Unbeknownst to most parts of the world, Shirui Lily or Lilium Mackliniae is the endemic flower of Ukhrul. This family of flowers finds their refuge on the dawn-lit range of Shirui Kashong in one of the picturesque locations of Manipur. Bringing about the essence of a mythical inquest, it is one of the coveted places to explore. The lush green mountains, the mystical panorama, and the tranquil nature preserve an eye-pleasing sight for its nature-loving visitors. Dwelling landlocked in the heart of nature, its beauty is beyond any photographic capture.
Discover the unique tales of the ethereal Shirui Lily jointly with the vibrant culture of the Tangkhul Tribe, one of the major tribes of Manipur.
The Abode Of Shirui Lily
The jaggedly misty Shirui Kashong Range resides near the village of Shirui in the Ukhrul district of Manipur. The lofty range is the only home to Shirui Lily, the rarest of all kinds of lilies on the planet earth. Found only in the upper reaches of the hills, its pe captivates the interests of various international botanists, scientists, and nature enthusiasts alike. The Lilies in Shirui Kashong are found blooming at their best at the elevation of 5680 – 8500 feet above sea level. The boundary of Myanmar in the east, the village of Shirui at the west, Sihai village in the north, and the Choithar village in the south circumscribe the ravishing abode of Shirui Lilies. The Sirohi National Park is a national park that protects and preserves the enthralling plants of the lilies including the other flora and fauna of the region.
Interesting Facts Of Shirui Lilies
Shirui Lily is the most renowned and extraordinary flower due to some of its distinct attributes.
- The supreme feature of the flower is that it cannot be transplanted anywhere else on the face of the Earth except in Shirui Kashong or Shirui Hill, its natural habitat.
- The charming Shirui Lily is native to Manipur and resplendently portrays its beauty in its bell-shaped petals that slightly bend. The bowing or bent position reflects that of a modest girl.
- Owing to its outstanding feature, Shirui Lily is entitled as the state flower of Manipur.
- The Indian Postal Department solemnized postage stamps of Shirui Flower as a tribute to the only endemic flower of the state.
- The appearance of the lily’s petals is bluish-pink, however, it has seven shades of colors like that of the rainbow when closely observed through a microscope.
- It has medicinal effects which help cure stomach problems. It is also a common use for treating skin infections.
- The Shirui Lily plant is 1 – 3 feet in height and has one to seven flowers on each plant.
- Lilium Mackliniae is the botanical name of the extraordinary Shirui Lily. However, the locals of Ukhrul call it Shirui Kashung Timrawon.
The Flowering Months of Shirui Lily
Shirui Lilies grow wild in scarce numbers in the upper part of the Shirui Kashong Range. They are seasonal flowering plants that bloom during the spring season. They blossom at their best from 15th May to 5th June marking it as its peak season and is the best time to visit. The view is as enthralling as anywhere else in the world where the lilies dot the entire slopes of Shirui Hills. Addedly, the beauty is beyond words at witnessing the lush green hills and the clear rivers running down the crevices and slopes of the Shirui Peak.
The Journey of Shirui Lily’s Discovery
The discovery of the Lily goes back somewhere to six decades. Mr. Kingdon Ward and his wife Jean Macklin on behalf of the New York Botanical Society arrived at Ukhrul in 1946. Later, in their quest, they discovered the ultimate unique flower blooming gracefully in the gentle slope of the Kashung Range. The couple did not hesitate for long and brought it to the public’s attention. Ultimately, the momentum begged them the prestigious merit prize of the 1948 Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show in London. Mr. Ward in honor of his wife named the lily Lilium Macklinae Sealy as its botanical name. Shirui Lily warmly reflects kindness, protection, prosperity, and contented life
Shirui Lily Now
Although the discovery of Shirui Lily led to its eminence, its popularity dropped dramatically within a few decades. The reason is that the state and center governments did not pay a full measure of attention to preservation. Unfortunately, the ‘crown jewel’ of the state is going through possible extinction that leads to the categorization of ‘endangered species’.
However, despite the laxity of the government, the locals with the help of researchers, nature enthusiasts, and a few professionals give their best at promoting the uniqueness of the flower. Hence, through their efforts, from being incognito for several years, Shirui Lily reclaims its stance and once more becomes the highlighted spot for tourists. Moreover, there are greater hopes that the government fully takes notice of promoting the only flower found nowhere but in the state. Over the top, the district of Ukhrul annually organizes the Shirui Lily Festival as an attempt to disseminate and preserve the rare flower. The festival is an extravaganza showcasing the rich Tangkhul tradition, cuisines and attires, flower show, painting competition, and other entertainment.
Fascinating Mythical Stories of The Shirui Lily
It may not sound familiar but there is a saying that every spectacular place has whimsical stories behind them. Most people do believe in mermaids as much as they believe in fairies too. In the case of Shirui Hills and its Lily, the folks have fascinating myths that have hand down from generation to generation. And a few of the many stories go as…
Once, there was a princess called Lily who lived on the hill with her lover Shirui. One day, the latter left the hill to run some errands. However, he did not return the night, the next day, the day after, or for the rest of the days. Meanwhile, the princess kept waiting for her lover’s return till the day she breathed her last. Her body was buried on the hill where she died. Plants of the lily flower came forth from the soil of her tomb and spread around the vicinity. Thenceforth, it begets its name as Shirui Lily.
While she was alive waiting for her lover, she used to sing melancholy songs with her sweet voice. The Folks of Shirui believe that her spirit still resides on the hill and that she sings songs for her lover. It says that her voice lures handsome lads who visit the Shirui hill. Whosoever hears and listens to the voice are hallucinated and once they find her, it’s sheer luck that he will be seen again.
Another folklore is not as bizarre as the first one, however, it is captivating. A certain goddess Philava sent her daughter Lily to protect the hills of Shirui Kashung. Since then she dwells on the hill as the guardian and protector.
Things To Do At Shirui Hills
Naturally blessed, Shirui Hill is a trekker’s paradise and nature lover’s haven. Apart from Shirui Hills Visitors can have an amazing experience not only seeing the charming lilies but also exploring the villages nearby. Folks residing at Shirui belong to the Tangkhul Tribe and are massively cheerful, charitable, and benevolent. In fact, the village itself is a jewel to behold, a stunning hill station with unparalleled beauty. People are friendly where one can truly enjoy endless strands of conversations over a cup of brewed tea. Perhaps, you can request the locals to narrate an engrossing folktale or two. They will promptly do so if you have time to listen.
One can deliberately attend the Shirui Lily Festival in Shirui village. The event usually takes place in April or May at the blossoming time of the Lily. The last time it was held was in October 2019 due to the election.
There are other major attractions around Ukhrul such as the mystifying Khangkhui Lime Caves, and Longpi village, mostly famous for their indigeneous art in black pottery crafts.
How To Reach Shirui Kashong?
The distance from Imphal to Ukhrul is 97 km which is the primary route to reach the destination. So, you can take National Highway 150 to reach there which is a promising scenic drive. Shirui Village is where the journey will commence to Shirui Peak and is 18 Km from Ukhrul town. In fact, it is an ideal trekking destination that most visitors will like every bit of.
The closest railhead is the Dimapur Train Station in Nagaland. Buses and taxis are plying at regular intervals from Dimapur to Imphal. Upon reaching Imphal, you can book a bus ticket from Inter-State Bus Terminus near Khuman Lampak.
For non-northeast visitors, the best option to reach Shirui Kashung is by Air. The Airport in Imphal is the nearest. And likewise, passengers can board a bus from Khuman Lampak. Meanwhile, the journey from Imphal to Ukhrul takes about 2 hours.
Places to Stay In Shirui
If you have prepared your mind for premium accommodations in Ukhrul, drop that thought. Despite its tourism potentials, the undeniable reason is that the place is yet to explore. The truth is, not many in the world have any idea of the many hidden gems and raw beauty of this charming hill station. Some three to five hotels are available in Phungreitang in Ukhrul which are the options to stay near Shirui Kashung. Look out for Hotel 3 in 1, 25 Degree North Hotel, Hotel Iceland, and Zion Hotel, a few of the best recommendations. Nevertheless, the perk is that it is just two hours away from Imphal, the capital city of Manipur with arrays of options to stay.