Manipur, the state past the hilly terrains of Nagaland, is relatively unknown on travel map. Finding a genuine itinerary to explore the best of this beautiful state is kind of tough because nothing reliable is available on the internet.
To bring the beauty of the state into limelight, the Manipur government has started to promote Sangai Festival as a mega conglomeration of cultural and ethnic celebration. Sangai Festival has everything, dance, food, sports, handicrafts and music. For a solo traveller, attending this festival is kind of tricky but is still doable.
About Sangai Festival – Sangai is the state animal of Manipur and efforts to conserve this beautiful creature has been made since the early 2000s. Sangai Festival celebrates the culture, traditions and food of Manipur by bringing everything under one roof.
Sangai Festival dates are usually a few days before Hornbill Festival of Nagaland. Since both are neighbouring states, it is easy to attend both festivals in succession for the best cultural experience.
Sangai Festival tips for Solo travellers – Sangai Festival is doable for solo travellers because a majority of events are organized in Manipur’s capital Imphal. Trains and flights go upto Guwahati after which the solo travellers can travel to Dimapur by trains. Travelling to Manipur doesn’t require any ILP so one can head straight to the bus stand and catch a tempo traveller.
Warning – Don’t ever catch a ride that is going after 1 PM in afternoon. If you are late then it is advised to catch a ride in evening to make sure that you reach Imphal by 5 in the morning. The afternoon buses reach Imphal around 10 PM and everything shuts down so it will be impossible to find a hotel.
Total cost of attending Sangai Festival – Here are the basic expenditure that a solo traveller will have to sustain –
- Guwahati to Dimapur by train – INR 200
- Dimapur to Imphal by Jeep – INR 800
- Stay in Imphal – Youth Hostel – INR 300, Hotel Thampa INR 300 for ordinary room, INR 800 for deluxe room
- Bring your own tent for Sangai festival – There is no such facility in Imphal or around the festival grounds.
- Tickets – INR 50 per day per venue
- Travel around Imphal – INR 20 for shared autos, INR 100 for reserve
- Food in Imphal – Breakfast is easily possible for INR 20 to 30, the puri sabzi is awesome. For lunch you can have thali for INR 100 which includes unlimited rice, daal, vegetables and chicken is provided for an additional INR 50. For dinner, you can visit festival venue and have some local food between INR 50 to INR 100.
- Travelling to Loktak Lake (another event venue) – INR 60
- Stay – INR 500 in Moirang (without meals) INR 1000 in Loktak Lake homestay (with breakfast and dinner)
- Meals at Loktak Lake – INR 50 to 100
- Festival entry tickets – INR 20 (I’ll suggest you to stay at a homestay as they’ll arrange means of travelling as they have groups visiting during that time)
Sangai Festival Venues – Sangai Festival venues are across multiple locations which makes it a little inconvenient but with planning you can explore everything.
In Imphal, the main performances are organized at BOAT, which begins from 5:30 PM. Reach early and leave by 7:30 because everything starts to get shut down soon after. Polo ground is nearby and you can go there to catch a quick match of polo if there is any that day.
At Loktak Lake, the venue is a little outside the down and you’ll have to hire an auto rikshaw or ask the homestay owner to arrange something. You can skip this part of festival as its similar to Boat.
A number of sporting activities are organized at Khuman Lampak main stadium in Imphal. Youth Hostel is 100 metre away from the venue while Hotel Thampa is 500 metre away. Here, you can see events like Mukna and Thang-Ta. Last year, they also had a sumo contest, keep an eye on such events as chances are that you’ll see many other activities up-close.
Mao, 2 hours away from Imphal is the venue of annual Cherry Blossom festival. A small trek is required to reach the location of festival.
Apart from this, there are many smaller venues around Imphal where events are organized in evening. You can skip these because they just repeat from one venue to another.
Stay options in Imphal – During my time in Imphal, I changed my stay between two places. Initially, I stayed in Hotel Thampa that was right next to the place where tempo travellers drop you. After this I moved to Youth hostel, a few metres ahead and a better place for same price. You can also move into the city where there are better, bigger hotels.