Keibul Lamjao National Park

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Keibul Lamjao National Park


Cervus eldii. Eld’s deer. Thamin deer. Brow-antlered deer. Sangai. Dancing deer. A whole lot of names for a single species, but that’s how it is for this unusual deer, a graceful animal which is found only in one state of India- Manipur. A highly endangered species, the brow-antlered deer is found exclusively in a small area which stretches across the extreme north-eastern corner of India; Myanmar and part of Thailand. In India, the place to see this beautiful creature is the Keibul Lamjao National Park.

Keibul Lamjao is famous not just because of the brow-antlered deer; its other claim to fame is the fact that this is one of the very few `floating’ protected areas in the world.Approximately 50 km from the state capital, Imphal, Keibul Lamjao lies on an island on the fringes of the Loktak Lake.

Gazetted a sanctuary in 1969, Keibul Lamjao officially became a national park in 1977. It today stretches over an area of about 40 sq km, surrounded by marshes, hillocks, and the lake itself. A number of streams too crisscross Keibul Lamjao, which, combined with extensive marshes, make the park a typical wetland. The Loktak Lake, which is really what the park is all about, is covered almost completely by floating mats of the dense aquatic grass known locally as `phum'. Other wild grasses, including a variety of wild rice, form the bulk of the vegetation, which supports an astoundingly large and diverse fauna.

The most prominent- if not the most easily spotted- of Keibul Lamjao's many denizens is the brow-antlered `sangai' deer. A much-loved creature in Manipuri folklore and dance tradition (so much so that it's even known as the `dancing deer'), the sangai had been reported extinct in 1951, but after being re-discovered, has finally become Keibul Lamjao's prime attraction. Other animals in the park include otter, civet, wild boar and hog deer, besides a number of small reed-dwelling birds. The Loktak Lake is home to a large piscine population.

Best time to visit

The winter and spring- approximately October to February- is the best time to visit Keibul Lamjao. Visits are possible up to May too, although it may be a trifle too hot for some people, and the lake shrinks by almost a third because of evaporation in the summer heat.

Beyond May, heavy monsoon showers hit Loktak, making visits here extremely difficult.


Spot some very rare species in the park! The brow-antlered deer Cervus eldii, also fondly called Manipur's dancing deer catches all your attention. Watch out for its delicate gait as it negotiates its way along the floating wetlands.


The park is open to the visitors throughout the day.The best time to enjoy the beauty of the park is between 6:00 am to 10:00 am in the morning and 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm.

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