Senapati is an ideal destination for nature lovers. The district is replete with beautiful emerald-green hills and several rivers flowing lazily across the landscape, some-times breaking into waterfalls and sometimes into gentle streams. Eighty per cent of the region is covered with dense forests. The district, therefore, presents a diverse range of flora and fauna, including very rare species, to eager visitors.

The destination is so beautiful and serene that thousands of visitors throng here for a few days every year for a chance to recharge their batteries before returning to their hectic lives.

The picture-perfect town of Senapati overlooking the Senapati river
The picture-perfect town of Senapati overlooking the Senapati river

History

Once a part of the Kingdom of Manipur, the district came into being in the year 1969 and was known as the Manipur North District. Senapati was named after Prince Tikendrajit Singh, who was the senapati (commander) of the royal army, and had engineered a rebellion against the British. He fought bravely in the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891, but was captured and publicly hanged in Imphal.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Yang Khullen

Situated on a cliff in the westernmost tip of the Senapati District, the village of Yang Khullen is home to the primitive Zemei tribe. The village (khullen) is 76km north of Senapati city. To the east of Yang Khullen lie Maram Khullen and Liyai Khullen.

The former is one of the largest villages in the district. Home to a primitive tribe, it is an attractive dest-ination for anthropologists, research scholars and history buffs. Liyai Khullen has stone monoliths, water pools and Banyan trees. The Barak river originates here.

Mao

A beautiful hill station lying on the Manipur-Nagaland border, Mao is just 44km northeast of Senapati. It is home to the Mao people, one of the major tribes constituting the Nagas. The small township is set along NH39 and is referred to as Mao Gate, owing to its location on the state border.

The people of this village have a fascinating tradition of setting up monoliths or flat boulders, which serve as monuments to commem-morate an event or ritual.

Sandipan Chatterjee
Indian security force personnel around the Mao Gate area
Indian security force personnel around the Mao Gate area

Dzuku Valley

Not very far from Mao lies the Dzuku Valley, situated at an elevation of 2,483m. This beautiful valley can be reached via a trek from Mao and offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The rare and gorgeous Dzuku lily also blooms here. During winter, the valley is covered in snow. Manipur’s highest peak, Mt Iso, is also located behind this valley.

Makhel Caves

Sacred to the tribes of Manipur and Nagaland, Makhel Caves are worth a visit. According to legend, this site marks the spot from where the Nagas dispersed to other regions in the Northeast. An old pear tree here stands as a memorial to the event. Other attractions include sacred banyan trees, believed to have grown from the tomb of the Naga mother; the Dispersal Tree at Sajouba (2km north of Makhel); the Farewell Monolith, the Triomonolith (3km south of Makhel), the Hailstorm of Stone, and the Lucky Stone.

Sadu Chiru Waterfall

Nothing quite prepares you for your first glimpse of the Sadu Chiru Waterfall. Flanked by steep, vegetation-covered cliffs, this delicate-looking cascade is worth the hike up to see it. It is 81km south of Senapati city.

Visitors can reach this spot by hiring a car from Imphal, which is 25km away. Cars can go no further than Nambol from where autorick-shaws are available for hire. Even these can go only to a certain point after which one must approach on foot. The walk up to the falls involves climbing steep steps, so wear comfor-table shoes. Do not miss the charming little hamlets and scenic vistas on this leg of the journey.

Leopard, Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary
Leopard, Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary

Wildlife

Although there is no national park in Senapati District, the dense forests of this region are inhabited by the barking deer. Serow, a medium sized antelope-like mammal, is another rare species found in the wilderness here. These animals typi-cally inhabit the steep slopes of rocky mountains in Senapati and Tamenglong districts.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Many tourists plan day trips to Senapati district from Imphal. It is best to contact the tourist office in Imphal for details on accommodation options in Senapati.

TAMENGLONG

The district of Tamenglong has deep gorges, caves shrouded in mystery, waterfalls, orchids and unexplored forests. It is also referred to as the orange bowl of Manipur for producing many varieties of this fruit. The district headquarters is Tamenglong, 140km west of Imphal.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Tharon Cave

The Tharon Cave is famous for being the first site of the Hoabinhian culture in India, which is found in other South Asian countries. The cave is 655.6m in length and has five exits. For ease of travellers, the map of the entire cave is engraved on a stone at the main entrance.

Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary

Home to tiger, leopard, little Indian civet, langur, hoolock gibbon, great Indian hornbill amongst others, the Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary is located at Makoi. A scenic lake here has resident reptiles such as python and turtle. Migratory birds can also be spotted here between March and April.

Buning Meadow

The picturesque Buning Meadow lies on the western side of Tamei town. At certain times of the year, the meadow looks like a bed of orchids.

Barak Waterfalls

The Barak river breaks into seven waterfalls, within close proximity of each other. Owing to its rapid tides, the Barak river is perfect for white-water rafting and other watersports. One of the seven, Khoudong waterfall is relatively unexplored.

WHERE TO STAY & EAT

Many tourists plan day trips to Tamenglong district from Imphal. For those interested in staying here, contact the tourist office in Imphal.

FAST FACTS

When to Go Any time of the year, avoid the monsoon season from June–October

Tourist office

Tourist Info Centre, Directorate of Tourism, Imphal, Tel: 0385-2421046, 2450038, STD code 0385

GETTING THERE

State Manipur

Location The northern tip of Manipur

Distance 60km N of Imphal

Route from Imphal NH39 via Kangpokpi

Air Nearest airport: Tulihal Airport, Imphal (60km/ 1hr) is the best option available here

Rail and road journeys need to be taken with caution due to the uncertain political conditions in the state. Take a flight to Imphal and then a taxi to Sena­pati. Taxi rates are negotiable. The return fare from a destination located 40–50km away, costs 4,000 approx