The cradle of intricate art forms, graceful dance traditions, a delightfully delicious cuisine and the sport of polo, Manipur sits pretty amid the verdant mountains along India’s border with Myanmar. With a name that translates to ‘Jewelled Land,’ this beautiful northeastern state offers much to travellers in search of rich cultural traditions and strikingly scenic vistas.
Here a few gorgeous images of Manipur – they will make you want to pack your bags and leave for this stunning state right away !
1. Serenity and Solitude at Loktak Lake
The largest natural freshwater lake in northeastern India, Loktak Lake is home to unique ecosystems called ‘Phumdi’ (a Manipuri word meaning floating mats of soil and vegetation). The largest Phumdi in the Loktak lake is in the Keibul Lamjao National Park, which is home to Manipur brow-antlered deer (popularly known as the Sangai).
2. A Bird’s Eye View of Imphal
Located at the heart of the magnificent Manipur valley, the pretty town of Imphal is surrounded by verdant hills and sprawling grasslands. The state capital is also home to Mapal Kangjeibung, the oldest living polo ground in the world. Interestingly, polo (called sagol kangjei in Manipuri) is believed to have been originated in Manipur.
3. The Cloud-Kissed Valleys of Manipur
The scenic, mist-shrouded hill stations of Manipur (Ukhrul, Kaina, Longthabal, Khoriphaba and Kangchup) are a trekker’s paradise. The terrain is a bit difficult to navigate but these places have some of the best views in the country and the freshest air one can breathe.
4. Ima Keithal, Asia’s Largest All-Woman Market
Located in the heart of Imphal, Ima Keithal has long been an important meeting ground and trading hub of Manipur. Run entirely by women, this sprawling 500-year-old market represents the life and ethos of a state where women have long been at the forefront of commerce and socio-political protests.
5. Andro, The Village of The People Who Returned
Tucked away in the forested foothills of the Nongmaiching range, the quaint village of Andro is known for its scenic beauty, traditional handicrafts, indigenous brews and the glimpse it provides into the rich tribal traditions of the state. It also has an ancient temple that plays a key role in Manipuri folklore.
6. Heikru Hidongba, the Festival of Boat Races
A traditional boat race festival, Heikru Hidongba was introduced in 1779 and has great cultural significance in Manipur. In the festival, traditionally-attired competitors in two long narrow boats race each other through moat (called the Thangapat of Sagolband Bijoygovinda) before giving obeisance and heikru (gooseberry) to the deity.
7. The Historic Kangla Fort, the Ancient Seat of Manipuri Rulers
A majestic citadel, Kangla Fort was the ancient capital of Manipur’s Meitei monarchs until 1891, when it was occupied by the British. Restored by the Manipuri government over the years, the fort’s temples, burial grounds and ancient coronation hall remain a popular destination for history buffs.
8. Maha Raas – An Ancient Tradition of Dance
Built by the erstwhile rulers of Manipur, the beautiful Shree Shree Govindaji Temple offers a glimpse of the local Vaishnavite tradition of Raas Leela. Recognised as an intangible cultural heritage of India by UNESCO, the performance of Maha Raas at Shree Shree Govindajee temple is a sight to behold.
9. The Imphal War Cemetery
One of World War II’s turning points in Asia, the Battle of Imphal (1944) played a significant role in the victory of the Allied Forces. The Imphal War Cemetery, built near a bridge on the River Kwai, is the resting ground of the brave soldiers who lost their lives in the battle against Japanese forces during World War II.