By L.C.K Singh
Imphal, March 19 : A five-day Manipur Tourism Festival 2008 that was hosted here recently presented a colourful cultural saga of the State by highlighting the adventure sports and eco-tourism through screening of documentary films.
Organised at the historical Hapta Kangjeibung Palace grounds in Imphal, the festival was a grand colourful exhibition-cum-cultural show held to herald the cultural heritage of Manipur.
"The primary objective was to showcase the rich art and culture traditions of various communities residing in Manipur and have a fun of indigenous games and sport which the people ought to know. From time to time, we organise these festivals to let people in other parts of the country and world know about Manipur and attract them to Manipur," said B.B Sharma, Secretary of the Manipur State Tourism Department.
The festival attracted a lot of people who were impressed after watching the Manipuri handloom and handicrafts items and paintings put on display at the 116 stalls.
Tourism Department had drawn up attractive packages for the tourists like visits to historical places, expedition to fantastic destinations such as Shiroi Hills, Kangkuli Caves in Ukrul District, Tharon Caves of Tamanlong village, adventure at Lamdan and the Leadership Park in Churachandpur.
A mosaic of performing arts was also laid out where as many as 27 cultural troupes representing various ethnic groups participated and entertained the visitors.
Many visitors from outside the State also enjoyed the daylong eco-tourism at Sadu Chiru Village and a sight seeing experience of Loktak and a two-day relic-hunt which was a great fun.
Manipur Chief Minister O. Ibobi , speaking at the inauguration, stated that to promote tourism in the State there was a need to compete with the other tourism-oriented States like Goa, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan which attract tourists through promotion of traditional art and culture.
Ibobi also expressed hope that the festival would bring tourists from other places to visit and explore Manipur.
Ibobi said that creating favourable environment for tourists would also help in solving the unemployment problem in the State.
It was second edition of Manipur tourist festival. Earlier, it was held in 2006.
Manipur's Department of Tourism, the Government of India's Incredible India, News Live, The Telegraph and Aircel had sponsored the festival.
This year highlights were various arts of Manipur, including handloom and handicraft novelties and display of indigenous and adventure sports to lure the tourists.
"It is a good venture, Manipur has a lot of potential to attract tourists and all. If we invite more and more people from outside, it will really help boost tourism in Manipur," said Elina, a visitor.
The festival included events like Spidernet, parasailing, climbing both artificial and natural rocks and obstacle races.
Among other sporting events were games of traditional hockey, polo, Mukna (traditional wrestling) and Hiyang Tanaba (boat race). The game of polo originated in Manipur.
The Department of Tourism is hopeful of this festival yielding the desired results which in turn would boost the economy of the Manipur.