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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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Veerappan: India’s most wanted

Veerappan was hunted by the police for over four decades, making it the longest man-hunt in India

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Veerappan was a smuggler, poacher, murderer and extortionist who was killed in Operation Cocoon
Veerappan in his heyday, He was killed via Operation Cocoon
  • Veerappan was a smuggler of ivory and sandalwood in the southern states of India.
  • He killed government officials and civilians alike when they tried to stop his illegal activities.
  • He died in October 2004 during ‘Operation Cocoon’, which was carried out by a Special Task Force.

Poaching, smuggling, extortion, smuggling, brigandry, murder — these are some of the few charges against Koose Munisamy Veerappan Gounder, popularly known as Veerappan, for whom was constituted India’s largest manhunt, on which the government spent around 1.5 million Rupees. From his childhood, narratives about the elusive dacoit were laced with fiction, as he became an object of myth when he was only ten years old, and had infamously shot his first tusker elephant for ivory. His notoriety became a national concern when the government banned ivory trade in India, and he began felling trees for precious sandalwood, thus beginning a period marred by Veerappan killing government officials and locals alike when they became an obstacle.

Veerappan unleashed a reign of terror on the southern states of India from the early 1980s till his death in 2004; during which Veerappan killing police officers and civilians alike caused a nationwide uproar. In 1990, the notorious smuggler had beheaded a forest officer K. Srinivas, which wasn’t recovered until three years later. In 2000, he had kidnapped the Kannada actor K. Rajkumar, whose release was negotiated through Nakkeeran editor Gopal, to whom the infamous poacher admitted to murdering as many as 120 people. Matters came to a head when   abducted the former Karnataka minister H. Nagappa in 2002, and killed him when his demands were not met.

Operation Cocoon:

Veerappan leading his gang in moily forest,
Veerappan leading his gang in Moily forest. Wikimedia

A Special Task Force or STF was constituted for the capture of Veerappan in 1991, which, headed by K. Vijay Kumar, launched Operation Cocoon in 2004, which finally resulted in Veerappan’s death. Kumar, aided by his previous experience with Veerappan, based Operation Cocoon on human intelligence and interaction, during which multiple STF personnel blended in with the locals in areas frequented by Veerappan. The initial stages of Operation Cocoon consisted of gaining the trust of Veerappan’s associates, till they started divulging details about his failing health. In the years before his death, the elusive outlaw seemed to have lost much of his vigour and vitality, as he suffered from diabetes, and a cataract had almost blinded him in one eye.
On 18th October, 2004, the police lured Veerappan out of familiar terrains in an ambulance, and apprehended him at a roadblock, where he was killed in the crossfire between his team and the STF, via three bullets. The photographs after Veerappan’s demise show him in a pathetic light, bereft of his signature handlebar moustache, and the agility which had facilitated his escape for over four decades.

There have been a lot of controversies regarding his death, as many media houses and activists have claimed that Operation Cocoon has derived Veerappan of a fair trial by law. Some have even claimed that he was tortured to death in police custody. The facts regarding the elusive sandalwood smuggler remain inconclusive even after a decade of his death, due to the lack of concrete evidence.

 

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Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand to open art gallery consisting 8 quintal photographs

Wanderer Baba aka Click Baba Swami Sundaranand is all set to open his art gallery

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Himalayan Yogi
Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand (Wikimedia Commons)
  • Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand is also known as “Himalayan Wikipedia Baba”, have clicked 8 quintal photos in beautiful Himalayas

You must have heard about many Himalayan yogi living upto hundreds of years and having miracle powers. But this is the story of a wanderer Sadhu, who is a mountaineer and photographer by choice. He has a deep connection with Himalayas. Swami Sundaranand is known to be a principal advocate for the ecological preservation of the Himalayas, the Ganges and its source at Gangotri.

During 1962 war Indian Army also sought help from this Himalayan Yogi as he was very much aware with all the routes and region in Himalayas.

Swami Sundaranand’s love for Himalayas started at a young age when he read a book named “Himgiri Vihaar” by Tapovan Maharaja. He was so inspired by the book that he went to Tapovan Maharaja and started Yoga Sadhna under his guidance.

Swami Sundaranand
Tapovan Kutir, where Swami Sundaranand lives in the summer (Facebook)

In 1956 he bought a camera for Rs. 25 from a Belgian tourist. And since then he has been clicking pictures of the beautiful Himalayas. He has taken more than 100,000 photos, over a 50-year period, of the shrinking Gangotri glacier in the Indian Himalayas. The photographs he clicked weighs around 8 quintals.

  • The most awaited Art Gallery by Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand will open in Gangotri region

Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand is now all set to open his Himalayan art gallery at a height of 10,310 feet in Gangotri region. The construction has already begun. He has invested Rs. 2 crores in this project, money which he got through royalty of his book “Himalaya : Through a lens of a Sadhu”. His book was launched by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Swami Sundaranand is the subject of a feature documentary shot at his home in Gangotri titled “Personal time with Swamiji”. The film was produced by The Centre for Healing Arts and directed by Victor Demko.

Himalayan Yogi
Swami Sundaranand’s Art Gallery under construction in Gangotri Region (Facebook)

Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand is also a skilled naturalist who is familiar with thousands of Himalayan plants and he knows the lore and medicinal uses of these species. The most important parts of his life are meditation, japa and pranayama. As a younger man he was an accomplished hatha yogi, mastering 300 postures, and he continues to practice it daily. He is very devoted to the ecosystem in which he has lived for forty years and believes that “God does not reside in temples or mosques – he is scattered everywhere in the courtyard of nature.

So Himalayan Yogi’s art gallery you can not miss to visit! Plan your trip soon and thank us later.

– by Shaurya Ritwik, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

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Bhai Boolchand-the Indian who launched trade with Ghana

The first Indian to arrive in the Gold Coast (Ghana's colonial name) in 1890 , Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana

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Ghanian flag, Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana.
Ghanian flag, Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana. pixelbay
  • Bhai Boolchand, the anonymous Indian, is credited with starting trade between Ghana and India
  • The year was 1890.

Not much is known about him, but it has now emerged that trade relations between Ghana and Indiawere started by Bhai Boolchand, the first Indian to arrive in the Gold Coast — Ghana’s colonial name — in 1890. That’s some 67 years before the British colonial government granted the country independence, research by the Indian Association of Ghana has found.

“As far as our records show, Bhai Boolchand (of the Bhaiband Sindhworki trading community), landed on the shores of the Gold Coast in western Africa in 1890. Nearly twenty years later, in 1919, the first Sindhi company was established by two brothers — Tarachand Jasoomal Daswani and Metharam Jasoomal Daswani,” the Indian Association said.

The duo opened a store — Metharam Jassomal Brothers — in the then capital city of Cape Coast in 1919.

“Their business flourished and branches were opened in Accra and Kumasi. A few years later, the two brothers separated and whilst Bhai Metharam Jasoomal continued the business as Metharam Brothers, Tarachand Jasoomal operated his business as Bombay Bazaar. These were the first two Indian companies that were established in the Gold Coast,” the Association said.

Boolchand’s arrival, therefore, pre-dates the historical links between the two countries that were always thought to have started between Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkruman, and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Boolchand can thus be described as the one who paved the way for the arrival of other members of the Sindhi community, initially as traders and shopkeepers.

The Indian Association said more of this group arrived in the 1950s and 1960s, with a few venturing into manufacturing industries such as garments, plastics, textiles, insecticides, electronics, pharmaceuticals and optical goods.

The Association said two more Indian firms were established under the names of Lilaram Thanwardas and Mahtani Brothers in the 1920s. This trend continued in the 1930s and 1940s with the creation of several more Indian companies like T. Chandirams, Punjabi Brothers, Wassiamal Brothers, Hariram Brothers, K. Chellaram & Sons, G. Motiram, D.P. Motwani, G. Dayaram, V. Lokumal, and Glamour Stores.

Glamour Stores, which was stared by Ramchand Khubchandani who arrived in Ghana in 1929, has grown — after changing its name to Melcom Group — to become the largest retailing business in the country. The Melcom Group, headed by Ramchand’s son Bhagwan Khubchandani, is now in its 60th year and about 40 stores all over the country.

Ramchand and his brother later went into garment manufacturing in 1955 and once employed over 1,200 Ghanaians. They later opened the first Indian restaurant, Maharaja, in Ghana. Bhagwan followed in his father’s footsteps and in 1989 established the Melcom Group with his sons-in-law, Mahesh Melwani and Ramesh Sadhwani.

Another Indian-owned company that has survived through the years is the Mohanani Group, which is currently in its 51st year. At the first-ever Ghana Expatriate Business Awards, the Ministry of Trade and Industries recognised the work of one of the thriving Indian-owned B5 Plus Steel Company and awarded it the Best Expatriate Company in the metal and steel category.

As these companies brought in new expatriate staff, some left their employers to venture out on their own — resulting in more companies opening up.

“After 1947, the Gold Coast attracted the attention of some Indian multinational companies, and big names like Chanrai, Bhojsons, K.A.J. Chotirmal, Dalamals and A.D. Gulab opened branches in Ghana,” the Association said.

“The employment of Ghanaians by these founding companies also helped to lessen the burden of unemployment in the country. This amply demonstrates the level of commitment India has in the developmental agenda of Ghana,” it said.

Indians are not only investing in the manufacturing and commercial sectors of the country; they are also investing in the financial sector. Bank of Baroda, one of India’s biggest and most reputable banks, recently established a branch in Ghana and hopefully it will expand its operations in other parts of the country very soon. (IANS)