The erstwhile princely state of Manipur is a jewel of a land with its bounteous vistas of untrammeled beauty and ancient traditions. Manipur’s claim to fame include its historic role during the Second World War, the hoisting of the flag of the Indian National Army in 1944 by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, its classical dance-form, its indigenous games and martial arts, its textiles and being the habitat of the ‘Sangai’ dancing deer.
Manipur is reputed for its tradition of the arts. Weaving is a time-honoured occupation, fine-tuned to an art form with its intricate designs and dazzling range of sarees, sarongs, shawls and bedspreads. Each home has a loom. Even the state’s martial arts are recognized for their almost poetic traditions. The economic and fluid movements of the spear dance (Ta Khousarol) and sword fight (Thang Yannaba) have sinuous beauty. This playful, sports loving community is reputed for its indigenous version of Sagol Kangjei or Polo (it was the first place in India to have evolved this sport of kings), the Mukna Kangjei – (wrestling hockey) and Yubi-Lakpi, a form of rugby played with a greased coconut.
Also known as the land of Radha and Krishna, Manipur, in the best traditions, has gifted to India’s classical dance repertoire her lyrical Ras Leela dance that re-enacts the love story of Radha and Krishna.
Imphal: Manipur’s capital city, Imphal, has harmonized itself seamlessly into its beautiful natural environment.
Imphal’s historic Vaishnavite centre, Shri Govindaji Temple is located close to the Royal Palace. This interesting structure with its twin domes has a paved courtyard and great assembly hall where devotees congregate to participate in various devotional activities.
Imphal’s Khwairamband Bazar or Ima market is quite an unusal market – almost 3000 Imas or mothers, man the stalls in this unique bazaar. Stalls are lined on either side of the road. On one side, the stalls hawk anything from farm produce to fish, and a dazzling selection of groceries. Opposite these, are a row of stalls selling exquisite handlooms and household tools.
Managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, are the beautifully kept War Cemetries which commemorate the British and Indian soldiers who died during the Second World War. Each grave carries a little stone marker and bronze plaque recording the sacrifice of these martyrs.
Loktak Lake: One of the most enchanting and biggest freshwater lakes in the North-East is Manipur’s Loktak Lake., just 45 km from Imphal, its rich plant and avian life and intriguing floating weed, shallow bowl-like islands (Phumdi) and the fishermen who live on them harvesting water chestnuts. On the southern part of the lake is the world’s only floating National Park, the Keibul Lamjao National Park, the unique habitat of the rare Sangai, the brow antlered deer or the ‘dancing deer’.