Andro has a rich history of its own. It is an old village know for pottery making. Andro is located 21 km from Imphal at the base of a hill. Nowadays it is becoming popular tourists destination for city dwellers because of its easy accessibility and the attractions.
The Santhei Natural Park and dam is the main draw. A decent number of picnickers arrive daily here. The dam located at the base of the hill is a nice spot for picnickers. The park is on the edge of the lake. The park is covered with small trees and offers shade even on hot day. A group of students arrived soon after I reached there and they went about fetching water as they began to prepare their meal.
Chakpa Panam Ningthou Meithoupirol Shanglen or Mei Mutaba is an interesting destination. It is an old traditional Hindu temple, where for more than a thousand years the fire lit inside has never been annihilated since it was started.
The temple was a big, empty hall, except for few idols. The fire was buried in ashes and only a small bellow of smoke came out of it. It looked as if the fire was dying. The priest took a tong and cleared the ashes. I was surprised to see the wood, steadily burning, though without any flame. The slow rate of burning meant, it is the most convenient and cheapest way of keeping a fire alive. I was told that men folks for many generations have taken turns building the fire, and therefore keeping the tradition alive. The locals are very proud of this tradition they have kept alive for more than thousand years.
Mutua Museum is altogether a different kind of destination. It is the most significant place to visit in Andro. The cultural complex is run by a family at their backyard. An old woman collected tickets (of Rs.5) sheepishly, for maintenance purposes. Though the project has been started few years back; the remoteness of the place and its small size does not draw enough visitors on regular basis. When I went, it was locked and most of the family household who looked after the museum had gone out for some work. An old woman sat at the verandah making pottery. For few moments I stood there nagging her to open the gate. Someone has to take around the museum. There were many cottages built in traditional tribal style and each contained valuables, which have been stolen by visitors in the past. Before long a boy came back in time to take around the museum, opening each houses that contained items and materials used in the past. There were traditional houses of major communities and tribes inhabiting Manipur like the Meitei, Kabui, Tangkhul and Kuki.
The museum is a cultural complex showcasing major tribal traditions and their artifacts. In the middle of the complex stood an old tree trunk, carved with beautiful designs. Nearby few monoliths gave some company to the old mystic figure. Most of these were authentic materials brought in from other places. Some common artifacts displayed here include various forms of pottery, musical instruments, traditional clothes etc. one most important aspect of the complex is the beautiful wood carvings on the traditional houses.
The Mutau museum is a beautiful and innovative way of showcasing the complex conglomeration of people and their culture; co-existing in the State.