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Manipur

Manipur a place rich in culture  with folklore, , dances, indigenous games and martial arts, exotic handlooms and handicrafts. Some of the outdoor indigenous games played by the Manipuri people

BEST TIME TO VISIT

March to May/Oct to Dec

Overview

Manipur is a small state in North East India, The state is bounded by Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south, and Assam to the west. Mynamar lies to the east. It comprises an oval shaped valley surrounded by blue green hills with the Loktak lake in the middle. Its people include the Meetei, Pangal, Naga, and Kuki, who speak different languages of branches of the Tibeto-Burman family. The Meetei, who live primarily in the state’s valley region, form the primary ethnic group (60% of the total population). Their language, Meeteilon (also known as Manipuri), is the lingua franca in the state.
These are the people whose culture is rich with folklore, myths and legends, dances, indigenous games and martial arts, exotic handlooms and handicrafts. Some of the outdoor indigenous games played by the Manipuri people are Mukna Kangjei, Mukna, Yubi Lakpi, Sagol Kangjei, Arambai Hunba and Hiyang-Tannaba.

Manipur is also famous for its various graceful dance forms. The Manipuri dance is inspired by the theme of love between Lord Krishna and Radha.

Manipur has moderate climate throughout the year. Depending upon the altitude, the climate ranges from tropical to temperate. Though the state enjoys all the three seasons of summers, winters, and monsoons; precipitation dominates the valley for most of the year.

Travel restrictions have now been removed from Manipur. Least visited Manipur, may well become the great tourist discovery of the 21stcentury.

Historical Panorama

The documented history of Manipur begins with the reign of Meitei King of Ningthouja clan who unified the seven clans of Meetei society. Introduction of the Vaishnavism school of Hinduism brought about significant changes in the history of the state. Manipur’s early history is set forth in the Cheitharon Kumbaba, a chronicle of royal events which claims to record events from the foundation of the ruling dynasty in 33–AD. Since ancient times, the Meitei people and Meitei-Pangals (Muslims, not original inhabitants) have lived in the valleys of Manipur alongside the Nagas and Kukis in the hills.

Manipur became a princely state under British rule in 1891; the last of the independent states to be incorporated into British India. During the Second World War, Manipur was the scene of many fierce battles between Japanese and Allied forces. The Japanese were beaten back before they could enter Imphal, which proved to be one of the turning points of the War.

After the war, the Manipur Constitution Act, 1947, established a democratic form of government with the Maharaja as the Executive Head and an elected legislature. In 1949. Manipur became part of the Republic of India in October,1965. It was made a union territory in 1956 and a full-fledged state in 1972.
Some of the main attractions of a visit to the Manipur Valley are given below.

Places to visit in Manipur

 

Site seeing:

War Memorials :During the second world War , it was at Manipur that the Japanese invaded India. The Imphal Valley and Kohima Hills in Nagaland are the locations where some of the bloodiest battles were faught between the Japanese and British Indian armies. These were decisive turning points in history. Today you will visit the Indian National Army Museum at Moirang, where the first INA flag was unfurled on Indian soil on April 14th, 1944. Also visit the Japanese war memorial which honours the Japanese soldiers who lost their lives fighting the battle for Imphal. (For an insight into this great battle of World War 2; read the book: Defeat into victory by Field Marshal Slim)

Local Market

KHWAIRAMBAND BAZAAR-(Wanders delight)

This atmospheric bazar is a “must visit” site. What makes this market different is that it is run by women. 3,000 or more “Imas” or mothers run the stalls. It is split into two sections on either side of a road. Vegetables, fruits, fish and household groceries are sold on one side and exquisite handlooms and household tools on the other. Visitors get to see tribal women clad in colourful, traditional attire, selling everything from hand-woven shawls, skirts, vessels, mugs and mats to fish, lotus, oranges and orange-flavored honey. And if you wander in the quaint by lanes around the market, you will get a glimpse of Manipur’s customs and traditions.

Lotake lake 

The lovely and unique Lotak Lake, occupying an area of 287 sq kms, is the largest fresh water lake in the North East. The lake looks like a miniature inland sea. From the nearby Sendra island, visitors can get a bird’s eye view of this huge and beautiful stretch of water and the life on it. The fisherman and their families who live in neat huts on its shores are engaged in fishing and harvesting the water chestnut known as Heikak. Lotak is also called the Floating lake due to the floating phumdis (heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matters at various stages of decomposition). 116 species of birds have been noted in the lake including 21 species of migratory waterfowl. Also recorded were 425 species of mammals.

The Keibul Lamjao National Park is situated in the South Eastern shores of this lake, and is the largest of all the phumdis in the lake. This is the natural habitat of one of the most endangered deer, the Bow-antlered deer (Cervus eldi eldi) which was once thought to be extinct, This park was created only to preserve and conserve this species of Eld’s Deer.

Itinerary

NE/M-01 : 04 days Manipur Experience

Tour Details
Manipur, is a little Shangarila, endowed by nature’s bounty. Least visited , it awaits the exploring tourist. The oval shaped valley is surrounded by blue green hills, With its rivers and lakes, exotic blooms, and diverse flora, it is rich in art and culture. The people of Manipur include Meitei, Nagas, Kuki-Chin-Mizo , Gorkhas and Muslims – all have lived in complete harmony for centuries. These are the people whose folklore, myths and legends, dances, indigenous games and martial arts, exotic handlooms and handicrafts are of interest to the visitor. On this tour you will visit all the interesting sights of Manipu r – Lakes, forests, exotic flora, fauna, historical battle sites, bazaars and temples and peep into the unique culture and lifestyles.

01 : Arrive Imphal

Arrive imphal by air from Delhi, Guwahati or Kolkata
Transfer to hotel . In the afternoon visit the Shri Govindajee Temple – an elegant Vaishnavite shrine. It stands adjacent to the palace of the former rulers of the state. The temple was built in the early 18th century.
Overnight at your hotel.
Day 02 : Imphal and surroundings: Moirang – Lotak Lake- Keibul Lamjao NP – Khwairamband Bazaar tour


Therafter drive to visit Lotak Lake and the adjacent Keibul Lamjo National Park.
The lovely and unique Lotak Lake, occupying an area of 287 sq kms, is the largest fresh water lake in the North East. The lake looks like a miniature inland sea. From the nearby Sendra island, visitors can get a bird’s eye view of this huge and beautiful stretch of water and the life on it, the fisherman and their families who live in neat huts on its shores are engaged in fishing and harvesting the water chestnut known as Heikak. Lotak is also called the only Floating lake in the world due to the floating phumdis (heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matters at various stages of decomposition). 116 species of birds have been noted in the lake including 21 species of migratory waterfowl.
The Keibul Lamjao National Park is situated in the South Eastern shores of this lake, and is the largest of all the phumdis in the lake. This is the natural habitat of one of the most endangered deer, the Brow-antlered deer (Cervus eldi eldi) which was once thought to be extinct, This park was created only to preserve and conserve this species of Eld’s Deer.
Return to your hotel for Lunch.

After lunch visit the atmospheric Khwairamband Bazaar ( Ima market) . What makes this market different is that it is run by women. Split into two sections on either side of the road, it has tribal women clad in colorful, traditional attire, selling everything from hand-woven shawls, skirts, vessels, mugs and mats to fish, lotus, oranges and orange-flavored honey. And if you wander in the quaint by lanes around the market, you will get a glimpse of Manipur’s customs and traditions.
Overnight at your hotel.
Day 03: Imphal heritage village, World War 2 Cemetry, Kangla fort and Art Gallery tour

Drive 26 Kms to Andro Village, which is home to the Cultural Heritage exhibition. In this Mini Complex, are exhibited all kinds of things that relate to the material cultures of different ethnic groups of Manipur along with their own styles of traditional houses.
The indoor exhibition contains items used within the traditional houses of different indigenous groups of Manipur The outdoor exhibition displays stone monuments of the tribal groups of Manipur in the form of models in tune with the Megalithic Cultural practices.

Andro village; is a living heritage village. It is an example of the age-old cultures and traditions of Manipur. . The practice of fire worshipping is still continued in the temple of Panam Ningthou. It is prepared in turn by the every house-hold member of the village. A traditional system of village administration by nominating its members and the posts of authorities on the basis of lineages is practiced. The community still preserve the traditional rituals and norms relating to the process of pot making.Moreover, the villagers are nature loving people and always maintain a a pollution free ecosystem.In the afternoon visit the Imperial War Graves World War II cemetery at Imphal, Kangla Fort, Shahid Minar and RKCS Art Gallery.
Overnight at your hotel.

Day 04: Departure for next destination

Transfer to airport for departure to next destination; or transfer by car to Nagaland or Mizoram.

departure to next destination; or transfer by car to Nagaland or Mizoram.

KHWAIRAMBAND BAZAAR-(Wanders delight)

This atmospheric bazar is a “must visit” site. What makes this market different is that it is run by women. 3,000 or more “Imas” or mothers run the stalls. It is split into two sections on either side of a road. Vegetables, fruits, fish and household groceries are sold on one side and exquisite handlooms and household tools on the other. Visitors get to see tribal women clad in colourful, traditional attire, selling everything from hand-woven shawls, skirts, vessels, mugs and mats to fish, lotus, oranges and orange-flavored honey. And if you wander in the quaint by lanes around the market, you will get a glimpse of Manipur’s customs and traditions.

ANDRO HERITAGE VILLAGE AND CULTURAL HERITAGE EXHIBITION

26 Kms from Imphal the Andro village is home to the Cultural Heritage exhibition. In this Mini Complex, are exhibited all kinds of things that relate to the material cultures of different ethnic groups of Manipur along with their own styles of traditional houses.

The indoor exhibition contains items used within the traditional houses of different indigenous groups of Manipur The outdoor exhibition displays stone monuments of the tribal groups of Manipur in the form of models in tune with the Megalithic Cultural practices.

Andro village; is a living heritage village. It is an example of the age-old cultures and traditions of Manipur. . The practice of fire worshipping is still continued in the temple of Panam Ningthou. It is prepared in turn by every house-hold member of the village. A traditional system of village administration by nominating its members and the posts of authorities on the basis of lineages is practiced. The community still preserve the traditional rituals and norms relating to the process of pot making.
Moreover, the villagers are nature loving people and always maintain a good relation with nature to maintain a pollution free ecosystem.

RED HILL(Lokpaching)

Red Hill is a hillock about 16 kms. from Imphal on Tiddim Road (NH – 150). It was here that the British- Indian Army halted the Japanese advance into the Manipur Valley after a fierce battle during World War II. War Veterans have constructed the “India Peace Memorial” a monument in memory of Japanese soldiers who died in the battle. It is a place of pilgrimage for Japanese visitors.

 

The small, beautiful state of Manipur lies between the Assam hills and the Indo – Burma border. Dance and music is a way of life for the Manipuris. Legend has it that while searching for a suitable place to hold his rasa (union) with Parvati, Lord Shiva came across this place which was verdant, lush, secluded and girdled by hills but which happened to be full with water. Since the place was very attractive, Shiva thrust his trident right through it and all the water sieved through.

Manipuri depicts a highly intricate and creative dance form. The dancer’s feet face forward and knees are slightly bent. The dancer moves his or her chest and waist in opposite directions, making a figure-of-eight shape with the body. The dancer’s arms make graceful, curved movements. His or her fingers trace out delicate circles and curves in the air. The Manipuri style includes several types of repertoire (range of dances). Five types, consisting of dancing by whole troupes, as well as dance solos and duets, deal with a story about Krishna. Another body of dances, the Sankirtanas, involves male dancers performing jumps to the sound of drums, cymbals, and clapping.

Manipur is an important constituent of the “seven-sister states” of Indian union and craft traditions of this state are profoundly entrenched. The people of Manipur are artistic and creative in their thinking and outlook. Every house possesses a loom, and Manipuris weave with a passion and style, unrivalled by any other state. Manipuri bed covers of Moirangfee and flower designs, silk and cotton sarees, scarves, blankets and shawls, in distinctive shades and weaves, make for an enchanting collection. A wide range of artistic handicrafts from bamboo, papier mache, decorative ivory, dolls and jewelry make for prized souvenirs. These exquisite handlooms and handicrafts are sold at Khwairamband market, the largest exclusive women’s market in the country. 

 

 

Manipur is renowned for attracting lots of tourists for its amazing wildlife, enticing cuisines, and intricate art and crafts. This gifted and magnificently beautiful state has a natural knack for creative work. While visiting Manipur, many people get enthralled by the artwork being used effortlessly in daily routines. You can see various types of looms in almost every home. Bamboo and cane are the main resources that cultivate in Manipur. Hence, the main handicraft work of Manipur revolves around bamboo and cane art. One such craft that appeals the local and global attention most is Kauna reed mat craft.

Kauna is a water reed or a grass-like plant that grows mostly in the wetlands and marshes of Khgangabok, Manipur. The Manipuri’s use them for large-scale production and marketing of crafts like mats and cushions. The Imphal valley is especially used for the production of Kauna reed crafts. These are widely becoming the foremost charm of the state. While neighboring states use bamboo and cane for mats and handicrafts, but Kauna reed is exacting to Manipal only. Not only do they provide comfort, but they also are eco-friendly.

   
  

 Bamboo craft:

   

Bamboo, a forest resource in Manipur is abundantly grown in Churachandpur, Jiribam, Tamenglong and Imphal districts. Manipur is the largest producer bamboo products after Tripura in the entire north east. Some of the bamboo products are sofa sets, Murhas, mats, basketry, tray, chair, table, flower vase, ashtray and other decorative and utility articles. 

Some of the bamboo products are sofa sets, Murhas, mats, basketry, tray, chair, table, flower vase, ashtray and other decorative and utility articles.

Cane  Craft

Cane is the natural endowment of the forest resources in Manipur. Due to Jhum (Shifting) cultivation rampantly practiced in the hill areas, cane resources have been dwindling by way burning of the forest areas.

 

THANG TA MARTIAL ART OF MANIPUR: A CULTURE OF PERFORMANCE
By: Lokendra Arambam, Khilton Nongmaithem

THANG TA is popular term for the ancient Manipuri Martial Art known as HUYEN LALLONG. The art developed from the war environment of the tiny state of Manipur in North-east India, which was an independent kingdom since the early Christian era. It played an important role in the geopolitical environment of medieval times in between India and China with many independent states at war with each other. Constant life and death struggles between clans, tribes and states resulted in the devising of ways and means of safeguarding the lives of the citizen soldiery and at the same time developing an inward attitude to problems of life, death and afterlife.

The art of the battle simultaneously envisioned a deep value system or world view ensconced within the culture of the small ethnic communities struggling for survival from constant attack from hostile neighbours and also to sustain a social order based on rank, status and kin affiliations of a collective kind. The individual was always in deep relationship with the community using ritual as a means of constant regenerative action in tune with the movement of the spiritual world of ancestors beyond human life. The world of man was an outward revelation of the inner life of the natural world and the universe. Deep harmony between outer action and inner forces resulted in the use of the body in various forms of expression.

The art of the battle and the use of weaponry, when its warlike engagements were over, developed into a system of wielding objective elements in organic relationship with the cosmos. The body itself became a space where the tensions and dynamics of creation was worked out in a system of movements reflecting the essence of these creative forces. The whole world of the dynamic cosmos was recreated within the world of the body of man.

THANG TA (The art of sword and the spear) thus became an expressive art form which however retained its fighting character at the secret home schools of individual teachers or Gurus, after being prohibited during the period of the colonial raj (1891-1947). It survived during the period of Manipur’s integration with the Indian Union in 1949, where the art was shown in festivals and performance platforms abroad since 1976. Unfortunately, the internal system of meditative practices and its essential spiritual character is at risk of being lost through lack of knowledge and committed practice by the present generation. Contemporary theatre practitioners are gaining awareness of its basic energy use and creative exercise of the body’s resources which would enhance the performance energy of the artist. It is at an exploratory stage that this new culture is being re-examined.

The movement behaviour of the different parts of the Manipuri martial body are derived from the cultural and habitual uses of daily life. Certain extra-daily postures, positions. and movements are compiled into codes adding to the natural repertoire.

Stone-Carving

Stone carving is a traditional craft of Manipur. In Bishnupur district utility items like bowls, candle-stands, grinders, flower-vases, stone glasses, plates, etc. are made. Manipuris has a custom of constructing an engraved memorial stone for their deceased describing their achievements and good deeds near the village. So stone carving was popular even from earlier days.

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