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Manipur-New favorite destination for backpackers

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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