Imphal - A Flower On The Lofty Height

Mrinalini Thokchom *

An aerial view of Imphal city
An aerial view of Imphal city

Imphal, the capital city of Manipur [the land of treasure-mani], a state located in the north-eastern corner in the Indo-Myanmar border its temple border, is a land blessed with immense natural beauty. It can be called a poet's paradise, though you don't need to be a poet to go there.

Despite its small size, this city is inhabited by people of diverse background. It is a land resided by several ethnic communities which trace their origin to different parts of the world, thus representing the idea of plurality. Amazingly it is a place where no beggars can be seen anywhere and where people do not complain even if prices of commodities shoot up to the sky limit.

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION: The word/term "Imphal" is a corrupt of the Manipuri word "Yumphal"; which means as "collection of houses"; it is situated in the centre of the oval shaped Manipur valley and almost intersected by 24 degrees North latitude, and 91 degrees East longitude and it is 2,619 feet above the sea-level. There are many spots which are of historical interest and of tourist attraction.


Kangla palace: In the vicinity of the Imphal city is located the Kangla palace,the fortified royal palace of the erstwhile Manipuri kingdom from ancient times since the reign of the first Manipuri ruler,Pakhangba. After the Anglo-Manipuri War in 1891, the British hoisted the Union Flag in Kangla on 27 April 1892. Though only the ruins of the palace can be seen the artifacts inside depicts the presence of a strong monarchical hierarchy in ancient times.It was then declared as the 'British Reserve' till they left Manipur in 1947.


The Shree ShreeGovindaji temple: Constructed originally in 1846 AD, during the reign of Maharaja Nara Singh, the temple was badly damaged in the great earthquake of 1868. It was reconstructed in its original form during Maharaja Chandrakriti's reign (1859-86 AD) the then ruler of Manipur. The temple is dedicated to Lord Govinda and His consort Radha.


The Nupilan Memorial complex: Adjacent to the Kangla Palace, next to the Imphal post office is the NupiLan Memorial complex built in memory of the Nupi-Lan(women's war) which took place in 1939. Started as a rice agitation against the Maharaja's policy and the Marwari monopolies, this revolt led to a political and economic reform in Manipur.


The Kangjeibung or Polo Ground: The Manipur Kangjeibung or the Polo ground is the world's oldest polo ground in the world.It is situated opposite the Manipur State Museum, which has a collection of old artifacts depicting the history of Manipur.

The Imphal War Cemetery: The Imphal War Cemetery located in North AOC is a place built in memory of those British and the Indian soldiers expired in the Second World War.

Shopping: There are lots to shop for in Imphal from its wide range of hand-crafted and handloom goods which make ideal gifts for your loved ones viz. the hand-made doll in its traditional bridal attire(potloi) and the lovely silk duppatas or stoles. Being the neighbour of Burma, Burmese goods are also found in abundance. The Gambhir Singh arcade(named after Maharaja Gambhir Singh) is a mall where you can shop from its lovely and trendy collection of jeans to tees and shoes.


But what one should not miss to visit is the famous and noisy ima-market [ima in manipuri means mother]. After its name, it is a woman-dominated market, where we get ladies' goods at much reasonable prices and negotiating the prices with the imas is a must-see here. And guys don't be sad as adjacent to the ima market is a market exclusively for men-folk called the nupa-market [nupa in manipuri is man], wherein you get the same opportunity.

But guys a free advice I will give ,there is no DIRECT shopping facility, swiping debit or credit cards here, so keeping some cash handy is the safest way if ever you plan to visit here as the ATMs there too sleep at night and to withdraw cash one needs to be in the queue right from dawn.


Eat-Outs: The best time to plan for a trip to Imphal is the winter season when it offers not only pleasant climate but also mouth-watering dishes (a good time indeed for food lovers).

After a lot of shopping and sight seeing to give yourself a yummy treat you don't need to go far because situated in the centre of the town, about a kilometer from Gambhir Singh Arcade is Nikheel Cafe, a cafeteria known all-over for its mouth-watering dim sums at a fairly reasonable price though the place has long listed menu of mainly Chinese food.

The small local eateries there offer a different but unique recipe of ok thongba and yen thongba (ok in manipuri is pork and yen chicken, thongba means dish). The Nongmeibung ok thongba garnished with fried peas and pudina leaves where the cost per plate is an amazing ten rupees only is worth mentioning.

Means of Transport: Interestingly autos parked opposite the Kangla palace with the names of places written on the front are the cheapest and the easiest way to roam about in Imphal. Also a 'magic' ride in a TATA MAGIC with an amazing fare of only 5 rupees can be suggested.


Airport: The Tulihal Airport located in Malom, about 5 Km from the main city is the only airport in Manipur. There are two highways connecting Manipur to the rest of India,viz. NH-2 and NH-37.

Hotels: The Classic Hotel is a reputed 3 star hotel located in the heart of the city with all the modern amenities ,rooms with a/c, a good cuisine, a perfect banquet. A good view of the KANGLA Lake can be obtained from this hotel. Other good hotels are The Imphal Hotel, Hotel Bheigo, Hotel Nirmala, Hotel Excellency,etc.

So folks, if ever you need a break, come to Imphal and explore the beauty of this place and see how the people here survive amidst so many bandhs, boycotts and economic blockades.

* Mrinalini Thokchom wrote this article for
The writer is based at Imphal and can be contacted at laiza27(at)yahoo(doT)com
This article was posted on December 22, 2011.

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