Khwairamband Bazaar also known by other names like Mother's Market, Nupi Keithel and Ima Bazaar is a popular location for commoners and a special delight in itself for tourists. Centrally located at a distance of about 8 kilometers from the heart of the city at Imphal the bazaar is unique in that it is run by women shopkeepers only. Since Manipuri men were largely engaged in fighting wars against the Chinese and Burmese women had to fend their families and therefore Khwairamband Bazaar is run by womenfolk.
The Bazaar purportedly the largest in the country also finds mention in the Gazeteer of Manipur 1786 probably the first recorded as a market being conducted by women in the open-air held in the mornings.
There are around 3,000 shops which are owned and managed by Manipuri women reflecting the independent spirit and enterprise of the womenfolk. The shops sell everything from handwoven shawls and skirts to fish, lotus, oranges and orange flavoured honey. The market is separated by Khwairamband Road, one side of which sells commodities like hand loom shawls, phaneks, khudeis and bedsheets. On the other side, vegetables, fish, household utensils and fruits are sold.
The women shopkeepers are mostly ‘Imas’, which means mothers and tribal women wearing colorful and traditional Manipuri attires. Folklore has it that the women are protected by Goddess Ima. The bazaar remains open from 7 in the morning till 7 in the evening. A little ahead of Khwairamband Bazaar, there are several shops that sell beautiful cane baskets and furniture. The intricate designs of these cane baskets and furniture showcase the craftsmanship of Manipuri people. An excellent example of the matriarchal society of the state of Manipur is reflected at Khwairamband Bazaar.
The market place is divided into two sections. On one side of the market, the women sell the handloom products that make excellent collectible items for the tourists who visit the state of Manipur. On the other side of the road lies the vegetable market, where fruits and fishes are also sold. Cosmetics, household utensils and jewelry are found in this section of the market. The handicrafts found in the Khwairamband Bazaar of Manipur also contain the plaited osiers that are a specialty of the region.
By Air: The Imphal Tulihal International Airport has flight services to all major destinations of the country.
By Train: The closest junction to Imphal is the Dimapur railway station which is located at a distance of 215 kilometers from Manipur
By Road: Guwahati to Imphal; (490.9 km) via NH 36 & NH39. Imphal to Khwairamband Bazaar; (1.5 km) via NH150 & NH39