Manipur is a state in northeastern India making its capital in the city of Imphal. Manipur is situated between 23.83oN and 25.68oN latitude and 93.03oE and 94.78oE longitude. It comprises 1820 sq.km of flat plateau of alluvial valley and 20507sq.km of hill territory and forms a part of the Himalayan mountain system which carries this cup-shaped wonderland inside its series of hill ranges. Manipur is bounded by Nagaland in the north, Mizoram in the south, upper Myanmar in the east and Cachar district of Assam in the west. The valley portion of the state is surrounded by hill ranges from all sides. Manipur had been a Union Territory from 1956 and became a full-fledged state from 1972. There are many mythical stories about the origin of the name Manipuri. Some local people narrate its link with the Mahabharata. They say the name is from Mani, a jewel. In the Mahabharata, Manipur ( 'Mani' -Jewel, 'Pur'- City or place ), the remote northeastern State of India, is mentioned as the meeting place of Arjuna, the third pandava and Chitrangada, the crown Princess of Manipur. By virtue of its geographical situation, Manipur is a shining pearl in the Himalayan system. Manipuris call it as Meithei Leipak. In the valley Kongba (Imphal), Eeril and Thobal are the big rivers which originate from the hills and flow down into the valley and forms the drain for all waters flowing into the valley carrying them off by Sagnu river through the southern ranges of hills further into the Ningthee. The Bark river flows through its western borders. The natural lake Loktak is a big water reservoir of 36 metres depth. It is 8 miles long from north-west to south-east and 5 miles broad at its greatest breadth from the east to west. The dark green Eichornia (water Hyacinath) reed and other aquatic plants floats on its surface abundantly. In the valley there are numerous small lakes and swamps. Encircled by nine hill ranges, Manipur is marked out by a picturesque valley in the midst. The total area of Manipur is 22,327 sq. km. Out of this only 2,238 sq. Km are valley while the remaining areas are covered with hilly tracts. The hills around the cup-shaped valley add to the natural beauty of Manipur. The hills are part of the Himalayas and are termed as Sub-Himalayan ranges. They are spread into ranges with irregular serrated ridges with tapering cliffs. There are several names given to these ranges. On the west : Nunjaibong, Kala Naga, Chakka Nungba, Kanpum and Kopru-Laimotol. On the north : The Khhunho spurs, Thumion (Mayang Khang), Laison and Sirohi farar. On the East : Surameti or Chinganguba, Somrah, Kassom, Nupitel or Maphitel and Yomadoung and on the South : Hawbi. Among these Chinganguba or Surameti peak is the highest with 12,557ft. All the hills are covered with luxuriant growth of forests with nagesar, jurul, India-rubber, tan, oak, ash, teak, palm (in eastern slsopes). There are different varieties of bamboo all over Manipur. Pinus Longifolia is found in Somrah basin and in northern portion. It has been planted on the hillock adjacent to Imphal town. The forest department of Manipur should make it a policy of reforestation of these entire ridges if they are really keen on aesthetic reflection of Imphal town in its peripheries. In the high hills the red and white rhododendron is seen. The flame of the forest trees are also found on the way to Tamenglong. Manipur boasts of an exotic landscape with gently undulating hills, emerald green valleys, blue lakes and dense forests. Manipur, literally meaning the land of jewel, is a paradise on earth when Mother Nature has been extra generous in her beauty. Manipur is considered a sensitive border state. Foreigners entering Manipur (including foreign citizens born in Manipur) must possess a Restricted Area Permit which can be obtained from the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office in the "metros" (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata) or certain other state government offices. Permits are valid for only 10 days, and visitors must travel only on tours arranged by authorised travel agents, in groups of four. Furthermore, they may come to Imphal only by air and will not be permitted to travel outside the capital.
The climate of Manipur is moderate. The valley gets the reflection of the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter from the neighbouring hills. The months of November, December, January and February remain dry and the remaining eight months are more or less rainy. January is very cold in winter and May-June are the hottest in summer.
The characteristics of the Manipuri people vary according to geographical divisions. The population of Manipur comprises different social groups. They are Meiteis, Nagas, Kukis and Miscellaneous groups. The entire population of Manipur is distributed into two regions: the hill population and the valley population. The valley people are supposed to be the descendants of four old tribes called Khuman, Luang, Moirang and Maithai. The hill people are broadly divided into Naga and Kuki tribes. 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. The concept of unity in diversity was a remarkable characteristic of this state. In the history of Manipur there has not been even a single instance of communal or ethnic dispute. But in recent times, Manipur has been the scene of bitter ethnic conflict. The ethnic animosity between the Kukis and the Nagas stems from xenophobic insecurity. Over 1,000 have been killed, more injured, houses burnt down and thousands rendered homeless, in the conflicts in the past six years. The people of Manipur are simple and largely untouched by the pollution of modern living. Their wants are few, they love outdoor life, find communion with nature and depend on the gifts of nature like rice for food, fish to supplement their dish. The general facial characteristic of the Manipuris are of the Mongolian type. There is a great diversity of the features among them. The people are very good looking and fair. It is not uncommon to meet girls with brownish black hair, brown eyes, fair complexions, straight noses and rosy cheeks. The Manipuris are decidedly a muscular race. Fat people are rare. They have good chests and well formed limbs. These are the people whose folklore, myths & legends, dances, indigenous games and martial arts, exotic handlooms & handicrafts are infested with the mystique of nature.
The Meitei language, which is the official state language is basically the language of the valley people and other dialects spoken by the tribes in the hills are classified under Tibeto-Burman family. Meitei language have been borrowed by the Naga and Kuki people of the hills. Manipuri was recognised as a national language in 1992.
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 and Assam became involved in the disputes between Thailand and Burma, and Manipur took advantage of a Burmese invasion of Thailand to raid deep into its western frontier. This triggered the Burmese invasion of Manipur and Assam, which sucked in the British, ruling neighbouring Bengal. The British, to safeguard their position against the Burmese, intervened, defeated Burma and took over Assam, and brought Manipur under British paramountcy in 1891. During the Second World War, Manipur was the scene of many fierce battles between the Japanese and Allied forces. The Japanese swept over East Asia and came up to Manipur. They were beaten back before they could enter Imphal and this proved to be one of the turning points of the War. There are two cemeteries maintained by the British War Graves Commission in Manipur, which are the final resting places of several Indian and allied soldiers who died here. In 1947, with British Parliament's repeal of British Paramountcy, in preparation for Indian independence, Manipur became an independent kingdom once again. The King, Maharaja Budhachandra, began a process of democratisation of the state, enacting the Manipur Constitution Act, 1947, which established a democratic form of government with the Maharaja as the Executive Head and an elected legislature. In 1949, the King Budhachandra was summoned to Shillong, capital of the Indian province of Assam and was forced to sign an agreement for merging the kingdom into India. the King had already signed the Instrument of Accession with the Indian Dominion in 1947. Once Manipur became part of the Indian Union, India dissolved the State's Constitution Assembly in October, 1949, and made it into a part C state. Later on it was further degraded to the status of the union territory from 1956 onwards. In 1972, Manipur was elevated to the status of an state (or province). She got her full Statehood within constitutional limits of India. Presently, it is divided into nine administrative units, i.e. districts. Imphal the capital city of the State of Manipur is the largest and an important city having over one and a half lakh population. The population of Bishnpur and Moirang are 1,79,903 ( Males: 90415 and Females : 89,488) as in 1993 census.
The State Symbol
The State symbol or emblem of Manipur is Kanglasha ( Nongsaba), i.e. half lion and half dragon. Sangai or brown antlered deer is the State animal, while Nongin remained as the State bird. Iningthiu is regarded as the State tree and the world famous Shiroy Lily ( Lilium) is the State flower of Manipur. Friday, January 21 (1972) is the Statehood day and Date of Manipur.
Manipur has made some progress in the setting up of small scale industrial units of which some 7700 have been set up. A joint sector plant to manufacture drugs and pharmaceuticals has been commissioned and electronic goods, Steel fabrication articles and plastic goods are being produced in the state. A cement plant has also come up in Manipur. Among other industries a spinning mill, a ghee manufacturing unit and similar factories to make other consumer products have been commissioned up to 2000AD and a profile of a number of industries which could be set up in the state has been prepared. Training facilities have also been created to enable the young men and woman to acquire technological capability and provide industries with ready made trained man power. A centre for electronic design and technology and the central institute of plastic Engineering and Technology have been set up at Imphal. A factory is already making colour and black and white, TV sets.
Agriculture and allied activities is the single largest source of livelihood of rural folk. Paddy is the main crop grown. Manipuri rice is very sweet. It can be eaten without curry. Other crops are wheat, pulses, maize etc. There are two modes of cultivation viz, punghul and transplantation of seeds. In the hill area Jhum and terraced cultivation are carried in the agricultural season. In general the land is cleared in the month of January and February. Crops are sown in May-June and harvesting starts in October and ends about in the early part of December. The soil is considered fit for all kinds of grain crops, vegetables and fruits. Sirohee hill in Ukural is famous for the Sirohee lily. The species of this plant is endemic to that particular hill only. Fruits cultivated include pine-apple, arum, orange. In some areas of the valley apricot, oranges, lemons and mangoes are also grown. Every kind of vegetables like cabbage, carrot, radish, beetroot, turnip, ladies finger, pumpkin and pulses are grown and the yield is very good. Vegetables also include chilly, potato, cabbage, pea, brinjal and tomato.
Shopping in Manipur
The treasured culture and tradition of the Manipuris are also displayed in their handloom clothes and handicrafts. The Manipuri handloom and handicraft are world famous for its craftsmanship as well as ingenuity, colourfulness and usefulness. The people are artistic and creative in their thinking and outlook. Every house possesses a loom, and Manipuris weave with a passion and style, unparalleled by any other state. Manipuri bed covers of Moirangfee and flower designs, silk and cotton sarees, scarves, blankets and shawls, in distinctive shades and weaves, make for an alluring collection. A wide array of artistic handicrafts from bamboo, papier mache, decorative ivory, dolls and jewellery make for prized souvenirs. Manipur's main shopping attractions are the traditional Manipuri handwoven textiles. The Manipuri dance doll with its graceful stances is a lovely memento to buy for family and friends. These exclusive handloom and handicraft items are sold at Khwairamband market, the largest exclusive women's market in the country, which is a must on every visitor's travel itinerary. Ideal places to buy such handicrafts are Paona Bazar, where fixed price shops will lessen your shopping worries.
|Manipur at a glance
||22,327 sq km
|Summer(Mar to June)
|Monsoon (July to September)
||Warm and Humid
|Winter (October to February)
||Chilly and Very Cold
||Manipuri, Hindi, English, Burmese, Tibeto
|Best Time to visit
||October to February
Some facts about Manipur|
- The game polo originated in Manipur. British soldiers and planters took it back to England, modified the rules and made it popular around the world.
- Rosa macrocarpa, the beautiful species of rose, was discovered by Sir George Watt in Manipur in 1888.
- Lord Irwin described Manipur as the "Switzerland of India".
- Pt.Jawahar Lal Nehru described Manipur as the "Land of Jewels".
- Sarit Sarak, a relatively unknown and unique Martial Art, comes from Manipur.
- Manipur is famous for its classical and folk dances, including the graceful and soft Ras Lila, the acrobatic Pung cholom among others and the dance during the festival of godLaiharaoba known as maibi dance
- Kaibul Lamjao National Park in Loktak lake is the natural habitat of the rare and endangered Brow antlered Deer (Cervus eldi eldi). Locally known as Sangai, it is one of three species of Elds deer in the world confined to South east Asia.
- The Siroi Lily (Lilium Macklinae Sealy) is a beautiful lily found only in the upper reaches of the Siroi Hills in Manipur's Ukhrul District.
- The Indian National Army (INA), led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, planted the Tricolour at Moirang, Manipur which is the second town liberated by the INA, the first place being Andaman and Nicobar islands.
- Manipur has 3 representatives in the Indian Union: 2 in the Lok Sabha (Lower House) and 1 in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House).
The Shiroy Lily
It is grown at the peak of the Shiroy Kashang Mountain at a height of 8400 feet above sea level situated in Ikhrul district of Manipur. The Shiroy Lily belongs to Lilium family, but unique in character. By using a microscopic lens, seven colours which claimed its superiority to other lilies in the world can be seen light pink in color. The height of the plant varies from 2 ft. to 31/2ft. depending on the soils fertility Shiroy Lily is not grown anywhere in the world accept Shiroy Kanhong of Manipur. It is said that Priincess Chitrangoda of Manipur had own the heart of Arjuna in her first meeting by offering a Shiroy Lily. Arjuna was so impressed with the beauty and fragrance of the flower that he at once lost himself on her. This Shiroy Lily starts blooming during the months of May-June every year on the laden mineral mountain of the Shiroy. It was discovered first by a British naturalists Mr. Kingdom ward, who gave it the Botanical name Lilium Mackleanae and won him the show in London in the 1948.