By Bishwajit Singh Okram
Without development and supporting infrastructure, why should tourists come to Manipur?
Lack of adequate infrastructure and support system betray tourists visiting Manipur for holiday, writes Bishwajit Okram about a recent holiday to Manipur..
Manipur is a multicultural and multi ethnic state. It boasts a temperate climate ranging from 0 to 32 degree cc. Its natural vegetations, abundant varieties of faunas, orchid plants and flowers are world famous. Unlike other populous parts of India, Manipur has a thin population, just less than 2.5 million in areas of more than 22000sq.km, north east of India.
I reckon, when the captain announced that the airbus was descending for landing from a height of 30Kms, I looked out through the window: there I found the place, Manipur being enveloped in a bluish-purplish coloured landscapes. This was in October end, 2011.
My list for the sight seeing was long: 1)Singda dam, the highest mud dam in India, 2) the kangla fort, 3) the barak river, the peculiar flower- Lily of Shirui hill, 3) the willong khullen stone erection, 4)Sadu waterfall of Ichum Keirap village, 5)famous pure water Loktak lake and 6) Kakching’s newly built hill garden.
I however could visit only few places with utmost difficulty.
Surprisingly, except some parts of the National Highway 39, most part of NH 39 and other state roads are still not road worthy. It is difficult to drive at a speed more than 20 to 30 kilometres per hour.
There are no handy tourist offices to assist visitors to the state. A fellow tourist was lamenting that there were no guides available even in the state capital, Imphal, who could take tourists to these places. There were no tourist buses taking tourists and going to these places, he continued. It should all be organised privately, which I did through a friend.
Taxis and private car operators are available only at the airport and bus stands in the state capital, Imphal. It is extremely difficult to call a cab or rent a car for a drive to any place.
Security is another concern. A hotel boy said that it was very dangerous to venture out late at evening or at night.
Except few hotels of 2 or 3 star standards in Imphal, these tourist spots I listed above have few night stay facility or not at all. Tourists should, therefore, not plan for night stay at these places.
My daughter was hospitalised due to a stomach infection and the doctor advised to us all: “Do not take food from street vendors and any roadside hotels.” Always carry a pack lunch or eat brunch (breakfast+lunch) before you set off for any of these places.
It means one really needs to plan and if one is lazy about planning, this is not the holiday place one should go. On the other hand one can consider holiday in Manipur as an adventure!
But one good thing is, one can visit to any doctor at any time.
Tracks leading to these actual places are mostly narrow footpaths. One requires some physical stamina to walk long and many uphill. Most of these places are suitable for young people, both single and couple. These places are not elderly and handicap friendly either.
One of the good market segments of tourism is the senior citizen segment as they have money and time. But there is nowhere any sign that managers of these places tried to tap this market. Same is with the handicap tourists’ market segment.
Someone said that the first Prime Minister of India, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, had admired Manipur as Switzerland of India sometimes in the middle of 20th century. Today we are in 21st century post a decade, if Nehru were alive; one would wonder what he had to say in this high tech era. Perhaps, he must have seen Manipur from the top in his prime minister’s helicopter.
Not every ordinary tourist like me could afford a chopper though!
Manipur has many hot tourist spots and it is beautiful on the whole. It is only the development of the place and supporting infrastructure that are missing. But for a tourist, it is not worth spending a cent visiting this place, at this present situation.