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Manipur evolving as favorite tourist destination for backpackers

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By Iboyaima Laithangbam

Backpackers on a shoe-string budget who want to mingle with nature and see rare flora and fauna not found anywhere in the world and those who have emotional attachment or want to learn more about the battles between the Japanese and Allied forces during World War-II have been flocking to Manipur in northeast India like never before.

Imphal has daily flights from Guwahati or can be reached from Guwahati and Silchar through the mountainous NHs 2 and 37. There are cheap hotels for backpackers or three-star luxury hotels for those with expense accounts or rich travellers.

Those who want to watch the brow-antlered deer, which is found only in Manipur, head to the Loktak lake where the Keibul Lamjao national park, its natural habitat, is located, about 60 km from Imphal. The tourism department ha constructed huts at the Sendra hillock on the shore of the lake, but most of the tourists prefer the private hovels constructed on the floating bio-mass in the lake or in the thatched inns that have been constructed in the recent past.

Also available are water sports and canoe riding in the Loktak lake, the largest fresh water lake in eastern India. Thousands of fishermen and their families have been staying in the floating huts constructed on the bio-mass. There are no toilets and the tourists are supposed to answer the call of nature or take bath while on the country canoes, like the fishermen.

Apart from the deer, tourists can watch hundreds of varieties of migratory birds coming from several countries.

Many backpackers said that they had experienced one-of-a-kind pleasure of mingling with nature once in the lifetime.

Other tourists go to the Ukhrul district to study the Shiroy lily which cannot be grown anywhere except high up on the Shiroy moutnain. Attempts to transplant the Shiroy lily in the foothills of the mountain have not been successful. Despite warnings, domestic and foreign tourists clandestinely carry away some saplings in the hope of growing them in their homes.

It was at Moirang in Manipur where the flag of India’s independence was first hoisted by the INA forces and it is here that the Indian National Army museum is located, displaying the many objects the soldiers had used, including their personal effects.

The INA and the Japanese forces had stayed for four months in Manipur after which they went to Kohima for more battles.

Thangjam Dhabali, president of the Manipur Tourism Forum, told IANS that during the battles in Manipur and what is now Nagaland, then a part of Assam, 53,000 Japanese and 15,000 Allied soldiers were killed. The number of civilians killed cannot be ascertained. Because of their identical Mongloid features civilians were mistaken for Japanese soldiers and were probably attacked on sight.

“There is an understanding with the Japanese government to construct a war memorial in Manipur,” Dhabali said.

Till recently, the Japanese government and the relatives of the dead soldiers would come to Imphal to take away the skeletal remains for performing the last rites. There is also a proposal to construct an ultra modern hospital in memory of the dead soldiers, but this is stuck in bureaucratic red tape.

(IANS) (pic courtesy: ashthefoodie.wordpress.com)

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Loktak Lake: World’s Only Floating National Park

Loktak Lake is a beautiful stretch of water that resembles a miniature inland sea

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Currently, Loktak faces problems due to the construction of a barrage at the only outlet of the lake. Wikimedia Commons
Currently, Loktak faces problems due to the construction of a barrage at the only outlet of the lake. Wikimedia Commons
  • Loktak Lake is famous for the Phumdis floating over it
  • These Phumdis are inhibited by around 4000 people
  • Loktak faces problems due to loss of vegetation cover

Located near Moirang in Manipur, Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the Northeastern pars of India. The lake is famous for it’s ‘Phumdis’; located on the largest Phundi, the Keibul Lamjao National Park, is the last refuse of Sangai (an endangered animal, also the state animal of Manipur). Currently, Loktak faces problems due to the construction of a barrage at the only outlet of the lake.

ALSO READ: ONGC and Unesco Join Hands to get India’s Largest Coastal Lagoon ‘Chilika Lake’ the World Heritage Site, Tag

Loktak Lake Phumdis

loktak lake phumdis, Local people construct their huts on Phumdis for fishing and other livelihood uses. Wikimedia Commons
Local people construct their huts on Phumdis for fishing and other livelihood uses. Wikimedia Commons

Phumdis are a series of floating islands that cover a substantial part of Loktak lake area. They are heterogeneous masses of vegetation, soil and organic matter, in different stages of decay. The largest single-mass Phumdi covers an area of 40 km2. Local people construct their huts on Phumdis for fishing and other livelihood uses. Loktak Lake Phumdis are inhabited by about 4000 people.

Loktak Lake Tourism And Conservation

The Loktak Lake is designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on March 23, 1990. It was also listed under the Montreux Record on June 16, 1993, “a record of Ramsar sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur”.

loktak lake tourism, 55 rural and urban hamlets that surround the lake have a population of 100,000 people. Wikimedia Commons
55 rural and urban hamlets that surround the lake have a population of 100,000 people. Wikimedia Commons

Loktak Lake is a beautiful stretch of water that resembles a miniature inland sea. You can catch an aerial-type view of the lake from Sendra. The Sendra Tourist Home with an attached Cafeteria is a sought after tourist spot. Boating and other water sports are organized here at Takmu Water Sports Complex.

ALSO READ: Taj Lake Palace: Floating Palace in Udaipur is the Ultimate Destination for a Romantic Break

Loktak Lake Map

Loktak Lake map, Loktak Lake and location of a multi-purpose Hydropower Project. Wikimedia Commons
Loktak Lake and location of a multi-purpose Hydropower Project. Wikimedia Commons

Loktak gains its waters from Manipur river and several other tributaries. It’s the only outlet is ‘Ungamel Channel’. The five major rivers with an indirect catchment area of 7,157 km2 (2,763 sq mi) are the Imphal (also called the Manipur River), the Iril, the Thoubal, the Sekmai and the Khuga.

Though hydrological data on river basin has not been adequately monitored, the Department of Earth Science, Manipur University has in its report of 1996 assessed the average runoff of Manipur River as 519,200 ha·m (4,209,000 acre·ft; 5.192 km3) from a total catchment area of 697 km2 (269 sq mi) at the Ithai barrage. The groundwater potential has been assessed estimated at 44 hm3 (36,000 acre⋅ft) per annum.