This page uses content from Wikipedia and is licensed under CC BY-SA.

History of Manipur

Kingdom of Manipur
Part of History of Manipur
Kings of Manipur
Ching-Thang Khomba1769–1798
Maduchandra Singh1801–1806
Chourjit Singh1806–1812
Marjit Singh1812–1819
Gambhir Singh1825–1834
Raja Nara Singh1844–1850
Debindro Singh1850
Chandrakirti Singh1850–1886
Raja Surchandra1886–1890
Kulachandra Singh1890–1891
Churachandra Singh1891–1941
Bodhchandra Singh1941–1949
Manipur monarchy data
Ningthouja dynasty (Royal family)
Pakhangba (Symbol of the kingdom)
Cheitharol Kumbaba (Royal chronicle)
Imphal (Capital of the kingdom)
Kangla Palace (Royal residence)

The history of Manipur (Kangleipak in ancient times) is reflected by archaeological research, mythology and written history. However, with the finding of old lost Puya (written documents) called "Wakoklol Heelen Thilen Ameilon Pukok " which was written around 1398 BCE (verified by National Archives of India, New Delhi on 29/11/1989) at the time of King Mongyamba, the kings of Kangleipak need to be updated.

Since ancient times, the Meitei people have lived in the valleys of Manipur alongside the highlanders in the hills and valley in peace. Pangal (Muslims) people settled in the valleys during the reign of Meidingu Khagemba in the year 1606. Since then, they also lived along with the Meitei.

Mythological origins begin with the reign of the "Konchin Tukthapa Ipu Athoupa Pakhangpa" (Pakhangpa was the name given to him meaning "The one who knows his father"), who gave birth the seven clans of Meitei society.

The pre-Hindu era is set forth in the sacred writing puya "Wakoklon Heelel Thilel Salai Amailon Pukok". Introduction of the Vaishnavism school of Hinduism brought about changes in the history of the state. Manipur's early history is set forth in the Cheitharon Kumbaba, a chronicle of royal events which is believed to record events from the foundation of the ruling dynasty.[citation needed]

Manipur became a princely state under British rule in 1891, the last of the independent states to be incorporated into British India. During the Second World War, Manipur was the scene of battles between Japanese and Allied forces. The Japanese were beaten back before the Allies could enter Imphal. This proved to be one of the turning points of the war.[citation needed]

After the war, the Manipur Constitution Act, 1947, established a democratic form of government with the Maharaja as the Executive Head and an elected legislature. In 1949, Maharaja Budhachandra was summoned to Shillong, capital of the Indian province of Meghalaya where he signed a Treaty of Accession merging the kingdom into India. Thereafter the legislative assembly was dissolved and Manipur became part of the Republic of India in October, 1949.[1] It was made a union territory in 1956[2] and a full-fledged state in 1972.[3]Mairembam Koireng Singh became the first Chief Minister in 1972 of the State of Manipur.[4]

Mythological origins

Mythological origins begin with the reign of the "Konchin Tukthapa Ipu Athoupa Pakhangpa" (Pakhangpa was the name given to him meaning "The one who knows his father"). He gave birth to the seven clans of Meitei society. 1. Mangang, 2. Luwang, 3. Khuman, 4. Angom, 5. Moirang, 6. Khapa-Nganba, and 7.Salai Leishangthem.

Kanglei which is now called "Kangla" was the first capital of the kingdom called "Kangleipak". "Lainingthou Sanamahi" is the creator of all according to "Kangleichas", the then residents of the now called Manipur. The religion of the land was purely "Sanamahism", one of the oldest religions of the world.[citation needed]


Manipur had been known throughout the ages as Meitrabak, Kangleipak or Meeteileipak[5] as well as by more than twenty other names.[6] Sanamahi Laikan wrote that Manipur's new nomenclature was adopted in the eighteenth century during the reign of Meidingu Pamheiba. According to Sakok Lamlen, the area had different names according to the era. During the Hayachak period it was known as Mayai Koiren poirei namthak saronpung or Tilli Koktong Ahanba, then in the Khunungchak period as Meera Pongthoklam. Thereafter during the Langbachak era, it became Tilli Koktong Leikoiren and finally Muwapalli in the Konnachak epoch.[7]

During the latter part of its history, Manipur and its people were known by different names to their neighbours. The Shans or Pongs called the area Cassay, the Burmese Kathe, and the Assamese Meklee. In the first treaty between the British East India Company and Meidingu Chingthangkhomba (Bhagyachandra) signed in 1762, the kingdom was recorded as Meckley. Bhagyachandra and his successors issued coins engraved with the title of Manipureshwar, or lord of Manipur and the name Meckley was discarded. Later on, the Sanskritisation work, Dharani Samhita (1825–34) popularized the legends of the derivation of Manipur's name.[8]

Prehistoric Manipur

Prehistory of Kangleipak or Manipur

Manipur is situated on the tertiary ranges of a branch of the eastern Himalayas running south and forms part of the compact physiographic unit following the great divide between the Brahmaputra and Chindwin valleys. Northeast India holds the key to the understanding the scope, depth, dimension and cultural diffusion between south Asia, southeast Asia, Polynesia and Micronesia which played a crucial role in transforming the northeast Indian ethnographic canvas from prehistoric times onwards. Manipur appears to have absorbed Bronze Age cultural traits from Thailand and Upper Burma where indigenous early metal age culture developed at a comparatively early date around 4000 BC.[citation needed]

Old Stone Age

The four Khangkhui Caves are located near Khangkhui some 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) south-east of Ukhrul on the border with Upper Burma. Archaeological excavations have found stone and bone tools as well as animal remains as evidence of Stone Age habitation of these caves.[9] The first evidence of Pleistocene man in Manipur dates back to about 30,000 BC. Other notable caves nearby include Hunding Caves, 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) south of Ukhrul, Purul Cave in Purul and the Song Ring rock shelter at Beyang village in Tengnoupal.

One of archaeologist O.K. Singh's most valuable findings is a pebble chopping tool discovered in Maring Naga Village, Machi, in the Chandel district.[10] The Marings are one of the oldest tribes of Manipur and this find is considered as a landmark in the Paleolithic archaeology of Manipur, as it confirms, the area was inhabited by Neolithic people from the early Stone Age or lower Paleolithic period.

New Stone Age

  • Hoabinhian Culture – A large number of Neolithic celts have been discovered throughout Manipur and are now preserved in the State College Museum Archaeology Department. These celts are mostly edge-ground pebble and flake tools and show the presence of Neolithic culture in Manipur.[citation needed]

Findings in the Tharon Caves in the Tamenglong district provide the first concrete evidence of Hoabinhian and Lapita culture in India, a Mesolithic southeast Asian and Polynesian cultural pattern based on historic finds from the village of Haobihian in North Vietnam and Lapita in Tonga. Similar relics have been found in Thailand at the Spirit Caves as well as in Burma and other places in Southeast Asia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Tharon is a Liangmei village where the five caves and rock shelters were first explored in December 1979 by the State Archaeology Department.[citation needed]

The site is located at 93.32’ longitude and 25.3’ latitude in the midst of the thickly forested Reyangling Hills, about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) north of Tharon Village. Locally, the caves are known as Kalemki (from Kalem (bat) and Ki (house), literally: The house of the bat). A stream called Kalem-ki-magu runs near the caves, which are composed of Barail series sandstone and were probably formed by rock weathering. Tharon's edge-ground pebble tools are similar to finds from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Fiji, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Niue, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, Nauru, Tokelau, the Cook Islands, Hawaii, Samoa, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Pitcairn Islands and Tonga where they were used about 7000–8000 BC. The Tharons have a distinct affinity with the Haobihian culture and before the advent of the present Tibeto-Burman inhabitants of the area, Proto-Australoid people occupied these caves around 5000–4000 BC.[citation needed]

Napachik is A Stone Age site dating to the second millennium BC. It is on a small hillock near Meetei Village, Wangu, in the southern part of the Imphal Valley, on the right bank of the Manipur River which flows into the Chindwin River in Burma. The edge-ground tools and corded wares of Napachik are similar to those found in the Spirit Cave in Thailand, the Padubtin Cave in Burma, the Lapita sites in Tonga along with Haobihian sites in Vietnam although tripod wares were also found at one the Haobihian sites. Possible dates for the Neolithic age in northeast India are between 500 BC and 2000 BC. It is probable that, while Napachik culture has an affinity with that of Haobihian, handmade corded tripod wares from Chinese Neolithic culture arrived in the area around the second millennium BC showing that the Manipur valley was already inhabited by Neolithic men in or around 2000 BC.[citation needed]

Ancient Manipur

The source for this era is the Cheitharol Kumbaba, the royal chronicle of Manipur or Kangleipak.[citation needed]

  • Nongda Lairen Pakhangba (33–154 AD) was ruler and the creator of Manipur (or Meeteileipak or Kangleipak). He was the first crowned historical ruler whose reign began in 33 according to the Cheitharol Kumbaba. Meitei culture took root during the reign of Pakhangba as did sagol kangjei (polo), with the first match played between the chiefs of different regions. Polo was played in imitation of a game from the traditional Hayachak era. Laisna took a major role in organizing the game.[citation needed]

Pakhangba was succeeded by his son, Khuiyoi Tompok, in 154 AD. Known as the inventor of the drum (pung), his reign was a peaceful one. Technical innovation in metallurgy was also recorded in the chronicle.[citation needed]

  • Naophangba (428–518 AD)

The treatise on the construction of the places of Kangla and Kangla Houba are believed to have been written by Ashangba Laiba.[citation needed]

  • Loiyamba Shinyen (1074–1122 AD) was known as the "Great law Giver", his reign was an important period in the history of Kangleibak. Along with the military consolidation of the kingdom, Loiyamba introduced administrative reforms, which provided the backbone of the kingdom's administration for the next seven centuries. He systematized the administrative divisions of the country by creating six lups or divisions as well as introducing the Pana System. He left a well-organized society and economy in Meeteileipak.[citation needed]

Medieval Manipur

  • Meidingu Ningthou Khomba (1432–1467) was the "Conqueror of Tamu"...One of the most well-known events of Charairongba's reign was a raid by the Tangkhul tribe from Tuisem village while he was absent. His queen Linthoingambi demonstrated courage and skill, hoodwinking the raiding tribesmen into defeat and captivity. The Meitei state was completely established during his reign.[citation needed]
  • Meidingu Senbi Kiyamba (1467–1508) was known as the "Conqueror of Kabaw Valley". He was formerly called Thangwai Ningthouba. Credit for the military and territorial expansion of the kingdom was given to King Ningthou Khomba and his son Kiyamba who had an equally colourful mother, Linthoingambi, the warrior queen in Manipur's history. This period sees the emergence of Medingu Senbi Kiyamba, who became king in 1476, at the age of 24. He was a friend of the King of Pong (Shan Kingdom).

King Kyamba of Manipur along with Chaopha Khe Khomba, the king of Pong, conquered Kyang, a Shan kingdom in the Kabow Valley of present Myanmar. Jubilant at the victory, an idol of Lord Vishnu was given by the Pong king to King Kyamba. King Kyamba started worshipping the idol at Lumlangdong which then came to be known as Bishnupur i.e. abode of Vishnu. Subsequently, he built a Vishnu Temple of brick at Bishnupur which has now become a protected historical monument under the Ministry of H.R.D. (Archeology), Government of India. It is now standing as a symbol of the remains of ancient times. And the statue got by Kyamba from the Pong king is very important since it gives us the idea of the religious beliefs of those days and the very name that it had given.

  • Meidingu Khagemba (1597–1652) was known as the "Conqueror of the Chinese" (khagi: Chinese and Ngamba: conqueror). He consolidated and expanded his father's kingdom of Meitrabak, later successfully defending it from foreign invaders such as the Muslims, the Kachari and the Shans of the Kabaw Valley. Muslim settlement became more prominent after 1606 with the establishment of a Muslim Personal Law Board headed by a Qazi appointed by the king. According to the chronicle, the Meitei king attacked the principal Chinese village (or town) along with the many brave Meitei warrior and defeated their chief Chouopha Hongdei. Khagemba introduced bell metal currency in the kingdom and a number of coins from his reign have been found. His reign was considered to be the golden age of Meitei literature. He was a great patron of the traditional Lainingthou Cult. A contemporary text, the Khagemba Langjei, expresses the supremacy of Sanamahi as the Universal God of the Meiteis. Learned scholars who were well-known authorities on religion and theology in attendance at Khagemba's court were Apoimacha, Konok Thengra, Salam Sana, Yumnam Tomba, Khongngakhul Toppa and Langon Lukhoi.[citation needed]

Khagemba was succeeded by his son Khunjaoba in 1652 who fortified Kangla and excavated a moat in the front of the brick gateway constructed by his father. Paikhomba ascended the throne in 1666 and consolidated his power in the valley. His kingdom extended as far as Samjok to the east and Takhel Tripura to the west. In 1679 the two Mughal (Chaghtai Turk) princes Shah Shuja and Mirza Baisanghar led a 37 strong Mughal entourage and settled in Manipur by taking local wives.[citation needed]

With the dawn of the eighteenth century, *Meidingu Charairongba (1697–1709) achieved the full development of its culture, economy and state system. In this revolutionary period in the evolution of Meitrabak, three kings, father, son, and a great-grandson: Charairongba, Pamheiba and Chingthang Khomba played significant roles. After the death of Paikhomba, his nephew Charairongba, the son of his younger brother Tonsenngamba ascended the throne in 1697. His reign began the transition period from traditional Meitei culture to a Hinduised Meitei society. There were continual trade contacts and social relationships between Manipur and Burma. In 1702, the Toongoo dynasty of Awa (Burma) sent emissaries asking for the hand of a Meitei Princess. Charirongba gave his daughter Chakpa Makhao Ngambi in marriage to the Burmese King. He constructed several temples for Meitei deities such as Panthoibi, Sanamahi as well as ones dedicated to Hindu gods.

Vaishnavism era

Vaishnavism came to Manipur during this period and caused a significant change in the history of Manipur. The Meitei script was replaced with Bengali.[citation needed]

  • Meidingu Pamheiba (Garibnawaz) (1709–1748):

Pamheiba ascended the throne on the 23rd Day of Thawan (August) 1709. His Persian name Garibniwaz, meaning "kind to the poor", was given to him by Muslim immigrants and was adopted to be used in the coinage he issued.[citation needed]. Actually he was the son of Charairongba. He was known as 'Kari-baniwas' which meant "a prince who was once lost" (Roy, J.- History of Manipur.p. 35.)

Pamheiba's rise to prominence as a military conqueror can be divided into three phases. The first phase (1710–17) focused on internal consolidation of hill tribes. Phase two (1728–33) involved war against the Burmese kingdom of Awa, and the third and final phase (1745–48) saw a war against Tripura in the northeast. As a result, Pamheiba extended his kingdom from the Kabow Valley, to the east as far as Nongnang (Cachar) and Takhel (Tripura) in the west.

Conversion to Vaishnavism

Pamheiba was also a major religious reformer and under his royal patronage Shri Chaitanya's school of Gaudiya Vaishnavism gradually spread across Meitrabak. The Cheitharol Kumbaba records that in October 1717, Graibnawaz was initiated into Vaishnavism by Guru Gopal Das. Later in life he also took instruction from the Ramanandi Sampradaya school of thought.[citation needed]

Puya Meithaba (Burning of Puyas)

Meetei PuYas and early literature vividly record the details of Meitei ethno-dispersion and dispersal of the Meetei outsides the geography of present Manipur into the neighbouring countries in Asia. A study of the Puyas at hand encounters the vexing problem of separating the myths from facts and locating the historical in the myriad of legends, traditions, folklore and narratives. Nevertheless, a comparative study of the various Puyas helps us in analysing the data objectively and within the historical framework.

The PuYas may be defined as written records handed down to posterity by the forefathers of the Meiteis. They are a particular kind of old narratives which form a definite class in Manipuri literature. The five forms in which the Puyas are available to us and the subjects covered have been already dealt with. "Longthabalon and Sanggai Phammang are Puyas which are classified strictly under the group of genealogy. Leithak Leikharon, Khamlangba Erengba Puwari and Pudin are Puyas which deal with creation and cosmology in general as the central theme… Thalloi Nongkhailon and Erat Thounirol deal with various details of rituals. There is a class of Puyas which deal exclusively with a particular deity. Puyas such as Sanamahi Puya and Pakhangba Laihui help us to gather information on the parentage myths associated, names by which the deity is known, rituals to be performed for them, items of food or flowers to be offered etc. Panthoibi Khongul is another Puya which deals with a particular deity.[11]

An Assault on historical account of Meitei Pantheon

Ancestor worship anywhere consists of customary beliefs and practices directed toward veneration of dead predecessors. In the religious system of the Meiteis, death is an indispensable condition for attaining ancestorhood. Leishemlon (The Meitei Christian Myth) shows two great time orders: The Hangko and Chak. The Leishemlon Ariba Puya divides the Hangko age into four major sub-periods: Ko-Hangko, Thoi-Hangko, Tayo-Hangko and Poi-Hangko. These periods were ruled by Chinggu Mapuren Sidaba, Pakhangba, Kourouhanba and Koubaren respectively. These four sub-periods cover 19,55,88,945 years, 16,29,906 years, 57,845 and 11,79,900 years, respectively, for a total of 19,84,56,596 years. [12]

An Assault on the Social Organisational Setup of Meiteis

There are three types of such Puyas. The first group includes the family tree of each sagei viz; Thokchomlon, Khumukchamlon etc. The second group of Puya are those which record the yet three of each salai viz; Khumanlon etc. The group includes those Puyas which record the genealogical three of all the salais viz; Sanggai Phammang, Langthaballon etc The Meitei community of today has seven clans. They are Ningthouja, Angom, Chengloi, Nganba or Khabanganaba, Luwang, Khuman and Moirang. "Sociologists tend to treat religion primarily as a social product. The functionalist school argue that primitive societies religious organisation is inseparably connected with social structure, because it arises out of it and justifies it." "The Meitei had the tradition of maintaining genealogical records of each sagei. It was the responsibility of the sagei-piba i.e., the head of each sagei, to maintain such records." The Meitei community of today has seven clans. They are Ningthouja, Angom, Chengloi, Nganba or Khabanganba, Looang, Khoomon and Moirang." "The popular tradition regarding the formation of the salais is that the Meitei confederacy consisted of nine territorial divisions which was later reduced to seven." [13]

An Assault on the Practices of Rituals and the Ritual Specialists

Rina defines "Rituals as such are constituted by the longing to place the selt in enduring contact with absolute or source realities.

Ancestor worship among the Meiteis find formal expression in the performance of various rites and rituals which are observed for the numerous lais through the year. The Meitei rituals are divided into two categories—private and public rituals. Private worship includes those rituals which are performed within the premises of a family. They are performed at three levels viz; phungga (hearth), sagei (sub-clan) and salai (clan). The public rituals, on the other hand, are observed in public places such as the premises of a local shrine, a selected site etc. The role of Maibas (priests) and Maibis (priestesses), who were not classified by birth. Every member of phungga, sagei and salai can become Maiba or Maibi.

The concept of Maibi in social organisation setup and ritual practices among the Meiteis is a concept of gender equality and empowerment of women. The prophetic role of Maibis during Lai-Haraoba is reverent in a manner of fear and obedience.

Social Hierarchy from Rina perspective: Social Hierarchy King Aristocratic Lineages (Belonging to the Royal Families) Salai and Sagei (Constituting the Majority of the Meitei Population) Lowest Social Group such as Lois and Yaithibis (Performing menial services for the royal household)

An Assault on the Religious and Traditional Practices

Meitei calendar replaced by Hindu calendar, e.g. Cheiraoba "The word Cheiraoba is derived from two words viz., chei: stick and laoba: to announce; to cry out. Cheiraoba therefore literally means ‘to announce by a stick’ or ‘to cry out by means of a stick’. From the time of King Naophangba (428–518 A.D.), this festival was held publicly on the first day of the first month of the Meitei year through announcement of the beginning of the new year by the Lakpas (Divisional Officers).[14]

Repercussion of Puya Meithaba

Widening the Gap – the Valley and Hills

In religious practice, the majority communities in Manipur also imposed on the tribal communities to adopt their culture like the wearing of dhotis, ritual dresses for tribal women when they become religious or in adopting cultural functions.[15]

New Identity

Vaisnavite Meitheis Hindus acquired a new surname of "Sing" after their conversion to Vaishnavism. A fix of "Singh" after every Meitei name is supposed to be after the fourth Vishnu Avatara of “Nara-Singh Thakhur”.[16]


Sanamahi Laikan recorded the events surrounding Sanskritisation which paved the way for "Meeteileipak" or "Kangleibak" to become "Manipur". Many other Meeteileipak place names in the Meitei language (Meeteilon) were also changed to Sanskrit. The Hinduised word "gotra" was introduced for the Seven Yek/Salais of Meiteis. Between 1717 and 1737, the Sanskrit epic parvas the Mahabharata and Ramayana were translated into Meitei while many other Sanskrit Parvas were written by Angom Gopi (1710–1780), the renowned scholar and poet at the court of Pamheiba. The king and all the Meiteis were converted as Kshatriya by relating to Mahabharata's Manipur.[17]

Pamheiba's forty-year reign marked the zenith of Meeteileipak in all aspects—religious reform, military conquest, cultural and literary achievements and sound economics. He issued several coins during his reign engraved with his different names: ‘Manipureswar’, ‘Mekeleswar’, ’Garibaniwaza’.[citation needed]

He abdicated the throne in favour of his son Chit Sai (1748–52) in 1748 and was then driven out to Cachar by his brother Bharat Sai in 1752. Gourashyam (1753–58) ousted Bharat Sai in 1753 and ascended the throne. In 1758, the Burmese king Alaungpaya invaded Meeteileipak.[citation needed]

In 1759, Gourashyam gave up the throne in favour of his brother Bhagayachandra who restored normalcy in the kingdom and tried to regain the lost glory of Meeteileipak/Kangleipak. In 1764, the new Burmese king Hsinbyushin invaded Manipur again through the Kabaw Valley. The Meitei force were defeated at Tamu and the king fled to the Ahom kingdom in Assam. He regained the throne of Kangleipak in 1768 with help of Ahom king Rajeshwar and went on to rule for more than 30 years, signing a treaty with East India Company in 1762. His reign was a landmark in the history of Meeteileipak for the propagation of Cheitanya's School of Vaishnavism. Afterward, Meeteileipak came more under the influence of Bengali language and literature. Bhagayachandra earned the title of "Rajarshi" as a king who had become a royal sage.[citation needed]

Origin of Manipuri Classical Dance, Rasa lila

According to Cheitharol Kumpaba, in February 1776, the king went to Kaina Hill in search of the jackfruit tree. Four images of Krishna were then carved from jackfruit wood. The ritual installation of Shri Govindajee was performed at the Rashmondal of Langthabal palace in 1780. The Meiteis worshipped God through dance as performed in the Lai Haraoba (Merry Making of God). As revealed in the dream, and with the help of his daughter Princess Bimbabati known as Shija Laioibi who was symbolically married and dedicated her life to Shri Govindajee, he composed the Rasa lila. Meidingu Chingthangkhomba dedicated three forms of Rasa lila to Krishna—Kunja Ras, Maha Ras and Basanta Ras.[citation needed]

Anglo-Burmese events

There were a number of wars during this era between the Meiteis, the Burmese and the British.

  • Meidingu Marjit (1813–1819)

With help from the Burmese kingdom of Awa, Marjit invaded Kangleipak in 1813 where he defeated his brother Chaurajit. He then ascended the throne in 1813 and ruled for six years.[citation needed]

Chahi Taret Khuntakpa, the Seven Years Devastation (1819–26)

Meitrabak had never faced such catastrophe as that brought about by the Burmese conquest. The new king of Awa, Bagyidaw, invited Marjit to attend his coronation ceremony and to pay homage to him. Marjit refused to attend the coronation, which offended the Burmese king who then sent a large force under the command of General Maha Bandula to humble Marjit. Marjit was defeated and fled to Cachar. Meitrabak was then brought under the rule of Awa for the seven years between 1819 and 1826, which is known as Chahi Taret Kuntakpa in the history of Meitrabak. The flight of Marjit from Meitrabak and the conquest by Awa in 1819 marks the end of the mediaeval period in the history of Meitrabak.[citation needed]

Meitrabak Princes in Cachar

In the early nineteenth century, after being dislodged from Meitrabak, its princes made Cachar a springboard for the reconquest of the territory. In 1819, three brothers occupied Cachar and drove Govinda Chandra out to Sylhet. The kingdom of Cachar, divided between Govinda Chandra and Chaurajit in 1818, was repartitioned after the flight of Govind Chandra among the three Meitrabak princes. Chaurajit got the eastern portion of Cachar bordering Meitrabak which was ruled from Sonai. Gambhir Singh was given the land west of Tillain hill and his headquarters was at Gumrah, Marjit Singh ruled Hailakandi from Jhapirbond.[citation needed]

With the 500-strong Meetei Levy and with help from the British East India Company, Gambhir Singh expelled the Burmese of Awa from Meitrabak beyond the Ningthi Turel (Chindwin River). He ruled the country from Langthabal and died on 9 January 1834 to be succeeded by his infant son Chandrakirti / Ningthem Pishak (1834–1844).[citation needed]

He was the second cousin of Gambhir Singh and the regent. Kumidini, mother of Chandrakirti, was dissatisfied with the arrangement and fled to Cachar with her son. At the wish of the people of Meitrabak he ascended the throne in 1844 at the age of 51. He then shifted the capital from Langthabal to Kangla where he reconstructed the two statues of the Kangla Sha at Uttra made by Meidingngu Chaurajit and that the Burmese had dismantled and destroyed. Meidingngu Nara Singh died on 10 April 1850 and was succeeded by his brother Meidingngu Debendra Singh (1850).[citation needed]

  • Meidingngu Chandrakirti (1850–86) came from Cachar, defeated Debendra and regained the throne in 1850. During his reign, all the sacred and holy places inside Kangla were developed and maintained. Kangla thus became a well-fortified palace surrounded by five layers of defences, including the inner and outer moats, brick walls, as well as an earthen rampart and citadel surrounding the palace in the centre. He died on 20 May 1886.[citation needed]

The Manipur Expedition

The main entrance of the Kangla Fort in Imphal.

Meidingngu Surchandra (1886–90) succeeded his father to the throne in 1886 when there were revolts against him led by Sana Borachaoba and Dinachandra that proved unsuccessful. However, on 21 September 1890, Princes Zila Ngamba and Angousana ,with the support of Senapati Tikendrajit, revolted against Surchandra who abdicated and left Meitrabak for Brindaban (Vrindavan). His brother Kulachandra Singh ascended the throne in 1890 and Tikendrajit, the Senapati or supreme military commander of the armed forces of Manipur, became the ruler behind the scenes. Surchandra requested the government of India to reinstate him on the throne but the British decided to recognize Kulachandra as king of Meitrabak and to arrest Yuvraj Tikendrajit for having caused the palace revolution.[18]

Chief Commissioner of Assam, James Wallace Quinton, came to Manipur to execute the order of the Government of India with a 400-strong escort under the command of Colonel Charles Mac Donald Skene, D.S.O. This event led to The Anglo-Manipur War of 1891.[citation needed]

On hearing the news, Meidingngu Kulachandra sent Kangabam Chidananda (Thangal General) with 700 Meitei sepoys to Mao Thana, a Meitrabak outpost on the border of Nagaland, then called the Naga Hills, to receive the Chief Commissioner of Assam and to make arrangements for a large escort for the Chief Commissioner.[citation needed]

On 22 March 1891, at about 10 a.m. Quinton arrived at Imphal with his escort. Meidingngu Kulachandra Dhaja and his younger brothers welcomed him at the western Gate of the Kangla Palace. Quinton informed Meidingngu Kulachandra that at noon there would be a Durbar (court) held at the Residency. Thus did Quinton attempt to apprehend Yuvraj Tikendrajit but he was not successful. Quinton then consulted the political agent Grimwood as well as Colonel Skene and decided to arrest Yuvraj forcibly. Grimwood was then speared to death and Quinton, Colonel Skene, Mr. Cossins, Lieutenant Simpson and Bulger were subsequently beheaded by the public executioner in front of the Kangla Sha. As soon as the news of the failure of the plan to arrest Yuvraj Tikendrajit and the execution of the British officers reached the Government of India, three columns of troops, known as the Manipur Expedition, were sent to Meitrabak from Kohima, Silchar and Tamu under the command of Major General Henry Collett, Col. R.H.F. Rennick and Brigadier General T. Graham, respectively. The column moving in from Tamu faced the strongest resistance from Meitrabak and major hand-to-hand combat took place at Khongjom on 25 April.[citation needed]

Maipak Sana, Wangkheirakpa, Yengkhoiba, Chongtha Miya, Paona Brajabasi, Khumbong Major, Wangkhei Meiraba, Chinglen Sana, Loitongba Jamadar, Keisam Jamadar, Heirang Khonja and a number of Meitei soldiers died on the battlefield. Meitrabak lost its independence to the British on 27 April 1891.[citation needed]

The British government selected Meidingngu Churachand Singh (1891–1941), minor son of Chaobiyaima as the king of Meitrabak. A new Kangla Palace was constructed at Wangkhei and Kangla was kept under British occupation. During British colonial rule, Kangla was known as Manipur Fort and a battalion of Assam Rifles was stationed there. Noted Meitei writer, M. K. Binodini Devi (1922–2011) was the youngest daughter of the ruler.[19]

World War II

World War II came to Manipur with the bombing of Imphal, the capital of Manipur by the Japanese air force. The first bombing was on 10 May 1942, causing many civilian casualties. Another air raid occurred on 16 May 1942.

A major thrust by the Empire of Japan in 1944 was stopped at Imphal by British and Indian forces. This marked the furthest westward expansion of the Empire.

The British left Manipur in 14 August 1947 one day before Indian independence. Manipur became an independent country till 15 October 1949 when it was merged into India following the Shillong Merger Agreement.

See also


  1. ^ "Manipur Merger Agreement, 1949". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  2. ^ "The Constitution (Amendment)". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ []
  5. ^ Laininghan Naoria Phulo, Meetei Haubham Wari (The Origin History of Meiteis), 1934.
  6. ^ Naorem Sanajaoba, Manipur Past and Present, Mittal Publication, Delhi, 2005
  7. ^ Ningthoujongjam Khelchandra, History of Ancient Manipuri Literature, Manipuri Sahitya Parishad, 1969
  8. ^ Gangmuei Kabui, History of Manipur, National Publishing House, Delhi, 1991.
  9. ^ Sharma, T.C. "Studies in the Sources of Pre-History of Manipur and Nagaland" (1985) pp. 13–18 in Pandey S.N. (ed.) Sources of the History of Manipur, Imphal: Manipur University
  10. ^ O.K. Singh, Archaeology in Manipur (Sereis-I): "Napachik, A Stone Age Site in Manipur Valley", 1984
  11. ^ []
  12. ^ []
  13. ^ []
  14. ^ []
  15. ^ []
  16. ^ []
  17. ^ []
  18. ^ Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 17, p. 186.
  19. ^ "Manipuri author Binodini Devi dies at 89". Indian Express. 19 January 2011.

External links


  • Cheitharol Kumbaba, Ed - Lairenmayum Ebungohal and Nithoukhongjam Khelchandra, Pub- Manipuri Sahitya Parishad, Imphal, 1967.
  • The Royal Chronicle of Manipur, the Cheitharol Kumbaba Ed. and Trans.- Saroj Nalini Arambam Parratt (London: Routledge, 2005).

External links