Shopping in Manipur
Located in the north eastern part of India, Manipur is a state which is at a very fast pace turning into a tourist spot. With the increase of tourism destinations in the state, the number of shops in the place has also increased. Though it is not a very posh area unlike the other Indian metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore or Chennai, yet it has managed to set up a good image for itself in the major sectors such as tourism, agriculture and commerce. The capital of Manipur, which is Imphal is the most developed town of the state. The place has many places where one can visit. However, at the end of the day, all that a tourist looks for is the market area in order to take back home a souvenir. There are a few favorite places in Manipur where one can go and get things to be kept as memoir for life.
Markets in Manipur
Be it purchasing traditional woven clothes or any decorative handmade items, there are a plenty of options for shopping in Manipur. Although there are no big shopping malls here but Imphal's dazzling street markets
full of sound, colour, and smells of sizzling delicacies. Buying everything from affordable souvenirs to inexpensive clothes, these market places offer good bargains. Also Read: Bazaars of Manipur
Another very important shopping place in Imphal is the Paona Bazar. The crowded lanes of Paona Bazaar has number of shops that sells beautiful things like hand-woven shawls, silk saris, bamboo and ivory items, and papier mache products. You can get these items at very reasonable rates. If you happen to visit this bazaar then you must definitely visit Manipur Handlooms and Handicrafts Development Corporation Sales Emporium. Here you will find some unique and valuable collection like Lanshingphee blanket, bamboo artifacts, colorful mats, Tangkhul scarf and scarf.
Khwairamband Bazaar or the Nupi Keithel or Ema Bazaar
If one is a shopaholic and looking for shopping options in Manipur then there is a fascinating all women market known as the or the Nupi Keithel in Imphal. Khwairamband Bazaar or the Nupi Keithel literally means Women’s Market or Mother’s market. Also known as the Ema bazaar this is Manipur’s oldest and the best known market. One of the most peculiar features of this market is that the 3000 odd shopkeepers of this market are all woman. In all the shops it is women who are selling goods. This bazaar is also one of the largest markets run by all woman in India.
You can find almost anything and everything at the Ema Bazar. Once you are in the market you will see Manipuri woman wrapped in sarong-like phaneks and scarf-like innaphis, their foreheads smeared with elegant streaks of sandal paste and their teeth discoloured from chewing kwai (betel), busy dealing with their customers. If in one corner, a woman is found knitting and selling freshly made woolen items to happy customers while in another corner a woman is busy weighing and selling a kilo of fish.
You can easily find commodities ranging from food items such as vegetables and fresh fruits, fish, meat and dried fish to local herbs to traditional costumes and woolens and clothes. Bamboo and metal items are also found in the shops.
Another very interesting thing you will notice when you visit the market is that, the bazaar consists of two sections one where handloom items of the state is sold and the other where fruits, vegetables and necessary items are sold. You will find mostly local products sold in the markets.
You will also see some strange and shockingly different food items than elsewhere sold in the markets like the wild and cultivated vegetables. The Manipuri people are die hard fish lovers. The market is also popular for selling fermented dried fish called Ngari. Being run only by women the bazaar emits a homely exuberance. Visiting the bazaar you will find a strong sense of community.
A shopper’s delight, Nagampal market is an important commercial center located in Imphal
. This market is foiled up with stocks ranging from footwear to accessories to vegetables to attires. The market also has some well maintained restaurants with delicious food in it where one can go and enjoy with friends and family.
Tera bazaar is a very colourful market that occupies the greater Imphal area. One can purchase some amazing souvenirs from here which are very reasonably priced and strikingly beautiful. Great handloom products which reflect the rich tradition of Manipur are worth buying here. Sundays and other holidays are days when the place remains crowded with people for it is on this day that different products are laid out for sale such as household products, accessories and even fruits and vegetables.
Located right in the center of Imphal, the capital city is the GM Hall. It is a center which has many shops that sell different products like shawls, handicrafts, toys, etc, at a fixed price. Not only tourists but also the locals swarm out to this market to catch up the latest products here and them to their collection.
Another very common sight you can see while travelling to Manipur is the highway markets. These markets are usually small vegetable and fruit market areas located along the highway. Mostly you will see organic and seasonal products sold in these markets. If you someday intend to visit Manipur then you must definitely take a quick stroll in these so called Highway markets. Visiting the local bazaars of Manipur is one of the state’s unique travel experiences.
One of the important highway markets of Manipur in Ramva, behind Assam Rifle camp. While passing through the highway, the travellers have to sign their vehicle registration number and mention their purpose of visit. As the cars stop by, people get down to much a bite or two. Some of the common items sold here are fried beef and dry fish. Vegetables like cabbage and bamboo shoots and a typical local bread called tan. Some other near-by markets you can visit are Naoremthong Bazaar, Kwakeithel Bazar, and Singjamei Bazar.
Handicrafts in Manipur
The one thing one must get from Manipur as a souvenir is handicraft item. As we all know, north east India is a place where people are experts in making hand crafted items, thus Manipur is also one of those states which are masters in it. These handicraft items that the people here make have gained popularity not only within its region but also outside the country. The fields wherein they are mainly expert is in the bamboo and cane sphere.
Kauna (Water Reed) Mat
Mats and cushions are made out of Kauna which is a type of reed that grows in the wetlands and marshes. As many as 1000 craftspersons are involved in making these mats in the Imphal valley which is turning into a very demanding product of Manipur.
The craft of textile weaving is also known as Laichamphi which means cotton cloth. Earlier before the second world war the Manipuri women were unaware of woolen yarn and so the raw material they used was cotton yarn. Loin loom is a specialty of the Manipuri women and every household here has a loom where they weave wonderful products.
Another very interesting Manipur special product one cannot stop from buying Is it stone carved products. The products they make out of stone is very interesting for they very laboriously carve out the stones and then make wonderful souvenirs out of it. The tourists get to buy some very interesting things from here such as bowls, grinders, plates, candle stands, etc.
A very popular craft in Manipur, it is in fact an inevitable art work here in the state. Being a state which was very much secluded from the rest of the world owing to troubled transport and communication, the people here have beautifully made themselves expert in making all products of utility from wood itself. With wood as raw material, they successfully make almost anything from it ranging from spoon, tray, bowl, buckets, mugs, etc.
Embroidered products are also very famous in Manipur and out of the state as well. People buy these embroidered cloths ranging from napkins to shawls to bedcovers to table mats. The designs are the local ethnic designs which carry the essence of the state.