Renowned for being the only floating park in the world, the Keibul Lamjao National Park lies 53 km away from Imphal, in Bishnupur district of Manipur. Islands formed by mats of dense aquatic grass gives it an appearance of floating on the lake.
The unique wetland ecosystem of the national park is spread over 40 sq km. The park encompasses three hills of Pabot, Toya and Chingiao. The park is surrounded by marshes and hillocks. The hills provide shelter for its large mammals during the monsoons.
The park is situated on the southern shore of the Loktak Lake – the largest fresh water lake in Eastern India. The Loktak Lake has floating islands on it called Phumidis (locally called phum) which are inhabited by fishermen. The thickness of phumdi varies from few centimetres to two meters. The phumdi floats with 4/5 part under water.
The national park is home to the endangered brow-antlered deer more commonly known as Sangai. Rare and endangered, the sangai or the Brow-antlered deer (Rucervus eldi eldi), numbered 14 in 1975. The forward protruding antlers appears to come out from the eyebrow which lends it its name, the brow-antlered deer. After the declaration of the area as national park and with strict conservation measures, the fear of its extinction has been greatly reduced.
The brow-antlered deer is also called the dancing deer. The deer has also been inspiration for Manipuri dance traditions. The Sangai was reported extinct in 1951, but after being re-discovered it has become Keibul Lamjao’s prime attraction.
Rare wild cats like the marbled cat and the Asian golden cat are occasionally seen in the national park. Other animals like the Himalayan black bear and the Malayan bear are also seen. A variety of fishes and reptiles like tortoises, snakes like viper and cobras are also found.
The government tourist bungalow on Sendra Island located in Loktak Lake is ideal option. Rest houses are also available at Phubala close to the park. Imphal provides better accommodation facilities.
There are no eating options in the national park. There are numerous restaurants offering Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Italian, Mexican and French cuisine in Imphal. Keep in mind that even fish is considered vegetarian by the locals. So if you’re looking for pure vegetarian cuisine, ensure you specify your requirements.