Amongst many locations in Manipur with great potential for tourism is Andro. This village is largely gaining traction due to the efforts of the local communities to preserve their rich cultural heritage. Andro is located at a distance of 25 km from Imphal. Pineapple trees are found in abundance in the orchards scattered across the length and breadth of the village.
During the harvest season, the views on the way to Andro are filled with golden hues.
The lure of Andro lies in the manner in which the inhabitants of the village have preserved their culture and belief system. The village provides an insight into Manipur’s history and its prowess in the form of traditional handicrafts. The main attraction of Andro is the pottery craftsmanship of the locals that does not require the potter’s wheel. Instead, this unique style of pottery uses a wooden bat to mould the clay in the desired shape. Well, my visit to Andro happened to be on a Sunday and I had no luck in experiencing the craftsmen at work.
I spent time at a model cultural complex built in thatched huts that exhibits century-old artifacts, musical instruments, a doll-house and shows the pottery skills the locals possess.
The Paomai chief house – the carvings depict the tribe were fierce headhunters, standing over buried enemies and their heads in hand.
Kuki homes are fragile and a makeshift set up.
A Tangkhul model house
Meiteis homes are structurally more advanced and have a relatively solid built.
Gracefully arranged wood carvings
A Kabui house displaying different woven baskets – these are designed to make carrying load on longer distances easier
A sculpted Totem pole with intricate carvings is planted at the centre of the complex
Other than pottery the inhabitants of the village earn a livelihood from agriculture. The village is also known for the rice beer brewed at local homes which tasted much sweeter than the one I tried at Nagaland.
The villagers of Andro are spirited advocates of sustainable tourism. They have invested a commendable amount of effort in building a reservoir and landscaping a nature park around it (Andro Shanthei National Park). Under their strict vigil, the park is maintained well despite growing football enthusiasts. Andro sets a fine example to replicate at ample countryside places in Manipur.
To beat the heat while walking around the park, I got myself a chilled pale lager.
The residents of Andro till today follow the ancient religion and keep the fire burning in the temple of the local deity – Lord Panam Ningthou. It is a joint effort of the community where the locals volunteer to keep the custom alive.
Villages like Andro are the pride of our country and Manipur. They represent our diverse culture which has been preserved well by the inhabitants. We must do our part, support, and encourage these skillful artisans. With the support of the government and tourism, villages like Andro will be able to preserve their culture and heritage. Provision of funds will help residents to maintain the cultural complex especially the interiors of model houses. An annual festival with cultural events to showcase the local talent is the need of the hour. If you are traveling in the state of Manipur, do give Andro a visit to experience the local artisans and the model cultural complex.
Best Time to Visit
Soon after the monsoons are over, Andro is green and beautiful.
How to Travel
Private and share cabs are easily available from Imphal to Andro.