Travel is a journey to imbibe the unknown and to soak in the adventure of the place with no strings to hold you down. Manipur fits the bill perfectly. This small North-eastern state lovingly called “The Jewel of India” by the former Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru is an amalgamation of classical dance forms, breath-taking scenery, sacred shrines, and the ever welcoming smile of the locals.
Manipur holds a special place in the hearts of tourists and adventure seekers from India and beyond. Undisturbed bountiful nature, rolling hills, virgin forest, and rich culture as a touch of excitement to this intoxicating, offbeat tourist destination.
Manipur is and always has been an unchartered territory waiting to be explored by curious onlookers hoping to soak in its magic charm. The myriad scenic beauty and cultural wealth are bound to leave you speechless.
Planning a trip to Manipur will set you back by a couple of days. The place warrants an extended vacation to fully absorb its beauty. There are a plethora of activities to indulge in here. For instance, you can take a boat ride at the lake Loktak or spend the day in Ima Keithel Women’s only market or simply awaken the historian in you as you make way to Maibam.
Amazing 10 Best Places to Visit in Manipur
Now let us check out some of the best places to visit in Manipur,
1. Kangla Imphal
This happened to be the former capital of Manipur and home to the Ningthouja dynasty. The Ningthouja dynasty continued to wield its authority till 1891 when power was ultimately transferred to the British.
It was finally opened for public viewing only in 2004. The 236 acres of Kangla houses the homes of the rulers, shrines along with their burial grounds. The footprint of the erstwhile rulers still holds a magical appeal for the Manipuris and visitors alike and continues to be the bedrock of Manipuri culture.
Lying next to Kangla is the famous Hijagang temple. Two statutes of “Kangla Sha ” dominate the entrance of Uttara (coronation hall of the rulers).
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Indo Japanese Peace Memorial – A visit to Manipur is never complete without a day’s travel to Maibaum Indo Japanese Peace Memorial. This is the site where the famous battle ensued between the British-led Indian Army and the Japanese during World WarII.
The British Indian Army successfully thwarted a foreign invasion on Indian soil leaving many soldiers dead. A monument is erected in memory of those brave Japanese soldiers who laid down their lives.
Apart from this monument, there is a well-kept manicured garden with blooming flowers. The place is revered by the Japanese who come to pay their last respects to the brave martyrs.
Located a short drive from Imphal is a small village called Andro. This village is well recognized for its handcrafted figurines of tribal dolls and wood carvings.
Visitors who stop to buy the local artifacts also pay a visit to the Senthei National Park which lies close to the village.
This is the amazing destination for foreigners and local people as well. Nestled at the foothills of the Nongmaiching range it offers splendid views of the rolling hills surrounding it. There is also a lake and the area is dense with lush granary all around.
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4. Bishnupur – Loktak Lake
Dotted with small islands and phumdis, it is the largest freshwater lake and the lifeline for the people of Manipur. The main attraction of the lake is undoubtedly its phumdis (floating swaps).
The place abounds in flora and fauna and houses the famous National Park Keibul Lamar. People indulge in boating activities in the lake. The lake offers a spectacular view of the mountains surrounding it. The Sendra Park and a resort adjoining it offer the best tourist accommodation.
5. Moirang INA War Museum
A route from Imphal to Loktak lake lies the INA War museum in Moirang. This place is a treasure trove for historians interested in the INA struggle. The museum contains exhibits and paraphernalia dating back to World War II. Photography however is prohibited.
A statue of Subhas Chandra Bose adorns the entrance of the museum. This place holds immense appeal to the students of Indian history as the tricolor flag of India was hoisted here for the first time in the year 1944 when the INA drove Japanese forces managed to capture Moirang.
6. Ima Keithel
From the outside, it is similar to a normal bursting market that we see every day. But the stark difference that sets it apart from the rest is that 5000 traders that run the stalls are exclusively female. Ima Keithel means “Mother’s Market”.
To date, it is the largest women’s market in the whole of Asia. This market has also seen its fair share of history. When Britishers tried to hand over portions of the market to foreigners the women fiercely defended the market. To them, the market was a part of their extended identity.
7. Willong Khullen – Monoliths
Willing Khullen a nondescript village near the Manipur Nagaland border shot to fame due to its stone monoliths. Some have even compared them to Stonehenge in England. These vertical stone slabs numbering approx. 135 have no historical significance, apart from the fact the locals regard them as sacred relics.
However, some believe that they were placed there as a token in remembrance of the brave soldiers since time immemorial.
Located about 27 km from Imphal lies the quaint little town of Bishnupur. The town derives its name from the ancient temple of Lord Bishnu.
The idol of Lord Vishnu dates back to the 15th century when it was presented as a token of victory. Quite close to Bishnupur is Keibul Lamjao National Park which houses the endangered Brow-Antlered Thamin deer better known as the “dancing deer”. The Park overlooks the picturesque Loktak lake famous for its Phumdis.
Rasmancha is a less frequented tourist spot that lies in Bishnupur. Previously Ras festival was celebrated in this temple, hence the name Rasmancha. Now, this ancient brick temple has been taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India.
9. Singda Dam
A few hours’ drive from Imphal lies the Singda dam. This mud dam lies at an elevation of 920 m above sea level. The drive to Singda dam is worthwhile for its scenic beauty. Overlooking the Singda river in Kangchup the dam is a popular picnic spot.
10. Thoubal-Khongjom War Memorial
The Khongjom war Memorial is a historic tribute to the spirit of Manipuris who refused to bow down their heads before the imperialism of the Britishers. Perched on Kheba hill on Indo Myanmar road this war memorial speaks of the might of the Manipuris especially.
Major General Paona Brajabashi laid down his life defending his motherland in 1891. A Khonghom day is observed every year on 23rd April as a mark of respect to the martyrs. At present hundreds of tourists flock to this memorial to savor the beauty of the place.
We have covered the major tourist attractions of Manipur to offer you a glimpse of its rich cultural and historical significance. If truth be told one must lose himself completely to feel the essence of the place and be one with nature.