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Monday, May 9, 2016

A Visit To Karang of Loktak Lake

A sunset view from Thanga

Date: 08 - 05 - 2016

Written & Photographs by Lukhendro Keisham

Heading towards Karang in a traditional fishing boat from Thanga Heisnam Awang Leikai

     This is my second visit to Karang, a fishing village offshore of Thanga Village of Bishnupur District in the State of Manipur under the Republic of India. The village is an island inside Loktak Lake, the largest freshwater lake in North -East India. The lake is famous for its floating vegetation which the local calls it as Phumdis and the brow-antlered deer Sangai found only in the state.

Decorated boats at Thanga Heisnam Awang Leikai side of the harbor.
      The only means of transport connecting Karang to the rest of the world is through water ways from Thanga Heishman Awang Leikai. Covering a water stretch of around 900 meters between Thanga and Karang it's either you choose a hand rowing traditional fishing boat or a motor operated passenger ones. I visited the place around twenty years back during an annual event call Loktak Festival. Today we are on a field survey trip to replace the current naked lower tension power lines (LT-Line) with aerial bundled cables (AB Cables). Though two decades have past not much of a changes is seen still today.

A trapped Phumbi on the mid way between Thanga and Karang
     The village remains the same in many major ways. Forget about black topped roads, there was still no vehicular road fit even for bicycles. Neighborhood comprises of tight zig -zag pathways with steep up and down climbs. Most houses lies along the shore of the island. Government and village buildings lie on the higher grounds. Religiously the major population comprises of Meitei Hindus along with Meitei Bhahmins. At a higher ground there was a Church. We even hard few Manipuri gospel songs playing inside.

A religious shrine at Karang
     Not sure about the authenticity but it is still talked about widely that during the time when the government put forward weather they wanted electricity or bridge connectivity the villagers choose electricity. The power company told that the high tension electric line from Thanga Heishnam Awang Leikai to the village is now more than twenty years without a single line snap.  Compared to the time lapsed the development work in these area seems very slow paced. We found that the water supply scheme by the government is at defunct state. An only major change is the Thanga - Moirang Road. Back than the road was so pathetic that we had to walk our scooter along the piles of deep muddy road. We use to look for wheel lines made by heavy vehicles for deplorable spots. Now the roads have been black - topped and are in good shape.

A view of the Chingdompok from the end point of the village
     Children of the village attain schools mostly at Thanga and Moirang. Few parents send their kids to boarding and residential schools located at various places of the state. Well for the financial income it is said that every household has a daily stable income from fishing at Loktak water. 

Local kids preparing for an afternoon soccer match at Karang
     A small soccer field is located at Thanga Chingkha Mamang. At the farthest end of the village a small offshore shrine of Ibudhou Pakhangba known as Chingdompok can be seen at a distance of about few hundred meters.

     The place may be less attended by modern developments but its beauty and the feeling of closeness to nature remains untouched. Back then it was five rupees for a one way boat transport, now its ten rupees per adult. The boats were maintained by the local bodies and are set sail in turns. We spoke to the few youths who were managing the boats and share their willingness of making the island a tourist spot.

Boat waiting stand at Karang
     Apart from the material changes a major change we saw was the armed underground activities in these areas. During the past decades the Loktak dominated surrounding areas especially Thang, Karang and Kumbi were regarded as paradise for armed militants. These places provide a perfect escape gateway to the militants whenever their location is compromised. They either snick away into phumdis or the nearby villages through water ways. Now the government has stationed state and central security forces restoring peace and growth in these areas. It is said that the underground personals use to petrol these villages daily with full war like get ups. It was always a curfew for the outsiders to visit these places.

Kids collecting flowers. This is the site where Assam Riffles had a post earlier.
      A lot many basic amenities still awaits the homes and people of the village. Basic healthcare facilities along with proper inter village road connectivity should be the first priority

A view of Chimgdompok from a higher ground,

An entrance to the house of a local at Karang.

A view of Thanga from the boat harbor at Karang

People boarding and unboarding to cross the 900 mts. Loktak stretch at Karng
Phumbis, the floating vegetation at Loktak Lake.

The boat harbor at Thanga end.

View of Chingdompok from Karang end point.

Leaving Karang at a motor boat

The Thanga side of the harbor.

At Karang harbor.

Setting sun view from mid water route of Thanga - Karang

Sunset view from Thanga
The setting sum among a bunch of cloud.


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