So, I spent a night in Loktak Lake. It was a quick trip while coming back from the Ukhrul Trekking trip, and I barely had the time for a night stay without much exploration. Generally, I don’t even write about mere stays but the very act of staying in the middle of the lake is something that I think is worth sharing.
So, I had one day left in Manipur after the trek in Ukhrul. Shyam, my friend in Imphal suggested that instead of staying in the city, I book one night in Loktak Aquamarine, a new homestay that had been doing rounds on my social media feeds. I took a bus from Ukhrul to Imphal, and then to Moirang. Now, here is the tricky part. The homestay is in the middle of the water. You need a boat ride to reach it and even the point from where the boatman (who works for the homestay) gets you, is around 3-4 KMs from Moirang Town. Also, this particular route does not have any public transport. (The straight route towards Thanga does have shared cars but not this one!)
So, I called Ashok, the owner of the homestay, who somehow coordinated an auto-rickshaw guy to pick me up and leave at the boating point. AFter another call and some hand waving from a distance, I was noticed and the boatman was dispatched. It took another 15-20 miutes as I watched the boat arrive at a glacial pace, negotiating the thick groves of water lilies. In fact, it is surprising how he even managed to move this boat in not-so deep water full of thick vegetation. Most of the following images are shot on phone due to my tiredness. So, please excuse the quality.
So, the homestay is a small cluster of bamboo huts built on a small, floating island, called Phumdi. These are one of the unique features of Loktak Lake and local communities, especially fishermen, have used them for ages. These are formed naturally by a combination of vegetation, soil, and organic matter.
So, after 15 mins we reached the homestay and I was given a hut with a bed (Covered with mosquito nets). Some local organic tea was offered and I enjoyed a good siesta after a tiresome morning (I’d started from Ukhrul at 4.30 AM!). The golden hour was already there when I woke up!
The evening was spent talking to Ashok and also a couple of people already staying at the homestay. The homestay has 3-4 local stuff who do the housekeeping, cook, and also double up as boatman as well as fisherman. Even in the dark, I saw one of them going out with the boat, apparently to catch fish for the dinner. Except Ashok, rest of the crew barely speak Hindi or English, so you need to mostly rely on sign language or specific keywords.
Anyway, during the conversation I figured out that a lot of care has been taken to make this homestay into a responsible and sustainable entity rather than a mere business. They go fishing at designated timings and spots, so as not to completely destroy the habitat. The cottages are built in a traditional manner with local material, just how the locals stay. There is no electricity line here and the power comes from solar panels. I noticed both firewood and LPG cylinder at the kitchen.
The dinner was simple but was well cooked, with local rice, lentils, a simple vegetable curry, and a fish curry for those who were interested. It was not a surprise as I have already spoken highly about the cuisine of Manipur on various occassions.
The next morning I woke up late and left slowly after a scenic breakfast, staring at the open expanses of the lake. If I had one more day, I could have visited the Keibul Lamjao National Park, which was not far away. But this is how things turned out to be. Maybe next time I will keep more time for these options.
What are the stay options in Loktak?
I stayed at Loktak Aquamarine Floating Homestay. It is a huge lake, so there are some other options too, spread across the lake, including a big luxury resort in Sendra Island.
First, you need to reach the town of Moirang, which is around 40 KMs from Imphal and plenty of buses and shared cars are available. From Moirang call the homestay people so that they can come to pick you up or at least arrange a local auto-rickshaw. The autorickshaws are expensive though. They can charge anything between INR 150-200 for a one-way drop at the boating spot. Once you reach there, you can call them again to send the boatman.
What are the rates of the homestay?
I paid INR 1000 for the night stay including food. Rates may be different if you are in a group. Also, they have tents and sleeping bags and can arrange camping in one of the islands.
Also, I had to spend extra for the autorickshaws (200+200). So, expect to spend around 1500 if you are alone.
Connectivity in Loktak?
The network was mostly working even in the middle of the lake. I was even getting data connectivity. So, in that regard, you should not have any issues.
Power comes through solar panels. You can charge your phones too, but it takes time to charge.
What else can be done here?
You can go deeper into the Loktak Lake, visit Keibul Lamjao – the floating National Park, and also the INA Museum preserving the memory of Subhash Bose & WWII in Moirang town. Read the following posts for a better idea.