The State of Manipur was formed on 21st January, 1972.
Manipur, gem of a land
From time immemorial, this land in the eastern fringe of India, Bharathvarsha has been aptly called Manipur, a gem of land.
One of the early references to Manipur in India literature is in the Mahabharata text. Arjuna during his period of vanavasa, exile, travelled east to Manipur where he falls in love with the Naga princess of Manipur, Ulupi and marries her.
Ulupi and Arjuna, a painting by Raja Ravi Varma
The son of Ulupi and Arjuna, Ulupi, the prince of Manipur, bravely sacrifices himself for the victory of Pandava at Kurukshetra.
Since then, Manipur being an integral part of Bharathvarsha,
In the late medieval times, the kingdom of Manipur had its base at Kangla fort.
This Kangla fort was developed by various kings of Manipur over the centuries. It was a centre of power and culture of Manipur, for many centuries.
The British Attack
The turning point for the kingdom of Manipur was when tragedy struck Manipur, on 24th March 1891.
On this day, in the evening, the nobles of Manipur were watching a Ras leela play at the house of Juvraj TikendraJi at the courtyard. At this moment, the British Gorkha under the command of British officers, mounted a surprise attack on these nobles, and killed all present there, including women and children.
Manipur Hits Back
The other nobles of Manipur promptly hit back, killing the 5 British officers who initiated the massacre. The spot where 5 British officers were killed as revenge, Manipuris erected 2 Kangla Sha, Manipuri type Dragon, which stands to this day.
Anglo Manipur war
This quick retribution by the Manipuris on the 5 British officers sparked off the Anglo Manipuri War in which Manipuris were defeated on 27th Apr 1882, which led to British Union jack flag being raised on the Kangla fort.
For the next 50 years this fort became the barracks of the soldiers for the 70th Assam rifle.
The most difficult battle for the British
British in the process of colonizing the World, fought many battles, including the 2 World Wars.
In all the wars they took part, they have rated the battle of Imphal, Kohima, which took place in soil of Manipur as “Britain’s’ greatest battle.”
It is important to note here that the Imphal Battle was quoted as superseding even the more famous pitch battle in Europe, which include, Normandy, Waterloo and even the Rorke’s Drift, the first big war that happened in 1879.
In this, Battle of Imphal, every inch was fiercely fought.
This fiercest of battles has unfortunately not got the due recognition it deserves in the hierarchy of ferocity of battles.
The Battle of Imphal
Azad Hind Flag launched in Manipur
In 1943, Bose regrouped the Indian National Army with the help of the Indian soldiers from among the defeated British Indian Army in Singapore and marched through South East Asia reaching Moirang in Manipur.
Moirang, Manipur, the place where the Indian Tricolour was hoisted for the first time on Indian soil.
Statue of Subhash Chandra Bose at Moirang, Manipur
It was in Manipur, that he hoisted the Indian Army flag – the Azad Hind Fauz for the first time on Indian Soil, on April 14, 1944, defeating the local British Army.
Azad Hind Soldiers with the Azad Hind Flag
In the Imphal battle, the Azad Hind Fauj fought against the British Indian Army, and defeated them. Consequent of the victory of Azad Hind Fauj, they were able to plant the Indian flag, on Manipuri soil.
Kangla, best maintained fort
While today, India is a land dotted with many forts built by many kings and kingdoms across the land, over the last few millennia, many of these forts have sadly not been maintained.
Kangla Fort is one of the exceptions.
This fort has been maintained very well for many decades now.
A painful incident
Once again, this fort became a point of focus in 2004. The social activist Manorama Devi was assaulted, post which 12 Manipuri women disrobed and stood in front of the fort in protest.
For Manipur, which has been an integral part of Bharath Varsha since the days of Mahabharata, and has been aptly termed as a land of Gems, this episode of 2004 was indeed painful.
Manipur’s culture is best known through its dainty Manipuri dance. The Intricate movements and expressions of Navarasa, in the dance are a feast to one’s eye. The stories of Krishna, Krishna Leela, is a prominent feature of Manipuri Dance.
Manipur and Imphal valley is largely Vaishnava in tradition, where the worship of Vishnu is predominant.
Kangla Vishnu Mandir in Manipur
The Manipuri meal is mainly vegetarian, apart from fish. The food is served on a banana leaf, and is served and consumed with relish. A little bit of salt is served on the banana leaf signifying the end of meal. One washes one hands with this salt as a sense of gratitude to those who gave us the meal, signifying Anna Dhatta Sukhi Bhava.
Thus we see that Manipur has a rich tradition and culture, promoted by the nobles of this land.
Manipuri horse is one of the native breeds of horses in India. The others being Marwari, Kathiawari, Spite, Zanskari and Bhutia.
The Manipuri breed has a light head with a straight profile, set on a well-formed neck and a somewhat pronounced withers. It has a deep chest and sloping shoulders. The croup is sloping, the legs sturdy and the hooves well-proportioned, giving this breed an overall elegant appearance.
The Manipuri pony resembles and is distantly related to the Burmese Pony, the Indonesian Batak and Sumba ponies. It could be a descendant of the Mongolian Wild Horse.
More on Manipuri horses in our book, Breaking The Myths – Vol-3- About Prosperity.
Polo is a sport whose origin can be traced to Manipur, India.
Manipuri Polo Team – 1868
This photograph shows one of the very first British Polo teams established in 1868 by members of a mountain battery in Manipur, a state in eastern India.
This game is known as Pulu, which became Polo.
An Over 2000 Year Sport
Raja Chandrakirti Singh, the king of Manipur had told Lt.Sherer then, that the Manipuris had been playing this sport for over 2000 years.
Raja Chandrakirti Singh of Manipur
(ruled between 1834-1844 & 1850-1886)
This makes it one of the oldest and continuously living sport of the world. A heritage sport of Manipur and India.
This game of Polo has actually been played in Manipur for over 3500 years.
More on this in our book, Brand Bharat – Vol-2 – Roots In India.
Switzerland of India
Manipur is also a state known for its natural beauty. It is often called the ‘Switzerland of India’. The hills, rivers and lakes, and the variety of flora and fauna, make it an attractive tourist destination.
Imphal, the capital of Manipur is one of the ancient cities of India, and is known for its scenic landscapes and greenery.
Bird Eye view of Imphal
Keibul Lamjao National park
Being the only floating national park in the world, the Kaibul Lamjao National Park is located 53 kms away from Imphal, in the Bishnupur district of Manipur. The park is located on the Loktak lake, which is the largest fresh water lake in eastern India. The national park is home to the endangered brow-antlered deer, more commonly known as Sangai. A variety of fishes and reptiles like tortoises, snakes like viper and cobras are also found. Other animals like the Himalayan black bear and the Malayan bear are also seen.
.Kaibul Lamjao National Park
Manipur Zoological Gardens
The Manipur Zoological gardens is located at about 7 kms from imphal. It is home to some of the endangered species, Thiamine deer being one of the rare species that is found here. This zoological garden is popularly known as “The Jewel Box of Manipur”.
Thiamine deer at the Manipur Zoological Gardens
Ukhrul Hill Station
Ukrul Hill station is known for its scenic beauty, with its mountain ranges, waterfalls, Crystal clear rivers and lakes. It is located about 103 kms from Imphal.
All these, and, many more destinations make Manipur an attractive tourist spot.
Ukrul Hill Station
Manipur Formation day
The state of Manipur may have been formed only in 1972, but this land has been an integral part of the Indian civilization, atleast from the times of Mahabharata, which is dated to have happened around 5100 years back.
More on this, in our book, Historical Krishna.
On this anniversary of its formation, let us celebrate the rich and ancient culture of Manipur.