Manipur Graceful Contours
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Manipur - Graceful Contours
Ancient Traditions, Manipur The erstwhile princely state of Manipur is a jewel of a land with its bounteous vistas of untrammelled beauty and ancient traditions. Set in an oval valley amongst smoky blue hills, it is the home of the Meitei who dominate the populace which is an admixture of Naga and Kuki-Chin Mizo groups amongst other colourful communities. The serenity of these pristine and isolated environs has permeated the lifestyle of these people with a lavish hand, allowing them to live for centuries in harmony.

The Manipuri's inspiration arises from the wondrous balance of the flora and fauna that abound in its environs. Almost 70 percent of the land is under forest cover. The stunning combination of wet forests, temperate forests and pine forests sustain a host of rare and endemic plant and animal life. Some of the world's rarest orchids spring from the, fertile soil. Denizens of the forest include the rare hoolock gibbon, the snow leopard and slow loris amongst a galaxy of other rare fauna. Indigenous to Manipur's rich natural heritage is the sangai - the dancing deer, the rarest of creatures that is facing extinction.

Manipur's capital city, lmphal, has harmonised itself seamlessly into its beautiful natural environment. The pretty township is the very heart of the official, commercial and cultural activities of the state. Visitors can enjoy some of its special attractions before moving out of town into its great outdoors to savour Manipuri culture in all its richness and variety.

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 a great assembly hall where devotees congregate to participate in various devotional activities.

On either side of the presiding deity are The shrines of Krishna, Balaram and Jagannath. The Ras Leela dance performances held here are exceptional.

Imphal's Khwairamband Bazar or IMA Market is quite an unusual market - almost 3000 Imas or mothers, man the stalls in this unique bazar. Stalls are lined on either side of the road. On one side, the stalls hawk anything from farm produce to fresh fish and a dazzling selection of groceries, Opposite these, are a row of stalls selling exquisite handlooms and household tools. In a street not so far away you can pick up some of the most exquisite wicker works and traditional basketry.

Lai Haraoba Dance, Manipur In the heart of Imphal at the Bir Tikendrajit Park lies a monument known as the Shaheed Minar. This memorial pillar was raised to pay homage to the indomitable spirit of the Meitei and tribal martyrs who sacrificed their lives while fighting the British in 1891.

Managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, are the beautifully kept War Cemeteries 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.

Manipur has at least 500 different varieties of orchids. The Central Khonghampat Orchidarium, just 7 km away from Imphal offers visitors an excellent opportunity to see at least 110 species which are showcased here. The Orchidarium is doing excep-tional work on propagating some of the rare species. Its 200 acres are host to many rare varieties of orchids which include almost a dozen endemic species. The finest time to see these blooms is in March-April when they look their very best.

Go to see the rare but incredibly graceful Sangai (brew antlered deer) at the Manipur Zoological Gardens. The zoo (6 km) lies on the verdant base of the pine growing hillocks at Iroisemba on the lmphal-Kangchup road.


Ras Leela
Manipur's famous classical dance form, Ras Leela, is based on the legendary love of Radha-Krishna and the devotion of the Gopis to Lord Krishna. Performances (in a mandap close to a temple) can sometimes last all night. Shri Govindaji Temple is an important venue for these performances, particularly on the night of Basanta Purnima and Kartika Purnima. This performance here spearheads other performances in the city's various venues.

Lai Haraoba
The spring festival of Lai Haraoba (April/May) is a harmonious blend of stylised and ritualistic dances for peace and prosperity performed in honour of the local sylvan dieties in the Manipur Valley. The one at Moirang attracts huge crowds.

Mountaineering in Manipur Manipur's biggest festival Yaosang is celebrated for five days commencing from the full-moon day of the lunar month of Phalgun (Feb-March). The festivities ring with the music of Thabal Chongba, a folk dance linked with the festival.

Heikru Hidongba
The high point of the annual celebrations of Heikru Hidongba or Hitonqba, the colourful boat races, are held at Imphal in September.

Manipur's main shopping attractions are the traditional Manipuri handwoven textiles. The Manipuri dance doll with its graceful stances is a lovely memento to buy for family and friends. A visit to the famous IMA Khwairamband bazar where 3000 Imas or mothers sell all varieties of goods, is a great tourist attraction.

Popular Shopping Outlets
Handloom House, Paona Bazar
Tel 2220340

Manipur Handlooms & Handicrafts Development
Corporation, Paona Bazar
Tel 2221495

Eastern Handlooms & Handicrafts, Paona Bazar
Manipur Development Society, Uripok
Tel 2222968

What used to be a national pastime has taken on great importance for Manipur in the field of national sports and promoting adventure activities to tourists.

Shaheed minar in Manipur Today nodal agencies have been set up to promote different adventure sports as well as to impart training. The indigenous martial arts and games of Manipur have become world-renowned and are an important feature of the tourist experience in this lovely state. Some of these are: The Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association, Lamdan (Sudarshan Peak), near Loktak Hydro-electric Power Project.

The Manipur Adventure and Allied Sports Institute, Keirao, and Tourist Home in Siroi Hills near Ukhrul.

The Adventure Academy of Manipur, RIMS, South Gate, lmphal - offers courses and assistance in white water rafting in the state.

The itinerant wars with Burma and the competitive edge amongst the small kingdoms of Manipur became a springboard for its martial arts. In time these have become an integral part of its cultural ethos.

Tracing its history back to the 33 AD, the lively game of Sagol Kangjei can be seen as the mother of modern polo. The Pana-style polo of Manipur is played with the famous Manipuri pony (not more than 4.5' tall) and involves 7 players on each side. This particular version of polo is swifter than the modern game played in international arenas. Players use a cane stick with an angled wooden striking head and the ball is made of bamboo root. Both the indigenous version and the international styles of polo are popular in Manipur.

Imphal STD Code : 0385


By Air
Nearest airport lmphal (7 km from downtown)
Indian Airlines/Alliance Air and Jet Airways connect Imphal with Delhi (3 hrs 45 mm Kolkata (one hr), Guwahati (50 min) Aizawl (30 min) Jorhat (35 min) and Silchar (30 min)

Taxis Tourist taxis (about Rs. 150) and auto-rickshaws are available at the airport for transfer to the city.

Indian Airlines
» Enquiry Tel 2208868
» Reservations Tel 2220999

Jet Airways
» Enquiries and Reservations » Tel 2230834-6
» Airport Tel 2227499, 2228607

By Rail
Nearest Railhead Dimapur or Manipur Road, (on the North-East Frontier Railway (NEF), in Nagaland, 215 km from lmphal)

Regular bus services to lmphal are available from Dimapur. The journey takes around 8-9 hours. The other railway station is Jiribam, a small town on Manipur-Assam border, 225 km away.

Railway Out-agency (for reservations) MSRTC Complex Moirangkhom Tel 22213823