Shirui Lily Festival of Manipur- All You Need to Know
In the farthest corner of the mind, yet longing for it, I contemplated on visiting Manipur again and let my heart be stolen. I jumped like a little girl, witnessing flying reindeer and fairies in the cosmos, when I received an invite email from Chiko Adventures to attend the Shirui Lily Festival, 2018 – The State Festival of Manipur. Boy! I knew this is going to be a beautiful enigma, taking me to the faraway pristine horizons.
PS: This blog is just a little Introduction to the festival, Shirui Lily Flower and the amazing Chiko Guys who made us feel home away from home. Next blog will be a day to day insight into the celebrations.
About Shirui Lily Festival
The festival is a celebration of the indigenous and rare State flower of Manipur – The Shirui Lily that blooms in the verdant Shirui Hills. The hills elevated at an altitude of 8,500 ft above the sea level gives a phenomenal trekking experience when the flower is at its full bloom during the months of May and June.
The Shirui Lily Festival was declared the State Festival last year in 2017. It was celebrated at Shirui Village as reverence to the gorgeous pink purplish blossom at much smaller scale before it was declared the Festival of the festival by Government of Manipur. The indomitable spirit of the festival opened the gates of Manipur as an adulating travel destination.
The festival was celebrated from 24th to 28th April 2018 in Ukhrul district, the highest hill station in Manipur. The festival was scattered in different places with the cultural and folk programs celebrated in the TNL ground in Ukhrul town. The adventure activities conducted by Chiko Adventures like camping, trekking and mountain biking was in Phangrei hill range, in Jorcheng village.
The four days of celebration was witnessed by thousands of people from across the state and country. Folk dance, cultural shows, stage shows, beauty pageants, indigenous games and competitions and a lot of mouth-watering ethnic cuisine was a part of the festival. The Rock Music Battle – ShiRock was definitely one of the major highlights of the festival. It gathered thousands of happy souls together to sway to the essence of the music. The American band of 90’s SteelHeart was the limelight of ShiRock.
Quick Facts and Stories about Shirui Lily
A festival dedicated to the state flower Shirui Lily (Lilium Mackliniae Sealy), not going into some history and facts would be a total injustice. I promise to be as brief as I could, but here are the cool things you need to know.
- There is always a legendary story behind beautiful and rare things. It is believed by legends that the Lily is the daughter of Goddess Philava. The lily blooms in the Shirui Hills and acts as the guardian protecting the hills. The second story is about love and sacrifice. It is believed by some legends over centuries that the flower blooms to keep the love story of two young lovers. The lovers jumped from a cliff to meet an untimely death and the flowers bloom where they died.
- The Shirui Lily is a rare flower that only blooms in the Shirui Hills of Ukhrul District. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to climb the beautiful hamlet perched on the top of Shirui peak to witness the blooming of the flowers. The trek starts from Shirui Village that can be reached via Ukhrul by hiring a private taxi or grabbing a seat in shared cab that leaves for Shirui Village, later is very limited.
- The flower was discovered by British Botanical Research Frank Kingdom-Ward in the year of 1946. He named the flower after his wife Jean Macklin. It won merit prize in a flower show organized by Royal Horticultural Society in London in the year 1948.
- The bell-shaped flower appears pale mauve in colour and some petals show bluish pink shades. The interesting fact is that when observed under a microscope it shows seven colours not visible by naked eyes.
- The rare flower has a lot of anti-bacterial and anti-anthelmintic properties making it a medicinally important plant species.
Ukhrul and Its People
Ukhrul has been on my bucket list for quite some time after my rendezvous with Manipur last year for the first time. The enchanting town of Ukhrul perched at an elevation of 1,662 m above sea level is the highest hill station in Manipur. Untouched by the chaotic claws of modernization and urban disturbance, it is a piece of virgin land surrounded by the gorgeous hills. It is a perfect place to listen to the sounds of nature, wake up to the most stunning sunrise and roll up the sleeves of surprise as the sunsets painting the sky in vivid shades.
A place is often associated with the people, tribes, food and ethnicity apart from the phenomenal landscapes that blow your mind. Ukhrul is home to Tangkhuls who will leave you spellbound with their honesty, unbelievable hospitality and warm gestures. They are simple and smart, honest to their choice of humanity. A heart-warming and welcoming smile at every corner, Tangkhul tribe will send you home with memories forever.
How to reach Ukhrul
Reaching Ukhrul can be slightly treacherous braving the serpentine roads but the scenic drives makes it all worth. The best way to reach Ukhrul is via Imphal. Imphal is well connected by road and air. You can choose to take a flight to Imphal and then a bus to Ukhrul which is roughly 82kms away from ISBT. Alternately, take a shared cab from Dimapur to Imphal and then a bus to Ukhrul. There are direct buses that ply to Imphal from Guwahati ISBT as well. From Imphal you can choose to hire a taxi to Ukhrul to enjoy the scenic road at your own pace, the charges are around Rs 4000 – 4500.
Where to Stay in Ukhrul
There are many hotels in Ukhrul and you don’t have to worry about the accommodation part at all. However, if you fancy a hotel with good amenities and amazing view, 25 Degree North is the best in town. It is affordable, wakes you to awe-inspiring views and engages your soul in the essence of hills.
Thanks, Chiko Adventures – You made it Memorable
I sit in front of my laptop this lazy Sunday Morning with a cup of coffee trying to put some words in my thoughts but end up being caught in the cobweb of memories. The 5 days of celebration with Chiko Adventures was like a homecoming, it was finding a family away from home. I am fortunate enough to be a part of the bloggers and photographers team invited by Chiko Adventures.
Chiko Adventures is an adventure travel start-up founded by 9 young and adventure enthusiast guys from Ukhrul. It is based in Ukhrul town. Chiko means the number 9 in Tangkhul and name of the company comes from the fact that there are 9 founding members. Chiko Adventures was the adventure partner for Shirui Lily Festival, 2018 and must say, they did an incredible job.
All the adventurous activities like camping in Jorcheng village in the Phangrei Hill range, cycle rally starting from Imphal to Ukhrul transcending 82 km, MTB Mountain biking, trekking to the Shirui peak and Phangrei range was organized by Chiko Adventures. They did a great job and made it a huge celebration for each one of us.
With a mission to promote eco-tourism in Manipur and explore the adventurous opportunities lying in the gorgeous North Eastern State, Chiko Adventures have contributed a lot to the success of the festival. They are definitely the people who want to reach out to explore the offbeat and untouched destinations in Manipur. Thank you for all the memories, you simply made out hearts melt and soul flutter free.
PS: I know it has been a long blog but you got to watch out for part-2. This is just the beginning of what the festival is all about, place and people, next will be a detailed day wise blog on the celebration of the 5-day festival.
Some Picture Stories
Picture courtesy of Featured Image – A.K Thongam. I am thankfukl to this wonderful who let me use this gorgeous picture as the featured Image. Thanks.