An hour’s journey from Imphal takes us to the hidden paradise Keibul Lamjao, the world’s only floating national park. Keibul Lamjao is located on the fringes of the famous Loktak Lake, and it is also the last natural habitat of the Sangai – the dancing deer of Manipur. The lake itself is very rich in biodiversity, the brow antlered Thiamin deer, more popularly known as Sangai is the star attraction of the habitat.
The famous deer gets its name from the pompous walk it has when browsing the floating islands of Loktak Lake. This is not the only reason for the park’s fame. Its other claim to fame is the fact that this is one of the very few floating, protected areas in the world.
Keibul Lamjao officially became a national park in 1977. It stretches over an area of about 40 sq km, surrounded by marshes, hillocks and the lake itself. The Loktak Lake is what the park is all about, it is covered almost completely by floating mats of the dense aquatic grass.
The local fishermen live in huts built on these numerous floating islands called phumdis. And they cruise around on graceful flat – bedded boats and net the fish. Some of the unique fauna found here are hog deer, otter, hornbills, partridges, and storks besides rarer stars like the hooded crane, the black eagle and even the falcon. The large Indian civet, small Indian civet and wild boar are some of the large mammals found in the area. It is also the home of an endangered species of python called python molurus molurus.
November to March is an ideal time to see some avian wonders, as around this time, the park is full of water birds along with some migratory birds. The prime attraction of the lake is its two islands – Thanga and Karang, but if you want a better view, you should go atop Sendra Island. It offers a bird’s eye view of the park and its occupants. You can also explore the park by travelling around in small boats. You can also climb up the watch tower, located on a hillock to get a more panoramic view of the park.
By Payel Bhattacharjee