Discovery of Thangjing hill range waterfall – celebrations and concerns

The state of Manipur, often touted as the land of jewels and Switzerland of India, has never ceased to impress and enthrall one and all with its myriad natural manifestations throughout the year. It would not be an exaggeration to state that one would need a lifetime to explore and discover the beauty and wonder of nature this state has to offer, and one of the recent discoveries of natural splendor that has been whetting the spirit of adventure in the hearts of the people is the majestic waterfall in the Thangjing hill range in Churachandpur District under Henglep assembly constituency.
Cascading over two hundred metres, the perennial waterfall is at its intimidating best during the monsoon but the trek leading up to it is not for the faint of heart or the casual explorer. The best access point would be from Phougakchou Ikhai Awang Leikai under Bishnupur district which is about fiftyfive kilometers from Imphal city where volunteers and guides of Youth Development organization (YDO) are prepared to take those who are willing to trek the twelve odd kilometers which takes a better part of three hours for a nominal fee. There is no proper route or established trek upto the waterfall at present and venturing into the foot of the waterfall for the last six hundred odd metres is up against the rapids, so engaging the experienced guides of YDO would be the best and the safest option of exploring the place, details of which can be had from the social media sites and facebook in particular. At present, the guides are available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but booking in advance is advisable due to the increasing number of enthusiastic trekkers clamoring for a glimpse of the waterfall.
While reports of the waterfall has appeared in most of the print and electronic media in the state as well as in social media, there is however an evident lack of awareness in keeping pollution in check. A recent visit by team LAMKOI – a group of adventure enthusiasts along with members of YDO revealed the unfortunate aspect of irresponsible tourism as the recently discovered trek is already starting to show signs of pollution and littering with empty plastic bottles and other disposable items, food wrappings and polythene bags were carelessly discarded along the trek. If we are to preserve the pristine environment of our magnificent natural gifts, each one of us need to pitch in and do our bit. One of the many options that can be put into practice would be the nature of operation of such organizations as the Green Trails and the Waste Warriors who are spearheading efforts to inculcate responsible trekking along the Himalayan region by bringing down every bit of non-decomposable wastes from the mountains till a proper collection point in the plains.
For all the efforts being put in by the organizations and enthusiastic groups, the most important step in developing these amazing gifts of nature into sustainable and productive tourist spots would be for the state government to provide the necessary infrastructure and a tourist friendly environment in the state. Involvement of adventure groups in such efforts would certainly make things better as the groundwork as well as constant evaluation can be better carried out with the help of these groups. But one word of caution though- development of infrastructure for tourists should not be equated with drawing up contractual works to bulldoze the range and raising concrete villas at the foot of the waterfall, or any of the tourists points for that matter. Perhaps a lookup on the log cabins and indiscreet overnight shelters along some of the world’s best trekking trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the Appalachian Trail (AT), the Inca Trail or the Everest Base Camp trek should hopefully provide the state authorities with some insight into how things ought to be done.
For the state to be truly considered a tourist’s paradise and bring in tourists from all over the world, the natural scenic spots and treks need to be identified, developed and maintained in a systematic, pristine and friendly manner. Basic infrastructures like good roads, homestays and log cabins and trekkers huts alongwith local incinerators for proper disposal of wastes would ensure that the tourists will flock to the state and provide the much needed income as well as employment opportunities for the people of the state, not to mention the positive change in the outlook of the locals with increased interaction with tourists from different parts and walks of life.

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