHOLOM and Meiti dance.

 

The festival was held in a open air theatre called 'The Boat'. In huge ground outside lots of food stalls and a exhibition too. You can buy local handicrafts, textiles, even stuff from Thailand and lots more. Worth a visit. 

 

We now present album links so you can see and enjoy.

 

1. IMA or Mother's Market 

2. Moreh Border town 

3. I.N.A. Museum 

4. Loktak Lake 

5. Indigenous Games 

6. Polo Matches 

7. Kangla Fort 

8. Textiles of Manipur 

 

9. Sangai Festival 1

10. Sangai Festival 2

11. Sangai Festival showcases Manipur 

 

Manipuris are lovely people, very friendly. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. Felt safe and secure at all times.

 

Do visit Manipur. It was very cold in November so depending on the season go well prepared.