Manipur – Jewel of India – a mosaic of traditions & cultural patterns

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Manipur - Quick Facts

Area: 22327 sq. km.

Population: 2570390

Capital: Imphal

State Language: Manipuri

Altitude: 790 mtrs above MSL (Imphal)

Maximum Temperature: 320C

Minimum Temperature: 00C

Rainfall: 933mm

Flora&Fauna: more than 500 species

Manipur, described as the jewel of India lies south of Nagaland & north of Mizoram. It shares the international boundary with Myanmar on the western & southern side. Legend has it, that the discovery of Manipur was the result of the delight those gods took in dancing. Still practiced today, is a classical dance form marked by graceful & restrained movements and delicate hand gestures, known as Manipuri. Manipur is a mosaic of traditions and cultural patterns, best represented by its dance forms. The Lai-Haraoba, a traditional stylized dance is a ritual dance for appeasing gods and goddesses. The Lai-Haraoba festival is generally celebrated between April and May, after the harvest season. The raas songs and dances express the Leelas (sports) of Lord Krishna as a child with the Gopis (milkmaids) of Brindavan, and depict their yearning for communication with the Lord.

Surrounded by blue hills with an oval shaped valley at the centre, rich in art and tradition and surcharged with nature’s pristine glory. Manipur lies on a melting pot of culture. It is birth place of Polo. This is the place where Rajashree Bhagyachandra created the famous Ras Lila, the classical dance of Manipur, out of his enchanting dream by the grace of Lord Krishna. Having a varied and proud history from the earliest times, Manipur came under the British Rule as a Princely State after the defeat in the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891 After independence of India in 1947, the Princely State of Manipur was merged in the Indian Union on October 15,1949 and became a full-fledged State of India on the 21th January, 1972 with a Legislative Assembly of 60 seats of which 20 are reserved for Scheduled Tribe and 1 reserved for Scheduled Caste. The State is represented in the Lok Sabha by two members and by one member in the Rajya Sabha.

By Air
Imphal Tulihal Airport is located about 8km from the heart of the City and is well connected directly from the major cities of India namely Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati and major cities of North Eastern States namely Aizawl, Silchar, Dimapur etc by Daily/bi-weekly/other basis with the Domestic Air services like Air India, Indigo, King Fisher, Jet Airways, Jet Lite, Spice Jet, Air Deccan etc. Other major cities of India are connected to Imphal via Kolkata/Guwahati.

By Rail
There is no direct train service to Imphal. But travellers can travel upto Guwahati or Dimapur (nearest rail head from Imphal) and then rest by bus or by air.

By Road
National highway no. 39 connects Imphal with Guwahati (Assam) and National Highway no. 53 connects Imphal with Silchar (Assam). Imphal is connected by a network of roads with all important cities in the neighbouring states and major cities in the country.
Some of the road distances to important places in kilometer are given below:
Imphal to Kohima-123, Dimapur-216, Aizawl-374, Kaziranga-346, Agartala-267, Nowgong-426, Kolkata-1660, Jorabat-506, Chennai-2195, Shillong-682, Mumbai-1934, Guwahati-579, Delhi-2857 , Silchar-198

Foreign Tourists
All foreign tourists visiting Manipur require Restricted Area permit (RAP) issued by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi. The permits are also issued by Indian Missions abroad, Foreign Regional Registration office (FRRO) in Mumbai, Kolkata, Immigration office in Chennai and the Home Commissioner, Govt. of Manipur, Imphal.

Domestic Tourists
Indian tourists visiting Manipur via Dimapur/Kohima require Inner Line Permit to pass through Nagaland. These permits are issued by the Liaison officers of the Govt. of Nagaland at New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati /Shillong and the Sub-Divisional Office (Civil) Dimapur. Deputy Commissioner, Imphal can also issue permits to tourists traveling by road from Imphal to Kohima and Dimapur in Nagaland.

Walled on all sides by ranges of hills with poor infrastructures for development so far as overall development is concerned, this little part of the globe-Manipur has been identifying itself to the people living in India as well as abroad through its rich arts and culture. Love of art and beauty is inherent in the people and it is difficult to find a Manipuri girl who cannot sing or dance. Much has been written on the Manipuri dance, on its lyrical beauty and rhythm. Manipur presents a mosaic of traditions and cultural patterns. Particularly, it is world famous for the Manipuri style of classical dance, very much distinct from other Indian dance forms. The Manipuri School of dancing whether folk, classical or modern is devotional in nature.

The folk dances of tribal people captivate the beholders with their exotic costumes and simple but graceful rhythm. Their folklore is quite rich in quality. The dances of the tribal people are ritualistic and recreational, religious and temporal. The ritual dances are performed at a particular rite or ceremony or sacrifice and these dances naturally have a spiritual and religious basis. The dances of the tribal people have high artistic and aesthetic value.The folk dances of tribal people captivate the beholders with their exotic costumes and simple but graceful rhythm. Their folklore is quite rich in quality. The dances of the tribal people are ritualistic and recreational, religious and temporal. The ritual dances are performed at a particular rite or ceremony or sacrifice and these dances naturally have a spiritual and religious basis. The dances of the tribal people have a high artistic and aesthetic value. The rich culture and tradition of the Manipuri’s are also depicted in their handloom clothes and handicrafts. The Manipuri handloom and handicraft are world famous for its craftsmanship as well as ingenuity, colourful, colorfulness and usefulness.

Manipuris, as a whole love good food and simple living.Our cuisines consist of Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian food alike.Every morning, every manipuri look forward to eating something fresh and green, or a fish dish. Many people bought it fresh from the early morning markets which already started before dawn, or look at their kitchen gardens for something nutritious and healthy. Manipuri food is a very shakahari, as many people of the older generation doesn't take even garlic or onions.Eventhough,it would be wrong to deny that we are fish lovers, mostly from fresh water rivers. During Pre-British period, when Kings and Princes used to rule and reign, Royalty used to take dishes, all vegetarian of 108 numbers in every meal. It is even followed now and King of Manipur, still have the previlege of devouring 108 cuisines,after offering to the shrines of the famous Govindajee Temple of Manipur. The number 108 plays a significant role in Manipuri History and culture, has its influence from the vedanta. Even 108 petal lotus flowers are offered and considered auspicious in any festive occasions.

Manipur has contributed to the richness and variety of Indian culture with its peculiar blend of tribal traditions and Vaishnavism. Of the numerous colourful crafts of Manipur, special mention may be made of their textiles, strong bell metal bowls, cane and bamboo and mats made of spongy reeds. Manipur is also well known for its gold and gold plated jewellery- earrings, necklace, armlets and bracelets. Beautiful dolls and toys of straw and clay are also made in Manipur.

Manipur is a land of festivities, merriments and mirths all the year round. A year in Manipur Presents a cycle of festivals. Hardly a month passes without a festival or two. To the manipuris, festivals are the symbols of their cultural, social and religious aspirations which, besides removing the monotony of life by providing physical diversions, mental recreation and emotional outlet, help them lead a better and fuller life Major Festivals are-

•        Ningol Chakouba - The social festival of Manipuries
•        Yaoshang - The premier festival of Manipur Hindus
•        Ramjan ID - The festival of Manipuri Muslims
•        KUT - The festival of Kuki-Chin-Mizo
•        Gang-Ngai - Festival of Kabui Nagas
•        Chumpha - Festival of Tangkhul Nagas
•        Christmas - The festival of Christians
•        Cheiraoba - The Manipur NewYear
•        Kang - The RathaJatra of Manipur
•        Heikru Hitongbap

Manipur specialises in handloom which is a cottage industry in the state and almost every household owns a loom, with women, busy in the creation of typically unique alternative designs. Famous among them is the Moirangphee design, believed to have been introduced by princess Thoibi of Moirang; the Phanek or snake design constituting red and black stripes symbolic of snakes. Pick up an exotic shawl, tangkhul scarf, lashingphee blanket, cushion cover, bedspread or ready made garment. Choose a handicraft to decorate your home Krishna Radha dolls in Raslila pose, Phirooks or decorative papier mache flower vases, baskets, bamboo trays or just wear a bamboo hat. Ideal places to buy such handicraft are Paona Bazar, where fixed price shops will lessen your shopping worries, Manipur Handlooms Sales Emporium, Handloom House and Tribal Emporium and Sangai Handloom, near Gandhi memorial.

Bishnupur | Chandel | Churachandpur | Imphal | Senapati | Tamenglong.

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