Manipur poised to become tourist hub: CM
IMPHAL, 11th Nov: Manipur is trying to firmly position itself on the tourism map of the country, riding on the picturesque beauty of its lush green valleys and forested hills, along with the annual Sangai Festival which showcases the state's rich tradition and culture to the world. The 10-day cultural extravaganza, held between November 21 and 30, has been attracting more tourists with each passing year, and will prove to be a major draw for visitors from around the world this time, too, Chief Minister N Biren Singh has asserted. "Investment can make Manipur a global tourist hotspot. One cannot miss the pristine landscapes in Manipur. Add to that, the greenery, year-round pleasant weather and great food make it an attractive destination for travellers," Biren Singh told a group of visiting journalists recently. Thailand Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster and two ministers from Myanmar are scheduled to grace this year's festival. A tournament of Polo has been scheduled for the 10-day fest, which is named after brow-antlered deer Sangai, a state government official said. "For the 12th Manipur Polo International 2018, the participating teams are US, England, Uruguay, Haiti, India (A) representing the Indian Polo Association and India (B) the host team of Manipur," he said. It has been widely acclaimed that the modern day horse-back mounted game of polo originated in Manipur, where it is also known as 'Sagol Kangjei'. Talking about Sangai deer and its significance in Manipur, the chief minister had said the iconic Loktak Lake in Bishnupur district and its floating islands (phumdis) is the last natural refuge of the critically endangered animal. The Keibul Lamjao National Park, on a 40 sq km floating biomass in Loktak, is home to the Dancing Deer. Loktak, about 60 km from Imphal, is the largest freshwater lake in the northeast with an area of 287 sq km, he added. The government official, who spoke to PTI on the sidelines of the press meet, said Manipur is the only place in the world where a rare species of lily flower blooms amid verdant hills. "Up in the hills of Ukhrul district, Shirui Lily grows every year for less than a month. The state organises the Shirui Lily festival every year at Ukhrul in mid-May, when the bell-shaped pinkish-white flower is in full bloom, he said, adding that the annual event also gives the government a chance to promote Manipur as a tourist destination.