I always had this urge of mine to travel through all of the beautiful North Eastern States. After Sikkim and Meghalaya, proceeding towards Manipur is another step forward to that of my wish. Though the Manipur Tourism website didn’t proved to be much fruitful, but then I stumbled upon Here and Thereness which helped me making my dreams come true. I’m glad that I found this blog by Sumita Maam. This women in her fifty’s have travelled alone through various North Eastern states including Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland etc. and her blog is a jewel for anyone planning to visit these states.
After planning Meghalaya for 11N/12D, I still had 3N/4D left, which I was mostly confused with. Whether to proceed towards Garo Hills or to explore a new destination if possible. Thanks to Sumita Maam from Here and Thereness and Bornav from TripAdvisor Forums, with help of them, I could plan for Manipur. Sumita Maam, confirmed that 3N would be just perfect for a basic circuit of Manipur.
Well, to begin with, we are on our 2 week long trip to Meghalaya and Manipur following the below itinerary
24th Sep : Reach Guwahati. Halt at Guwahati
25th Sep : Guwahati – Mawphlang. Halt at Mawphlang
26th Sep : Mawphlang – Mawlyngbna. Halt at Mawlyngbna
27th Sep : Mawlyngbna – Mawphanlur. Halt at Mawphanlur
28th Sep : Mawphanlur – Sohra. Halt at Sohra
29th Sep : Sohra Sightseeing. Halt at Sohra
30th Sep : Nongriat Trek. Halt at Nongriat / Sohra
1st Oct : Sohra – Mawlynnong – Dawki – Shnongpdeng. Halt at Shnongpdeng
2nd Oct : Shnongpdeng – Amlarem – Jowai – Ialong. Halt at Ialong
3rd Oct : Ialong – Shillong. Halt at Shillong
4th Oct : Shillong sightseeing. Halt.
5th Oct : Shillong – Guwahati – Imphal. Ima Market & Local Sightseeing
6th Oct : Andro Village & Loktak Lake
7th Oct : Moreh Border
8th Oct : Departure
Day 11 – 5th Oct : Shillong – Guwahati – Imphal. Ima Market & Local Sightseeing :
After covering Meghalaya, it was our time to explore Manipur which is known as the Jewel of India. Although the Bird’s eye view of Manipur was just amazing overviewing the famous Loktak Lake, but all our excitement went into vein when our Air India Crew announced “The temperature outside is 31 Deg C“. We thought we might heard it wrong, and thus to confirm again, we carefully listened the announcement repeated in Hindi again and we were like WTF!!
After travelling through beautiful hills of Meghalaya, we were looking forward to spend our last 3N in a comfortable temperature zone before proceeding towards hot and humid Kolkata. The next disappointment was Imphal, the capital of Manipur, looked to be a oval shaped valley surrounded by the mountains.
We already had our hotel booked. Again thanks to Sumita Maam for the reference. As per our discussion with Mr. Ashoke from Hotel Nirmala, had already sent driver to pick us up from Airport. The scorching heat of sun was taking the fun away and we felt like our last leg of the trip won’t be much enjoyable and we might need to be confined in our rooms for next few days.
It took us around 20 minutes to reach Hotel Nirmala. Upon noticing us Mr. Ashoke came forward and welcomed us warmly. Though we didn’t had any specific room booked, he offered us to take a look through the rooms of various categories. We opted for Deluxe Double Bed Rooms. However the beds were more than enough to accommodate 3 persons, so we didn’t opted for Extra Bed.
Our plan for the day was to visit Ima Market and go for local Sightseeing. However Mr. Ashoke informed us that, there’s a Loktak Festival going on there and we are very lucky to be here on this day so he suggested us to visit Loktak Lake instead and if possible to take part in the local festival. We really felt this would really be something unique experience for us. As I personally believe, one can really get to know a lot about local culture if one could take part in their Marriage and/or Festival.
Thus without wasting much time we started for Loktak Lake. Loktak Lake, being the largest freshwater lake of North East India is the most popular tourist place of Manipur. It also houses the world’s one and only floating National Park named, Keibul Lamjao National Park. The drive through the districts of Bishnupur and Moirang was amazing. It took us around one and a half hour to reach Loktak Lake View Point.
Frankly speaking, the view point didn’t impressed us much. Definitely the lake was beautiful but wish we could do something more. While on our way to Loktak, we noticed various army personnel deployed at every corner of the city which raised our suspiciousness about the same. We spotted a local there at Loktak, who seemed to be friendly. Upon approaching him, and chit-chatting for sometime we came to know that due to conflict amongst various tribes, Manipur has been imposed with Armed Forces Act. Well, from my personal experience, I noticed, the less you talk about these things is better, as there are lots of cultural sentiments involved here. However for tourists there’s no such threat at all.
We being mostly interested in hills, upon enquiring, we came to know that except few of them, it’s mostly impossible to visit those surrounding hills, as those being the house of various tribal groups. The main reason behind visiting Loktak today was the Loktak Fesival which occurs once in a year. But unfortunately we couldn’t notice any festival going on there. Finally the same person came to our rescue and informed us that, we need to travel a bit towards the village, named Thanga for the same. He assured us that it’d be safe and nothing to worry about.
It took us another 15-20 minutes to reach the village and finally we could spot the festival. There were lots of Army Personnel deputed for the security of visitors and ministers who came by for delivering speech. Upon enquiring, we came to know that, now Ministers and VIP’s would be delivering speech till some time and the actual festival would begin at mid-night and will continue till early morning. They also informed us that the actual festival will be occurring on an island named Thanga Karang, pointing us towards a island which seemed to be decorated with various lights. Well, I must mention here that, Thanga Karang is an island surrounded by Loktak Lake and falls within the buffer zone of Keibul Lamjao National Park.
Well, it was practically not possible for us to attend the festival and thus we decided to return back to our hotel. The rest of the evening we spent chit-chatting amongst ourselves before having early dinner and hitting the bed.
Day 12 – 6th Oct : Andro Village & Loktak Lake :
Last night, while having our dinner at inhouse hotel restaurant, we spotted one Bengali family who came here during the Pujas and would be returning back today. Upon discussing things with them, we expressed our grief towards the view of Loktak and then only we came to know, that we must do the boating in Loktak to feel the same and that the view of Loktak from the View Point is not worth it. He also informed us to visit the INA Museum in Moirang which we missed last night.
Upon enquiring with Mr. Ashoke, he informed us that, he was not aware about the place of festival, otherwise he’d have never suggested us to visit Loktak yesterday. He informed our driver to make it to Andro and then proceed to Loktak Lake again as per our original plan and still we’d have time left for Local Sightseeing. And the remaining we can do before our Departure as our flight was at around 1PM.
We were really glad to hear the same else we’d have really regret our decision of coming all the way and missing such things.
After having our breakfast, we started towards Andro at around 8:30 AM. It took us around an hour to reach Andro Village. The place was really picturesque and breathtaking, however the scorching heat of Sun made it impossible to spend much time.
Then we proceeded to the Mutua Museum, which is the most significant place to experience at Andro Village. It was a altogether different kind of destination. Thanks to the region being remote due to which it doesn’t attracts tourists like in Loktak yet. There were many cottages built in traditional tribal style and each contained valuables, which have been stolen by visitors in the past. Before long a boy came back in time to take around the museum, opening each houses that contained items and materials used in the past. There were traditional houses of major communities and tribes inhabiting Manipur like the Meitei, Kabui, Tangkhul and Kuki. The museum is a cultural complex showcasing major tribal traditions and their artifacts. In the middle of the complex stood an old tree trunk, carved with beautiful designs. Nearby few monoliths gave some company to the old mystic figure. Most of these were authentic materials brought in from other places. Some common artifacts displayed here include various forms of pottery, musical instruments, traditional clothes etc. one most important aspect of the complex is the beautiful wood carvings on the traditional houses.
Then we proceeded towards Khongjom War Memorial. But upon reaching there, we found the main complex to be closed.
Finally we started proceeding towards our incomplete destination again, Loktak Lake. However we were deviated on various routes due to the election next day which also imposed threat on our plan for tomorrow, to visit Moreh. However we had no option other than to keep our faith in God!! On our way through Thoubal and Singjamai Bazaar we spotted an unique concept of escaping heat while riding bikes.
We stopped by INA Memorial at Moirang. It was at Moirang that the flag of the Indian National Army was first unfurled on April 14, 1944. The INA Museum which has a collection of letters, photographs, badges of ranks and other war memorabilia reminds the visitors of the noble sacrifices made by the INA soldiers under the charismatic leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
And finally we proceeded towards Loktak Lake. While entering Moirang, one can spot stupas of Khamba and Thoibi which is a famous love story based in Moirang. But due to communication issues with Appu we couldn’t get the whole story, but we realized it’s more of like Radha – Krisha amongst Hindu’s.
Appu helped us negotiating for a boat ride at a reasonable cost. We opted for 30 minutes Boat Ride. As we embarked on our journey, finally we could understand the hype behind this place. It was simply breathtaking.
Although Appu is a shy type of person, but gradually we were becoming friends. He explained us the land masses within the lake are known as “Phumdis” which is actually a series of floating island. And these islands are so strong that, locals and fishermens built their houses upon it. This is something unique at Loktak in Manipur. Infact the same land masses consitutte the worlds largest floating national park named as Keibul Lamjao National Park.
After boating, upon enquiring for Lunch, we came to know that, people here have their lunch mostly by 11 PM or so. But we all were hungry like hell. Thus we opted to please our stomach by the Alu Parathas available at one such local shop at Moirang Bazaar. We stopped by the same place last night while returning from Loktak for Tea and Snacks. You just can’t miss this palce, if you are a Tea lover.
Finally we proceeded towards Imphal. Next our plan was to cover the possible local sightseeings of Imphal. It took us around 30 Minutes to drive to Shree Govindjee Temple.
It was already 5 by then and from our experience from last day, we knew the Sun hits the horizon on this part of the country a bit early at around 5 PM. The day light starts decreasing 4:30 onwards and by around 5:30 it’s total dark. Thus we planned to cover Kangla before our departure and choose to hop through local Ima Market today.
Ima in Meitei means Women. It’s an all women market and something unique throughout the world. The local market place is always believed to be the best place for tourists to get acquainted with the local culture and norms.
Later we proceeded back to our hotel. Just opposite to our hotel, there is a local restaurant named Ok Chicken. I came to know about this from Here and Thereness and it’s famous chicken roll. It’s not like the Rolls we get in our hometown instead a pack made of dry chicken curry rolled into paper. Specially because of the recommendation from Sumita Maam, we wanted to try this and believe me it was simply awesome!! One should definitely try this out while in Imphal.
Though we wanted to try out local cuisines, specially the authentic Manipuri Thali, and came to know about the famous local restaurant, Luxmi Kitchen. But here im Imphal, most of the shops and restaurants closes by 7-8 PM, and as we are not used to such early dinner we couldn’t try out the same.
Instead we ordered our dinner at our hotel only and rest of the evening we spent chit-chatting among ourselves.
Day 13 – 7th Oct : Moreh Border :
Our day started a bit early at around 7 AM in the morning. Day Trip To Moreh is a whole day long affair and thus as per instructions from Appu we started a bit early today. Though we were very afraid of having us return back due to local elections going on today, but nothing that sort of happened. Our faith in God was restored. The drive through Tengnoupal, the beautiful hill town at the highest point of a road between Imphal and Myanmar (Burma), was simply breathtaking. Since Tengnoupal is situated on the topmost range of the Indo-Myanmar region one could get the bird’s eye view of the beautiful sceneries of hills and the vast lusty plains.
We just loved it, more specially because we were finally back to the mountains escaping the scorching heat of Imphal. But our excitement didn’t last longer, as Appu informed us that Myanmar (Burma) would be totally plans and it’d be hot out there. Tengnoupal is also the first check point towards Indo – Myanmar border. Here one needs to show their Aadhaar Card (preferably) and basic physical checks are done in order to proceed further. One hiring vehicle for their trip to Moreh, must ensure that, the driver is carrying all the required documents, as the same is thoroughly checked here and further at next checkpoint in order to proceed further.
NOTE : Photography is totally restricted in and around the border checkposts
Some of our members were carrying Voter ID Card, and we were informed that, we might be stopped on next Checkpoint for the same. Although Mr. Ashoke already informed us last night to mandatorily carry our Aadhaar Card, as it’s more preferred than Voter ID Cards, but while hurrying up at last minute some of our members forgot to carry the same. Although when we started from Imphal, we remembered the same, but due to miscommunication with Appu, he informed us there’s no point in going back and that Voter ID Card would suffice. We were very upset, as after coming all this way, if we had to return back, we’d have to regretted it forever. We were bit upset with Appu as well, as we asked him to take us back immediately after embarking our journey, but he misguided us.
Well, Appu as a personal is very shy and talks very less but warm and friendly. The main problem we faced with him is, he speaks very little manageable Hindi (and no English), and thus communicating with him was a bit problematic. Well not only Appu, throughout our trip through Manipur, we found the locals speak very little manageable Hindi. Only few educated peoples speak English and the ones involved with tourism business speak fluent Hindi and English both.
Anyway, we didn’t had any option other than just to pray to God. My dad tried to cheer us up, and he insisted that Voter ID Card is indeed one of the most valuable Govt. ID Proof. There is no way they can deny the same. May be they prefer Aadhaar Card more but we need to handle the situation by requesting them if such arrives.
Finally we reached Khubdengthabi Checkpoint at around 10 AM. There’s a long queue of vehicles. We were instructed by the Army to walk by the checkpoint as thorough physical checking would be required to proceed further and that the vehicle would be checked separately. Appu went ahead to process his vehicle permit for the same. We kept our fingers crossed for the members not having Aadhaar Card and luckily, the Army personnel never asked for the same and we were allowed to proceed.
Finally we reached Moreh Bazaar by around 10:25 AM. Moreh is the bordering town of Indian side. Here one needs to make a photocopy of the ID Cards along with vehicle permits and driving license which needs to be submitted at the Moreh Subdivisional Police Staton in order to obtain one day pass to Myanmar (Burma).
After processing our permits we crossed into Myanmar after a final checking at the last Indian checkpost by the border. Tamu is the bordering town at Myanmar side. One needs to submit the One Day pass issued by Indian Immigration Department at the first checkpost at Myanmar side to obtain the final one day Vehicle Pass issued by Myanmar Immigration Department.
Finally after being done with the legal procedures, we embarked on our journey to explore Tamu. We were very excited of being crossing the border and to experience a new country. Our first stop at Myanmar (Burma) was Golden Temple.
We met a lot of locals there, and it didn’t took us much time to realize, people on this side of the border doesn’t knows Hindi / English, not even Meitei. Thus it was a real problem communicating with them. But still, a lot of smile and body language is enough to guess what you are trying to say.
We were hungry by the time, and thus we decided to hop into a local restaurant named Water World Restaurant. Appu informed us that Beer is very cheap here. Thank God, the menu had english names over there. A cute young girl was taking the order, probably the kid of owner. She had no way other than to use a calculator to inform us the price of the dishes we wanted to take.
NOTE : Please note that, 1 INR = 20 Myanmar Kyat (Approx). Please keep the same in mind while paying in INR.
Well it leaves me no room to inform you that, local people plies here weekly for any kind of their shopping needs. The goods being damn cheap on this side of the border and at Lafalong Market (on the Indian Side), is a market hub for local people.
Another important aspect we noticed was, Myanmar follows driving on the right side of the road.
Finally after being done with out lunch, we proceeded back to India and went towards Lafalong market. The goods from that side of the border is mostly exported (legally or illegaly I’m not sure) and sold here. The goods were damn cheap there. My dad bought an original Nike sports shoe for just Rs. 400/- (INR). Throughout our journey we noticed local people carrying lots of items, jam packed in their vehicle, either from that side of the border or at Lafalong. Appu informed us that, most people from Imphal or from nearby regions comes here for their shopping needs. Some choose to cross the border while some choose to buy it from Lafalong only. The price is almost same.
On our way back, we halted at Gabby’s Cafe. The place is beautifully decorated and one can have their lunch or a cup of Tea / Coffee with a breathtaking view, which would be a lifelong experience.
Finally we drove back to our hotel and reached by around 6 PM in the evening. While our Mom, Dad and Aunt choose to hop through Ima Market, we decided to go back to our hotel and take rest. Appu informed us that, from today onwards, Imphal is arranging a Night Plaza nearby Kangla on every weekend. So if we are interested we can try out the same.
We gladly accepted the offer as it’d have been something unique for us on our last night at Manipur. After taking some rest, finally me and my wife choose to hit the street. We noticed lot of Army personnels deployed throughout the city for safety of people. It was more like a Street Food Festival there with various stalls selling some lip smacking items.
We did try out some of them until we were full!! It was a fun filled evening I’d say. We were really glad to have experienced something like this on our last night at Manipur.
Finally we returned back to our hotel and hit the bed after packing up the luggages.
Day 14 – 8th Oct : Departure :
The morning was bit dull, this being the last day of our trip. The grieve of returning back to our same old boring lifestyle gasped us. Anyhow, with the distress back in our heart we started our day at around 10:30 AM. Our first stop was the first and last point for the day was Kangla.
It took us 1 and a half hour to explore the whole place. And finally, we were dropped back to Airport at around 12 PM. We still had some time for our flight, but we decided to Check In.
Finally we flew back with our sweet memories of Meghalaya and Manipur, looking forward to our next trip somewhere very soon.
Points To Remember :
- First things first, Imphal can be very hot during summers. Better plan it during Winters if you want to have a comfortable temperature. Even during the month of October, we never expected Imphal to be so hot.
- Try to start early, as Sun hits the horizon in part of the country a bit early. Daylight gradually starts decreasing from around 4:30 PM and sun mostly hits the horizon by 5 PM. So you can expect it to be all dark by 5:30 PM.
- Most shops and restaurants closes by 7 – 8 PM. So don’t expect your nightlife to be exciting here.
- For the same reason, you are expected to have your dinner by 8:30 – 9 PM. Whereas we experienced our in house restaurants to be allowing guests till 10 – 10:30 PM.
- If you are proceeding towards Moreh, make sure to carry Aadhaar Card to be on the safe side. They tends to prefer Aadhaar Card more than anything else.
- Except few destination in and around Imphal, we couldn’t found others to be accessible due to the insurgency. Though I cannot confirm it 100%, but we found nothing else to be accessible beyond Imphal, Loktak, Andro, Moreh and Ukhrul.
- Ukhrul is best enjoyed during Shirui Lilly Festival and offers lifetime memorable views. Shirui Lilly is the state flower of Manipur and believed to be only found in Manipur. This being a very rare species of Lily, can only be seen during specific seasons. I definitely plan to go back during one such Festival.
- You may keep an eye at Manipur Tourism Website and their Facebook Page for such updates of Festivals. Festivals at Manipur are something very unique and something worth experiencing.
- No matter what the rumours are, Manipur is 100% safe for tourists. Remember the famous song “Log toh kuch kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna” for whoever suggests you against visiting Manipur.
- Do not try to take part into local cultural debates, unless you really know the background. People here are very sensitive towards their local culture and tribes. Though this applies for visiting anywhere in the world.
- Due to the Army Protection Act, you’ll see Army’s being deployed throughout the city for safety of people. This is mostly because of the history of clashes between various tribes of their various demands.
- Again, unless you really understand the local culture and their sentiments behind their demands, do not try to comment on it or taking part in any such discussion. And believe me you’ll be fine.
- Tourists are most welcomed and various initiatives are now being taken up by the Govt. to promote tourism. So as a tourist you can be 100% sure of being safe.
Hotel Nirmala, Imphal : Our stay at Hotel Nirmala was really enjoyable. Mostly because of Mr. Ashoke. The property, rooms and washrooms were really well maintained and clean. The staffs were very cordial and smiling. The food at Inhouse restaurant is very good. Mr. Ashoke is very friendly and always smiling. He helped us a lot and took up the responsibility of arranging cabs from our pickup to drop end to end throughout our trip to Manipur.
Hotel Nirmala, Imphal : 0385-2458904 / 0385-2459014. Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Ashoke, Hotel Nirmala, Imphal : +91-98560-83415. We have been touch with this person from the beginning of our planning to Imphal. He helped arranging everything from rooms at Hotel Nirmala to booking cabs for throughout our trip to Manipur.
Appu, Driver : +91-82588-1360. He drives a white Bolero with registration number MN 05A 4850. He’s a bit shy though, but very friendly person.
Day 11 :
Entry Fee at Loktak Lake : Rs 100/-
Day 12 :
Entry Fee at Senthei Natural Park, Andro Village : Rs. 60/- (Rs. 10/- Head)
Parking at Senthei Natural Park, Andro Village : Rs. 50/-
Entry Fee at INA Museum : Rs. 60/- (Rs. 10/- per head)
1 Hour Boating at Loktak Lake : Rs. 600/-
Day 13 :
ID Cards Xerox at Moreh Bazaar : Rs. 10/-
One Day Permit at Moreh Subdivisional Police Station : Rs. 100/-
One Day Permit at Burma Immigration Office : Rs. 240/-
Day 14 :
Entry Fee at Kangla : Rs. 80/- (Rs. 10/- per person)
Vehicle (Day 11 – Day 14) : 13000/- (Though our discussed rate with Mr. Ashoke was Rs. 12000/-, but as we opted to run to Loktak again on Day 12, we had to adjust the same accoringly)
Accommodation & Food Bill at Hotel Nirmala, Imphal : Rs. 16800/- (Room Rent was Rs. 1350/- + 400/- for Extra Person x 2 Rooms x 3 Nights)
NOTE : I have omitted costs of personal nature for easy interpretation.
Special Thanks To :
- Sumita Maam of Here and Thereness. She is always an inspiration for me to travel the remotest parts of India. Her blog provides minute details one needs to plan their trip. Though she gets very less time nowadays to write about her journeys, but I’d say, keep writing maam. You don’t even know how much you help a lot of people like me unknowingly for which we’ll always be thankfull towards you and your blog.
- Bornav from TripAdvisor Manipur Forums. He single handedly volunteers forums for most of the North Eastern 7 Sister States. His immense knowledge about these destinations helps a lot of people planning their trip.