Often referred to as the “Switzerland of the East,” Manipur captivates with its tranquil ambiance, adorned by swiftly flowing rivers, vibrant flowers, and serene lakes. This state emerges as a perennial tourist destination, yet many visitors tend to spend only a fleeting few days before venturing onward. The true essence of this captivating region, however, unfolds when one takes the time to immerse themselves in its beauty, engage with locals, and lose themselves in the untouched wonders of nature.
1. Loktak Lake
Nestled in the heart of Manipur, Loktak Lake stands out as one of the region’s most enchanting destinations. Claiming the title of India’s largest freshwater lake, it sits approximately 50 km away from the capital city, Imphal, within the serene Imphal Valley. The lake, adorned with the captivating Sendra Island, a floating oasis crafted from organic waste, offers an unparalleled visual spectacle and is an absolute essential for any traveller’s itinerary.
Beyond the allure of Loktak Lake itself, there are additional floating islands scattered across its water, providing sustenance to neighbouring fishing communities. Unfortunately, the lake has faced challenges in recent times, experiencing shrinkage due to unchecked human encroachment.
Timing: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
2. Kangla Fort
As one of Manipur’s renowned tourist destinations, Kangla Fort stands as a testament to the state’s glory and rich historical heritage, evoking a deep sense of reverence among the locals. This ancient capital served as the seat of Manipur’s power until 1891, offering a captivating glimpse into the diverse rulers who once held sway over this enchanting land. More than a fortress, Kangla Fort embodies the essence of Manipuri people—their way of life, culture, and traditions.
Nestled in the heart of Imphal, the fort, which once stretched across both banks of the River Imphal, now reveals only a few remnants on the western side of the river. Despite the passage of time, Kangla Fort remains adorned with a handful of shrines, revered not only by the people of Manipur but also by those from the surrounding north-eastern states. It serves as a living chronicle, narrating the captivating tales of Manipur’s history and cultural richness.
Timing: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
3. Keibul Lamjao National Park
Situated on the Loktak Lake, the Keibul Lamjao National Park is a distinctive destination and one of the most renowned tourist spots in Manipur, holding the distinction of being the sole floating national park on the planet. Recognized as the only natural abode for the Sangai, colloquially known as the dancing deer of Manipur, this park offers an exclusive opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts.
For those passionate about wildlife, a visit to this park provides a rare chance to observe the Sangai in its natural habitat, surrounded by the unique wetland ecosystem of the region. The park is also home to an array of other wildlife, including the hog deer, otter, and a multitude of water fowls. Additionally, during the months of November through March, the park becomes a haven for rare migratory birds, creating a captivating spectacle for visitors.
Timing: 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM
4. Shri Govindajee Temple
Situated in proximity to the royal palace, the Shri Govindajee Temple stands as a prominent attraction in Manipur. This twin-domed temple, adorned in striking golden hues, follows the Nagara style of architecture. While dedicated to Shri Govindajee, the temple houses idols of various Hindu deities, including Lord Krishna, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram, Goddess Radha, Goddess Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra.
The temple’s majestic structure, gleaming in pristine white, holds historical significance as the former focal point of the Vaishnavites. The tranquil ambiance of early mornings is the optimal time to visit, allowing guests to witness the morning aarti ritual accompanied by traditional folk music in devotion to the deities. The serene surroundings also create an ideal atmosphere for meditation.
Timing: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM
5. Khongjom War Memorial Complex
The Battle of Khongjom stands as one of the most significant conflicts waged by the Manipuris against the British, and the Khongjom War Memorial Complex serves as a poignant tribute to the courageous Manipuri soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during this historic war. Situated approximately 33 km from Imphal, this memorial complex beckons history enthusiasts, providing a vivid account of the intense battle fought in 1891.
Every year, on the 23rd of April, Khongjom Day is commemorated to honour the valiant soldiers who fought in this struggle. The memorial holds a special dedication to Major General Paona Brajabashi, a hero who laid down his life in service to his motherland. Beyond its historical significance, the site is a captivating sightseeing destination, featuring a 30 feet high entrance and surrounded by lush greenery.
Timing: 7:00 AM – 7:30 PM
6. Khangkhui Cave
A renowned destination among Manipur’s tourist attractions, the Khangkhui Cave, situated in the Ukhrul district, lures visitors from diverse corners. Beyond its natural allure, this limestone cave holds profound historical significance, revealing evidence of Stone Age communities that once inhabited the region.
Not only a favourite among regular tourists, but the Khangkhui Cave also serves as a magnet for researchers and archaeologists, drawing interest from both within and outside the country. As you explore the cave’s interior, you’ll encounter vast limestone formations, some suspended from the ceiling, while others emerge from the ground. With its five tunnels and two expansive chambers, this mystical cave offers a unique and enchanting experience to all who venture inside.
Timing: 5:00 AM – 5:00 PM
7. Shirui Kashung
Nestled within the renowned Shiri-Kashong range, the majestic Shirui Hills hold a special place as the habitat of Manipur’s state flower—the elusive Shirui Lily. Exclusive to the Shirui Hill Range, these pinkish-white wonders grace the landscape for a brief period, typically starting in the middle of May each year.
Celebrated for its uniqueness, the Shirui Lily has garnered prestigious awards, including recognition by the Royal Horticultural Society. Beyond the allure of the Shirui Lily, the hills are adorned with a myriad of other floral treasures, featuring orchids, rhododendrons like horamwon, sirawon, shirungwon, khongwon, phanwon, tipkhawon, and an array of natural herbs.
8. Singda Dam
Situated 16 kilometres from Imphal, the capital city, the Singda Dam stands proudly as the world’s highest mud dam. The journey to the dam offers picturesque landscapes, featuring lush green hills and expansive rice fields, creating a scenic backdrop. Popular for its breathtaking views and tranquility, it has become a favoured destination for picnics and hikes.
The serene water of the dam-formed lake exudes a peaceful ambiance, instilling a sense of calmness. Positioned at an elevation of 920 meters above sea level, the dam oversees a stunning lake and serves as a multipurpose irrigation project.
9. Lord Sanamahi Temple
Nestled within the enchanting Nongmaijing Hills, the Sanamahi Kiyong Temple emerges as one of Manipur’s captivating destinations, seamlessly blending the region’s natural beauty with profound ritualistic traditions. Devoted to Lainingthou Sanamahi, the ancient deity of the Meitei tribe in Imphal, this century-old temple stands majestically on the inaugural Manipur Rifle Grounds.
Crafted entirely from brick, the temple boasts an octagonal base, and a staircase on the southern side leads to its entrance. The pyramidal Gothic-style roof and intricate door embellishments on the façade enhance its architectural charm. During the annual Manipur Cheiraoba festival, the temple springs to life with vibrant cultural celebrations.
Timing: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM
10. Leimaram Waterfall
Manipur is adorned with numerous captivating waterfalls, and among them, Leimaram Waterfall stands out as a gem. This scenic cascade has evolved into a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors with its enchanting vistas and serene surroundings. What sets it apart is not just one, but three distinct waterfalls, each welcoming you with its majestic beauty. Immerse yourself in the revitalizing mist as you approach the falls, making it a must-visit destination in Manipur. Explore the nearby attractions like Loukoi Paat Lake, Langthabal and Iskcon Temple. Best time to visit is between October to March.