Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only floating national park in the world, is located in the north-east Indian state of Manipur. It lies in the district of Bishnupur and is a vital part of Loktak Lake. The fact that it is a floating island is a unique feature that attracts nature enthusiasts and researchers from all over the world. This aspect of nature is magical and can only be seen only here, in Imphal. As one explores the National Park, they will come across many species including an endangered species of Deer, called the Brow Antlered Deer, Eld's deer or the dancing deer. This deer is locally called Sangai. So make sure you carry your binoculars and a good camera to capture some fabulous pictures.
The Keibul Lamjao National Park is basically a swamp with several floating masses of vegetation that have been formed by an accumulation of organic dump and biomass with particles of soil that eventually thickened creating solid numerous floating mass (also called Phumdis in local language) in the lake. These masses float in the Loktak Lake and are so thick that quite some heavy mammals can survive them on them. Some phumdis float across the lake while some are held in their positions with roots attached to the ground underneath the water.
The region is included in the list of Ramsar Sites to conserve the wetland. Till 1997, the total area of the park was over 4,000 hectares, however, now it has been reduced down to about 2,200 hectares. A big chunk of the total area of the national park is formed by the floating mass or phumdis. The mass floats around three hills Toya, Chingjao and Pabot which are a preferred escape for mammals during monsoons when the mass either submerges or floats when the level of the lake water increases.
The Keibul Lamjao National Park is home to a variety of species. Enthusiasts can find several species of birds like the Lesser Skylark, Northern Hill Myna, Burmese Pied Myna, North Indian Black Drongos, Jungle Crow, Yellow Headed Wagtail, various types of Ducks, Cranes and Wood Peckers. Among the animals, Brow Antlered Deer or the dancing deer, Hog Deer, Wild Boar, Large Indian Civets, Fox, Jungle Cat, Golden Cat, Bay Bamboo Rat, Musk Shrew, Common Shrew, Flying Fox, Sambar etc. are found here.
The climatic or natural conditions support numerous aquatic species, amphibians and reptiles including Channa Striata, Common Carp, Keelback Tortoise, Viper, Krait, Cobra, Python, Asian Rat Snake, Water Kobra, Russel's Viper and the Checkered Garter Snake.
The abundant vegetation that is found here is stunning. The floating marshes or the Phumdis consist of this vegetation that is about 120 centimetres thick. Researchers state that the plants that existed half a century ago predominantly were Khoimom, Tou and Singut. Over the years, the vegetation composition went through rapid transformations, and as of today, the phumdis majorly comprise of Leersia Hexandra and Sing Kambong Zizania latifolia. Zizania Latifolia is also known as Manchurian Wild Rice and is a plant that is a rich source of protein, often consumed by the habitants living nearby. Some percentage of Phragmites Karka and Wana Manbi Cepithipedium spp, Saccharum Munja and Narenga Porphyrochroms are also found in these phumdis. A variety of wild rice also grows in this region along with species like Coix Lecryma-Jobi, Carex and Lilhar Polygonum Perfoliatum.
The Keibul Lamjao National Park was considered a sanctuary from 1953 to protect the Sangai Deer. The species of deer was almost extinct by then, however, re-discovered in 1954. Hunting was once again allowed in the sanctuary in the areas that were not the habitat of the deer. The park was officially declared as a sanctuary in 1966 and 1977, it was declared as the Keibul Lamjao National Park, and no hunting has been permitted since then.
The best time to visit Keibul Lamjao National Park is between October and March as the Lake water levels are suitable to explore the park.
It is best to visit the park from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM and 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM because the Sangai deer mostly comes out during these time to feed in herds.
One can reach the Keibul Lamjao National Park by road (private or public transport) from Imphal covering a 54 kilometre stretch of the road via NH2.
The nearest railway station is the Dimapur Railway Station, which is about 220 kilometres away from Imphal. Travellers can hail public transport or hire cabs to reach the mesmerizing national park. The nearest airport is the Imphal International Airport which is about 32 kilometres away from the national park. One can hail cabs or public transport to reach the beautiful Keibul Lamjao National Park.
1. The park is supervised 24x7 by forest officials.
2. Carry enough water to keep yourself hydrated while exploring the National Park.
3. Ensure you wear appropriate clothing and carry necessary gear like binoculars, a good camera, caps/ hats, decent hiking shoes/ boots, raincoat, sunscreen, insect repellent etc.
4. Keep the decibels low and do not litter the area.
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