Keibul Lam Jao – World’s Only Floating National Park

Manipur is one of the oldest States in the Indian history that finds its name mentioned even in Mahabharata. This beautiful state is known for its culture and traditions but one thing that it is world famous for is its lake. This is not a usual lake but a lake that has floating islands. One of these floating islands was declared as the national park in the year 1977 and since then this is the lake that has world’s only floating national park.

Keibul Lam Jao – The Only Floating National Park in the World

Keibul Lam Jao National Park as it is called is the only National Park in the world that floats on a lake. This Park is located more towards Moirang in Manipur and is the natural habitat of the most unusual animal in the world known as Sangai. This animal is only found in Manipur and comes under the category of endangered species. The Loktak Lake means the end of the stream.

Keibul Lam Jao National Park
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This lake is of great importance because it nurtures in itself a unique kind of ecosystem which thrives on the phumdis. Phumdis is a collection of unique variety of vegetation along with soil and other organic matter that is undergoing decomposition. The phumdis grows in a cyclical pattern. In the monsoons the phumdis is a float while in the summers when water dries up phumdis comes in contact with the soil and gains food for its thriving when water level is high.

Lokltak Lake is very important as far as Manipur is considered. It helps the state in various ways such as

  • Economy : The economy of Manipur and its people is largely dependent on this lake. Loktak Lake provides the area with water for many purposes such as
    • Hydropower generation
    • Irrigation
    • Supply of drinking water

The people are largely dependent on the lake for their livelihood and carry out activities such as fishing.

  • Local ecosystem : The phumdis are a great way of providing for the local animals and birds and moreover the entire National Park is actually located on a big chunk of phumdis. The vegetation of phumdis is the main source of food for the Sangai too.
Keibul Lam Jao
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There are many challenges thata re being faced by this lake and the phumdis that make this lake so famous. The hydro electric power generation system needs a lot of water and therefore the lake needs to be full of water throughout the year. This has actually caused the problem for phumdis. Now it hardly gets any time to meet the soil underneath to gain nutrition and that is why it is slowly becoming thinner and fragile. Also the fishermen stealthily cut away portions of phumdis to sell to the fisheries nearby adding to the problems of phumdis.

The decrease in the area of phumdis has caused a great concern for Sangai that is solely dependent on the vegetation of phumdis. To add to the problems the poachers are always ready to slit the throat of the already endangered Sangai.

Keibul Lamjao Floating National Park Manipur
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Excessive human population as well as intervention is slowly killing the natural ecosystem of the region which is one of the most unusual places on earth. Governments and most importantly the people must realize the importance of this lake and conserve it for future generations.

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Shani Shingnapur – A Unique Village without Doors

There is no place so safe in the world that can promise you the safety of your belongings even if you leave them without any safety. But, in India there is a place where there are no doors in front of the homes. This is not about one or two homes; it is about all of them including a bank. This is the tale of a village known as Shani Shingnapur. This village has a statue of Shani, a Hindu deity, who is believed to be protecting the village from the thieves and robbers.

Shani Shingnapur – A Village without Doors & Locks ! 

The story behind this belief is very interesting. One day a slab of wood and stone came floating in the river that flows nearby. Some villagers out of curiosity poked sticks in to it and surprisingly the stone and wood slab started bleeding. On the same night one of the villager had a dream that Shani himself announced that he will protect the people of the village from the robbers and thieves and that there is no need for the villagers to get doors installed in their homes.

Shani Shingnapur - Village with No Doors
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Since then the slab that came floating was erected as the deity himself and the people stopped constructing doors in front of their homes. Also the shrine devoted to Shani Dev cannot be kept under any type of shelter because of the might it has. This incedent happened almost 300 years ago but since then the people have full faith in the deity and they believe that Lord Shani wil protect them from any incidence of theft and robbery.

It is believed that if someone steels something he cannot leave the village. He may think that he is going away at night but he will find himself in the village at the break of the day.

There are men who like to put panels of wood against the entrance of their door but just so that the animals like stray dogs and cats cannot enter their homes.

Doorless UCO Bank, Shani Shingnapur
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The place was unknown to the people outside the village until there was a movie made on the subject. The people started pouring in to see such a miracle happening in this greedy world. Many people who claim it to be just a superstition say that it was a bluff spread by few that worked very well. But, the believers do not listen to such claims and flock to worship their deity in the land of dreams where everyone and everything was safe.

Also, there were instances when there were reports of theft in this village but none of it could erase the faith from the hearts and minds of the people.

A Home in Shani Shingnapur
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It is also said that those who indulge in wrong activities such as robbery, theft, crime of other kinds, eating no-vegetarian food, having alcohol do not come to Shingnapur and even if they come to this pious place they behave like gentlemen.

The devotees from all parts of the world come here to get their wishes fulfilled. They have full faith in the strength of mighty Lord Shani and no claims of superstition can sway them from the path of faith.

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The Curious Case of Twins – Kodinhi (Kerala)

The world is full of amazements and you can come across different type of wonderful things anytime. If you go to Kodinhi village of Kerala you will find a small village with just a population of 2000. But the most unusual thing that one notices in this village is the presence of several similar looking kids and adults in this village.

India’s Unique ‘Twin Town’ – Kodinhi (Kerala)

Kodinhi is the village of twins and this is what makes this place unique. The village otherwise is like any other normal village in Kerala. It is quite and simple backwater on the western ghats of India. But the presence of so many twins in this village is a mystery that no one can solve. Many a time people do not believe their eyes and think that they are seeing double images of the same person. It is not only the visitors who face the problem of recognizing kids and the adults.

Kodinhi Twin Village
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The residents of the village, the teachers as well as the parents too find it very hard to differentiate between the twins. The teachers here laugh about this peculiarity of the village and tell how difficult it is to determine whether one student has attended the class or his twin.

The village is peculiar because this village that has 2000 residents has around 220 pairs of twins. In the year 2008 there were more than 15 twins born in this village according to the official reports. The twins are of both the kinds- fraternal and identical twins. This quite surprising that in such a small village the average rate of birth of twins is more than double the global average of birth of twins. In the global perspective twining happens in 6 births out of 1000 births but in this village the average is of 42 twins out of 1,000 births. This is all the more shocking because India is among the world’s population that has the lowest twining rates. The rate of twins being born in this village is more than six times the global average.

Kodinhi Twin Town
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Many people including Dr. Krishan Sribiju who practices locally have tried to determine the causative factor for this amazing phenomenon taking place in this village but no one has been able to determine the cause. This phenomenon that started around 70 years back has been a thing of curiosity for many researchers. Even if the person from the village marries someone from outside the village has higher chance of having twins than any normal couple.

There have many causative factors that have been tried to hold responsible for the twining but nothing substantial and satisfactory has been said if it comes to deriving conclusions. The factors like chemicals or genetic aberrations have been ruled out because all the children born in this village are healthy.

Kodinhi - Mysterious Twin Village of Kerala
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Dr. Sribiju suspects the reason to be the diet of the villagers but that too is similar in Nature to the other villages so he is getting equipments to conduct extensive biochemical analysis on the genetics of the villagers to find out the reason behind this peculiar phenomenon.

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Tenzin – The Only Sitting Monk Mummy in Gue village, Spiti

Spiti Valley in the State of Himachal Pradesh of India visualizes the image of snowfall, beautiful hills covered with snow and tourists enjoying the weather there. But the Trans-Himalayan cold desert valley is not all about the snowfall and mountains. There is something weird. A village, name Gue near the valley has a mummified monk, Sangha Tenzin, who had given up his life while meditating and is more than 500 years.

Natural Mummy of Sangha Tenzin – Gue Village, Spiti

Tenzin is the only Buddhist Mummy in the world, that too, in a sitting position

Location of the Village

Mummy of Sangha Tenzin is not the solitary mummy in the area. There were other mummies also in Tibet which were buried by Tibetans just after the Chinese invasion. This mummy was discovered by the villagers in 1975 when an earthquake struck the region. Located at a distance of about 40 kilometers from Spiti, Gue village is a restricted area and under the control of ITBP. Few people knew about the mummy until Anuj Singh, photographer and his fellow biker Shahwar Hussain first photographed it way back in the 90’s.

Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
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Gue is a tiny hamlet in the Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh, almost on the Indo-China border. There are no buses to Gue and a stranger always has to take a taxi to reach the long and tedious journey. Gue also straddles an ancient trading route over which spices, wool, salt, precious stones and sugar moved between India and Tibet. Monks and high Lamas frequented this route.

Gue Village Entrance, Spiti
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The village of Gue is situated at an altitude or around 10,499 feet above sea-level. While approaching Spiti Valley from the Kinnaur route, about three kimoletres ahead of Sumdoh towards the town of Tabo is a diversion with a road sign directing travellers towards the village of Gue. The village is another 15-20 km drive via a unpaved muddy road. The village of Gue is located at a distance of 80 km from the town of Kaza which is the sub-district head quarters of Spiti Valley and 430 km from the state capital of Shimla. Gue is only 250 km from the town of Manali via the famous Kunzum pass. While in the village of Gue, all sign board direct travellers towards the mummy’s resting place.

The State of Mummy

The mummy is remarkably well preserved for its age. Its skin is unbroken and the hair is still on the head. It is a strange fact that the process of mummification of this mummy is natural and no chemicals have been used to preserve it. hough the mummy is dated to be almost 500 years old, it has a certain air of freshness.

Mummy of Sangha Tenzin
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Chances are it’s the clean air and cold that contributed to the excellent state the mummy is in — with hair and teeth well preserved. The silk robes on him seem to conceal the tremendous power and will that he must have had to undergo the mummification process.

Carbon Dating of the Mummy

Carbon dating of the mummy has scientifically proved that it was the body of a 45 year old Lama from the last quarter of 15th century. It seems this mummy was of a monk from Gelugapa order who were practitioners of “Zogchen”, the highest form of meditation to find a solution to the destructive drought and famine that had hit the western part of Tibet. (Spiti was part of the larger Tibet at that time). Continuous meditation and fasting before attaining ‘nirvana’, the body was probably devoid of all juices and any bacteria, which preserved the body with no chemical embalming. Natural mummification has preserved the body of the Lama for nearly 600 years !

Sangha Tenzin Mummy, Gue Village, Spiti Valley

Natural mummification is an extremely difficult process in which the body is made to react in such a way that body fats and fluids reduce at a constant rate and the organs that can decay are reduced in size. A special diet is given towards the end to preserve the meat on the bone. The body is kept in a posture where the monk can continue to meditate, by using a restrainer around the neck. It is believed that when Sangha Tenzin’s soul finally left his body, a rainbow appeared across the sky and the village was rid forever from scorpions. With thoughts of the mummy and the serenity of the village still lingering in our minds, we bid adieu and continued our journey towards Kaza.

When to Visit

The best time to visit is during the summer months from June to September when the road conditions are good and the nights are not too cold.

Gue is a quiet, peaceful and beautiful hamlet with a few houses and a few hundred people living in small huts in the midst of the mighty Himalayas. Gue is still untouched by modernization and the villagers travel on foot to far off places each day to meet their daily needs.

Road to Gue Village, Spiti
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A day trip to the village of Gue is good enough because there is nothing much to do in the village other than looking at the mummified lama. The localsl of the Gue Village are really nice people & they go beyond their duty to help you.

What a landscape! There is this mummy lodged in a tiny room and behind that are snow capped mountains with the misty clouds. It is an amazing experience to stand there and just look around you. The awesome Gue mummy and the lovely villagers also leave you mesmerized by the end of it. This is a must visit. Stand and sink in the beauty.

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Mawlynnong, Meghalaya – The Cleanest Village of Asia

Mawlynnong Village of the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya is also referred as ‘God’s own garden’ . It has won the acclaim of being the cleanest village in Asia in 2003. The village known for its cleanliness is being governed through a community based eco-tourism initiative. The community has made collective effort to maintain the ambience of a clean village.

Mawlynnong – Asia’s Cleanest Village 

Let us know more about what this amazing village offers, its location, beauty, handicrafts and how to reach this village.

What it Offers :

The village offers picturesque natural beauty, a trek to the living root bridge at a neighbouring village Riwai. The village also offers a sight of natural balancing rock, a strange natural phenomenon of a boulder balancing on another rock. The adage “Neighbours envy, owners pride” is apt for Mawlynnong as it has earned the distinction of being one of the cleanest villages in Asia, a fact that every Mawlynnong villager is proud of and other villagers are envy of.

Mawlynnong, Meghalaya
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The village is quite pretty, especially in the monsoons when there is lush greenery all around, with waterfalls paving the way to small streams and abundance of flowering orchids dangling from the trees and hedges add to the beauty of the village.

The onus to keep the village clean lies with every person residing in the village. Local cleaning the roads, picking up leaves and throwing garbage in the bin is a very common sight. Bamboo garbage bins adorn every nook and corner of the village highlight the consciousness of cleanliness among the villagers. Cleanliness is an age old tradition and a way of life for all villagers.

Mawlynnong Cleanest Village in Asia

The village has won the title for being the cleanest village in Asia in 2003 as well as the Cleanest Village in India in  the year 2005. The village also offers breathtaking views of of Bangladesh plains as it is located on the Indo-Bangla border. 

Swach Bharat initiative by Prime Minister of India is a recent drive undertaken by the Government of India to inculcate a sense of cleanliness, hygiene and development of healthy environment in the society, but the tiny village Mawlynnong in the remote areas of North-East has already long back had set an example in this regard.

Location :

Mawlynnong is about 90 kilometres from the capital of Meghalaya Shillong and just four km from the Bangladesh border. It is one of the wettest parts of the country. The society is matrilineal making women socially and economically powerful who takes full command in their hands and property is passed to the younger daughter of the family. The Khasi tribal inhabitants are known to be worshippers of nature. 

Mawlynnong Cleanest Village of Asia in Meghalaya India
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Situated under district East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, the village has a population of about 500 people comprising 95 families and. Most of the people are employed in betal nut farming. A noteworthy feature of the village is that they pay proper attention to the schooling of the kids, that is why it has attained the literacy rate of 100 per cent.

The Scenic Beauty :

Mawlynnong offers one the opportunity to view natural beauty in abundance from the Sky Walk, a 80 feet high “machan’ or observatory. You can also visit the Living Root Bridge and Natural Balancing Rock. For nature lovers, one day trek offers living amidst nature in all its glory.

Handicraft :

The people of the village make good use of bamboos with handmade dustbin of the local produce. The waste collected in these dustbins is segregated and deposited in pits which later used as organic manure which is very useful for agri-produces. People are fond of keeping backyard gardens.

Toilet in every House :

The village claims to have a functional toilet in every house in the year 2007, much before the celebrity Vidya Balan advocates people to have one! Children in the schools are taught to keep their surroundings clean. It is a matter of awareness that a majority of toilets have been built by the residents from the grants provided by the government of India in the decades of 2000.

Mawlynnong, Meghalaya Cleanest Village
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The village got the title of Asia’s cleanest village way back in the year 2003. Littering of any kind is treated as social offence and even the tourists, who visit the village after it reaches its fame, desist littering.

How To Reach :       

Mawlynnong is located about 90 km from Shillong and 92 kms from Cherrapunjee and can be reached by road. The nearest airport is Shillong in Meghalaya. Some tourist companies arrange transport for its guests from Guwahati, Shillong as well as Cherrapunjee.

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Nohakalikai Falls, Meghalaya : The Tallest Plunge Waterfall in India

Cherrapunji is credited with the highest rainfall or wettest area of the country and known the world over as one of the rainiest areas but the city is also known for the tallest plunge waterfall of India, named as Nohakalikai. It is located at five kilometers away from the city. You can’t make a spontaneous visit to the bottom of the falls either. It involves an arduous trek over several days through the forest. The weather adds to the drama, making it almost impossible to see the falls without a layer of fog clinging to the cliff or floating protectively around the drop. Even though one cannot go near to the falls, the view from the viewpoint is just amazing.

Nohakalikai Falls : The 1115 feet Tall Plunge Waterfall in Cherrapunji

Let us know about the history behind this amazing waterfall of North-East India.

Story of NohaKalikai

There is a history attached to the waterfall which has to do something with a woman who jumped off the cliff from where the water originates but nothing other than that. The story behind this name is quite fascinating. “noh” means suicide and “Kalikai” is the name of woman who committed suicide. If you are fond of photography maybe you will like the opportunity it presents. Cheerapunji is one of the few places in India where the places are still untapped and nature’s beauty is pristine.

Nohkalikai Falls, Cherrapunji
By Kunal Dalui (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
It’s only when you hear the legend that you appreciate how accurate that first impression was. According to locals, the story starts with KaLikai (“ka” is a local prefix for women) who lived in Rangjyrteh, a village in Sohra (popularly known as Cherrapunjee). Today a ghost town of sorts, the people of Rangjyrteh used to be the most significant manufacturers of iron. Evidence of that is still seen strewn around as abandoned basins and tools. KaLikai lost her husband almost immediately after giving birth to their first child, and was forced to start work ferrying iron between villages to support her daughter. She remarried later, and this is where the tale takes an ugly turn.

Read : The Incredible Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya 

Her new husband was overcome with jealousy at the attention KaLikai showered on her daughter. In a fit of rage, when the mother was away at work, he killed the little girl, and cooked her for dinner. KaLikai, exhausted after a long day, unwittingly ate the child.When she realised what she had done, KaLikai couldn’t cope with the horror, and jumped off a cliff to her death. The cliff and its falls came to be known as Nohkalikai, literally translated as “jump of KaLikai”.

Nohkalikai Falls

The way to the view point is so beautiful that one cannot imagine unless they experience it themselves. The way is surrounded by small grass and shrubs and no tall trees. The Mother Nature has poured in so much color that one could feel heavenly. The falls– falls into a green pool that is an attraction to the visitors. The hills are mesmerizing. Overall, don’t miss it if you are in Cherapunjee. Locals can be found selling cinnamon stick, pepper, honey and bay leaves at rock bottom prices there.

When to Visit

Nohkalikai Falls is located near Cherrapunji at a height of 340 meters or 1115 feet. To experience Nohkalikai Falls in its best form you must visit it during Monsoon. It’s green, pretty and amazing all year round but the falls come alive at its best during Monsoon and if you are lucky, there will be a rainbow! So, even if you have visited Cherrapunji but not during Monsoons, it is suggested you really come back at the right season. Experience the wettest place in its true glory, else you might be disappointed. The glorious waterfall and the small blue colored pond at the bottom makes the Nohakalikai Falls a spectacular one. Catching a glimpse of the Nohkalikai Waterfall during the monsoon season is tricky due to the thick cloud cover. The best time to visit the Nohkalikai Falls is in the months of September and October when the skies are relatively clear.

Nohkalikai Falls, Meghalaya

The force of water has carved a waterhole which remains blue in the winter and turns green in the summer months. The flow of water is profuse in summer while the flow recedes in the winter to a small stream giving the impression of a white rope against the green forest.

Entry Fee

The waterfall is a perfect destination for adventure lovers. They can enjoy activities like trekking, camping, bird watching, landscape photography, swimming and angling. A minimal amount is charged as entrance fee and for carrying a camera. Steps lead part of the way to the base of the waterfall but end midway. A trekking trail takes you rest of the way.

The nearest accommodation option is in Cherrapunji which offers a wide variety to suit every budget. From guest houses with basic amenities, resorts, cottages to homestays, you will be spoilt for choice.

Food & Accommodation

It is advisable to carry food and water when visiting the falls for extended periods of time. In Cherrapunji, you can enjoy Khasi cuisine like pork rice. Eateries that sell pork and other red meat abound in the town. Sohra Pulao which is rice cooked with oil and vegetables without spices should not be missed.You can also get Indian Chinese, Punjabi and Bengali cuisines in Cherrapunji. However, what you get here is the Khasi version of the cuisines.

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