Manipur, which literally means "the land of jewels", has been described by Lord Irwin as "the Switzerland of India". The tranquil green state has all the fine tints of a watercolour. Faiths, traditions and life styles seem to flow into each other so seamlessly that it is impossible to know where one ends and the other begins.
Manipur boasts of an exotic landscape with gently undulating hills, emerald green valleys, blue lakes and dense forests watered by rivers threading out of the dark, mist-topped, ranges. The terrain changes from parts resembling the delicate valley of Kangra (north of the plains of Punjab), to those like the flat sub-mountain lands of Kerala (deep in the warm south of India).
The characteristics of the Manipuri people vary according to geographical divisions. The Meitees inhabit the plains, and the Kukis and Nagas live in the hills. Early Manipuris were followers of Hinduism, and believed in the hierarchy of the Gods. Many of the hill-dwellers have converted to Christianity, while the majority of those residing in the plains continue to be Hindus. Older forms of worship, however, continue to exist in the veneration of forest deities known as Umang Lais. They are represented as metal masks, similar to the deities of other Himalayan people such as the Himachalis of Kulu.
Like the Nair women of Kerala, the women of Manipur are trained in the fierce local Martial art known as Thang-ta. Dressed in black, they look like lithe, vicious felines. When their swords clash, sparks fly.
In marked contrast, is the delicate, marionette-like, Manipuri dance. The choreographers of this very feminine dance must ensure that the faces of the women are veiled at all times, that there is no gesture or eye-contact between the dancers and their audience, that the movements of the lower part of the body are minimal, that the bottom half of the costumes are heavy and concealing, and that the mudra gestures and movements merely suggest the relationship between the dancers and their Divine Master, Lord Krishna.
Manipur's capital city is a mini-metropolis. Visit:
• Govindajee Temple
Fast Facts of Manipur
Places to Visit
6 kms. from Imphal, Iroishemba is a zoological park.
View over 120 species of orchids, including some of the rarest in the world.
Has relics of an old historic palace, well planned temples and ceremonial houses.
It is famous for its conical roofed temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna.
The town is one of the main seats of early Manipuri folk culture with the ancient temple of the pre-Hindu deity, Lord Thangjing, situated here.
The exhibits include photographs, articles, records and other memorabilia related to the Indian National Army.
Loktak Lake and Sendra Island
This saucer-shaped fresh water lake attracts many species of birds.
Keibul Lamjao National Park
Possibly the only floating National Park in the world.
The highest hill station in Manipur.
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