Manipur is the land of rich valleys surrounded by beautiful hills and lakes, a land of gentle people full of laughter and joy. Many legends tell us the origin of Manipur. One of the legends is that Krishna requested Shiva to keep a watch while he danced the Ras with Radha and Gopis. Parvati on seeing Shiva protecting a particular spot was curious to see what Shiva was protecting. On her insistence, Shiva permitted her to see the Ras. She was so enamored by Krishna’s dance that she decided to perform the Ras with Shiva. Shiva searched for a place high and low for a beautiful and a secluded place for dancing the Ras with Parvati. He saw Manipur surrounded by mountains, its beautiful valleys covered by a sheet of water. With his trident, he stuck the mountain ranges making a path for the water to flow out. The valley of Manipur emerged and Shiva and Parvati danced on it. Manipur means the 'land of gems'. This north-eastern state was described as the land of gold or ‘Suvarnabhu’. Manipur was a princely state under the British rule in 1891. A democratic form of government with Maharaja as the executive head was established in 1947, under the manipur Constitution act. This ruling family gave them a long peaceful era in which they developed their arts and crafts undisturbed. The territory became a full-fledged state with the integration on 21st January 1972. The state, was a single district territory with 10 sub- divisions, was recognized in 1969. The state now consists of six districts with district Head Quarters at Imphal, Ukhrul, Tamenlong, Senapati, Chandel and Churachandpur.
The oblong picturesque valley of Manipur spreading over an area of 22,356 km. is an isolated hill grit state. The climate of Manipur is healthy and salubrious. The rainfall varies from about 149cm. in the valley to about 380cm. In the western hills. The cultivable area in the valley is full of clay and silts and thus proves that the whole valley area was once a lake and was gradually silted up by the streams and rivers from the hills. The hilly regions are largely composed of pretartiary slates and shales having lateritic soils in low hills and brown forest type in the higher regions. Due to geographical isolation and inaccessibility, Manipur remained almost unaffected by political vicissitudes in the subcontinent. However, this did not affect the flow of Indian culture into this land. The natural vegetation occupies an area of nearly 67% of the total geographical area of the state. It is blessed with amazing varieties of fauna and flora. Depending on the altitude of the hill ranges, the forest ranges from tropical to sub-alpine. The wet forests, the temperate forests and the pine forests occur between 900-2700 m above sea level and they together sustain s host of rare and endemic plant and animal life. In Manipur natural habitat growing in soil or on trees and shrubs, spreading their beauty and colour, stunning the eye that is not used to seeing them in such profusion. There are 500 varieties of orchids, which grow in Manipur of which 472 have been identified.
The Hooklock Gibbon, the Slow Loris, the clouded Leopard, the spotted Linshang, Tragopan, four different types of Hornbill, etc. forms only a part of the rich natural heritage of Manipur. However, the most unique is the ‘Sangai- the dancing deer’. The floating mass of vegetation on the Loktak Lake sustains small herds of this endemic deer.
Manipur is a place where different waves of races and culture met through the ages, which ultimately mingled together. The territory is divided into two distinct zones- the valley and the surrounding hill areas. The main population of the people is of Manipuries known as Meities. They claim their descent from Parkhangba who ruled Manipur and had the power of changing his shape into a serpent with a straight tail. The 29 tribes inhabiting Manipur hills may broadly be divided into Nagas and Kuki. It is not...
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