Manipur, literally meaning the 'Land of Gems', has been variously described as the 'Jewel of India', 'A Little Paradise', 'A Flower of lofty heights' and as the 'Kashmir of Eastern India'. The ridges and valleys of the mountain chain of north-east India are well pronounced in Manipur, providing tourists with rich natural scenery and salubrious climate. A rich cultural harmony has resulted in the classical Manipuri dance and the Manipuri martial arts, all of which are part of the festivals of Manipur and are reflected in the state's crafts.
Imphal, the capital of Manipur, is a bustling mini-metropolis situated at a height of 790 m above sea level.
Places of Interest in and around Imphal
- Sri Govindajee: This temple adjoining the palace of the former rulers of Manipur, is a historic centre for Vaishnavites. It is a simple and beautiful structure with twin gold domes, a paved court and a large raised congregation hall. The presiding deity in the centre is flanked by shrines of Balaram and Krishna on one side and Jagannath on the other.
- Khwairamband Bazar: The market is very special because all the stall-holders are women. Not far from here, is a street where beautiful furniture and cane baskets are sold. Other smaller markets are Singaimei, Kongba, LamIong, Kwakeithel, Heirangoithong, Trea keithel and Naoremthong.
- Manipur State Museum: This interesting museum near the Polo ground houses Manipur's tribal heritage and a collection of portraits of Manipur's former rulers. Interesting items are costumes, arms and weapons, relics and historical documents.
- War Cemeteries: The British and the Indian Army Cemeteries commemorating those who died in the Second War are serene and well-maintained with little stone markers and bronze plaques recording the glorious sacrifice of the heroes. These graves are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
- Saheed Minar: This tall tower at Bir Tikendrajit Park in the capital commemorates the indomitable spirit of Manipuri martyrs who sacrificed their lives while fighting against the British in 1891 AD.
- Manipur Zoological Garden: (6 km) west of Imphal is the Zoological Garden at Iroishemba on the Imphal Kanchup Road. The graceful brow-antlered deer, one of the rarest species in the world, can be seen here in sylvan surroundings.
- Langthabal: (8km) Overlooking the Manipur University, amidst jack fruit and pine trees are the relics of an old historic palace, well-planned temples and ceremonial houses.
- Bishnupur: (27km) The single-celled conical roofed temple of Lord Vishnu here was built in 1467 in Chinese style design. The town is also known for its stoneware production.
Keibul Lam Jao National Park
This unusual wilderness is the home of the Sangai or Manipur brow-antlered deer. Once a hunting reserve for waterfowl, the tiny park is just 40 sq. km. in area. It was declared a sanctuary in 1954 when numbers of the highly localised Sangai became dangerously depleted. The graceful deer, noted for their curved antlers, live on the floating vegetation on the Logtak Lake, 32 km south of Imphal.
Here is the ancient temple of the pre -Hindu deity, Lord Thangiing. It was in Moirang that the flag of the Indian National Army was first hoisted on Indian soil by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The INA museum here contains letters, photographs badges of ranks and other articles associated with the movement. It is also a centre of Meitei folk culture where every summer colourful 'Lai Haroaba' dance is traditionally performed in honour of the presiding pre-Hindu deity Thangling.
Moirang, on Loktak lake, is noted for its early Manipuri folk-culture and the traditional folk dance form. A very peaceful spot with lovely views of the lake where fishermen, who live on islands of floating weeds, use nets to farm fish and water chestnut.
The district headquarters, a hill station east of Imphal bears a gay and festive appearance during Christmas. It is also famous for a peculiar type of land lily, the Siroi, grown on the Siroi hills. One can take an excursion to the Siroi hills and Kangkhui lime caves.
- Loktak Lake
A huge and beautiful stretch of water. From the tourist bungalow set atop Sendra Island, one can get a bird's eye view of the lake and life around it. Gaze at the fishermen as they cast their nets, rare fish farms using nets as floating walls or as they build houses on islands of floating weeds.
Explore More - Destination Guide Of India