Filled with a series of hills, caves, lakes and streams, Manipur is considered as a hidden gem in the country. The place is closely guarded by Nagaland in the north, Mizoram in the south, Assam in the west and a part of Myanmar in the east due to which the state is the abode of undisputed beauty. Being a very popular destination amongst travellers, the places offers some of the best sites to satisfy the wanderlust in you and the Khangkhui cave is one of the best examples for the same.
Located in the district of Ukhrul, the village of Khangkhui is home to the Tangkhul Naga tribe which is divided into two settlements namely the Khangkhui Khullen, which is the old settlement, and Khangkhui Phungdhar, which is the new settlement. The place is surrounded by the Shirui hills which is yet another major tourist draw in the state of Manipur.
The hamlet of Khangkhui is well known for its limestone caves. Locally known as Khangkhui Mangsor, the cave system here is one which dates back to the Paleolithic period and is one of the oldest of its kind to be found in the country. The cave here showcases large sedimentary limestone formations with some of them hanging from the ceiling and some growing from the ground which offers a very surreal experience.
It comprises of two large chambers and five tunnels; finding your way through the darkness of the caves is definitely an enriching experience. The limestone sedimentations here have led to the formation of different patterns which create a mystical experience that grabs everyone's attention and curiosity.
According to a legend, a king named Mangsorwung built a chamber as a symbol of love to his queen inside the cave and is still considered as the first wife's chamber. Another chamber goes by the second wife's name and others were named after his sons.
The major attraction at the caves is a huge hall right at the heart of the cave which is known as the Durbar of the king; it is followed by darkness is the bedroom of the king and his two queens. The sights do not end here. Next, one would come across a pit which is known as shirata which has a diameter of 5 m and a depth of 30 m, shirata in translation means "falling star hole".
According to a folklore, there happens to be a tunnel at the depths of shirata which runs to the Thoubal river in one end and Loktak at the other. Although, there are no evidences found about this tunnel, which extends itself to 150 odd km.
One of the last Manipuri kings, Budhachandra, is said to have visited the cave in the year 1942 and erected a memorial stone at the entrance of the cave which has not survived. The caves also served as a shelter to the locals during the Second World War.
How To Reach
By Air: The nearest major airport is the Imphal airport which is located at a distance of 90 km from here. The airport is well connected to some of the major airports in the country, with regular flights from Delhi, Kolkata, etc. One can hire a taxi from here to reach the town of Ukhrul from where the caves can reached at ease.
By Train: Since Manipur is a state which does not have any railway stations, the nearest railway station is located at Dimapur which is 210 km away from here. The railway station is well connected to major towns and cities across the country, such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, etc.
By Road: One of the best ways to reach the place is by road as it is well connected by road transportation. There are plenty of bus services available, which connect Ukhrul with Imphal and other towns across the state.