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Manipur-New favorite destination for backpackers

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Backpackers on a shoe-string budget who want to live with nature and see rare flora and fauna not found anywhere in the world and those who have an 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.

Daily routines flights are running from Imphal to Guwahati or backpackers can be reached through 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.

people who want to watch the brow-antlered deer, which is found only in Manipur, can go to the Loktak lake near the Keibul Lamjao national park, its natural habitat, and is located about 60 km from Imphal. Huts are being constructed at the Sendra hillock on the shore of the lake by the tourism department, but most 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.

water sports and canoe riding are also available in the Loktak lake, the largest fresh water lake in the eastern India. Thousands of fishermen and their families stays there in the floating huts constructed on the bio-mass. There are no washrooms and the tourists are supposed to answer the call of nature or take a 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 mountain. Attempts to transplant the Shiroy lily in the foothills of the mountain has not been so good. Despite warnings, domestic and foreign tourists secretly 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 where 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, said 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 Mongoloid 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 now, relatives of the dead soldiers and Japanese government would come to Imphal to take away the skeletal remains for performing the last rites. A proposal to construct an ultra-modern hospital in memory of the dead soldiers is also there, but this is stuck in bureaucratic red tape.(IANS)

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Hindus In Delhi Push For A Temple On The Ruins Of a Mosque

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

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Supporters of Vishwa Hindu Parishad gather during a rally in New Delhi, Dec. 9, 2018. The group gathered thousands of supporters to demand the construction of a Hindu temple on a site where a mosque was attacked, demolished in 1992. VOA

Tens of thousands of hardline Hindu protesters marched in New Delhi on Sunday, calling for a grand temple to be built on the ruins of a destroyed mosque in a flashpoint Indian city.

Trident-waving devotees clad in saffron filled a huge parade ground in the Indian capital under tight security, where speakers warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi they would not let up until the temple was sanctioned.

Some of Modi’s supporters feel the Hindu nationalist leader has not done enough to raise a shrine at a site in Ayodhya, a city believed by many to be the birthplace of the deity Ram.

The site was home to a medieval mosque for 460 years until Hindu zealots tore it down in 1992, kicking off riots across India that left thousands dead, most of them Muslims.

Its future has been tied up in courts for decades but some hardliners want Modi, who is seeking reelection in 2019, to push parliament to guarantee the temple by law.

World Hindu Congress, Hindu
Hindus don’t oppose anyone, don’t aspire to dominate: RSS chief

“The gathering here is telling you that Hindus won’t sit back until the temple is built, and our wishes are respected,” said Champat Rai, the leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) group that organized the protest.

Demonstrators chanting “Praise be to Ram” packed the Ramlila Maidan, a vast ground capable of holding more than 50,000 people, and filled the surrounding streets.

Some carried maces and tridents — weapons traditionally wielded by Hindu gods — and traveled great distances by train and bus to reach the rally.

“We have come here to protect our religion and Hindu pride. We want a temple for our Lord Ram,” Hitesh Bharadwaj, a teacher from Delhi’s satellite city Noida, told AFP.

The hardline VHP has applied pressure on Modi in recent weeks, staging a huge show of force in Ayodhya itself last month.

Hindu, Mosque
Photo credit: theguardian.com

A close ally of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the group is spearheading a push to raise the Ram temple, and is calling for more protests as the premier prepares to go to the polls by May.

The BJP was on the margins until the 1980s when its top leaders, including Modi, backed a growing movement for the construction of the Ram temple.

Its advocates want parliament to introduce a law bypassing legal hurdles blocking the temple before Modi’s term ends.

Also Read: Delhi’s Air Quality Leads To Ban On Trucks And Construction

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

“We don’t care about the courts. A grand temple will be constructed in 2019,” Sushil Chawdhary, a VHP leader, told AFP. (VOA)