I wasn’t sure when I am going to see the rainbow again,
I wasn’t sure when will the next trip happened which would allow me to re-connect with nature,
I wasn’t sure when I will get a chance to take my Patna friends to meet my family,
But I am happy that this uncertainty is now become a fulfilled dream.
I recently got a chance to meet my family who are temporarily residing in Imphal (Capital of Manipur). The credit goes to my father’s central government job in which it is a rule that the employee need to serve a tough hilly terrain. This is the second time our family got lucky (first was beautiful city of Uttarkashi in Uttarakahand). I asked my (other) trio which includes me, Tej & Tanweer to accompany me. Their eagerness and acceptance to join on my trip itself made this trip an exciting one (even before tickets booking).
We landed beautiful landscape of Imphal at 3 pm. What I saw there can be best described as ‘mini-India’ i.e. glimpse of India. My experience was focused on the people, nature, lifestyle and building memories.
Wherever you will go in the city, you will find beautiful and happy faces. Their warm and welcoming nature will steal your heart. I have observed that people here are very open to bond with strangers. I remember we took an auto-rickshaw to go to Singda Dam.
This dam was one of the most beautiful spot. Why? First, the dam was constructed around 15 kilometres way from main city and hence surrounded with hills on all side. Second, it was a place which seemed like HORIZON (line at which earth’s surface and sky appear to meet) because the boundary wall of dam was acting like a meeting point of green land on one side and calm & blue water on the other side. This was a heavenly place. We three along with my sister went there and shouted our names amid dense hills.
Third, throughout the round trip of around an hour, we sang old Bollywood songs with our rickshaw driver acting as lead singer. He was a talented guy.
He did BBA from Bangalore and was well educated. Even his wife was a gold medalist. He can play multiple musical instrument and had a good voice. He was forced to drive auto due to employment issue. As we were moving towards the dam, we were penetrating the trees of hills with far-stretched meadow on both sides.
Even our neighborhood lady (from Akashavani Colony) was a Gold medalist from BHU. I remember while we were returning from Loktak Lake, we took a halt in a local hotel to taste local cuisine. We ordered rice thali. It was delicious and we were impressed by the hospitality of owner. He was standing beside us to take care of our need as if we are some international delegate.
We also went to Iskcon temple and met two priests there. They were funny people.
People love to maintain a close relation with nature. One can find multiple breeding center for Hen and Duck attached with every home. People are either Christian or devotee of Krishna. They prefer rice with bamboo vegetable and non-vegetarian items. Bamboo is a staple food. Their lifestyle imbibes the healthy living style by default. Dawn happens in between 4 am to 5 am and the city go to rest. Starting a day early make the day longer and enables to do many work. Their love for fishing is immense and can be people can be seen fishing in small and big water bodies. The best eating place was Shri Govindjee temple where one can eat sumptuous meal at INR 100.
We all must sit on floor and temple volunteer keeps multiple vegetables, chapattis, rice (blank and white), sweet dishes, etc. on continuous roll. The best part was the ending of this meal. Everyone will be given tamarind juice and salt to clean their hands at the to mark the end of meal. I have never seen this anywhere else.
Nature connect –
Feeling of connecting with greenery and nature starts the moment when we were about to land in Imphal (while traveling from Kolkata airport). Green circular patches start emerging in the ground. Scene of brownish land changes to greenish forest. Water body act like mirror for the sky. This transparent view was happening when our plane was traveling in the middle of sky and land and it was acting like a see through medium.
The city of Imphal,
It seems as if city rest in the lap of green hills,
City wearing cloth in the form of white cloud,
Cloud which changes colour with weather,
Sun sneak from the gap,
The gap in the mid of window of cloud,
Such a beautiful city,
The city of Imphal.
While we were going to Keibul Lamjao National Park, we were mesmerized by the distant land covered with greenery. It is the only floating park in the world. It was made to protect endangered species of Sangai (also called as dancing deer) which is the state animal of Manipur.
Next comes Loktak lake. It is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India which is famous for big parts of heterogeneous mass of vegetation & other organic matter which are at various stage of decomposition floating (also called as Phumdi) all over it. Traveller can also stay for a night in the huts made on such Phumdis and thy would be amazed by their hut’s position as it would travel (floated) a good distance over a night.
For nature lover, the whole city is a must see. There is one more category of travellers ‘my type’. This category love to see boring places like museums. Then we arrive at one place which steal mine and Tej’s heart (though my family and Tanweer got bored here). It was WW2 Japan War Memorial Museum. The thing which enthralled my soul was the emotional upheaval people of Manipur went through while war broke out between Japanese and British army. The story which this place was intended to say was (in my opinion) that Manipur people fall into war unknowingly and they weren’t part of any army. They stuck in between because of geographical strategic advantage from the war point of view. Even in the negative state of war, people searched for positivity. They embraced war. They believe that war brought new technology, new skill, new weapons and establish connection with the world. A huge destruction of nature was the result of war but there is a beautiful picture in the museum in which two pictures of same spot with a time gap of 30 years is put up. It says that with due course of time, nature returns to its original magnificent galore no matter what.
Ima Keithal (Ima – mother; Keithel – market) market is a must go place. It is the world’s only all women run market. It shows how independent and powerful women are in here. I got a chance to see variety of fishes, herbs, rice and other eatables which I have never seen in my life. Me and Tej were busy creating our separate memory when we went for bike ride to the hilltop. It was full of adventure.
We all also made a rule that we will play two games of Ludo (app run on tab) daily night before going to sleep. This Ludo was not limited to 4 players only, but include 6 players. I lost the game on all nights but losing against your family is itself a win.
Traveling is a good teacher. It is a teacher which imparts every lesson after mixing it with fun.
Lesson # 1 – Embrace the change
As mentioned, Manipur folk unknowingly gets involved into war but still they embrace it. It seems as if war left a beautiful scar of new skills, technology, airports, new lifestyle and pave a way to connect with India and world.
Lesson # 2 – Nature is our mother
No connect with outer world before the war left people of Manipur with only one choice – nature connect. They are fully dependent and connected with nature for their food and everything. It leads to a healthy lifestyle in return.
Lesson # 3 – Be an opportunist
Since they have not much option with employment in their own state, hence they go for higher studies in other states and work hard to live a good and successful life. We need to understand the importance of keep trying.
My trip didn’t end even after coming back to Patna as I bought a book titled ‘Wari-Manipur tales’ in which local traditional stories are there. Reading it gives a different perspective of Manipur people lifestyle and culture.
I can proudly say that we all laughed a lot in this three-day short trip. I recommend this place to everyone to go at least once in a life. Otherwise, I am planning to go again on Jan or Feb and interested person can join me.