Experience Loktak Lake with Sangai Moonlight Camping
I gazed at the dim constellation in the sky sitting on the wooden country boat as I started my journey to experience Loktak Lake. It was barely 6pm but night greets early in North East, so does in Manipur. The sound of the water as the paddle rowed against it brewed an uncanny magic. The feel of the water on my naked fingers was euphoric and the moon shined little brighter, creating a silver lining to compensate for the eerie silence of the dark night. This is how I reached my floating homestay – Loktak Aquamarine, being rowed on a local boat (the only vehicle) after dusk listening to the sounds of nature, caressing the water and feeling alive in the moment.
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Sangai Moonlight Camping
The company is changing the face of tourism in Manipur by providing guests from across the country and world an authentic local experience of Loktak Lake and around. With vision to support and help the local communities, Ashok Sampacha (owner of Sangai Moonlight Company) involves the local fishermen community living on the Phumdis (floating biomass), helping them with an alternative livelihood. The adventure camping company has organized many experiential tours in and around Manipur but the floating homestay is what magnifies the experience.
Loktak Aquamarine Homestay is owned by Sangai Moonlight camping and not a conventional homestay on land. Being the first and only floating homestay in the country, the guest get to live on the Phumdis, closely encounter the lives of the fishermen and explore the unexplored. Being set on a biomass Island, the only way to reach there is by a boat. The homestay is equipped with a western toilet and you don’t have to worry about your morning chores. It is a perfect place to stay for a few days if you work location independent because the internet speed is lightening fast.
For reservations call – 8014921286
Why choose to stay at Loktak Aquamarine Homestay?
Loktak Aquamarine Homestay is creating a wave through its offbeat and authentic accommodation, being the only floating homestay in the country. The homestay is perched on a Phumdi on Loktak Lake that gives you a chance to live like the local fishermen and get to more about their lifestyle through customized local experience. Swim in the freshwater of the lake, go fishing on the country boats, eat mouth watering ethnic delicacies freshly prepared in local herbs by the fishermen, visit the fringe villages, visit the local markets, join the fishermen in collecting edibles from the lake and bond with the local community like family – I bet it will not only be an experience but an emotional one, that feeds your soul.
Experience Loktak Lake the local way
If you are looking for a real and local experience to explore the hidden side of Loktak Lake, the homestay is your answer. No resort or hotel with great amenities can give you this kind of experience. You wake up embracing the nip in the air and being greeted by fishermen rowing their boats past the homestay. Start your day with lemon grass tea sitting on the bamboo porch of the eco-friendly hut.
Do not miss the early morning fishing trip. Most of the fishermen go for their 1st trip of fishing on the boat in the wee hours of the morning. Hop onto the boat and catch some fishes using traditional techniques.
A swim in the fresh water of Loktak Lake is something that one must not miss. The homestay provides life jacket so that you can enjoy your swim without any fear.
Know more about the aquatic food products that are edible and how it is used in the ethnic delicacies. Products like stem, leaves, roots, fruits etc. are collected from the lake by the local people and you can know more by accompanying them on their boats.
Go for a leisurely boat ride to the faraway corners of the lake. As you go on boat ride with the local fishermen, its amazing to see the way they row their boats, listen to their stories, meet other fishermen and greet them on their day, know more about aquatic life.
Learn ethnic Manipuri dishes from the fishermen living on the Phumdis and the art of using black pottery for cooking. Learn about the local festival and celebration. In the part-1 of the blog, there is detailed information about Phumnamba.
Watch the fisher women catch fish using a special technique called Een Khonba. This is only done by the women where they balance their body in standing posture on the front part of the boat, with knees slightly bent. They row the boat with left hand and catch the fish with the net by their right hand.
On special request, traditional Manipuri Folk music – Pena Phamshak, can be organized at the homestay. The Manipuri folklore depicts life of the fishermen and the local people residing in Manipur.
There is a bonfire set up also and trust me, with the wind blowing little, reflection of the moon on water and the vibe, it is beautiful to sit near the bonfire, bonding with friends and the fishermen family.
Contribute to Responsible Tourism
Sangai Moonlight Camping is all about responsible and eco-friendly with an attempt to reduce carbon footprint and save the planet. Their “War against Plastic” campaign and cleaning up of Loktak Lake every Sunday is something that first caught my attention. Mother Earth has given us so much and it is time to contribute back through responsible tourism. The huts on the Phumdis are eco-friendly made of bamboos, food is fresh and organically grown, products like soaps are custom made using eco-friendly products and boats are used to explore the place that does not burn fuel. What else can be the best way to go eco-friendly and support responsible tourism?
Help the Local Fishermen Community
The idea behind setting up the floating homestay is to help the local fishermen community with an alternative livelihood. By staying in the homestay, not only you get to experience the real side of the lake life but help the fishermen community inhabiting the Phumdis. The homestay involves local fishermen to take care of things, prepare meals, take out on boating trips and this helps them to lead a better life through financial support. Many local youths have been employed by Sangai Moonlight camping hence helping in generating employment.
Take a look at the Floating Handloom Centre
A handloom center set on the floating island of Loktak Lake is one of the most fascinating things that you can experience. As the boat got closer to the four small huts staged on the Phumdis, it did not appear like anything happening inside. Taking a peak into the huts was enough to realize that it was a fully functional handloom center specializing in Manipuri Handlooms. Local artisans work with complete dedication to bring out the beautiful piece of art through their handlooms.
Visit the Near-by Fringe Villages
Loktak Lake is surrounded by a number of fringe villages that gives you an insight of their daily life. Karang Island is an interesting village that can accessed only by boat from Thanga and the dirt roads are narrow, suitable for only walking or bicycle or bikes. Thanga village has some scenic vantage points that give an aerial view of the lake. The Athaphums (circular man made fishing coves), Phumbis with fishermen huts, tiny wooden boats rowing across the lake and the glassy reflective water of the lake looks surreal. The villages around have local markets where the fishermen sell their catch, processed fish, fermented or dried fish, edible products from the lake etc.
Some experiences are so beautiful that every moment turns into magic and takes you back in time every day. If you have to ask me one thing that I loved the most, I cannot because everything was so incredible and heart-warming. Staying with Sangai Moonlight Camping in their floating homestay taught me so much about the lives of the fishermen, their struggle, their community brotherhood, sacrifices and most importantly their warm hearts. A resort or hotel can give you materialistic comfort but this place, the homestay, it will melt your heart and a part of you will always stay behind.
I was hosted by Sangai Moonlight Camping in your floating Homestay, Loktak Aquamarine. I strongly recommended them for their impeccable hospitality, authentic local experiences and bringing that strong sense of homecoming. Ashok Sampacha, I will be forever grateful to you for this heart warming experience.
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