Sunday, 21 January 2007

Imphal, Manipur

I apologize for the lack of updates the last week. I have been in Uttar Pradesh for a good week's time (pictures from that will come later). Now I'll get on with my tour of the North East. After Meghalaya we went to the Capital, Imphal, of rebellious state of Manipur (location/info) for a wedding. First a look at the city.

Despite a couple of interesting attractions existing in the state of Manipur we were completely confined to the capital Imphal, due to the security situation. Currently some 36 illegal militant outfits are operating in the state and kidnappings of foreigners for ransom are common. Imphal is a bit short of interesting sights, but I liked the look of this Community Hall with features of traditional Manipuri architecture (especially the tower). Notice also the rickshaws on the streets. By Indian standards Imphal is a very uncongested city, with a majority of non-motorised traffic. This could be construed as a good thing, but it is probably mostly due to chronic economic underdevelopment.

Another sight showing the relative lack of development. An old wooden bridge serves as a crossing point over a creek in the middle of the city. The bridge is surrounded by garbage, which no one bothers removing. The bridge itself is not without a certain charm, though.

Another interesting example of what is probably a fusion of English and Manipuri architecture. This is the gate to Kangla, the old and somewhat neglected centre of the English administration in Imphal.

A soldier in a colourful uniform guards the Kangla gate. In general Manipur is an exceptionally militarised state with the Indian Army maintaining a very strong presence here to keep various rebel and militant groups under control. You quite simply see heavily armed soldiers everywhere, and unlike other places in India they don't look relaxed, but rather very alert and on edge. However, I didn't dare taking pictures of them, except for this guy who was more than happy to pose.

One of Imphal's few actual sights: the Sri Govindajee Temple. The main point of interest within the temple are these two highly suggestive domes. Manipur is a majority Hindu state, although it is also home to many Christians. As a general rule for the North East the plains are mainly Hindu and the Hilly areas either Christian or Buddhist and within Manipur that distinction also applies. Imphal is situated on the plains and therefore very much a Hindu city.

A bell tower at the same temple.

Naughty children acting silly for the camera just outside Sri Govindajee Temple.

The best place to roam around in Imphal is the covered Mother's Market, where virtually all the stalls are run by elderly women (I believe most of them are widows I was told that most of them are widows but according to one of my commentators, they are just regular women earning a little extra for their families).

Some of the "mother's" in the market.

A very handsome Drake.

And now time for some art. The cycle rickshaws in Imphal are all very interesting. Each and every one of them has a unique and different piece of landscape pained on the back. Here is one rickshaw walla with his ricky.

Another rickshaw with a different landscape.

And finally, yet another.


oreneta said...

You take the most beautiful pictures. I found your site a few days ago through Stepping Stones, and I have been hoping you would appear with more... I spent a far too short period of time in India far too long ago, and loved the place. Your pictures are fabulous.

Esben said...

Hi Oreneta

Thank you very much for your kind comment. I have tons of pictures ready to be posted so much more to come.

I took the liberty of adding your blog to my links.

barsha said...

It is so wonderful to see North East through your images and acompanying texts. I have discovered some facts, otherwise unknown to me, from your blog, though I am from North East.

I am curious about the image of the handsome bird from Imphal. Is it a wild bird? Is it really a duck? I have never seen such a strange looking common duck.

What I guess is that you have covered Meghalaya, Nagaland and Imphal. Can you tell me about the bird activities that you have noticed in those places? I am planning to visit North east in future, mainly to do bird watching.

Have you covered other North east states like Arunachal Pradesh or Mizoram?

Esben said...

Hi Barsha

Thank you for your comment. Glad you enjoy my blog.

let me answer your questions:
* The duck is not wild I'm afraid. It is a domesticated duck that I found while visiting a friend's relative's house on the top of a hill near Imphal.
*As for bird activities I didn't see too much, I'm afraid. I saw a few wild birds here and there, but always by chance since I didn't go anywhere specifically for bird watching. According to Susanna the state of wild bird life is not too good in Nagaland, since birds are a priced commodity there. Most hunting is illegal now, but many people don't respect it.
* I have not yet been to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram or Tripura. Obviously I have been to Assam, but only seen Guwahati and Kaziranga there. In case you haven't been there already Kaziranga is highly recommendable if you like wildlife.

Good luck with your own travels. Come back here often, okay? :o)

barsha said...

Hi Esben,

Thanks a lot for all the information.

Yes, I have been to Kaziranga and a part of Arunachal Pradesh. However, I have never been to Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram. It has been my dream to travel to those places.

Yes, I will be checking your blog from time to time.

Thanks again.

Esben said...

You're welcome! Good luck.

ZaPp said...

hey esben .....

well m totally surprise checking this site of urs .... depicting all those manipuri pots.... well frankly m so happy ... with ya work and ya photos... u remind of something.. to me ...
i would love to see ya others snaps ur talking about.. hope u dont mind...

well m a manipuri.. a meitei..
its been some years i havnt back there .... and by checking ya site ... its like i dont need to worry about myself .. thanks dude.//.. all the best ...

nomi said...

hi esben,thanks for exploring this bautiful states and to be frank m very happy that m a manipuri.

Esben said...

Hi zapp and nomi,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Although this blog was originally made for friends and family back home in Europe, it is always fun when some of the locals swing by and give their persepctive on my perspective of their home state ;)

Dolly said...

Nice captures of my Homeland. Sadly you were restricted to Imphal only. Hope the situation become better back home as even I have lots of frens who love to visit Manipur.I would really love to be a tourguide for my fren to show the natural beauties of Manipur..Are u uploading any wedding pics??as u have been there for a wedding.

Esben said...

Hi Dolly

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I did post pictures from the wedding long ago. You can find them at this address:

shan said...

great images from Imphal, Esben. have always wanted to see this side of Manipur and peoples participation in it. being a student of architecture and belonging to Manipur, hv always thought of capturing manipur in a +ve perspective and notice its architecture. feel great to see some of it here. m going to manipur this Dec. will share my images then. :)

sapam said...

i was looking for images from my home town and i stumbled on your blog..... its nice to read your blog and the snaps are really captures the simplicity
in spite of all the hiccups....
thank you

admin said...

Hi Esben, That is a really good post you have written about Manipur. But the part where wrote about "Mother's Market" that "I believe most of them are widows" is not true at all. Most of these elderly women are working to supplement the family earning. For many, it's a "leisure" activity after retirement. It's a tradition of Manipur and they like to go there not just for the money they earn, but also for the pleasure they get from interacting with the people.

Esben said...

Hi Admin

Thanks for your comment. I have made a correction in the post according to your suggestion.

Vir Bhadra Yumnam said...

Mr. Esben, there is no Buddhism nor any Monastery related to the said religion in Manipur. Meitei, Meitei Hindu, Christians & Muslim are the main inhabitant of my Mother land Manipur.

And the shillong Mother Market is not in shillong its in Imphal, and the market is known as Ima Market. Go deeper before posting any post.

But your works are complementary

Esben said...

Vir Bhadra Yumnam

Thanks for your comment. However, I think you were being a bit hasty in posting without properly reading what I wrote.

I wrote: "As a general rule for the North East the plains are mainly Hindu and the Hilly areas either Christian or Buddhist".

Note that I am talking about WHOLE North-East here, not just Manipur. Hills tend to be EITHER Buddhist (of course I am referring to Sikkim, Darjeeling and Arunachal Pradesh) or Christian (mainly Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland).

About the Mothers' Market, I have no idea where you get the notion that I am claiming it to be in Shillong. It is here in a post about Imphal with no mention of Shillong whatsoever.



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