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A  Road Trip to Myanmar – the Land of Golden Pagodas-3

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The next day, we were told that a team of Manipuris residing at Mandalay would be visiting us at our hotel and were advised to be there at the gathering by our team leader. Many of our mates wanted to go for shopping and I accompanied them till market.  After accompanying them for some time, I find it boring. So came this brilliant idea of bunking away from our group and doing a little bit of sightseeing of Mandalay on my own. I sneaked away from our group, hired a motorcyclist to take me sightseeing round the city. I also had the opportunity to ride the bike, which was fantastic. First, I had the opportunity to witness the Mandalay Royal Place from outside. I really wanted to go inside but time constraint refrained myself from going inside as we were to meet our fellow Manipuris residing in Mandalay. The Mandalay Palace is said to be the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy. Mandalay Palace largely follows the traditional Burmese palace design, inside a walled fort surrounded by a moat. Very similar to our very own Kangla Fort, the royal palace of Manipur in most aspects. The moat of Mandalay Palace has an uncanny resemblance to Kangla and one can say that the Royal Palace and Kangla fort are of same character and model. Oh yes, there is a big difference, ours is neglected by the government while theirs are properly maintained by government. After riding through the city here and there for almost an hour, I returned back to my Hotel as it was already time for the interaction.
Our brethrens from Mandalay reached our hotel at the exact time which was fixed before- Punctuality, a thing that I have been witnessing ever since I came here. If it were here, it would have been a sort of that saying called Meitei Pung. After informal introductions, we began our interactions. Our brethrens expressed their desire to visit Manipur, during Sangai festival and to visit various part of the state. Also, they want the Government to provide Manipuri literatures to them so that they can learn more and the younger generations about Manipur. From our team side, RK Shivachandra invited them to visit Manipur during Sangai festival and said all the necessary arrangements will be made as soon as they reach Moreh. This is a good initiative from the Act East Policy team, I think. Our team presented traditional shawls and scarves to each and every individual who paid us a visit. After exchanging pleasantries and interaction, we bade them farewell.
Would be unfair not to mention the initiative taken by a Meitei , Zin Tuko to preserve our cultural identity out there by opening a Museum called Meetei Museum. Rare photographs of Lamyanba Hijam Irabot, books and other cultural items were showcased on his museum. This particular museum in Mandalay would help the younger Manipuri generations to learn more about their roots. As it is an initiative taken by an individual, it may get lost in annals of time if proper support is not reached out.  It is high time our Government acts and helps in preserving such things, which will be a priceless treasure some day.
Now our time has come to bade farewell to Myanmar and cruise towards Manipur. It was a memorable trip, thanks to Directorate of Information and Public Relations and the Act East Policy team. Overall the trip was like a journey to the dreamland, exploring the unexplored. It also presented us with the opportunity to experience various aspects of the life and contemplate the future of our neighbouring country with which we have shared an inextricably intertwined history. But the best thing about the trip is the opportunity to share our experiences with the people of the state and beyond who have been harbouring the wish to visit the country. If we have succeeded in whetting their appetite for a trip to Myanmar by our brief narrations, we would consider the troubles and hardships endured during the trip worth it.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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