Isn’t the mere name enough to conjure up images of something unique and exotic?
I turned to my fellow traveler, a heavily bearded man in his mid-thirties, an ordinary man to whom you would not give a second glance. But if you did glance at him again, you would wonder why you overlooked him in the first place, because his eyes shone with unusual intensity and had some strange hypnotic quality.
Wow! that is a unique name and who is Keibul Lamjao? asked my fellow traveler, his eyes dancing in anticipation.
I paused, pleased with the effect that I was creating. I had been traveling for the last seven hours and had been exchanging travel stories with Raj, the man with the hypnotic eyes.
“Keibul Lamjao, is not a person, it is a place”, I said with a triumphant look.
“In fact it is the only floating National Park in the world”. I delivered what I thought was the punch line with the equanimity of a Hollywood actor delivering a poker faced one-liner.
Raj’s interest was piqued, “tell me all about it, how do I get there, what can I see, where is it?
I laughed, signalling him to stop the staccato barrage of questions and said, “hold your fire Raj, I shall give you the complete lowdown on the place right now”!
And so began by soliloquy about a unique place called Keibul Lamjao.
It was a couple of years ago that I first heard about Keibul Lamjao and within six months of that, my curiosity and fascination had fueled a journey to this place.
The Keibul Lamjao National Park is situated in Manipur, a North-Eastern state of India. The place is situated approximately 33 miles from Imphal, the capital city of the state of Manipur. The National Park is a part of the Loktak Lake, a freshwater lake which spreads across an area of over 300 square miles. The lake consists of floating islands which are also known as Phumdi. The islands are formed by erogenous masses soil, vegetation and other organic matter. The largest of these floating islands is approximately 15 square miles and mainly constitutes the Keibul Lamjao National Park. The park which was a sanctuary earlier was declared as a National Park in 1977. The most celebrated inhabitant of the Floating National Park is the famed and endangered Eld’s deer, also known as Dancing Deer or Brown-Antlered Deer.
The Floating National Park is actually a huge Swamp and one can travel around on the waterway by boat. There are canoes and also gaily decorated houseboats which take you around the lake.
Apart from the Eld deer the other wildlife that one can spot in the National park are Wild Boar, Hog Deer, Large Indian Civet, Flying Fox, Sambar and many others.
Why visit Keibul Lamjao Floating National Park
- Its uniqueness, after all it is one of its kind in the world
- The Eld’s Deer, which is a rare and endangered species
- The mesmerizing natural beauty of the lake and its surroundings
- Hypnotic sunset at Lake Loktak
How to get to Keibul Lamjao Floating National Park
- Nearest Airport is Imphal, the capital city of Manipur
- Imphal is connected to the major Indian cities of Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai through daily flights
- 33 miles by road from Imphal
Where to Stay when visiting Keibul Lamjao Floating National Park
You will enjoy your stay far from the hustle and bustle of urban life in the quite environs of the Loktak lake. Sendra Park & Resort, situated on a hillock overlooking the lake is an ideal place to stay in, when you visit Keibul Lamjao National Park.
What to eat when visiting Keibul Lamjao Floating National Park
Do not forget to relsih the local Manipuri cuisine which includes a lot of fish dishes at Luxmi Kitchen, a restaurant that serves authentic Manipuri lunch.
The train came to a halt with a jerk as I finished my soliloquy. Raj got up and collected his backpack from the luggage rack and hoisted it on his shoulders. He then turned to me and with a faraway look in his eyes, shook my hands, saying: “Ciao Mate, I am getting off here”!
I knew that this was not the place he was supposed to get down at, or at least that was what he had told me, his destination was still 6 hours away.
“What happened, why are you getting down here”? I asked puzzled.
“If I get down here, I can catch a train that will take me to Guwahati and from there I will take a bus which will take me to Imphal, from where I will drive down to Keibul Lamjao Floating National Park’! said Raj, with a slight tremor in his voice due to a rising excitement.
With a final wave, he was gone.
Watch this video to get an idea of how the floating island looks like. (Video courtesy: WildFilmsIndia)
The train slowly chugged out of the station. I craned my neck, to look out of the window.
I spotted the figure of man with a tattered backpack briskly walking out of the exit gate of the station. He seemed like a man in a hurry. A man speeding away to keep his tryst with the Eld’s Deer of Manipur.
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