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

Pandit N.Khelchandra Singh

14. Post-1891 Status Of Kangla:

After the conquest of Manipur by the Britishers, Manipur Fort or Kangla, the symbol of ancient administration, culture and tradition situated right in the heart of the capital of Manipur was taken over by the British occupation forces. It was made the temporary Hqs. of the conquerors and later on of the 4th Assam Rifles and still later on of the 17th Assam Rifles. During the Second World War it served as the Allies' Hq. and the Supreme Commander General Slim used to live in one of the cottages there.

Recognizing its significance in terms of having many historical relics and holy places, Kangla (now having a net area of 236.62 acres, excluding the post-Independence-constructed swimming pool at the southeastern corner) has been handed over by the Central Government to the State Government on 20th November, 2004 i.e. after 113 years of occupation by the British rulers and the Assam Rifles in a historic ceremony by Lt. General Bhupinder Singh, Director-General, Assam Rifles to the Chief Minister, in the presence of the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Since then the State Government has appointed a Kangla Fort Board in December, 2004 with Manipur Chief Minister as ex officio Chairman and N. Khelchandra Singh, Sairem Nilbir, R.K.Jhalajit Singh and O.Kumar Singh (all contributors) as members and further with Director, Art & Culture as Ex-officio Member-Secretary.

The Centre had already released Rs 5 crore for the development and restoration work of the Kangla monuments. The restoration work, since taken up by International Council of Monuments & Sites (ICOMOS) at the historic site, include reinstallation of the two Kangla Shas and the State emblem near the entrance of Uttara. The conservation work of the partly-crumbled Shri Govindaji's temple at the historic Kangla site near the old palace (destroyed by the British) is completed. The roof of the said temple and some portions of the temple had crumbled in July 2003 whose restoration could not have since been taken up pending the final handing-over of the site to the State Government. At the instance of the Kangla Fort Board, the State Government decided to allow the observance of all the key religious and traditional functions such as Pakhangba Cheng-hongba, Mera Haochongba and Hiyang Tannaba (Boat race) inside the Kangla just as in the days of yore. For that purpose it decided to construct a new Pakhangba temple as well as a mandop in respect of the Kangla Shas (Uttara) so that all these essential functions could be held in a proper manner.

Having all through been a protected area under the control of Assam Rifles, its archaeological remains have not still been culled and subjected to any systematic study of 'the (human) past' by sociologists, geologists, historians, archaeologists, environmentalists and natural scientists. For instance, much geological interest lies in the inside structure and contents of the mythical cave whereupon a slab has been placed for placing the Kangla Men gaddi. And such added significance will become known only after intensive study.


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