Exploring the exotic Imphal of the North East

Come a flock of holidays towards the end of the year and one is eager and impatient to make a beeline to some destination that would not only allow one to unwind but also come back fresh till the next quota of holidays comes one’s way. December is chill at some places, pleasant to cool in some and enjoyable weather in others. India is so vast and so vividly panoramic that a planned visit to some locale in consonance with the weather would make it an enjoyable trip. Choose the December 25th to 1st lot of holidays when Christmas to the New Year it is festivity time in most places and the weather is not too disagreeable to have a real blast.

Vist Imphal, Manipur in the North East

An excellent choice for those who have seen the scenic beauty of the North East, a good choice for the mildly curious who have not. Either way, it would fetch a time well-spent, a period of fun and frolic every minute of the way.

  • Manipur is full of natural beauty and captivating landscapes.
  • December is most welcoming to tourists especially in view of Christmas and the New Year, a sizeable population of the locals being Christians.
  • The weather is pleasant and not very chill most of the time.
  • The flora and fauna come out in the open especially at this time of the year and would be a treat to the eyes.

Sightseeing in Imphal

Loktak Lakeloktak-lake-manipur

It is believed to be the largest natural lake in the North-East. A road takes one to Sandra island on a small hillock that gives one an overview of the lake surrounding the island. There is a nice restaurant decorated with local artifacts, there are sit-outs along the pathway and one can enjoy the nice breeze that flows over the lake. One can see fish farms in the lake on one side and locals fishing with their small nets on the other. Shikaras would be taking tourists over the lake. The best is the Loktak Lake safari, 30 types of fishing techniques, the floating residences and the home of the Sangai Deer at Keibul Lamjao National Park.

Govindaji2Shri Govindjee Temple

It is the main temple of Shri Govindji in Imphal, which dates back to the imperial times when Manipur was once a kingdom. It is said that the Maharaja of that time dreamt of the local God showing him a jackfruit tree, and sent out his men in search of the tree. When they found it, the Maharaja ordered the carving out of a statue of Lord Govindji from the wood of the tree itself. The largest and the most important Hindu Vaishnavite temple in Imphal and possibly in Manipur, this was commissioned in 1846 AD. It was damaged due to earthquake and rebuilt in 1876. Every year, the lord is taken out and kept on a huge rath, before being taken out for rath yatra at the same time as the Puri “Rath Yatra”. The main deities of the temple are Govindji, his consort Radha and his elder brother Balbhadra. There are two golden domes of the temple that are extremely beautiful. The surroundings of the temple are also attractive.

Imphal War Cemetery

This is a war cemetery built in memory of the heroes of Second World War. It is located opposite DM College campus and off the Battle-Of-Imphal2National Highway. The memorial has markers with brass plaques with the name of each of the fallen. The war memorial commemorates in memory of the 1600 men who fell defending India’s eastern border from the invading Japanese forces in 1945, a few months before the WWII ended. It is an oasis of peace, with green manicured gardens and worth spending an afternoon in serenity. There is another cemetery which commemorates Hindu and Sikh soldiers who died defending the British empire. A walk in the cemetery will make you solemn and wonder about the huge price of war where hundreds of thousands of soldiers died.

Kangla Fort

The location is very nice with a museum and a temple inside the fort area.  Some main architectural structures were destroyed by the British. The replicas existing now, are well maintained. It is a very ancient fort surrounded with very big and huge wall in the city centre. Walking inside the fort area is pleasant and you will find a helipad inside. Temples and museums are inside the fort. Two beautiful big white color Kangla animal statues are the centers of attraction.

Ima Keithel Women’s Market

It is a unique market, run by women. Not surprising for a state long known to be a matrilineal society, holding extremely progressive views on women’s empowerment and according to them an equal status with men. The place is divided into several different sections, selling everything under the sun from traditional Manipur garments, woolen shawls, bed sheets to handicrafts and day-to-day essentials. There is a lot of bargaining that is seen and one can also see the culture of the state in the interactions.

People often misinterpret this place as a market area where men are not allowed to visit, whereas it is not. This market is run only by women folk, and hence the name Ima-keithel (Ima-mother , Keithel -market). Since the time of Maharajas, the market has been in existence, where women from even far flung places come and sell their goods here. It has two separate buildings separated by a flyover.

Shri Hanuman Thakur Temple

The temple is situated on the banks of the Imphal river. A historic temple built by King Garib Nawaz in 1725, this beautiful Hanuman Temple will surprise all those who have been seeing this largely revered deity in a particular form, but here the deity is presented in human form. The main sanctum is beautiful and photography of the main deity is allowed. In the complex, there are a large number of monkeys at any time. There is a beautiful bell tower in the complex and the entrance of the temple is very beautiful to look at.

Imphal Valley

The entire place is a bowl shaped creation with the green mountains surrounding the valley filled with water, rice fields and wildlife. Loktak lake, 45 kms away is unique with several floating weeds that are small islands where people live. You can take a boat and enjoy the ride through the weeds. Moirang, in the close proximity is where the flag of the Indian National Army was first unfurled on April 14, 1944. A drive to the border town of Moreh 110 kms is fascinating with paddy fields on either side oart of the way and the remaining through hill roads, flanked by lush green forest.

INA Museum

In Moirang the museum is being developed. You can see the articles and personal belongings of INA soldiers with Subhash Chandra Bose. Photographs and brief accounts of several local INA fighters are there. The warfare and life of Netaji can also be learnt.

Three Mothers Art Gallery

Artist Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma, belongs to a great family of artists. All his sculptures are carved out of a single root incorporating its natural shape into design. The themes of his work derived from nature relate to the mythological aspects of Manipur and are reflections on its turbulent history.

Red Hill – Lokpaching

 It’s a peace memorial built in 1994 by the Japanese on the 50th anniversary of the 1944 battle that the Japanese had fought with the British during the Second World War. This is to honour those Japanese and INA soldiers who fought the British and laid down their lives in that battle.
The Memorial is lovely and shows reverence of the Japanese for those who fought for their country’s interest and honour. History of this memorial discloses that the Japanese, particularly Major Fujiwara who is considered God Father of INA and who had fought in the battle, worked tirelessly for creation of this Memorial.

Loukoi Pat Lake

This beautiful small lake that has boating facility, attracts people for family picnics and is virtually on National Highway between Imphal and Bishnupur town. The lake is visually beautiful, with lots of green surroundings. The lake has a large number of fish and people love feeding them and seeing them jostling for food thrown in the lake.

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Khonghampat Orchidarium

Khonghampat Orchidarium is an orchid farm and is about 7 kilometers from Imphal. This has 110 varieties of orchids, including the rare ones. The best time to visit the place is in April and May. A beautiful place for nature lovers!

Manipur Zoological Gardens

It is a small zoo, rather cramped for space but houses some really exotic local fauna. It is one of the best places to get a good close-up view of the Sangai deer. The Hoolock gibbons, the only tail less primates of India are really endangered. The bird cages often house temporary inmates injured in the wild and released on recovery. The place is clean, well-maintained and an educative experience for those seriously interested in nature.

Manipur State Museum

A museum is the mirror through which one can to see the materials and cultural heritage of society and civilization. Manipur state museum showcases that of the state and its people.
The museum comprises of various Galleries like – Ethnology, Archaeology, Natural History, Painting, Jallan, Children’s Gallery and an open air gallery for housing the 78 ft long boat called Hiyang Hiren (Royal boat). The collection and content of the museum is excellent.

RKCS Art Gallery

It is a private Art Gallery with a huge collection of thousands of paintings of the most famous artists of Manipur RKCS. So many of paintings at one place, that too by one artist and all of high quality! The themes of paintings are mythology, history and contemporary events of Manipur and its people. Looking at these paintings one can truly understand the whole history in a matter of hours. This private art gallery takes you in the past of Manipur. It exhibits the paintings from the artist family, with royal lineage.

Shaheed Minar, Kombirei Garden, Bir Tirkendrajit Park, Sirohi National park, Lord Sanamahi Temple, Khuman Lampak Main Stadium, Khwairamband Bazaar, Kaina Hillock, Singda Dam, Maibam Lokpa Ching, Thangal General Temple, Samban-Lei Sekpil Garden, Leimapokpam Keirungba Temple, and other such spots have their own fascinating aspects to display to the visitors and tourists of Imphal.

It is a wonderful assimilation of culture and display of traditional ethos of the state that showcases the friendly and likeable people of Manipur, who would definitely make your visit worth all the while.

Connectivity to and stay at Imphal

There are flights from certain locations of India and it is still being developed as an international landing place. There are roads from different parts of the North East, which further can be reached by rail and road.  There are sophisticated and medium level hotels and restaurants to cater to a variety of tastes and budgets.

Imphal like many other destinations of the North East would definitely be an eye-opener of sorts for what it has to offer and the warmth and courtesy that is on display when people from other parts of India visit. The trip shall certainly remain a memory of a lifetime that remains etched out for its rich content and unforgettable vividity.

Post author

K.Siri Seera, jokingly referred to as Que Sera Sera (meaning ‘whatever shall be shall be’ in Spanish). Latest inclusion to the by-now-famous four already in the editorial team, she is a Nature freak, with a passion for the outdoors, the first one to raise the hand for suggestions regarding trips, excursions, the wild. Fitness schedules and badminton, not to mention her taekwondo regimen (she is a black belt in tae kwondo) keep her lithe and fit as a fiddle. It is only when the weather is bad forcing her indoors that she devotes her energies to displaying her skills in carrom or curls up with a book that gets her into a different world altogether. Naturally after an inspiring read, she jots down tidbits in her scrapbook that have been quite helpful in providing a lot of ‘inspirations’ in her circles. Wanderlust in her blood, the travel bug gets to her every few months when she is off to some unexplored exotic place in the country. Small wonder this walking encyclopedia of travel info, expounds on places to see, where to stay, what clothes to take, how much could it cost etc. given half a chance. It just cannot be dull when she is around! You can ask about her travels and sights of India by mailing to ksiriseera@unnatisilk.com