Manipur is a shrine of nature unperturbed by the touch of the world. Held as the ‘jewelled land’ of Northeast India, Manipur is a powerhouse of natural resources that is home to picturesque landscapes. A place of myriad cultural attractions and natural beauty is what surrounds the Manipuri people. The most significant experience of Manipur is the interaction with the amiable dwellers of the land. Owing to its seclusion from the rest of the world, Manipur is successfully a green zone with relaxation to restrictions. Furthermore, it has declared itself COVID free after the recovery of the only case of the disease. It seems that we as well as the locals are just a few steps away from immersing ourselves back into this ever-blossoming state. The city of Imphal is a lively city often cluttered with vendors selling various items especially ngari – a fermented fish. These regular activities or flow of the city as it sets up for the day and grows faint into the night is the scenery that escapes our eyes for now. Even though the city is back with its bustling crowd and landmark markets – it is yet to be brought back in full swing. So, here is a list of activities to not to do post lockdown as the state gradually returns to normalcy.
Our excitement remains at the brim threatening to burst out at the thought of this! While you still continue to miss your daily favourites, we have listed some offbeat recommendations that are in your budget, crowd-free and unique.
TEN THINGS TO DO IN MANIPUR AFTER LOCKDOWN
In this article, we feature activities that would be of interest to locals of Manipur and tourists as well! We’ve curated a list of activities that may ignite the nature-loving, social, culture-loving side in you. So, gear up and scroll down for the list and as per social comfort, they’ve been filtered through factors such as an easy budget and maintaining social distancing.
Chill with animals in Keibul Lamjao National Park
What makes this national park so distinct and significant from the others is that it is home to the brow-antlered deer. The other intriguing element of this national park is that it is the only floating national park in existence within the world! Chilling with the brow-antlered deers at this park takes a special meaning to be one with nature. Moreover, it is a reminder of the beauty and fragility of nature that must preserve at all costs. The brow-antlered deer is known as sangai – a term found in abundance across shops, cafes and newspapers in Manipur.
The sangai is considered an integral part of the socio-cultural and economic life in Manipur. However, they’re in danger of losing their habitats – the swamps or phumpdis which are unable to take their weight. Keibul Lamjao is approximately a one and half hour drive from Imphal. Here, you may witness the uniqueness of the sangai, whose light and peculiar movements give it an aura of a dancing deer.
Other than the deer, you shall find Rhesus Monkey, the Indian Python and the Sambar Deer. If you keep a sharp watch, you may even find the extremely rare and endangered Himalayan bear and Malayan black bear, Asian golden cat and the blue-crested lizard. This is the diverse and rich wildlife Keibul Lamjao hosts, so definitely worth a look post lockdown.
Note: there are no entry fees to Keibul Lamjao National Park.
Take a traditional boat ride through Loktak Lake
The classic touristy thing to do in Manipur is to take a canoe or boat ride in the enigmatic Loktak Lake. No matter how common a suggestion it is, it never fails to lose its charm even for the locals. However, this untouched and raw beauty will engulf you to lose yourself amidst it. Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Manipur and is popular for the floating phumpdis or floating swamps occupied by a diverse wildlife. It is 53 km away from Imphal which is only a 1.5-hour drive max. Other than checking out Keibul Lamjao National Park, you can opt for a canoe ride to the centre of the lake. Canoeing with the bright sunlight on your face surrounded by the tranquillity of the Loktak Lake is a heavenly experience.
Furthermore, this is the best activity if you have immense appreciation of natural biodiversity and the experience of witnessing it uninterrupted. The Loktak Lake is the pride of Manipur and no exploration of it is complete without seeing the Loktak Lake. Its unusual topography is the most striking of all – especially if viewed from above. How can you miss out on this cleaned up natural wonder post lockdown?
Indulge In The Oldest Culture Of Maram Khullen Village
For those who actively seek out knowledge of diverse cultures, the village of Maram Khullen in Senapati is a delightful treat for you all. The village is one of the oldest and biggest settlements you’ll witness around the area. Maram Khullen is a 2.5-hour drive away from Imphal and t is the ideal place in Manipur for some nature sightseeing backed with a rich history. As you go through a narrow road of Senapati town, you will be in awe of this place. The village has piqued the interest of Anthropologists over the years. The people of the village have preserved their culture passed down from their ancestors.
Furthermore, various folklore of the village describes the rich and diverse communities that settled on this land and contributed to its settlement. It has more than 1000 houses that flaunt the traditional architecture style called Akajalika. It is a lesser-known part of Manipur tucked away in the hills but it offers a fascinating history and spellbinding scenery. The burgeoning nature around the village and the interesting culture of the Maram Khullen, it should definitely make it on your list post lockdown.
Shop handmade accessories at Tera Bazaar
Tera Bazaar is a beautiful place to shop in Manipur as it sells handmade accessories with variety of colours. These gorgeous accessories and the colourful ambience makes it a lovely spot to splurge. The market is located in the central part of Imphal and is open the entire year. The bazaar is a hub for original handcrafted items by the artisans of Manipal at affordable prices. The prices are quite reasonable for handicrafts, and it is the best place to buy a token of representation of Manipur. Moreover, it doesn’t only specialise in fashion accessories, but it also sells essential household products. Since shopping can be an exhausting activity, the market has set up a few roadside stalls with delicious food to replenish your energy. What better way to replenish your shopping energy post lockdown while supporting local artisans?
Eat A Traditional Manipuri Thali Spread
One of the most important things to try in the Manipuri cuisine: the epitome of which rests with the traditional Manipuri Thali spread. This delicious spread is a significant gateway to understand the Manipuri way of life. As the towns of state develop and urbanise, even the locals often forget the charm of their traditional cuisine. So, perhaps have your post lockdown celebrations with a spread of food. And the best place to have a traditional Manipuri Thali is the Classic Hotel in Imphal. The restaurant serves the landmark dish with excellent feedback.
The fact that it’s in a hotel might throw you off because people wish to taste local and authentic food usually. But, the hotel serves a very aromatic and homely cooked Manipuri Thali. Even the ambience of the restaurant is quite comfortable shedding away any notions of its corporate hotel-like features. The restaurant also offers other Manipuri dishes such as the sweet Manipuri dish Chak Hao kheer. The prices are quite cheap and is estimated at around ₹700 for two people. However, you can try out other restaurants for the same too. Ask any elderly local and they will suggest you the oldest and the best.
Manipuri Pottery Art in Andro Village
Andro Village flaunts its beautiful local artistry in the form of pottery craftsmanship. But the village doesn’t just have artistic pleasures to offer but it delves a little into its history in its expression as well. The museum at Andro Village display a variety of pots such as Walom, Pudond Makhong, Yukhum and Ngangkha. The village is in close proximity to Imphal and is around 23 km away from it. It will barely take an hour in a drive. Further on, this village is the ideal place for the wanderers seeking an offbeat location to explore post lockdown. Legend has it that the original settlers of the village were the earliest people to have settled in Manipur but they were driven away by a tyrannical ruler. Soon, those people returned and reclaimed their home that is now known as Andro.
The Mutua Museum is a perfect place to observe the historic and artistic artefacts that ring true its culture. The museum is an assortment of old thatched huts that represent the various cultural Manipuri tribes such as Tangkui, Kuki and Meitei etc. It holds various items such as pottery, coins, manuscripts, paintings, baskets, wood carvings, bell metals, jewellery and more. It is a centre for those who wish to see the artistry of tribal cultures. Moreover, a walk through a village and you can even see artisans at work. Many of them still do pottery the traditional way without the use of a wheel.
Hike Cheirao Ching
Cheirao Ching is a prominent hill in the middle of Manipur and is a wonderful place to stretch your legs and go on a hike with your family and friends. Cheirao Ching offers a beautiful scenic hike and makes a perfect addition to a day’s itinerary post lockdown. The hill offers an amazing atmosphere for a hike and a banquet of its flora for your eyes to feast upon. The steep slope of Cheirao Ching restricts elderly people from climbing it but it is reasonably fine for children and most adults. Moreover, its naturally strategic location gives us a 360° view at the top of the hill. The hike is great during mornings where you can see the city of Imphal shrouded in mist from the top. The experience can be quite ethereal in that sense!
Discover The Monoliths Of Willong Khullen
To view the mystical aspect of nature, you can head to see the monoliths of Willong Khullen post lockdown. The village is an approx 3.5-hour drive from Imphal and is home to the stone structures similar to the Stonehenge in England. The tallest monolith is seven meters tall and one meter thick. The unobtrusiveness of this mysterious wonder is what draws you closer to see it. The Willong Khullen village is settled at the border of Manipur and Nagaland. Moreover, the monoliths are not beauty in itself but their structure within the landscape gives them an aura of sentinels protecting the green environment around it.
These monoliths are an odd fascination as megaliths and monoliths have always left historians and scientists stumped. It seems removed from human time yet is, technically, quite the opposite. However, the villagers of Willong Khullen believe that they’re spirits that come alive at night. The village itself is a beauty resting on the edge of a cliff and habituated by friendly locals. You will also find a beautiful church adjacent to the end of the village.
Witness the beauty of Shirui Lily on a trek
The delicate and beautiful Shirui Lily unique to the upper reaches of the Shirui Hill ranges in the Ukhrul district is another pride of Manipur. These flowers are obscured from the world and only those that trek to the Shirui Kashong peak can behold this beauty. The local name of the flower is Kashong Timrawon. The Shirui Kashong trek begins from the foot of the Shirui Hill situated near the Shirui Village. However, the trek is an unusual one as the road winds up in ways that one wouldn’t usually expect. Don’t let this get your spirit down but just a caution for those who think it’s be an ordinary trek. The beauty of this trek lies in its distinctness and goes through a beautiful open meadow and dense foliage of trees.
Towards the peak, you will see the popular and unique Shirui Lilies. According to the local legend, these flowers act as a protective spirit to the people. The Shirui Kashong hill is a 3-hour drive from Imphal. The view from above is just not blessed with the Shirui Lillies but a mesmerizing view of the landscape below with lush green spotted with villages and towns.
Note: the entry fee for the trek is ₹10.
Explore nature in Thoubal
Thoubal is another great place for picnics and shopping in Manipur. This place will engulf you in its lush green environment cutting you off from the rest of the world. It is a lesser-known place for hiking but is ideal nonetheless. This is a great place for those who have a distaste for crowds and love for a quiet solitary time. Moreover, it is abundant with rich flora and fauna which makes it a hikers’ paradise. Thoubal lies in within the shelter of Banyan trees and offers boating at Lousi Lake. The serene ambience of Lousi Lake attracts locals and tourists alike. The place is a nice blend of nature and culture without all the tourist hype. The significant attractions are its lakes and greenery. It is a fresh break from the usual tourist destinations and a good way to immerse yourself into Manipur as itself post lockdown.
The popular sightseeing places include People’s Museum that record the local culture and the Khongjom War Memorial as well. The Thoubal market would feel like home for shopaholic. And, those seeking a more quiet form of mental peace can approach the temples such as Chinga Lairembi and Tomjing Ching temples. The town is just 23km from Imphal, i.e, merely 40 min drive.
On another note, Woovly requests the countrymen to stay inside their houses and follow the guidelines issued by the government. In these times of need, please help the needy and do whatever is under your capabilities to help the country.
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