Imphal is the capital of the North-Eastern state of Manipur. It is also the most important tourist destination in the state. Imphal lies in the central part of the state. The Imphal river flows through the city. Imphal is a mix of culture, heritage, spirituality and nature. It is an urban city, yet holds a refreshing primitive character which has a unique attraction for the travellers. The tour to the land of seven sisters is incomplete without a journey into the city of Imphal.
Imphal is well connected by air. The Tulihal Airport which was renamed as Bir Tikendrajit Airport is well connected to all the major Northeastern cities such as Guwahati, Aizwal, Agartala, Dimapur, Dibrugarh etc. It is also connected with other major Indian cities such as Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and other cities.
By road also the city holds very good connectivity. Guwahati, Shillong, Agartala and all other major Northeastern cities are connected by road. The Dimapur – Imphal road via Kohima is relatively popular. However, there is no rail station in Manipur. The nearest railway station is in Dimapur, which is 215 km away.
This is a major attraction for the tourists in Imphal. Ema Keithel (or simply called the Ema market) is a market but what separates this with other markets is that Ema keithel market is run and managed completely by women. This is the largest women market in India and one of the biggest women markets in the world. This market is known as mother's market. Stretched over an area of approximately 3.5 km this is one of the oldest markets of the country whose origin dates back to the fifteenth century. In this market, men are not allowed to do business or own a shop. But as a buyer, they can buy anything from here. Also, a unique feature is they can work here as labourers. Ema Keithel offers a wide range of products to the customers. 5000 in house women vendors engage here in selling.
Products like fresh vegetables, fish and dry fish, traditional clothes, tribal shawls, fruits and sweets, handicrafts and woollen items, Utensils and all other household things, flowers and many more items. Ema Keithal is divided into three buildings namely Ema, New and Laxmi Market is a unique tourist destination for the travellers.
Manipur State Museum
Manipur State Museum has a distinctive feature and regularly conducts various exhibitions and programmes for creating awareness about the cultural heritage of the state and educating the people about the importance of preservation of biodiversity and wildlife. This grand museum was inaugurated by Mrs Indira Gandhi, the then prime minister of India in the year 1969. The museum has good collections of different materials. They have different display galleries. The museum houses separate galleries for Natural history, Paintings, Archaeology and ethnology and children gallery. The museum has an amazing collection of handicraft and artefact, tribal ornaments, historical documents, weapons, pottery, costumes, textile materials, agricultural equipment and rural products. A major attraction is a 78 feet long boat placed in an open gallery. Museum timing is from 10 am to 4.30 pm. The museum is closed on Monday, second Saturday and all public holidays.
The most significant monument in the city of Imphal and the most important place in relation to the history and politics of the state. This Fort remained the seat of Manipur rulers till 1891 when the British successfully occupied it. It is said that this Fort which is located at the heart of the city has been continuously occupied for 2000 years. It is claimed that Pakhamba the first king of meiteis clan which ruled Manipur and still a dominating clan in the state made the Fort as his seat and this Meiteis dynasty was founded in 33AD. Now, these claims have not been well supported by researchers as there was no strong archaeological evidence found to support these claims. However, Kangla Fort remained the central part of Manipur's history and the kingdom evolved around it. It was the capital of the Kingdom also.
A lot of constructions and additions were incorporated to this Fort starting from 5th century to 19th century. The fortifications of the Fort continued and the Fort was expanded to a large extent. It is an extremely important point that before the British in 1891 no one was able to occupy the Fort. This Fort today is in ruins as hardly any construction left inside the premise. But this Fort is revered by the locals as it is the greatest symbol of the glorious past of the Manipur.
Shree Govindajee Temple
This is one of the prime attractions in Imphal. This is the largest Vaishnava temple in Imphal and extremely popular among the local and tourists. This beautiful temple was built by Maharaja Nara Singh in 1846. Unfortunately, it was damaged heavily in the earthquake of 1868. Later in 1876, it was reconstructed by King Chandrakriti. The temple is dedicated to Lord Govindajee an incarnation of Lord Krishna and his consort Radha. The temple also has the images of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Krishna. The architectural style of the temple is simple yet attractive. The gold plated domes of the temple are worth mentioning along with a big congregation Hall. The edifice of the temple is brick and mortar built. The temple is considered very sacred to the local people. A huge gathering takes place every day. The Ratha-yatra, Janmashtami and raas Festival are very popular and famous here and celebrated with great gusto and devotion.
Imphal War Cemetery
This place is situated in Dewlahland, Kabo Leikai on the Imphal Dimapur Road, 10 km from the airport. This war cemetery generates a deep sense of sorrow into the heart of the visitors as this place reminds us about those Indian and British soldiers who lost their lives during second World War fighting against the Japanese Forces. The place commemorates the memories of these soldiers who sacrificed their lives for attaining the duties. The place now contains 1600 burials from second world War. This place is open every day from 9 am to 4.30 pm. However, from October to February it gets closed at 4 pm.
Imphal Shaheed Minar
This is located inside the Bir Tikendrajit Park. This tall monument was erected to honour the sacrifice of the brave Manipur soldiers who fought their heart out against the British in 1891 war and lost their lives. The park itself was built in memory of Yuvraj Tikendrajit and his general Thangal. They were hung in public after Britishers won the battle.
One of the prime attractions in the entire Northeastern sector, this beautiful lake is located at Moirang which is a one hour thirty minutes drive from Imphal. The visit to this lake is an unforgettable experience. Lok means stream and 'Tak' mean the end. Loktak is the largest freshwater lake in North East. One of the unique features of this lake is the presence of floating islands called Phumdis. This is something very unique and it is nowhere found in the country. This floating islands give a completely different dimension to the lake and makes it more attractive for the eyes. Another interesting thing is the fisherman huts which are known as Phumsangs inside the Phumdis. This lake attracts tourist from all over the world. The boating facilities are available but bounded by rules. Life jackets are given and it is mandatory. Loktak Lake is the lifeline of Manipur. It is the source of drinking water supply and the main source of water for irrigation. Also, it is used in hydropower generation. The lake has diverse and unique vegetation along with a large number of fauna and aqua fauna. Different species of water birds, migratory birds, animals and fishes are found in the lake. At the southeastern shores of the lake, the famous Keibul Lamjao National Park is located which is a natural place for different animals and birds and a major attraction of this Loktak tour. In a nutshell, Loktak lake is the top priority for a traveller wishes to see Imphal.
The Keibul Lamjao National Park
The only floating National Park in the world. A must visit place and this national park is the last natural refuge of the endangered Sangai which is known as the "Dancing Deer" of Manipur. This park is also home to the hog deers and different migratory birds. The park covers an area of 15 sq miles and remains a top destination for the wildlife lovers and bird watchers and for the common tourists also.
A scenic place with a breathtaking landscape. This dam is constructed at Singda river in a place called Kadangband which is less than 20 km from Imphal. This is a popular picnic spot and attracts the nature lovers for its charming location.
The city offers a wide range of choices to the tourists. Vegetarian food is available. Fish, chicken and pork are very common non-veg items. The local delicacies made of bamboo shoots are must-try for those who wish to taste the local cuisine. Plenty of restaurants are available in the city which caters the taste buds of every kind of traveller.
Imphal could be visited throughout the year as the weather here is most of the time conducive to travel. Winter here is dry and chilly. December, January and February are the coolest months. October, November and March also have very comfortable weather. Summer here is humid and the maximum temperature hovers around 28-30'c. June is the beginning of monsoon and till August the city receives heavy rainfall.