A Night At The Loktak Lake In Manipur – Mohini Sharma
Mesmeric mountains and levelled plains are sights that Manipur is known to gracefully flaunt. At the same time, the gigantic freshwater lake, akin to an archipelago of its own, might be a run-0f-the-mill for locals. The Loktak Lake, however, is an epitomization of the ethereal sights in our country, that have eluded even the most ardent of gallivanters. Nestled in the quaint town of Moirang, Loktak Lake serves as the major source of livelihood for thousands of fishermen and fisherwomen. In addition, the exquisite lake holds the significant feat of being the largest freshwater lake in the entire Northeast India.
From Imphal’s Bir Tikendrajit International Airport to Moirang, our zeal to explore the vast expanse of the lake remained irrevocable. The rustic countryside road which led us to the lake only augmented that. The narrow path was encompassed by immeasurable stretches of open fields. After being on the road for about an hour and 20 minutes, we reached our destination. We began by checking into a resort which was going to be our host for a night of bliss. Sendra Park & Resort is a place that accentuates the experience of being pampered by the warm embraces of nature. There was an entrance fee of 5 to 15 INR at the site. But I believe that was for the park and wasn’t applicable to us.
Set on the southern side, on the periphery of the lake, this resort is romantic and rejuvenating in equal proportions. Our villa was set against the backdrop of the magnificent lake. Our trip was planned in a way that we only spent a single night at the resort. A tactful decision which would be fulfilling and leave us desiring for me at the same time. The folks at the resort were kind enough to set us up with an opportunity to experience fishing. A narrow wooden chariot awaited us and gave us a taste of how the local fishing community lives. Getting on the boat was just as adventurous as throwing the net and pulling it up with dozens of fish.
Gliding through the calm waters of the lake is fascinatingly therapeutic. A sensory stimulation led by the many floating Phumdis, the distant hills, the chirping and shrieking of the birds, the gentle breeze tousling my hair, the warmth of the sun, along with the peculiar smell that’s a bit filthy, fishy and earthy. Phumdis are the floating mass of vegetation which form rings and tiny islands. These are the islands which are often inhabited by the local fishing communities. It was one of these locals that graciously took us to Thanga, a village on the southern side of the lake. Our eyes were feasted to humongous floating rings, which apparently are more prominent in the Thanga and the southern side of the lake in general.
After an hour of just boating and fishing, we made our way to a place that stood at the pinnacle of our intrigue. Of floating phumdis and the endangered Sangai Deer, the Keibul Lamjao National Park is unique in every sense of the word. It is quite literally the only floating national park on the planet. Another fact which elevates this is that it’s the only site across the world where you can find the golden Sangai Deer. A surreal aura envelops the entire national park. The spot to sight the deers gave panoramic views, while the deers themselves would walk on the soft floating grass in a stealthy manner. Our belief that elegance is often an amalgamation of simplicity and idiosyncrasy, was reaffirmed by the awe-inspiring floating national park.
The lake set the stage for a spell-binding view of the sun setting. A fulfilling day was making its way for a soothing night to take the reins. Each local we had interacted with were warm and welcoming, just like we had read about. We eventually headed back to our villa and decided to unwind and soak in the refreshing vibes of our surroundings. Before visiting the resort, INR 4720 felt like a big amount for a single night. But we told ourselves that it’s an investment. In retrospect, we would do it all over again. My experience with the courteous staff and the beautiful property made me feel like we had made the best possible decision. Lingjen, one of the staff members was really kind and helpful throughout.
Loktak Lake is one of those sites which warrants multiple visits. Especially consider how you would barely scratch the surface in a single night or even 2-3 days for that matter. A promise kept to ourselves. The floating meadows will see us again. Maybe next time, we would give ourselves the opportunity to delve deeper into the arms of the lake. Stay on a local homestay, comfortably floating away. For all the exotic destinations out there in this world of ours, Loktak Lake manages to awe you in a way that no other site can. We would strongly recommend anyone and everyone to treat their senses to this magical lake.