Special Attraction

'Samban-Lei Sekpil' the tallest Topiary in the World

Green and awesomely tall, a shrub growing 61 feet (18.59 m.), it is amazing. When Moirangthem Okendra Kumbi of Manipur returned home after getting his degree of B.Sc. Agri. (Hons.) from Meerut University, in 1983, he found a small plant on a mustard oil tin planted by his sister. The plant was a kind of shrub Manipuris use to grow as fencing to their gardens, so they called it Samban-Lei (Samban means fencing and Lei means flower), its Hindi name is Nilakantha (Sky flower) and Botanical Name is Duranta repens Linn.

He started an experiment with the plant to grow it upright and cutting its branches in round forming the shape of umbrellas and discs. Experts told him it wouldn't grow past 20 feet, but he never gave up. While it was growing, Moirangthem would display it at local exhibitions. Once it became too big to move, however, he decided to plant it permanently. In 1991, the then governor of Manipur saw it and recommended him for a position in the State Horticulture Department as Assistant Horticultural Officer.

This topiary duranta is given the name "Samban-Lei Sekpil" by its owner Moirangthem as the Samban-Lei is forming the shape of a Sekpil. The word Sekpil is derived from ancient Manipuri word for a decorative bamboo post with rounded structured cloths forming canopy in many stages. These sekpil at present also called as "Shattra" is generally used in worship and festivals of Manipuris.

He climb the supporting ladder at least two times in a day to check the shape of his record plant, till now he had spent more than Rupees sixteen lakhs on maintenance. His untired efford earned a place in the Indian Records of Topiary Art, the Limca Book of Records, and the Guinness Book of World Records.

Factual Information
Botanical Name: Duranta Repens Linn
Variety: Variegata
Common Name: Sky Flower
Hindi Name: Nilkanta
Manipuri Name: Samban-lei Mana Arangba
Plantation Year: 1981
Experiment Started Year: 1983
National Record (Limca Book of Records): 18th Nobember 1992 (at the height of 20 ft. with 11 steps)
World Record (Guinness Book of Records): 26 November 1999 (at the height of 50 ft. 35 steps)
Present Height: 61 ft.
Topiary steps: 44 Nos.

Why is it called "Samban-lei Sekpil"?

The word: "Sambanlei Sekpil" is drived from ancient Manipuri words: Samban=fencing, Lei=flower(Duranta in English) and Sekpil=a bamboo axis forming canopy with odd numbers of rounded shape of clothed structures with an interval, one above the other, generally used in front of Umang Lai ( God of Forests). In modern age 'Sekpil' is also known as 'Satra'. The creative knowledge of this living legend "Sambanlei Sekpil" is converted from the non-living religious symbol 'Sekpil'.

Who is the father of the top topiary "sambanlei sekpil"?

The left-handed with long hair and brave-hearted hedge plant specialist is named Moirangthem Okendra Kumbi alias Moirangningthou is the first son of Moirangthem Mangi, a retired National Awardee Teacher besides energetic social worker and prize winner in the state paddy crop competitions, and Moirangthem Ongbi Angoubi, a hard working and religious housewife. He has one sister and two brothers. Born and brought up in a historic place called Kumbi (Kum-Tambi). It is situated in the south east corner of Loktak Lake and about 60kms away from the capital city Imphal. Presently, the gardener is working as an Assistant Agriculture Officer in the State Horticulture Department, Manipur.

A sincere word from the owner

"From time immemorial, Duranta plant is used as a hedge plant, just as forces barricade border for security and protection. The queen of garden (rose) is protected by Duranta plant.

"It is my sincere opinion that today the hedge plant-Duranta has the proven evidence to be used as a majestic decoration piece in the heart of the modern garden as it can work wonderfully. Paradoxically, the queen of garden is recommended by many visitors for a decorative fence of the Top Topiary.

"Naturally, mankind and plant go together all the time. In this regard, it is my sincere hope that such an output of my humble work is amply awarded in case it can attune to the loving accord of plant and mankind and can fill a vacuum in modern garden.

"Once again, I hope that anybody can create such a Top Topiary "Sambanlei Sekpil" with the help of my technique of cultivation and it will high up to the sky as long as there is a love for plant."

Certificate of recognisation from Guiness World Records


The record breaking duranta is a ladder to the sky for his owner


Shri Moiranthem Okendra Kumbi the proud owner of Sambanlei Sekpil


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