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

Pandit N.Khelchandra Singh

10. The Intricate Kangla System:

Just before the British conquest of Manipur in 1891, Kangla which was referred to as the Manipur Fort was bounded on the east by the Imphal river and on the west, south and north by the deep moat. "Inside the brick-walled enclosure were located Cheirap (civil court), Garot (criminal court), Durbar Hall, Sagol-sang (cavalry), Samu-sang (elephant unit), and all other loisangs (offices). It would be accessible from all the four directions through Kha-thong (southern gateway), Nongchup-thong (western gateway) (Photoplate:2-2), Awang-thong (northern gateway), and Nongpok-thong (eastern gateway). Besides these gateways at the entrances, there used to be some other gates, viz: Chingsaguthong (Teak-door after Chingsu or teak), Sana-thong (Royal Gate), Chirai-thong, Hogaibit-hong (Chinese gate with parallel brick walls later destroyed during Burmese invasion) Lak-thong (Dragon-gate), Nupi-thong (female gate) etc. _ the most important of them being Sanathong lying on the west. This very Sanathong lies to the east of the moat and the parallel road (now known as Indo-Burma road)…In fact an area of 20 acres, inside the old Kangla site (one square-mile) north of the Imphal river had been given revenue-free for lifetime to one 'lion-hearted Hafiz' who helped the Britishers with essential supplies", according to the Manipur Administration Report.23

Inside the Kangla there used to be a rectangular late mediaeval period temple of Shri Govindaji (Photoplate:2, 3) made of bricks and Burmese teak rafters with a portico, a sanctum and covered circum-ambulatory path. Some of the floral designs still exist in stucco. This temple was destroyed by the great earthquake in 1868 A.D but Raja Chandrakirti reconstructed the temple by using the same bricks. Further R.Brown records that in the earthquake at three minutes past five in the evening on the 10th Jany.1869 the raja's two-storied brick house was destroyed along with the residency during the 'at least one-and-half minute' long 'convulsion':

"A very short experience of this wavy motion sufficed to settle the fate of my house; after swaying about and creaking and groaning for a brief space, the upper storey, built of wood and bamboo, settled down with a crash on the lower walls, which fortunately, although much fissured and thrown out of the perpendicular, withstood the pressure. Almost immediately after the fall of the house the motion ceased, and I was enabled to regain my feet, and see what damage had been done... A glance at the rajbari close by showed me that the raja's pucka house was in ruins, with many other less substantial buildings…On the morning after the occurrence of the earthquake I visited the rajbari and other places to witness its effects.. In the fall of the raja's two-storied brick house, a most substantial and ornamental building, and which had only been finished five years ago, I regret to say four women were crushed to death and a number of people wounded. The raja's loss in property was very great, and is not yet fully known; he is especially sorry about his muskets, number of which, but recently received from Government, have been irretrievably destroyed..."24


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