Manipur – The Jeweled Land
The floating islands in the Loktak Lake, the Shirui Lily, the Sangai deer, the emerald green valleys, blue lakes and rolling hills covered with dense forest, the moderate climate and rich cultural heritage of martial arts, dance, theatre and sculpture – this is Manipur, the Land of Jewels or the Jeweled Land – the most bewitching of the eight north eastern states of India.
Manipur’s remarkable history and exquisite culture, its pristine natural beauty and diverse ethnicity, tempts you to come back again and again.
Manipur comprises 1,820 sq. km of valley and 20,507 sq. km of hill territory and forms a part of the Himalayan mountain range. It is bounded by Nagaland in the north, Mizoram in the south, Upper Myanmar in the east and Cachar district of Assam in the west. The Imphal valley is surrounded by hill ranges that are covered with the forests of Nagesar, Jurul, Indian rubber, Tan, Oak, Ash, Teak and Palm trees.
Imphal is the political capital of Manipur.
The earliest recorded history dates to 900 AD. In the course of its history there have been several invasions from Myanmar, and numerous clashes with the Nagas. In 1826, at the end of the Indo-Burmese war, Manipur was ceded to the British through the Treaty of Yandabo between Britain and Burma. This was followed by a dispute in accession to the throne. With the intervention of the British, the dispute was settled. In 1891 Churachand was nominated the Raja and Manipur became a princely state under British rule. During World War II, Manipur was attacked by the Japanese armed forces. After Indian independence Manipur became a Union Territory and subsequently achieved statehood on January 21, 1972.
Theatre has been part of the the Manipuri Laiharaoba festivals since time immemorial. The Manipuri dance, inspired by the love story of Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha, is one of the most acclaimed classical dances of India [Raas Leela]. Manipur’s hand woven cloth and handicraft are world famous for the intricate craftsmanship and exquisite design.
Symbols of Manipur
The Sangai, the rare and endangered brow-antlered deer is the state animal of Manipur. It is found only in Manipur. Its habitat is located in the southern parts of the Loktak Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in eastern India.
The Nogin, also known as the Hume pheasantis, a type of pheasant, is the state bird of Manipur. Shirui Lily or Kashong Timrawon, a rare species of lily that grows only on the Shirui Kashong peak is the State flower. It has pale bluish-pink petals that hang looking down. In the wild it flowers in the monsoon months. The peak season of its bloom is May 15 to June 5. Its unique characteristic is that you can’t plant this flower in any part of the world other than the Siroi hill.
Places of Interest
1. Imphal Valley
The Imphal Valley is an oval – shaped valley, home to approximately 70 per cent of the total population of Manipur and has a number of places of tourist importance such as the Palace of Kangla, Polo Ground, and Manipur State Museum.
Places to visit in Imphal
Manipur State Museum
Manipur Zoological Gardens
Shri Govindjee Temple
This is a small hill situated along the Indo-Myanmar Road, about 8 kilometers from Imphal, the capital city of Manipur. Langthabal is well known for the relics of an old historical palace with its well-planned temples and ceremonial houses of pine and jack-fruit trees.
3. Loktak Lake
It is the largest fresh water lake in the North East India and is also known as the Floating Lake, because of various decomposed organic matter [called Phumdis] floating on the lake’s surface. It is the habitat of the Sangai, an endangered species of deer found only in Manipur.
Of significant historic importance, Moirang is situated 45 kms from Imphal. During World War II, Moirang was the headquarters of the Azad Hind Fauz. Colonel Shaukat Malik of the Indian National Army (INA) hoisted the Indian Flag [tri colour] for the first time on Indian soil on April 14, 1944. The INA Museum at Moirang displays some wartime relics and photographs.
Andro is a small hamlet located 25 kms east of Imphal and is well known for its pottery and a cultural center that displays the cultural heritage and creativity of the Manipuri tribes.
Moreh is a small town on the Indo-Myanmar border and is the hub for trade between the two countries. One can spend a day visiting this town and on occasion, cross over to Tamu in Myanmar after obtaining the required permits. This route will soon become the main route to south east Asia and is called the Asian Highway 1.