Unexplored, sometimes ignored but truly unfathomable, Manipur is the Lost Ark for the adventure hungry Indiana Jones inside of you.
Nestled snugly between the 7 sisters and our neighbours on the eastern frontier, lies the ‘Jewel of India’ Manipur. The beauty of the state is preceded only by the blanket of mystery shrouding over it. With the city of Imphal as its capital and largest city, Manipur used to be a princely state during the British Raj and has always been the Indian subcontinent’s connection to South-East Asia, witnessing an amalgamation of culture and religion.
So here is a list of all the hidden 'jewels' that you might wanna 'snatch' from Manipur:
Not many people are aware that the modern game of Polo originated in Manipur. Locally known as Sagol Kangjei or Pulu, the game of Polo was spread to other parts of the world by the British after they witnessed it in play during the Raj. The local population though still have clung on to their roots and play the sport as it used to be originally played i.e. using cane sticks and balls made from the roots of bamboo.
Imphal War Cemetery & Japanese War Memorial:
Image Source: Photo by Robert Lourembam Ningthouja
Apart from the infamous Battle of Kohima, there was also the Battle of Imphal, where the allied forces of the Japanese Imperial Army and the INA began the invasion of British India in a battle termed as the greatest ever fought by the British Indian Army. The Battle was a crushing defeat for the Japanese and exhausted their plans for further Indian campaigns. In the middle of the city lies the war cemetery where the British troops were laid to rest. A few miles out of the city, is the Red Hill, where the Japanese war memorial is located.
Traditionally called Bhut Jolokia or Naga Jolokia, this potent chili pepper is one of the hottest chili known to mankind thus earning the name Ghost Pepper. In fact, DRDO has implemented the chili in its grenade and pepper sprays for their line of nonlethal and self defence weaponry! Imagine the potency! On the cooking side though, U-morok is an integral component of Manipuri cooking, though the handling and adding does require some caution and care.
One of the most beautiful and classiest forms of dancing in India, the Ras Leela is inspired from the traditional story of Lord Krishna, his beloved Radha and the devotion of his Gopis (companions). It originated initially as a visual representation of the original event for the betterment of those who had a difficulty in grasping the Vraja Manipuris have been practising this dance form since ages and have the elegance in the particular form to show for it. A must see on your visit to Manipur.
Image Source: Photo by Boychou
Why travel all the way to Wiltshire, England to view the mysterious stone formations called Stonehenge when we have one in our very own backyard? Willong Khullen is a place known to few, which has stones reaching up to 7 mtrs in height all arranged in a particular formation. The purpose? No one has figured it out yet. Feel free to unravel the mysteries of the desi Stonehenge and who knows, you might just get a free Hitchhike to Zaphod
Also Read: Shillong Travel Guide
Image Source: Photo by PP Yoonus
Literally translated into Mother’s Market, the Ima Keithel is most likely the Asia’s largest and only women operated market. Everything in the market is run only by women of all ages, sitting together, selling vegetables, fish, herbs, traditional garments and everything else under the sun. Nothing else showcases women empowerment the way a sight of this market does.
Image Source: Photo
A town located on the edge of Indian-Myanmar border, just 110 kms away from the capital Imphal, Moreh literally translates into "I am tired" in Burmese. But nothing about the town shows any sign of fatigue whatsoever. Moreh is the commercial hub of Manipur and is ever bustling with trade going on around the clock. It can be seen as India’s gateway to the South-East Asian market like Myanmar, Thailand and even China.
Image Source: Photo
The Tamenglong district of Manipur is a plethora of breathtaking flora and fauna, with the land supposedly to have been formed due to orogenic movement during the ancient times. Do go out and explore the amazingly deep gorges, caves, waterfalls and orchids the place has to offer.
Keibul Lamjao National Park:
Image Source: Photo by Ashish Chopra
Not many people are aware of the fact that Manipur has the distinction of being blessed with the world’s only floating national park. Floating, because the whole park is actually situated on North-East India’s largest freshwater lake, called Loktak Lake which is famous for the phumdis (floating decomposed plant materials) floating over it. So the whole park is basically a 40 sq. km. phumdi. The park is also the last remaining refuge for the endangered Sangai or Manipur Eld’s deer.
Switzerland of India:
Image Source: Photo by Mongyamba
Surrounded by hills in the shape of a lotus flower, Lord Irwin very aptly termed Manipur, as the 'Switzerland of India'. With its beautiful landscape, lush green meadows and a cool climate, taking a stroll in the Dzukou Valley is an experience very similar to walking in the Alps. What else does a poor sod’s heart desire?
So what excuse do you have now to delay your very own private tour of the exotic east? Pack those bags, grab your phone and get ready to explore the unexplored. Who knows what secrets you might unearth or everlasting memories you may etch?