Thursday, June 9, 2016

Imphal- Gem Of The Jeweled Land Manipur!

The drive from Kohima to Imphal is captivating and we were greeted by charming step cultivated paddy fields and a clean countryside. It was a sight to watch the streams flow into the paddy fields and farmers toil hard and the entire journey provided a beautiful glimpse of villages and churches. The land of Manipur is definitively a jeweled Land providing us with a perfect picture of hills in the background and light shower adding more charm to the fields while the wind whistled melodiously in our ears. On reaching Imphal, the capital of Manipur we were pretty amazed to see the scale of development Imphal has witnessed.

Imphal is steeped in history and has a lot to offer a traveller. We started by visiting the War cemetery. Battle of Imphal and Kohima are one of the greatest battles in World history. This cemetery is the final resting place of more than 1600 World War II soldiers. The place is well maintained and is a must visit to pay respect to the brave soldiers.

Imphal is also famous for its one of a kind market- 'Ima Market' or 'Khwairamband Bazaar.' This market is a stunning example of awesome women power! It has over 4000 shops and all are run by women. Everything from groceries to clothes, tools, fruits, vegetables, poetry, baskets, household items, meat products are available under one roof. The striking aspect of this market is that the stalls are compact with each not more than 4 feet by 2 feet. 

The polo ground in Imphal has rich history behind it as this is the oldest polo ground in the world. The modern game of Polo seemed to have been derived from Manipur. Almost everyone in Manipur is in love with this sport.

The Manipur state museum which is right behind the polo ground would be an ideal place to understand Manipuri culture. The massive 78 feet long 'Royal Boat' stationed here is a marvel. Also, there is an iconic Chevy Impala that was used by top bureaucrats which is very interesting but in a very sorry state as the classic car has been left to rust. Though the museum has been a very good initiative by state government, the maintenance is at its very low. Despite that, it definitely should not be missed especially if you have keen interest in history.

Bang in the middle of Imphal city is the Kangla fort complex. Kangla was the ancient capital of Manipur kingdom. It was considered a sacred place and indigenous beliefs were practiced here. The fort that was once the home of Royals of Manipur was taken over by the britishers then later by the Assam Rifles and it was only in 2004 that the fort was handed over to the people of Manipur.

Centuries Old Artifact In Ruins!

The fort complex is more of a massive park to put it in perspective with a mediocre museum, ruins, polo ground and places of worship. Two massive royal boats are displayed in a glass house and the boats were made of a single log. Sri Govindaji Temple was built in 1846 but was destroyed in an earthquake and later reconstructed. Lord Ibodhou temple is dedicated to the ruling deity of Kangla. Two Dragon statues of Kangla Sha, the state emblem stand guard at the complex. It would be a ideal place to go for long walks. When they say Kangla fort please do not expect to see something like forts of Rajasthan or other parts of India. The entry fee is Rs.10 per person and the fort is closed on Wednesdays.

Shaeed Minar stands tall as a great example of Martyrdom, pride and bravery of King Bir Tikendrajit Singh and Thangal General, the ruler and General of Manipur. After being defeated by British in 1891 at this very spot which was the women's market then, the two men were hanged to death in front of 8000 women as a sign of subjugation but the attempt to humiliate them miserably backfired when Thangal General laughed aloud just before being executed.

The women of Manipur waged two wars in history against exploitation and artificial famine induced by the britishers and a memorial Nupi Lal War Memorial was dedicated to honor these freedom fighters for standing up against the invaders. However, it is really disheartening to see places that stand as a mark of respect to our freedom fighters and ensure that the coming generations are aware of the hardships they went through are now just left in shambles and accumulate dust.

Another very impressive monument in Imphal is the 'Saint Joseph Cathedral' in Mantripukhri. The beautiful architecture and the location of the cathedral with the hills in the background make it an even more charming place.

Located on the Imphal airport road, Malom stands as one of the dark chapters in Indian history. The Indian Army in retaliation for a convoy attack opened indiscriminate fire at innocent unarmed civilians killing 10 of them who were waiting at Malom bus stop. The victims included a boy who was a National Child Bravery Award Winner. Today, a stone slab mentioning the names of the victims stands at the same sight providing a reminder of misuse of power.

Since that incident life of a young girl 'Irom Sharmila' drastically changed and she is fighting a lone battle for 15 years to repeal the 'AFSPA' until today. She has dedicated the prime of her life fighting against various Governments in true Gandhian way.

We hold the Indian Army with utmost high regards and respect. They have all rights to avenge the death of fellow soldiers but their targets should be actual perpetrators and not innocent bystanders or civilians. As as mark of respect to these 10 innocent lives a memorial has been erected at the sight of shootout.

After spending considerable time in North East India we understood the gravity of tension in this part of India and how real the threat factors are. The sheer presence of Armed Forces and men in camouflage armed with Kalashnikov and assault rifles at every nook and corner provide more a sense of fear than sense of security. We sincerely hope that all parties agree to cease fire and resolve issues through dialogue. What ever the asks or demands maybe we are pretty sure it is not worth killing for.

The Classic Group of hotels are excellent options to consider for stay in Imphal. Apart from spacious, clean and brilliant rooms, their restaurant is what makes it the best place. Savoring the local cuisine while experiencing new flavors should be an integral part of travel itinerary and their authentic Manipuri Thali will definitely not disappoint. The thali includes rice and several other accompaniments. In the non veg thali you can choose between chicken or fish.

The amazing dishes are served in cups made of banana leaves. Keep in mind a request for the thali has to be placed one day in advance. The food looks, smells and tastes amazing. The best part about the thali is their dessert 'Black rice kheer' and pineapple cubes in syrup. The black rice kheer is a very unique and authentic Manipuri dessert. This variety of black rice is available only in Manipur. We are not going to describe how awesome the desert was as the pictures speak for themselves.

Cleaned Up In Under Two Minutes
To have quick bites, head to "Pizza De Cafe," a very small outlet that can give tough competition to any western fast food joint. Their veg burger is yummy and very addictive.


  1. North east India has so much place to travel. This is one of such places. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nice summary and experience. Beautiful images

  3. This place is stunning. The architecture is beautiful and the decoration is spectacular. Environment was transparent and resonant and warm and immediate. I loved these lofty spaces and my experience here was very exciting.

  4. Tikendrajit Singh was a prince notthe king, his brother was the king. But yes, he was the de facto man in command during the 1891 war.