Limestone Caves from the Stone Age
Following a series of excavations, Manipur is now on the pre-historic map of India. Palaeolithic remains have been found at Songhbu Caves in Chandel District, Machi in Chandel District and Nongpok Keithelmanbi in Senapati District. The Tharon Caves in Tamenglong, surrounded by lush forests and wildlife, are believed to belong to the transitional period between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods. The Khangkui limestone caves, 11km southeast of Ukhrul town, are among the oldest in India, dating back to the Paleolithic period. The first ever battle of WW2 to be fought on Indian soil happened just 3 miles from here, on 18 March 1944, when 200 Japanese troops reached Pushing village.
Manipur is the birthplace of modern polo. While the British might have introduced polo to the world, the origins of the game date back thousands of years to this land. Manipuri polo is known as ‘Sagol Kangjei’. Players stick to a dress code of pheijom (dhoti), kokyet (turban), and traditional short-sleeved jacket, and ride barefoot and without a saddle. Unlike the international version, Manipuri polo doesn’t have goalposts, and, unlike modern polo, it began not as an elitist game, but as a game of the people, played with well-seasoned bamboo root-balls and on Manipuri ponies, which are more agile and turn faster. At the Mapal Kangjeibung, the world’s oldest functioning polo ground, in the heart of Imphal, polo season runs from October to June. While ‘Sagol Kangjei’ is regularly played here, the Manipur International Polo Festival, a calendar event, usually coincides with the Sangai Festival in November.