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Manipur as the name suggest is a land of jewels. Its rich culture excels in every aspects as in martial arts, dance, theatre and sculpture. The charm of the place is the greenery with the moderate climate making it a tourists’ heaven. The beautiful and seasonal Shirui Lily at Ukhrul (district), Sangai (brow antlered deer) and the floating islands at Loktak Lake are few of the rare things found in Manipur. Polo, which can be called a royal game, also originated from Manipur.
Some of the main tourist attractions are:
Shree Shree Govindajee Temple
This temple adjoining the palace of the former rulers of Manipur, is a historic centre for Vaisnavites. It is a simple and beautiful structure with gold domes, a paved court and a large, raised congregation hall.The presiding deity in the centre is flanked by idols of Radha Govinda, Balaram and Krishna on one side and Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra on the other.
Manipur Zoological Garden
About 6 km. from Imphal, towards the west, in this Zoological Garden at Iroishemba on the Imphal Kangchup Road. Graceful brow-antlered deer, “Sangai” one of the rarest species in the world, can be seen here in sylvan surroundings. A trip to this garden, at the foot of the pine-growing hillocks in the westernmost corner of Lamphelpat is really enjoyable.
Loktak Lake and Sendra Island
48 km. from Imphal. A huge and beautiful stretch of water, this lake is like a miniature inland sea. From the Tourist Bungalow, set atop Sendra island, visitors can get a bird’s eye view of the lake and the life on it, the fisherman and their families who live in neat huts on its shores and who make full use of their watery environment.They cast their nets on it, rear fish farms in it using nets as floating walls, harvest it for the water chestnut known as Heikak, and even build their houses on the islands of floating weed that dart around the lake.
There are buses and cycle rickshaws to cover the last 3 km. to Sendra. The Tourist Home charges Rs. 10 per bed.
The British and the Indian Army Cemeteries commemorating those who died in the Second World War are serene well-maintained with little stone markers and bronze plaques recording their anguish and sacrifice. These graves are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
45 km. from Imphal, Moirang holds an ancient temple of the pre-Hindu deity, Lord Thangjing. Every May, men and women, in gorgeous traditional costumes, sing and dance in honour of the Lord here at the Moirang Lai Haraoba. It was from the village of Moirang, too, that the graceful Khamba-Thoibi dance originated, traditionally celebrated in May. It was in Moirang that the flag of the Indian National Army was first hoisted on Indian soil on April 14, 1944. There is an INA Museum exhibiting letters, photographs, badges of ranks and other articles associated with this movement. There is also a bronze statue of Netaji in uniform. There are buses which operate from private bus station of Waheng Leikai junction to Moirang from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fare: Rs. 10/- . Journey time is around 1 hr.
Manipur State Museum
This interesting museum near the Pologround has fairly good display of Manipur’s heritage and a collection of portraits of Manipur’s former rulers. Items of special interest are costumes, arms and weapons, relics and historical documents.
Sekta – Archeological Living Museum
Sekta Mound locally known as the “SEKTA KEI” is a protected Archaeological Site. The site is located at Sekta village, about 16 km. from Imphal on the Imphal-Ukhrul Road. It is a site where practice of secondary burial was discovered. The site was jointly excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India and the State Archaeology, Manipur and is preserved as a Living Museum.