Imphal, the capital city of the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, is known for its rich culture, diverse flora and fauna, and stunning natural beauty. It is the largest city in Manipur and serves as the administrative, cultural, and commercial hub of the state.
In this article, we will guide you through the best places to visit in Imphal, to help you make the most of your trip to this charming city in Northeast India.
Kangla Fort, located in the city of Imphal, is a historical fortress with a long and complex past. As the traditional seat of the past Meetei rulers of Manipur, it holds significant cultural and symbolic value for the people of Manipur. The fort was the ancient capital of Manipur, and a number of Meetei monarchs ruled the region from within its walls. To this day, Kangla remains a revered spot for the people of Manipur, reminding them of their past independence and serving as a sacred place for the Meiteis.
Today, Kangla Fort is a popular tourist destination that represents Manipuri heritage and identity. Visitors can explore the fort and view a variety of historical and cultural artifacts, including the ancient coronation hall of the Meitei kings. This hall has been carefully preserved and restored, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the grandeur of the Meitei royal court.
Loktak Lake, known in Meitei as Loktak Pat, is the largest freshwater lake in South Asia. It is a pulsating lake that changes in size from 250 sq km to 500 sq km during the rainy season and has an average area of 287 sq km. The lake is situated in Moirang, Manipur, India and its name Loktak comes from the Meitei language, where “Lok” means “stream” and “tak” means “the end.”
Loktak Lake, known for its unspoiled beauty, is a popular tourist destination in Manipur. Visitors flock to the lake to see its distinctive floating circular swamps, referred to as phumdis in the local language. The phumdis, which resemble islands made of soil, organic matter, and vegetation, add to the lake’s enchanting beauty, making it a must-see destination. Loktak Lake is home to the world’s only floating national park, Keibul Lamjao National Park
Keibul Lamjao National Park
Keibul Lamjao National Park is a unique and beautiful wildlife reserve situated in the midst of Loktak Lake. It is the only floating national park in the world and is home to a variety of endangered species, including the Manipur brow-antlered deer, which is also known as the Sangai, making it an important conservation site.
Visitors to Keibul Lamjao National Park can take a boat ride around the lake to experience the park’s beauty and diversity. The lake is home to several small islands, and the park’s wildlife can be spotted swimming, grazing, or lounging in the sun. Keibul Lamjao National Park is a unique and beautiful ecosystem that provides a safe haven for endangered species.
INA Martyrs’ Memorial Complex
INA Martyrs’ Memorial Complex is a significant historical site located in Moirang 45 kms. from Imphal, and situated near the Loktak lake. The complex is dedicated to the memory of the Indian National Army (INA) and its soldiers who fought for India’s freedom during World War II. It is a place of great reverence for the people of Manipur and a symbol of India’s struggle for independence.
The main feature of the complex is a reconstruction of the INA’s memorial to its fallen soldiers. The complex also contains a museum dedicated to the INA along with a library and an auditorium and a statue of Subhas Chandra Bose. The complex also houses the Indian National Flag, which was hoisted for the first time by the INA on Indian soil. The flag is kept in a glass case and is a reminder of the INA’s contribution to India’s independence.
Sanamahi Temple, situated in the Sanakhwa Yaima Kollup near Kangla Palace in the Imphal West district of Manipur, India, is one of the oldest temples in Asia, with a Gothic-style roof and a flying advance on its southern side. The temple is dedicated to the worship of Sanamahi, who is considered the preserver of the state’s rich culture and traditions and is of immense significance to the people of Manipur, particularly the Meitei community, who hold Sanamahi as their supreme deity. The temple’s octagonal base and exquisite interiors, adorned with intricate wood carvings, wall paintings, and sculptures, showcase the rich cultural heritage of the state and the skilled craftsmanship of Meitei artisans.
Currently located in the 1st Manipur Rifles Ground in the Imphal West district of Manipur, Sanamahi Temple is a must-visit destination for those interested in exploring the cultural and religious heritage of Manipur. The temple’s serene atmosphere, stunning architecture, and intricate designs make it a true gem of the region, and a visit to the temple is sure to leave a lasting impression on the minds of visitors.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral
St. Joseph’s Cathedral is a notable landmark located in Imphal, Manipur, India. It serves as the Latin cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Imphal and is the seat of the metropolitan bishop. The cathedral’s architecture is a fusion of Anglo and Manipuri styles, and it is situated at Mantripukhri on the outskirts of the city. The building was completed in 1999 and is renowned for its impressive design and unique features.
The cathedral’s stunning architecture and picturesque location make it a must-visit destination for tourists and locals alike. Surrounded by hills and a beautiful landscape, the cathedral’s design blends perfectly with its surroundings, creating a tranquil and serene atmosphere. Whether you’re a lover of architecture or simply looking for a peaceful place to reflect, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is a wonderful choice. Its striking design and beautiful setting make it one of the most memorable landmarks in Imphal.
Shri Govindajee Temple
Shree Govindajee Temple is situated in the heart of Imphal, the capital city of Manipur, India, adjacent to the Sana Konung (which translates to ‘Royal Palace’ in Meitei language) that served as the residence of the former Meitei rulers of the Manipur Kingdom. As the largest Vaishnava temple in the Imphal district, it is a significant Meitei Hindu temple that pays homage to Hindu deities Radha and Krishna, also known as Govindaji.
The temple’s iconic golden twin domes and intricate architecture attract numerous devotees who engage in various religious ceremonies and observances. Visitors are cordially invited to participate in the daily festivities at the historic Govindajee temple and experience the cultural and spiritual richness of Manipur.
Imphal War Cemetery
Located in the Dewlahland locality of Imphal, the Imphal War Cemetery is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by the soldiers during the Second World War. This Commonwealth cemetery contains 1,600 burials and is meticulously maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Many of the soldiers buried here lost their lives in the Battle of Kohima and Imphal, which were two significant battles fought in the region.
The War Cemeteries in Imphal serve as a memorial to the British and Indian soldiers who lost their lives during World War II. The cemetery’s serene and well-kept grounds are marked by small stone markers and bronze plaques, each telling a story of courage and sacrifice.
Manipur Zoological Garden
Manipur Zoological Garden, established on October 2, 1976, is situated 7 kilometers away from the state capital, Imphal, on the Imphal-Kanchup road. It is home to a diverse collection of endangered and rare species, earning it the moniker “Jewel Box of Manipur”.
The zoo houses over 420 animals, including 55 species of birds and animals, with 14 of them being endangered. One can experience lush greenery and a calm atmosphere while visiting the garden, surrounded by hills on all sides, providing a serene and relaxing environment.
Manipur State Museum
Manipur State Museum is a museum located in Imphal, the capital city of the Indian state of Manipur. The museum was established in 1969 and is located in the heart of the city, near the Polo Ground. The museum houses a vast collection of artifacts and historical documents and photographs that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Manipur.
The museum has several galleries, including the Tribal Gallery, Archaeology Gallery, Natural History Gallery, and Ethnology Gallery. In addition to the permanent galleries, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and cultural events throughout the year, making it a vibrant cultural hub for locals and tourists alike.
Located in the heart of Imphal, Manipur, the Ima Market is a distinctive marketplace that is solely operated by women. With its 3000 female vendors, it has earned the reputation of being the largest shopping complex in Asia that is exclusively managed by women. Interestingly, male shopkeepers and vendors are not permitted to conduct any sales inside the market.
Referred to as the Mothers’ Market or Ima Keithel, this exceptional market is divided into two sections, each situated on either side of the road. On one side, a variety of household groceries, vegetables, fruits, and fish are sold. On the other side, one can find a range of exquisite handlooms and household tools for sale. The market is a unique and culturally significant destination that offers visitors a glimpse into the bustling commercial landscape of Imphal, while also celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of women.
Andro is a small village located in the Imphal East district of Manipur, a northeastern state of India. The village is situated about 25 km east of Imphal, the capital city of Manipur. Andro is known for its rich cultural heritage and traditional customs.
One of the main attractions of Andro is the Andro Gramshang Museum, which showcases the traditional customs and culture of the local people. The museum features a collection of household objects, farming tools, weapons, and musical instruments that have been used by the people of the village for generations. Andro is also renowned for its traditional pottery, which has been practiced by the local people for over 500 years. The pottery of Andro is made using a unique technique and is distinguished by its distinct style and design. Visitors to the village can witness the process of pottery making and purchase handmade pottery items from local artisans.
Langol Hill, situated in the northern region of Imphal Valley, is a solitary range of hills. It is the sole forest reserve located closest to Imphal City and serves as a carbon sink for the city, which is currently experiencing a surge in air pollution caused by the rise in the number of vehicles over the past few years.
If you have a passion for hiking, Langol Hill is a perfect destination to fulfill your desire for adventure and feast your eyes with its breathtaking scenery, including a 360-degree view of Imphal City, Loktak Lake, and other surrounding areas from its viewpoint.
Khonghampat Orchidarium, also known as Khonghampat Urei Leikol in Meitei language, is a botanical garden located in Imphal, Manipur, India. The garden is solely dedicated to the collection, cultivation, preservation, and exhibition of a vast range of 500 orchid varieties that are native to Manipur.
It is home to some of the world’s rarest orchids, with the peak blooming season occurring from April to July. The best time to visit the garden is from March to April. The Forest Department of Manipur manages this orchidarium, which serves as the primary orchid center in the region.
Red Hill Lokpaching
Located approximately 17 kilometers south of Imphal City on Tiddim Road, Maibam Lokpa Ching or Red Hills is a hillock that holds significant historical importance. During World War II, a fierce battle occurred at this site between the Allied Forces and Japanese Forces. In honor of the Japanese war veterans, a monument was constructed at the foot of the hill, which was named the “India Peace Memorial.”
A visit to Red Hill is a unique experience that takes you back in time to the period when India was under brutal British rule. However, it also provides a sense of unity and strength that people possessed until India gained independence in 1947. Visiting Red Hill Lokpaching is an ideal choice as it allows you to relive a historic past and cultivate a sense of patriotism, which cannot be expressed in words. It is not only a beautiful place but also a significant moment that touches the heart.
Find the Best Places to Stay in Imphal
Exploring Imphal’s tourist attractions and savoring its unique cuisine is a must-do when visiting the city. With its diverse flavors and ingredients, Manipuri cuisine is sure to delight the taste buds of foodies and travelers alike. So, take a culinary journey through Imphal’s streets and taste the essence of Manipur’s cultural heritage. It is important to note, however, that Manipur, like other destinations in the Northeast, is home to various tribes, each with its own distinct cuisine. Thus, the culinary landscape of Manipur is diverse and varied.
One of the most commonly consumed food items in Manipur is Iromba, which is essentially a type of chutney. If you find yourself at a restaurant in Imphal, be sure to ask for the traditional Manipuri Thali, which comprises several dishes such as ‘Tan’, a type of bread that is reminiscent of North Indian Puri or West Bengal’s Luchi.
Additionally, ‘Chak Angouba,’ a rice dish mixed with a variety of vegetables, ‘Sana Thongba,’ a vegetable dish that incorporates paneer (cottage cheese) and aloo (potato), ‘Kelli channa,’ a dish made from either yellow or green peas, ‘Alu Kangmet,’ a delectable blend of mashed potatoes and onions, ‘Mario Nakuppi Pakoura,’ which is essentially a pakora (fritter), and ‘Khamen Ashinba Athoomba,’ a sweet and savory dish consisting of fried tomatoes mixed in sugar syrup.
Best Time To Visit Imphal
Imphal, the capital city of Manipur, is a year-round destination, but certain months of the year offer a more pleasant and favorable climate for tourists. If you’re planning a trip to Imphal, the best time to visit is from September to April, during the onset of winter and the beginning of summer.
How to Reach Imphal
Imphal has its own airport, Imphal Airport, which is well-connected to major Indian cities like Aizawl, Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata, and Silchar. Many airlines operate regular flights to Imphal from these cities. The airport is located about 8 km away from the city center, and you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach your destination.
The second nearest international airport to Imphal is the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, which is about 490 km away from Imphal
The nearest Railway Station is Dimapur Railway Station which is connected to the major cities of India.
Imphal is 63 Kms from Churachandpur, 65 Kms from Noney, 138 Kms from Kohima, 210 Kms from Dimapur, 264 Kms from Silchar, 413 Kms from Aizawl, 585 Kms from Itanagar, and 539 Kms from Shillong and is well connected through Manipur State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) and some private bus operators.
It is to be noted that an Inner Line Permit (ILP) is required for non-locals to enter and stay in the Indian state of Manipur. The permit can be obtained through the official website of the Manipur Inner Line Permit System, which is designed to regulate and monitor the entry of non-locals into the state. The permit can also be obtained from designated offices in the state, and it is usually issued for a period of 15 days, although it can be extended. The ILP is intended to protect the rights and interests of the local population and to maintain peace and security in the state.