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Chandel, also known as Lamka is tiny, but a scenic district in the North-Eastern state of Manipur. It is one of the main nine districts in the state and also the second least populous of all. Situated along the lines of the international border separating India and Myanmar, it has come to be known as Gateway to Myanmar. It lies about 64 kms away from Imphal, with NH-39 passing through.
It’s famous for being home to more than 20 native tribes. Chandel is a wisp of culture and traditions, given the huge number of tribes that live here. Each tribe offers a unique identity to the area, where colours of their cultures are blown out in all directions. Travelers visiting Chandel can soak in the alluring art forms along with sprightly music and dance.
After a reorganization, Chandel now has four subdivisions; Chandel Town, Tengnoupal, Chakpikarong, and Machi.
Apart from being home to a large number of plant and animal species, Chandel is known for its numerous varieties of Orchid, several Ornamental plants, and some very useful medicinal plants.
The numerous tribes that find habitat here give the cultural definition to this town. Other than getting coloured into their hues, one can visit a few tourist spots in the area, such as the Tengnoupal, which is the highest point on the way from India to Myanmar and can offer some of the most stunning sceneries and views.
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Many orchids and ornamental species of plants found here which is unique to this place.
Slightly difficult to access as it is a remote town in Manipur. Cuisine can be a problem for some people.
Chandel is a perfect place for nature lovers who wish to spend a peaceful vacation amidst lush green surroundings. The biodiversity of this places attracts thousand of tourists from all the over the world to this quaint Manipur town. It is ideal for families, couples, groups and solo travellers.
This Southeastern Manipuri border town is not even half a decade old. It came into existence in 1974. It was known as Tengnoupal at the time of its founding but was renamed to Chandel in 1983. Even though it is counted among one of the most backward districts in the country, it's not behind when it comes to serving the nation. Some war heroes martyred during the Kargil war belonged to Chandel. The name Chandel originates from the words Cham (meaning simple) and Dil (meaning men's pants) of the local Pakan language.
The place is infused with the lovely vibe of tribal dance forms and a vibrant artistic culture which attracts tourists all the year round. Paite, Thadon Kuki, and the Tarao war dance are among the most commonly performed dance forms. Native tribal culture and handicraft go hand in hand. Visitors can find some beautifully crafted souvenirs here to carry home and also behold a kaleidoscope of embroidery patterns on the traditional dresses of tribal people, with each tribe having its distinctive design. Manipuri Saris, pottery items, handmade soaps, paper items, and cane products are some particularly favourite shopping items.
A large chunk of tribal population means regional festivals go on all the year round and that too, with utmost zeal and enthusiasm. If you plan to visit during on of the festivals, you can participate in various festivals which take place at different times throughout the year and get to carry home a sack full of vibrant memories.
Ikam is a celebration of the huge bounty of the harvest, celebrated mainly by the Anal tribe. Anyone who experiences good harvest offers gratitude to the goddess of paddy and shares his good fortune and wealth with others by hosting a feast so grand that it lasts from 3 to 5 days. Folk singing and tribal dances form an integral part of the festival. It’s a festival of great importance and those who host it get a special social status. Memorial stones are erected to honour the memory of those who have hosted Ikam in their lifetime.
Chavan Kumhri is also one of the major Anal festivals, celebrated post-harvest every year on 23rd October. The harvest is offered to the village elders who bless it and eat it, bestowing the entire village with wishes of health and prosperity.
Sungkhomlkhan is a festival with religious importance, celebrated by fencing the entire village. Inhla, Philthabla (a hunting and fighting festival), and Mikhem (a festival of money and food collection) are some other significant festivals celebrated by the Anal Tribe.
Lui Ngai Ni is a seed-sowing festival of the Naga tribes in Manipur. The name literally means seed sowing festival. It has been a state holiday since 1988 and it marks the beginning of the year for the Naga people. Celebrated right at the start of spring, it’s a two-day festival which takes place from 14-15th February every year. It is celebrated in and around Manipur in all areas with a Naga population. However, only four district headquarters are a hub of major festivity and Chandel town is one of them. Traditional activities like dancing, folk singing, the lighting of the fire, drum-beating, and attire shows form a significant part of festivities.
Kuki, Thadou, and Monsang are other significant festivals celebrated in Chandel.
Sightseeing trips can be completed in 2 days if you want to visit the main attractions. For a leisurely time, a 3-day trip would be ideal which will allow you to spend quite some time in the neighbouring country as well.
If you arrive in Imphal and proceed to Chandel the previous day, reaching in the night, the following itinerary will help you make the most of your time in and around Chandel.
Day 1: Visit the Yangoupokpi-Lokchao Wildlife Sanctuary early in the morning. Soak in flora and fauna and proceed to Tengnoupal. Enjoy the bird’s eye view of Manipur. Return to your lodging place for a refreshing, good night’s sleep. Don’t miss the local cuisine over dinner while you are here.
Day 2: Visit Moreh, the commerce town and indulge in shopping. If you have a passport, visit Tamu in the neighbouring country of Myanmar.
If you extend your trip to Day 3, and there are guided tours to the towns of Kalimiview and Mandalay in Myanmar, jump at the chance as they do not take place frequently.
Relish popular Manipuri dishes in Chandel like Eromba which is a preparation of vegetables and potatoes boiled with a generous dash of red chillies, and fish. Singju is a Manipuri salad, Chamthong or Kanhshoi is a stew with fish, Morok Metpa is a coarse-paste prepared with green or dry chillies are also zesty and delicious local delicacies that one must savour.
One should also try the delicious pork curries and preparations of Bamboo shoots. Sekmai is a traditional brew made from rice while Mujikul is another local drink which can be enjoyed here.
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