LOKTAK LAKE GUIDE – OFFBEAT BUDGET TRIP NEAR IMPHAL IN MANIPUR INDIA

LOKTAK LAKE GUIDE – OFFBEAT BUDGET TRIP NEAR IMPHAL IN MANIPUR. INDIA

Sun set Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (3)

Amit and Eileen enjoying the Sun set from a secret vantage point. This looks calm but this is where we started arguments and debates! Follow Eileen on Instagram for authentic stories from India. She speaks very good Hindi and lives in India. No, you can not follow Amit anywhere. Not yet! Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

WHAT ARE PHUMDIS OF LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR?

Loktak Lake is near Imphal, the capital of the Indian state Manipur. You will see the most unusual geography in Loktak Lake. Loktak Lake was catapulted on the tourist map due to its unique landscape. It is still a very offbeat and uncrowded destination. In fact, we could count the number of travelers in and around Loktak Lake when we visited.

Sun set Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (4)

Phumdi rings of Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

Phumdis are nothing but vegetation growing on moving soil and other organic matter. These can vary in size and can range from very small phumdis on which you can’t even stand to phumdis as large as 40 kilo meter square.

Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India

We took a sun set boat ride on Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

Some phumdis are given artificial shape by the locals. The popular rings of phumdis you see in the brochures and travel blogs are not natural. They have been shaped in such fashion by the locals for various purposes.

 

Sun set Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi

The secret vantage point near the home stay offered us amazing views of Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India! In this pic: Amit and Elieen

The entire economy of this place revolves around the pristine Loktak Lake. Not only does the water from Loktak Lake help in hydropower generation, it is also used as drinking water by locals and as a dependable source of irrigation by local farmers (Cabbage and rice galore!).

Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (5)

We waved them as we were returning from a boat ride on the pristine Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

However, as the population around Loktak Lake is increasing, the pressure on the lake is increasing too. The lake also faces severe sewage problem but I found it much cleaner than other lakes I have visited such as Dal Lake in Srinagar.

 

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I am stuck in a phumdi. The boatman asked us to walk on a phumdi. I almost drowned! It is very shaky and unstable. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India! Pic by: Amit Chandna

WALK ON A PHUMDI AT LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR!

As we were enjoying the sunset boat ride on long canoes, the boatman deliberately bumped the boat on a large phumdi. He then asked us to walk on the phumdi for an experience like no other!

Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (9)

Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

I along-with Amit and Tom gingerly stepped on to the phumdi. Elieen and other burst into peals of laughter as I ended up submerged till knee into the watery phumdi.

 

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Me failing at balancing it out on a phumdi. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India! Pic by: Amit Chandna

As I tried to balance myself on the very unstable phumdi, the setting sun painted the water in shades of purple. I walked for few minutes on water, stems and leaves before giving up. Maybe this is how Jesus walked on water! The boatman made me feel bad about myself as he walked confidently on the phumdi. You must attempt it, it is a unique feeling!

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The boat man on the phumdi. Notice his hat! Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

SUNSET BOAT RIDE AT LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR!

A boat ride for me, Amit, Eileen and Tom was arranged by the home-stay owner we were staying at. Two canoes were joined to make it one boat rowed by one boatman.

Sun set Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (5)

The bird’s eye view from the secret vantage point near my home stay. Contact Holiday Scout for a stay at this lovely home stay. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

As soon as we sat on the boat, the boatman offered us 1 local hat each. The hat seemed very Vietnamese to me. I saw locals wearing similar hats in Myanmar as well.

Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India

The boat ride at Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

One of my readers told me that he had hired a single canoe which was very unstable. Ours was a very stable boat; in fact Amit was able to stand on the canoe (for picture) when it was still being rowed. It was very stable even then.

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The tranquil Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

So, I suggest that you ask for two canoes joined as one. Either take your friends and family to share the cost or ask other residents for joining us. This is how we managed to pay just Rs. 300 per head for the boat ride.

 

Sun set Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (6)

Amit and Eileen preparing their debates as the sun was about to set! Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

SUNSET FROM A HILL AT LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR!

The owner of the homestay we were staying at told us about a hill just behind the homestya which offers wonderful bird’s eye views of the Loktak Lake and its surroundings. Eileen had already been there the previous day, so she guided me and Amit on an easy but very steep mud track. It was like a mini hack. We paved our way to the top of the hill, through a path inundated with chest length dry grass.

 

Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi

Amit steps on a phumdi gingerly as Eileen looks on. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India! 

Eileen suddenly stopped warning us, “A saw a snake moving there.” None of us believed it, not even the home-stay owner. No one else had seen it. We joked about it till we were together. We were told though that the harmless water snakes are often found in the Loktak Lake.  You can opt for a boat ride during sun rise too. But don’t expect to see an orange sky during sun-rise, it is mostly misty here during morning with clear, sunny days. I visited in November.

Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (3)

From left to right – Tom (Australia), Eileen (Scotland), Boat Man, Amit (India), Me. Boat ride at the picturesque Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

KARANG ISLAND NEAR LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR!

Karang island is just 3 kilometers away from our home-stay is not to be missed. It can be accessed via a short boat ride.Spend some time exploring the floating island. It was recently in news for being the first cashless island of India.

Sun set Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (2)

Not just rings, I also saw phumdis in square shape. Of course, all of them are shaped by humans. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

SPOT SANGAI AT KEIBUL LAMJAO NATIONAL PARK NEAR LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR!

The Keibul Lamjao National Park at this only floating national park of the world has a unique geography. I and Amit arrived here on a bike, which we hired from the home stay (Rs. 200 for goofing up with the bike for 3 hours) The Sangai sanctuary is very close to the home-stay where we stayed and the Loktak Lake. The route to the  Keibul Lamjao National Park is very scenic, what with eco friendly huts, water bodies, and wheat fields dotting the landscape.

Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (8)

I hate cats. I really do! it is the only animal I can’t stand. But look at this picture! Shot at a floating home stay from my boat. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

We arrived at 9 a.m. After patiently waiting for an hour, we finally saw 5 Sangai, far away in the park. A machaan is built for visitors. Binoculars are available for free on request.  We also saw 3 Hog Deers with better proximity. Beware of bees though! It is a good idea to reach here before 8 a.m. The machaan or Viewing point is a bit far away from the Ticket Window. It is advised to carry your own vehicle or be prepared to walk for half an hour or more on a dirt track. Take along some snacks and water too as there are no shops inside the sanctuary.

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I shot this picture of male Sangai at a board inside Keibul Lamjao National Park. It is even more endangered species than Tiger. And it is more difficult to spot a Sangai in wild than a tiger. Near Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

The other names of Sangai are Manipur brown-antlered deer (Cervus eldi eldi) or Rucervus eldii eldii. Sangai is even more endangered than Tigers and they are found only in Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur. Other species of deer found in Keibul Lamjao National Park are sambar, hog deer and barking deer.

 

Keibul Lamjao National Park Sangai Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India

We spotted many endangered Sangai at the Keibul Lamjao National Park – the only floating National Park in the world. Please zoom the picture. Near Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

Keibul Lamjao National Park is rich in bio diversity. Other species found in Keibul Lamjao National Park are Indian civet Viverra zibetha, Temminck’s golden cat, marbled cat, Indian python, wild bear, wild boar, Muntiacus muntjak, stump-tailed macaque, hoolock gibbon and rhesus monkey.

How to reach Keibul Lamjao National Park Sangai Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India

It is easy to reach Keibul Lamjao National Park from the home stay I had stayed at. Check the map. Just hire the scooty from the home stay owner. It is very close. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

OMBA NURATHEL GARDEN NEAR LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR!

A SIGNBOARD saying, “Welcome to OMBA NURATHEL GARDEN” will guide you to its direction. BUT! It is a pointless park near the Loktak Lake which you should avoid unless you are traveling with kids. Amit and I drove to the park through an inconvenient track on uneven path. We were massively disappointed when we entered the park. It was not much, except a small manicured garden. I found the natural gardens elsewhere in Loktak Lake more alluring!

Omba Nurathel Garden Park Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi

Amit at the nondescript Omba Nurathel Garden near Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

Or even the cabbage fields on the edge of the gardens were more interesting to look at. There is a tourist trap near the gardens which offers joyrides and swings for kids and some shops selling snacks and soft drinks. Kids will love this place. Even elderly people will enjoy sitting at the place. But you should avoid if you are fit and not traveling with kids.

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One of the floating home stays at Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

MY MEMORABLE STAY AT A HOME STAY IN LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR!

Staying at a home-stay with locals is always more enjoyable than staying in a clinical hotel. I enjoyed staying with a local couple. My stay was arranged by Holiday Scout, which are an expert at planning trips in the 7 sisters of North East India. You should book with them for a hassle free holiday and good services.

Homestay at Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India

I stayed at this lovely home stay. The window had views of Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

The rooms surrounded a courtyard with a holy Tulsi (basil) plant in the middle. The rooms had basic beds, blankets, mosquito nets and a window to the Loktak Lake. It had an attached bathroom too.

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The courtyard of the home stay. We used to hang out here for hours where Amit would feed us apples garnished with his deodorant. (Eeewwww!) Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

Meals were served with love by the host and his wife in their personal dining area. It was immersive travel at its best. Loktak Lake anyways slows you down. We spent a lot of time just talking to each other.

Soul Window Tip: Sangai festival is celebrated near Loktak only, usually in the month of November. Do plan and go!

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Left to right- Amit, Me, Home stay owner couple, Eileen at the home-stay. It is located right on the bank of Loktak Lake. Holiday Scout can help you to book a stay here. Near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

I and Amit (New Delhi), Elenne (Scotland), Tom (Australia) and a lady from Germany bonded well over sweet nothings, heated debates (I was the peace maker, every single time!) and travel talk with each other and our host. We didn’t even feel like checking our phones every now and then. It felt like the sweet 90s.

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Amit enjoying sumptuous local meals with the affable owners of the home-stay. It was their dining area. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN GUIDE FOR LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR!

It is very easy to remain a vegan and vegetarian in not only Loktak lake but most of Manipur, thanks to the large population of Hindus. In the home-stay arranged by Holiday Scout, where I spent 3 days, I had very satisfying vegetarian meals.

Singhada Water Chestnut Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi

We snacked on boiled singhada aka water chestnut all evening. Picked from a stall opposite the ferry station at Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

The breakfast was usually fruits or bread with jam or butter. If you want, you can cook your own food, like a lady who stayed there before me, shopped for ingredients from the Moirang bazaar and made Poha (yum!) for herself. We were also served home-made cabbage curry. They grow a lot of cabbage near Loktak Lake.

Home stay Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi

We made a pit stop at this floating home-stay during the boat ride. We were offered free pineapples  and tea here. Who says goodness is passe? Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

Other dishes served to us for lunch and dinner were daal (lentils) with rice, chapattis (I was happy to eat wheat after long), kofta (vegan fritters), a unique chilly chutney and the very uncommon red rice kheer sweetened with jagegry. You could also request them for a bite of hot Bhoot Jholakia. We also picked up chips and desi Swiss rolls from one of the shops in the Moirang Bazaar.

Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi

Amit enjoying his fried rice and my vegan macaroni awaits its fate! Near Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

While we were returning from the Sangai sanctuary, we made a pit stop at a restaurant called Sangai Fast Food which served us vegan macaroni and fried rice. Noodles were also available. It was a nice change. I ended up ordering 2 plates of macaroni for myself alone. We were the only people dining there. We also stopped at a bakery where we had nice muffin (Rs. 10 per piece) and fresh breads (Rs. 25 for two pieces).

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Amit trying to board a shared van near Moirang. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

At some shops parathas and pooris with chola and sabzi was also available along with many sweets. Do also explore the small market in Moirang Bazaar for more vegetarian and vegan options. Of all the dishes I have mentioned above only kheer (might contain milk) and the butter are not vegan but vegetarian.

Singhada Water Chestnut Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (2)

Do buy some boiled singhada aka water chestnuts. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

I also bought very weird (very small and black) boiled Singhada (water chestnuts) from one of the shops outside (Rs. 40 per metal container they used for measuring). We snacked on it as we looked out of the balcony at the home stay. The balcony offered us direct views of sun set and had a good collection of local books. The host also served us snacks like lalcha (red tea), popcorn, namkeen and biscuits. Stock up on some snacks for evening as most shops close after sunset.

 

Portrait people Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi

The people of Manipur. I shot this on our way back from Keibul Lamjao National Park. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

HOW TO REACH LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR!

It is very easy to reach Loktak Lake from Imphal, the capital of Manipur. We paid around Rs. 60 each to arrive at Moirang Bazaar. The same route also passes through the airport and the peace memorial. You can make a pit stop here if you have the time and inclination.

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The passenger. Near Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

BEST TIME TO GO TO LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR!

I visited Loktak Lake towards the end of November. It was an enjoyable time to be there. It was slightly cold. I was comfortable in a shirt and sweater.

How to reach Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India

It was fun taking a ride on this. We had the entire vehicle to ourselves though! Near Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND LOKTAK LAKE – OFFBEAT MANIPUR!

There is a lot you can do in and around the Loktak Lake. Below is the list of all the places you can visit:

  • Visit the museum dedicated to freedom fighter Shri Subhash Chandra Bose.
  • Ask the home-stay owner to rent you out the bike. We paid Rs. 200 for 3 hours of biking.
  • Take an early morning boat ride in mist!
  • Check out the Loktak Lake from different vantage points.
  • Eat at a local dhaba or road side food joint.
Subhash Chandra Bose Museum Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi

The museum dedicated to Indian Freedom Fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Near Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

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Me and my irritating smile. At Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

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Grave Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi

The area had strange structures like these which seemed like graves. If you have any idea about what these are, then please let us know in the comment section below. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

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Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (10)

Sun set at the Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

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Home stay Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (2)

The balcony at the home-stay. We used to hang out here every evening over popcorns, tea, biscuits and debates. It offered nice views of Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

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Boat ride Loktak Lake Manipur Incredible India Phumdi (7)

Some phumdis can bee as small as this. Loktak Lake near Imphal, Manipur. Incredible India!

5 thoughts on “LOKTAK LAKE GUIDE – OFFBEAT BUDGET TRIP NEAR IMPHAL IN MANIPUR INDIA

  1. Pingback: ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WILDLIFE GAME DRIVE AT KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, UGANDA, AFRICA | A Soul Window - Top Travel Blog from India!

  2. I have time from 24th Dec to 1st Jan this year to visit. after reading your blog i will surely visit these places. can you suggest any other offbeat places not necessarily in Manipur (can be adjacent states) which can be clubbed with my Manipur travel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great time to be in North East India. I came to Manipur from Nagaland.. Maybe you can club places like Kohima, Khonoma, Mon, Dimapur. Also you can visit Ukhrul, Imphal etc in Manipur. Plenty to see.

      Like

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