Keibul Lamjao National Park is the only floating park of the world. It is located at Bishnupur district of Manipur, one of the seven north- eastern states of India. The area of the park is 40 square km. It is a wetland. The largest freshwater lake of our country Loktak is a part of this national park. It has 1.5metre deep floating vegetation.
The Keibul Lamjao National park is mainly famous for its extinct species of deer Sangai deer or Brow-antlered deer (Scientific name: Cervus eldi eldi) though it has also many other rare species of flora and fauna. The IUCN has declared this rare species of deer as endangered species. At first, the portion of the Loktak lake where this species lived was declared as a sanctuary to save this animal. But the species was again discovered and hunting was permitted again except a small part of it. But in the year 1966 it was again officially declared as a sanctuary and on 28th March 1977, a decade later it was declared as a National Park.
Climate and features of the Keibul Lamjao National Park
The temperature of the area rises from 1.7 degree C in winter to 34.4 degree C in summer. The Indian Tropical Monsoon is seen here. The wettest months are July and August and the driest months are February and March. An annual rainfall of 1220mm is recorded in the park. At August it records about 81 percent humidity which is the highest and in March it has minimum humidity.
The main feature of the park is that its area varies with season. As it is a floating national park, it consists of floating marshes locally known as 'phumdis'. It is created by organic garbage and biomass which mixes with soil particles and forms a thickened solid form which are called 'phumdis'. It covers the water surface which is about 90 to 120cm thick. The floras seen in the park are submerged in the water surface.
Flora and fauna in Keibul Lamjao:
The ecosystem of the park consists of wetland, aquatic and terrestrial. It has moist semi evergreen forest. As the park is floating by nature, it has so many aquatic floras in it. The various species of plants include wild rice (Zizania latifolia), S. Bengalensis, Singnang (Eiranthus procerus), Loklei (Hedychium coronarium), Tou (Phragmites karka), Phumha (Discorea bulbifera), Tinthou (Cynodon Dectylon), Pullei (Alpinia galangal), Kebokang (Eichchomia crossipes), Khoimon (Sachchraum munja) etc along with 100 other species. Phumdis are of two types. One type is floating phumdis known as phumdi ataoba and the other type is sinking phumdis known as phumdi aruppa. Phumdi ataoba is formed by the reeds and grasses and other aquatic plants which grow on the surface of dead and decaying surface of floating vegetation. Zizania latifolia or wild rice is the main food of Sangai deer.
Animals: Keibul Lamjao is famous for its extinct species of Sangai deer. In the latest census conducted by the forest department there are 206 Brow-antlered deer found in the park which is an increase from the 2003 census which was 180. Besides this the animals seen in the national park include Hog deer, Large Indian Civets, jungle cat, Golden cat, fox, Wild Boar, Common otter (Lutra lutra) etc. Sambar, Flying fox, Common shrew, musk shrew, Rhesus monkey, Bay bamboo rat etc are also recorded in Keibul Lamjao National Park. The number of Hog Deer and Wild Boar according to the latest census is 212 and 269 respectively. It is also rich in various fish species. Some of them are Channa striatus, Channa punctatus, Cyprinus carpio, Puntius sophore, Wallago attu etc. Reptiles such as Russel's Viper, Viper, Cobra, Water cobra, Asian rat snake, Python, Checkered garter snake,Lizard and amphibians such as Tortoise are also recorded in this national park.
Birds in Keibul Lamjao: Both resident and migratory birds are seen in Keibul Lamjao National Park. The various birds species recorded in this national park are Threatened hooded crane, Sarus crane, Burmese saurus, East Himalayan Pied Kingfisher, Northern Hill Mynah, North Indian Black Dongros, Yellow headed wagtail, Lesser eastern Jungle crow, Spotbill duck, etc. It is also home to Ruddy shell duck and Blue-winged teal, Lesser skylark, Indian White breasted Waterhen, Crimson Breasted pied woodpecker etc.
Threats to the park and conservational measures taken by the authority:
Permanent flooding occurs in the park due to the construction of Ithai Barrange under the Loktak Multi-purpose project which is responsible for the decrease of thickness of the phumdis. The Loktak Hydro electric Project is also similarly responsible for it.
As conservational measures the Forest Department of Manipur Government has implemented various measures. Now the park is under full-time Forest officials. It has four check points and seven canoes for its security. Along the boundary there is a cattle proof trench of about 870 metre. In the most vulnerable sections of the park there is a perimeter fench of 2281 meter so that it can prevent the entry of people and domestic animals to that area. The census work has also been carried out by army helicopter.
Time to visit the national park:
The best time to visit the park is from November to March as the climate in this season is very comfortable.
The best time to visit the park in the morning is from 6:00 am to 10:00am and in the evening it is from 3:30pm to 6:00pm. During these time, the deers come out to feed.
How to visit Keibul Lamjao National Park:
The tourists can travel to this national park by air, train or road.
By air: The nearest airport to this national park is Imphal airport. It is well connected with Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Guwahati.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Dimapur. It is at a distance of 215kms from Imphal, the capital; city of Manipur. There is another railway station named Jiribam which is located at the boarder of Manipur is at a distance of 225kms from Imphal.
By road: Keibul Lamjao National Park is at a distance of 48kms from Imphal. It is well connected with Guwahati and Silchar by road through National Highway No 39 and 53 respectively.
As Manipur is a sensitive boarder state, restricted area permit is mandatory for the foreigners. They have to travel by tours arranged by authorized travel agents and must come in groups of four. Restricted Area Permit can be obtained from foreigner's Regional Registration offices located in Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai or from certain other state government offices. The validity of the permit is for 10 days. For further information, the tourists can contact to the following address:
Assistant Conservator of Forest, Keibul Lamjao National park.
BPO: Kha-Thimungei, Manipur
The Director of Tourism, Hotel Imphal Complex, Near Raj Bhavan, Imphal
Some other useful contacts are as follows:
Govt. of India Tourist Office, Old Lambulane, Jail Road, Imphal
Manipur Information Centre, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, New Delhi. Contact no: 011-3344026.
The tourist can also contract (i) Manipur Bhavan, Rajgarh Road, Cont no: 540707
(ii) Manipur Bhavan, Rowland road, Kolkata, Contact No: 033-747087/747975/747937
Where to stay:
There is variety of accommodation available to visit the National park. In the middle of the lake, there is a Tourist bunglow on Sendra island. They provide facilities of water sports and boating. The Tourism Department of Govt. of Manipur run 'Hotel Imphal' where all the amenities are provided by them along with tourist coach to and from the Airport and Hotel. There is also rest house available at Phubala. The tourists can also stay at various hotels in Imphal which is not too far.
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My appreciation to the author for bringing this wonderful information. For me this is the first time I am hearing that Keibul Lamjao National Park is the floating park and first of its kind in the world. I think there could be some more such information available in North eastern regions and main land people are not aware of it. We always talk about people and culture of other states and fail to discuss any thing about the North eastern region. I shall appreciate if the author brings more such information from the North eastern region of this country for the benefit of members.
It is a fact being Indian, we are not aware of many things in the north eastern region and when I was in work I have heard many projects associated with north east region but not known about the geographical information. It may be a good information on the first of its kind in the world.
Thanks K Mohan and Saroja for appreciating this. Yes, we are unaware of the rich culture and other things about the North-Eastern region. North-east is one of the bio-diversity hot spots among few bio-diversity hot spots of the world.
In the year 1975, I was with National Projects Construction Corporation, who were one of the contractors for the Loktak Hydro Electric Power Project. I was in Manipur for 6 months only. The place name if I remember correctly is Ningthoukhong. I think at that time the park was not there or unknown. It is the water from this lake that was used for the power generation. Manipur is a lovely state and I enjoyed my stay there. Your write up about the park made me to think about visiting the place again.