Manipur is one of the richest states in the country in terms of culture, ancient history and tradition. The history of the state goes back to as early as 2500 years ago. Imphal is the capital city of Manipur. Manipuri is the official language of the state. This language is also known as Meitei because it is spoken by the ethnic Meitei tribe, who form the majority of the state's population. There are equal numbers of Hindus and Christians here in this state.
Surrounded by Nagaland in the north, Mizoram in the south, Assam in the west and Myanmar in the east, Manipur is also home to some minority tribes like Kuki, Naga and Pangal. The place is brimming with natural extravaganzas like waterfalls, rivers, mountains, valleys and natural caves that are waiting to be explored by tourists.
It is a very colourful state where the tribes get together and celebrate lots of festivals with huge pomp and splendour. The most important festivals in Manipur are NingolChakouba (celebrated during November, where married women visit their parental homes for a sumptuous feast amidst festivities), Kut (held on 1st November, this is the tribal festival marked by lots of folk dances and music) and KhuadoPawi (celebrated during September/October once the harvesting season is over).
One of the most important representations of the culture of the state is Manipuri Dance. This is an elegant and expressive classical dance which has lots of spiritual significances. It is performed during most of the festivals as a form of worship of the Supreme Power. It is accompanied by musical instruments, Pung, Pena & Flute, cymbals and a singer.
It is easy very easy to get around in Manipur. Within the state, different types of transportation are available like bus, taxi services, cab services. All the cities and towns of Manipur are well connected with the Manipur State Transport Corporation and other bus services run by private operators.
Taxis and sumos are also available for travelling around the city.
As Manipuri dishes are cooked with aromatic spices, they give out a unique flavour. Though cuisine of the state is predominantly non-vegetarian, potatoes are one of the staple ingredients here. Almost all the dishes have boiled potatoes as an accompaniment. Ngri Fish is another popular dish in Manipur. The fish is either fermented or smoked and consumed with steamed vegetables. Some of the special dishes that are cooked in Manipur are:
• Eromba – Steamed or boiled vegetables cooked with red chillies accompanied by roasted fish
• Morokmetpa – This is a paste which is made from onion, coriander leaves, herbs, red or green chillies and mashed/fried ngri fish pieces
• Kangshoi – Vegetable stew, which consists of mainly spring onions, ngri fish, coriander leaves, red or green chillies and pieces of fried fish
• Singju – excellent and healthy salad made from the stem of banana, banana flower, lotus stem, coriander leaves, tree beans, ginger and all kinds of vegetables.
The highlight of Manipuri cuisine is that it is very seasonal. Most of the households cultivate their own vegetables and breed their own fish in ponds at their homes. During festivals, you have to taste the traditional and religious Thali prepared by the Manipuris. Popularly known as YaoshangThali, this contains around 13 delicacies prepared from red rice, chicken, pork, fish, assorted vegetables and desserts.
Just like all North Eastern states, Manipur too is famous for its handicrafts and traditional clothes. There are many local markets that sell traditional clothes of Meithei tribes, shawls, scarves, stoles and other hand woven fabrics at reasonable rates. If you are looking for some hand-made handicrafts, you will surely be spoilt for choice here, as you will find a whole sea of items made from bamboo, clay, terracotta, ivory, papier-mache and interesting traditional jewellery collections at the bazaars here. Some of the famous shopping areas in Manipur are listed below:
Paona Bazaar – Located in the capital city of Imphal, this bazaar is a must-visit place if you are interested to buy silk fabrics, bamboo products, traditional Tangkhul scarves and blankets.
Khwairamband Bazaar – This is a haven for women who can literally shop till they drop. The other name for this market is NupiKeither, which means, "Women's market" in the local dialect. This is the most ancient market of Manipur and is run by women entirely. Clothes, household goods, groceries, fish & meat and handicrafts are sold here.