Dotted with ponds and lakes, the lush valley lies soaked in flood waters as I looked down from the plane, which tilted to make a smooth touchdown after a turbulent flight. Now, fresh and green, the rainwashed hill-locked valley, with the cool summer breeze, makes for a beautiful escapade from balmy and sultry places.
And, like a gigantic white wall touching the sky over the horizon, the burst of white smoke of rolling clouds cover the sky. The misty showers seem to serenade you wherever you go. It's an unusually captivating sight of a wet midsummer day in this part of Northeastern region, Manipur.
As you travel around here, apart from its beautifully sublime landscape and skyline, its many unique characteristics will make you want to go deeper and stay longer.
A one of a kind market is its Ima Keithel, where about 4000 Imas (mothers) run the market. From fresh vegetables to dry food, clothes, local products and foreign goods, it is a must-visit.
Close to Ima Keithel is the Kangla Fort that tells of the political history of Manipur. Not too far from it is the War Cemetery, a memorial of the British and Indian soldiers who died during the Second World War.
Imphal is also famous for its freshwater lake - Loktak Lake and the only floating island or wildlife park in the world - Keibul Lamjao National Park. Other major attractions in Imphal include the zoological garden which is home to some endangered species, including the dancing Sangai - the beautiful brow-antlered deer, the INA Memorial and Museum, cultural heritage complex.
Here in the valley, there are easy transport facilities for traveling around. Food and lodging here is cheap. It is an ideal budget travel.
The valley is surrounded by soft and tranquil meadows and thickly forested hills which is home to rare and exotic flora and fauna. If time is at hand, these rich interior places, including Ukhrul, Senapati, Churachandpur and Tamenglong districts inhabited by the tribals, are a must visit.
Although the place is small, there are many places of interest. Deep and mysterious caves, rushing rivers, beautiful cascades... One must come here on a long visit for a good stay to join the celebrations of life, explore and be enlightened by its lesser known beauty, rich history and the varied culture and customs of the people here.
The roads here are in bad conditions. Many basic amenities are still lacking. The place lies underdeveloped and insurgent-ridden. It is dangerous to travel alone or receive calls from unknown callers. There is protest and shutdown every other day. You may face many harsh challenges here. But you must experience the uniqueness of the place, the exotic food and blissful life amid the guns and fire.