Monday, February 2, 2015

Manipur the Jewel of India, Switzerland of the East

Manipur the Jewel of India, Switzerland of the East.
Manipur (ancient name Kanglei Pak), fondly called by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as the "Jewel of India", is a little Shagrila, the "Switzerland of the East", a pretty place more beautiful than many snow places of the world. Sharing international border with Myanmar, the state has a strategic importance and is set to become gate way of South East Asia. 

Gujarat has special relationship with Manipur. Grand Son of Lord Krishna, Aniruddh married to Manipuri girl Usha (daughter of Banasur), who brought Raas Leela Dance in Gujarat, that later converted into the famous Garba Dandiya Raas in Gujarat.

Plains in middle and surrounded by mountains, giving feel of post monsoon Kashmir, Manipur is one of the most beautiful states of India. If exclude the pictures of industries and bullet train; a long drive from Imphal to Aizol is like travelling in Japan. Its Sangai festival just over. Sangai is a deer only seen in Manipur.
Inhabited by 26 lakh people, majority of them are Hindu Vaishnav Meities following Chaitnya Maha Prabhu sect and Krishna pooja. Others are Nagas, Gorakha, kuki, etc.

Rice, leafy vegetables, and fish is their staple diet, mostly boiled and eaten. 'Umorok', an extremely hot chilli is used in cooking. Ngari (fermented phabonga fish powdered  and cooked with hot curry) is popular. In country side, each house has fish pond. Still 50% of fish comes from Andhra Pradesh. Sweet water fishes Rohu, Katla, Mrigal are popular along with small small many varieties. Price go up as the size of fish go up. Vegetable market without fish can't be imagined. 
Paddy is the major crop cultivated on 75% (2.1 lakh hec) of the cultivable land. Other crops are: wheat, maize, pulses, oil seeds, potato and sugarcane.  Learning from Hyderabad, SRI (System of Rice Intensification) has been introduced some 6-7 years ago to increase the yield of Rice. It needs less water and due to wider space (25-30 Cms) between two plants, plants get more Sun lights and produce more. Only 5 kg seeds require for 1 hectare land that can give yield of 100 bags (each 100kg). SRI was first introduced in Madagascar.

Pineapple (Queen & Kew varieties; distinct with unique taste and flavour), passion fruit and mushroom naturally grow. Bamboo shoot and ginger are available in plenty.

Kheer and pudding (chak-hao) made from local black rice is unique in taste, the best dessert of Manipur. People enjoy different vegetables but Yongchak tree beens cooked with fish and spices are very common. Custard leaves are bigger in size, find place in all kitchens. As Vaishnav, people enjoy Rasgulla, Jalebi, Laddu etc in sweets.

There is Ima Market in Imphal under Municipal Council, where 3000 Imas(mothers) run the stalls. There are 2 sections either side of a road, one for handloom and house hold tools and another for vegetables, fruits, fishes.

Azad Hind Fauj reached upto Mibum Lokpa Ching (hills) (19kms from Imphal) and was defeated by the British Army. A WW-II peace memorial constructed and preserved by Govt of Japan in the memories of their lost soldiers. War Cemetery for commemorating memories of British and Indian soldiers who died in WW-II is located nearby to Imphal. It is managed by Commonwealth War Cemeteries Commission.

Loktak (45 kms from Imphal), the biggest sweet water lake in NE is missing boat houses like Daal lake of Kashmir due to insurgency activities in the area. There were boat houses, but all were dismantled 5-6 years ago because some of them were used by the militants as hiding places. Moirang, a place is nearby, where the flag of Indian National Army (Azaad Hind Fauz) was first unfurled on 14/4/44. 

Loktake lake for water sports, Barak river for rafting, mountains (Sadar Hills) for tracking, Sadu chiru water fall, King palace, etc are major attractions of tourists. King's palace and its Govingji Temple are surrounded by many houses as the heirs of the last King sold of many lands for their livelihoods.

Moreh town of India is just 110 kms away from Imphal on Indo-Myanmar border with Tamu and Nambhalong markets of Myanmar are shopping paradise for shoppers and tourists, mostly for blankets, clothes, footwear, electronics, etc. As people to return Imphal before 5 PM, one gets few hours for shopping. There is a Ministry of Commerce office with couple of Guest rooms. One can stay overnight and enjoy pleasures of full shopping. 

Moreh river divides the border between India and Myanmar with an iron over bridge in two colours (white portion for India, yellow for Myanmar). There is Aung Namey Buddhist Monarchy in nearby town Tamu. The Indo-Myanmar Road (AH-1) is built by India. People regret the decision of Nehru gifted rich 'Kabo Valley' (virgin forest dense with thousands of tick trees) located at border, to Myanmar. 

There is strict checking of Assam Rifles 5-6 times while going and 5-6 times while returning (kills lot of time) and one more checking by Manipur Police. It is said that no.4, heroine, cocaine, etc, traded at the border. But when an army officer caught smuggling no.4, people express displeasure over ASPA.
Offices close at 4.30 PM and markets at 5 PM. People fear as soon as darkness began and sense of insecurity resulting from the ever present of possibility of sudden blast.

There are 10-18 insurgent groups active here of which PLA (People's Liberation Army) and ULF (United Liberation Force) are the strongest. Started with demanding independence, now simply extracting money from the people and traders. Even employees have to pay 2-3% of their salary (still prevails in hills) and traders to pay as per demand letter.

During the recent visit of the PM, public curfew (bandh) call was given by one of the groups. A bomb blast at one place killed 1 person some 15 kms away from Imphal a day previous to the PM's visit.  

Assam Rifles (Friends of Manipur People) are active to provide safety and security to the people. Peace can bring more tourists and more economic activities that can generate more employments and bring prosperity to the State and will improve the quality of life of the people. 

Manipur is really beautiful, rightly named, the 'Jewel of India'.

Do visit.



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