For any ex-pat being back in their home country on holidays implies great happiness. Enjoying a sense of uninterrupted freedom to do and to be is comforting. It has been no different for me as well to bath in the liberty of not following company rules or schedules or protocols. No meetings, no phone calls, no deadlines… a few weeks of such holidays in a year is like the rains we get in the desert.
Flew off I did to the region I love the most. Lucky to have been to the North East of India again – Manipur to be specific. Certainly, the most picturesque of places I have been to in India are located in this region.
Dotted with green capped hills, serene farming lands and aquaculture farms, the landscape when looked through from the flight is incredible.
Brimming with elements like hills, valleys, streams, plants, flowers, and many other natural resources, the state is a paradise for a nature lover. On top of it, you enjoy an amazing climate, succulent culinary variants, and awe-inspiring traditions and rituals.
Let alone shopping in Manipur, merely walking through the markets in villages and towns will enrich and amaze you.
Shopping in Manipur
No matter where you are, what you don't need you don't buy. You are not a compulsive buyer, are you? Window shopping is art too. Well, wait. A few things you will find in these markets can scarcely be found in other parts of the country. Hence, it is a good idea to spend quality time shopping in Manipur. Paona Bazaar, Tera Bazaar, and the popular Nupi Keithel and Ema Keithel Markets run by women in different pockets of the state are good options for shopping in Manipur
Every state will have its share of arts and crafts to showcase. Manipur is no different. Handed down by generations and traditionally followed by specific ethnic sects of the state continue to produce handcrafts from wood, stones, bamboo, and reeds. Quite handy and daily-use products like bowls, containers, spoons, cups, and other containers used in the household are crafted out.
Shopping in Manipur can include clay pots as well which are available in multiple sizes and shapes.
Impressive products like chairs, bags, hats, mats made of reeds, bamboo, and cane of superior quality and comfortable to use can be shopped too.
When it comes to shopping in Manipur, traditional attire holds a prominent place. Richly traditional and deeply rooted in their ethnic backgrounds, the Meitei people belong to different tribes. And people of these tribes flaunt distinct traditional attire.
Women's Traditional Clothing: Inaphi, Phanek, Mayek Naibi, Lai Phi and Chin Phi, Potloi (traditional bridal dress)
Men's Traditional Clothing: Dhoti with Jacket, Khamen Chatpa
Laichamphi or textile weaving among the local community is an age-old tradition and part of their existence. Made primarily from cotton with unique characteristics the traditional dress is hand-woven exhibiting bold horizontal line designs. Impossible to keep your eyes off and irresistible to keep your hands off. That's right. Even if your intention is mere window shopping in Manipur, at this juncture you would alter the decision and you can't be blamed for that. Probably the attire looks best when worn by the Meitei people. But why don't you take your chance?
Look for attractive hand-woven shawls, blankets, mufflers, scarfs, and handkerchiefs too when shopping in Manipur.
Fresh vegetables and fruits
What is the big deal one might ask? Fresh vegetables and fruits are delivered at home by just making a call or messaging these days. The difference I found is most of the things I was served at the home where I stayed were just freshly picked from their yard. And they tasted refreshingly wholesome and succulent.
Rice is a staple food of people in Manipur. However, the side dishes come in varieties. When you can choose from multiple leafy, half-boiled veggie, spicy non-veg, pungent chutney options, you are served with problems in plenty. A visit to any market will present in front of you a wide range of fruits and vegetables locally grown to choose from.
Vegetables: Beans Variants, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrot, Beetroot, Kale, Corn, Banana Flower, Taro, Cilantro, Shallot, Coriander Leaves, Sorrel Leaves, Cucumber, Onion, Radish, Curry Leaves, Dill Leaves, Mustard Leaves, Fenugreek Leaves, Mint Leaves, Mushroom Potato, Tomato, Pumpkin
Fruits: Wild Apple, Star Gooseberry, Cluster Fig, Jujube, Burmese Grape, Mango, Banana, Jack Fruit, Star Fruit, Monkey Fruit, Jamun, Pomelo, Bor Thekera Pithraj, Orange
Don't forget the King Chili of Manipur, also known as U-Morok which is considered one of the hottest chili varieties in the world. Ufff it is really hot!
Do shop black rice and bamboo rice too.
A wide range of dry fish, dry fruits, and nuts add flavor to your taste buds. Being far away from the sea implies a shortage of fresh sea fish. Nevertheless, they have abundant fish sources in lakes and ponds. The fishes are fermented and preserved which they use in several delicacies like Eromba they prepare. Would you try this?
Herbs and spices
Proximity to hills and forests, and the fertile land have blessed Manipur with several kinds of herbs and spices. All these are part of their daily sustenance. Below are some of the herbs and spices that can be added to your list for shopping in Manipur. Some of these taste pungent and have a strong smell. Here are some of the prominent ones: Mint, Mexican coriander, Lemon Basil, Chameleon plant, Mukthrubi, Vietnamese coriander, Wavy Bittercress, Khanghuman, Maroi Napaakpi, Takhel-manao, Lomakha-mapan, Leipung-khankha Yaipan, Kang-hu mapan
- Expect thorough scrutiny at the Imphal airport.
- Upon arrival, glance at the things you can pack in your handbag and luggage on your return.
- Not all indigenous and local items can be taken on board.
- Aid of a local acquaintance will help immensely during your stay and shopping in Manipur.
- AFSPA is in force in the state.
- Mercury drops to shivering point during winter.
- By 4.00 PM it gets dark in the winter season.
Happy shopping in Manipur!
A Travel enthusiast and Foodie, craving to explore the intricate beauty of nature and its gift of delectable treats. Pens down his thoughts and experiences to present a delightful journey for his readers