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The Historical, Archaeological, Religious & Cultural Significance Of 'Kangla': The Ancient Citadel Of Manipur

Pandit N.Khelchandra Singh

9. Details Of Kangla Fort From The Various Annals:

In this connection one is tempted to reproduce direct reportings/accounts of contemporary British officers as truthful description of the then Kangla fortress. Quoting a pen-picture of Kangla by a military officer, Capt. E.W.Dun21:

"In the center is the Raja's enclosure or it is called 'Pat' (Bengali word for Kangla). Every road converges upon it and it is in every sense the heart of the city and of the country. The Pat is the only portion of the town which possesses any serious attempt at artificial defence. It is surrounded by a moat 20 yds. broad and 6 ft. deep at the deepest part, near the western gate (Photoplate:2.2). During the cold weather this moat only contains water round the southeastern and southwestern corners. It is divided into sections by the bunds over which the roads pass as they enter the four gates. The water round the southwestern angle can be drawn off by a culvert (now closed up) and partially filled up, cutting across the main road which runs along the edge of the moat outside it."

"Inside the moat there is a 10-feet berm crossed by thick traverse at fifty yards interval. The bank inside the berm is constructed of earth. It is about 20 ft. thick at the base, has a ramp and loopholes for musketry fire, but has no arrangement for securing flanking fire. The portion above the level of the ramp is about 4 feet thick. For 150 yards at the northeastern corner the earthwork has disappeared. In rear of the open space left by the river on the south face there is a mud wall, the inner enclosure similar but smaller in profile by the outer one. The western entrance has a strong brick gateway and a door in two leaves. They are closed like the flats of a threat rescue and by means of horizontal beams attached to them at the back and working in female screws. There is a small brick gateway at the southern entrance but no door. At the eastern and northern entrances there are wooden gateways and doors. The national temple (Photoplate:2.3) and the Raja's and prince's house, built of brick are situated inside the Pat. The roofs were of thatch including that of Residency and the Maharaja's house was roofed with corrugated iron sheets. There were several temples built of brick. One of the palaces had an iron roof, another gilded. In the front of the royal residence stood the statue of the mythical beast, called "Sha"(Beast) by the Manipuri and Dragon by the British.(Photoplates: 2, 4 & 5) At the western gate which was the entrance stood, as Johnstone observed, "a quaint and picturesque old gateway, not beautiful characteristic of Manipur." Maharaja Chandrakirti constructed a 'tawdry and fantastic structure with the corrugated iron 'roof'. Opposite this way on the right hand side, royal proclamations were flogged in the presence of the public which was the spectacle of foreigners."

The presence of foreigners as mentioned hereinabove by Dun portrays the spectacular majesty naturally commanded in that era by Manipur Raj. There was a big square in front of the western gate. This square was a parade ground where a division of the army could march. The banks of the moat (the present Kangla Park) and said square were places of rendezvous. Opposite the gate was the famous Sanakeithel (Royal Market) where womenfolk sat in long rows on raised banks of earth without any shelter except the umbrellas.

All sorts of commodities and articles are sold and bought in this market. To the west of the bazar across the Nambul river was the great bridge. It was a massive structure. It has a 20 feet roadway with 2 feet bounding walls. The breaks were according to Capt. Bunn 'very soft and bad, and in spite of its massive appearance it could be easily destroyed.' The relatively less known fact about Chinese military campaign against Manipur shows how the Chinese empire became interested in Manipur. Regarding the Chinese military invasion Sir James Johnstone mentions:

"About the year 1250 A.D a large Chinese force invaded the country, and was signally defeated; all who were not killed being made prisoners... a number of them were settled at Susa Rameng (Kameng) in the valley, where they have still descendents. The Chinese also taught the art of brickmaking and erected two solid blocks of masonry in the palace between which the road to the Lion Gate passed. These blocks were levelled with the ground by the Burmese invaders; but rebuilt on the old foundations by Gambhir Singh."22


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