Imphal is the capital city of the Northeast Indian state of Manipur.
With an average elevation of nearly 800 m, Imphal has a cooler and more pleasant climate than most of India. It can drop below freezing in the winter. The summers are much wetter and more humid with the monsoon rains at their peak in June and July. October is an ideal time to visit as the rains turn the town lush green.
Imphal is not currently connected to India's gigantic railway network. The closest railway station for now is Dimapur station in Nagaland. Getting to Imphal is almost a 7-hour bus ride from Dimapur station.
However, a railway station for Imphal is being built and is expected to be completed by the year 2019.
Imphal is well connected with Manipur's neighbouring states by road, on which there are many bus routes. There are daily bus services coming from and going to Kohima and Dimapur in Nagaland and Guwahati in Assam.
- INA Memorial at Moirang
- Loktak Lake - The largest fresh water lake in North-Eastern India and has floating lake. It is also the habitat of Curvus Eldi Eldi, an endangered species found only in Manipur.
- Matai Garden- The garden is situated at Matai, Imphal east district about 5 km towards North in NH-39.The garden is also called as Ibudhou Asheiningthou garden taking the name from Ibudhou Asheiningthou(local God of Matai). The garden is known for its myriad Duranta plant, well shaped and decorating the entire garden.
- 1 Manipur State Museum, Kangla Rd (near the polo grounds). 10am-4:30pm. The museum is varied. It includes portraits of Manipuri royalty, tribal costumes, polo equipment (Manipur is one of the places in the world that claims to have invented the sport) along with weapons and other tools used by the people in the past. The biggest thing they have displayed is a 78 foot long royal boat in the open air gallery.
- Manipur Zoological Garden, Imphal-Kanchup Road, Lamphelpat, ☎ . Winter (Oct to Mar) 10am-4pm Summer (Apr to Sep) 10am-4:30pm. A smallish zoo but teeming with wildlife. Spanning 8 hectares, in total there are 55 species of animals and 420 animals overall with 14 species endangered and endemic. The rarest and most enchanting of these is the Sangai, also known as the brow-antlered deer.
- Sambal- Lei-Sekpil garden. The garden is situated in Sagolband, Kwakeithel, Imphal, toward the Tidim road. The place is world famous for Sambal- Lei-Sekpil literally sambal means fence lei means flower and sekpil means topiary. The flower was featured in the Guinness Book of Records in 1999 (at the height of 50 ft. 35 steps). The garden is open to visitors.
- Shree Govindajee Temple- This place was considered to be the highest place for any cultural activity during the times of the Maharajas. Located at a place near the Royal palace of past Maharajas, it has two domes and a raised congregation hall.
- Three Mothers Art Gallery-located at Thangapat Mapal Palace Compound, Imphal East and Manipur - envisages and epitomizes the rich culture and heritage, tradition and history of the state. It was established in 1978, and the ‘Three Mothers’ signifies the biological mother, motherland & mother tongue.
- Kangla Fort (Kangla Palace). The palace and fort had been used for hundreds of years to defend the Manipuris from invading neighbours such as the Assamese and Burmese. The British finally penetrated the fortress for good in the 1891 Anglo-Manipur War.
- Khongjom War Memorial, Lamding Mamang Leikai, Thoubal, ☎ . This memorial and war complex is located on where the princely state of Manipur (Kangleipak) fought their last war of resistance against the British in 1891, after which they came under their rule.
- Paona market has a wide selection of local and imported items.
- Ima Keithal (Ima Market), Khwairamband Bazar. A 500-year-old market that could possibly the only market in the world run entirely by women. Every single one of the 3000 traders running the stalls is female. Any woman regardless of religion or creed can set up a stall here. Northeast India is known for espousing gender equality and challenging the patriarchy, which is put into practice here. A range of products are sold here: handicrafts, textiles, vegetables, fruits, spices, black rice, pottery and jewellery.
Preparations of bamboo shoots are delicacies here, along with other common dishes of North-eastern India. Try out the local variety of hot chilly (locally known as "Umorok").
There are many budget restaurants in Imphal, most of which are near the bus stop.
- 1 Forage, 2nd Floor, KokSamLai Tower (oppt. Thau Ground), DM College Road, Thangmeiband, Thangmeiband Hijam Leikai, Imphal West, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 12pm-8pm. Diverse international cuisine with an exotic touch. Try their fermented iced teas and soybean smoked pork.
- Blue Chilli, Kwakeithel Thokchom Leikai, ☎ . Daily 1-8pm. Multi-Asian cafe style cuisine. Good atmosphere and food though a little pricey.
- Luxmi Kitchen, Wahengbam Leikai, Sagolband, Wahengbam Leikai, Sagolband, ☎ . Genuine Manipuri food. Plentiful options for both vegetarians and meat eaters. However, the dishes are full of chilli. Not recommended for people who cannot take spicy food.
Nightlife in Imphal was at its peak in the 1980s, after which the separatist insurgency escalated. Since the 2010s it has started to recover.
- Mujikund. local wine and beer!.
- Sekmai. A traditional liquor made out of rice.
- Hotel Gaylord - ₹150 for a single room (with shared bathroom). One of the cheapest options in the central city area.
- Hotel Yaisana - Single rooms with shared bathrooms start from ₹300
Also close by on MG Avenue, you can find single rooms from ₹300-400 at the following places:
- Hotel Avenue
- Hotel City Heart
- White Palace
- The Classic Hotel, North AOC, ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Free breakfast and WiFi. Has two lavish restaurants.
For over 30 years, Manipur has felt the brunt of conflict from separatists. Imphal city is safe for travellers but it becomes dangerous to venture out on the outskirts and in the rural and mountainous areas surrounding the city. The risk of violence is higher on Indian national days such as Republic Day on 26 January and Independence Day on 15 August.
Manipur's traditionally matrilineal and almost matriarchal culture (where property and surnames were passed down through female heirs) makes the state at the forefront of women's rights and gender equality not only in India but the world. Women and girls will not be gawked at by strangers regardless of what they wear and how they act and have a similar level of freedom to that of Western countries.
There are several English newspapers available in Imphal.
- Imphal Free Press, circulated daily
- Imphal Times, a daily eveninger
- The Sangai Express, daily e-paper with the largest circulation in Manipur