History of Manipur
The Modern Period
KHUNTAKPA, 1819-1825 AD (seven years of Manipur anarchy, 3212-3218
| When Marjeet
was the king of Manipur, Burma invaded again in 1819 AD. At that time
the princes of Manipur were fighting for controling the throne and
the country was in a political turmoil. Manipuris faced the invasion
fiercely for seven days. But they were defeated by the Burmes and
the people fled to different places in the West. The king went to
Cachar which was ruled by two of his brothers - Chourjit and Gambir
Sing - who were appointed by him.
During this anarchy, Burmese occupants destroyed the country badly.
The palace was leveled to the ground. In 1825, Manipuris attacked
Burmese occupation led by Gambir Sing and drove them beyond Ningthi
(Chindwin) river. On 26th Inga (June), 1825, he declared himself as
the king of Manipur and constructed his palace (Konung) at the top
of Bishenpur hill in April, 1826 AD. Later, he shifted his capital
to Langthaban (Canchipur).
At the request of the British
Government by Governor General, Mr. Scott, Maharaja Gambir Sing went
to Khasi hills to help the British who were unable to fight the Khasis.
In the month of May 1829 AD, he died at the age of 49 years at Langthaban.
||Maharaja Chandrakirti (1834-1844
AD or 3232-3242 MF).
| The only
son of Maharaja Gambir Sing and Maisnam Chanu Kumudini Ponglen-Khombi,
ascended the throne at the age of 2 years with his uncle Narasing
as a caretaker. Previously, before Gambir Sing died, he and British
Government made an agreement that Kabow valley will be leased
to Burma for cultivation and Maharaja of Manipur will receive a sum
of Rs 6000/- per annum as a tribute. This story was recorded in the
Cheitharol Kumbaba by Meiteis, but the actual fact was that the British
ignored the Meitei sentiments and tried to please the Burmese by giving
the controversial Meitei Kabow valley, which had been in the Manipuri
territory for several years. On hearing the news, Maharaj Gambir Sing
died of heart-attack. So, the agreement was signed on 12th January
(Wakching), 1834 AD by Narasing, as a representative of the child
king, and by British political agents, Captain Grant, Captain
Pamperton and Mr. George Gordon. For the first time a table clock
and a big wall mirror were brought from England and presented to the
King. On Jan 27, 1844 AD, when Maharaja was 12 years old, his
mother ran away with him in Cachar because of a revolt by Nobin, a
descendant of Pamheiba, against Narasing. However, Narasing defeated
Nobin and he became Maharaja of Manipur. He moved the capital
from Langthaban to Kangla at Yumphal (Imphal) on May 9th, 1844 AD.
He died on April 10, 1850 AD.
Chandrakirti Maharaja came
back from Cachar and became King again (1850-1886 AD) at the age of
19 years. In December, 1857 AD, Sepoys at Chittagong revolted against
British, and the news was spread in Manipur by the British Government
that Hindu sepoys will invade Europeans and take over Manipur. Maharaja
with 600 Meitei soldiers led by Nameirakpam Menjor went to prevent
the sepoys. A number of sepoys were arrested and handed over to the
British. For the first time in 1868 AD photography was introduced
Re-demarcation of Manipurs boundary (present day map) was done
13th Dec, 1873 AD with Dr. Brown (FRCSE) and Thangal General as leaders
from both sides. The British considered the Meiteis very illiterate
who did not want to be educated. They did not know that Meiteis had
a very long history of its own and education system, and the
maichous and puyas were prohibited by the Maharaj not so long ago.
Dr. Brown published the Meitei script for the first time in 1877 AD
for the Asiatic Society of Bengal. The then Bengal Government donated
a few books and started teaching Bengali script and English. The Meitei
script became obsolete.
Naga rebels, in the north,
at Khonoma killed Dr. G.H. Damant on October 4, 1879. Lt. Col. J.
Jonstone, the political agent in Manipur and Thangal General subdued
them. Maharaja Chandrakirti was given the title of K.C.S.I. by the
British Government for his help and friendship to the British. He
also introduced Sagol Kangjei, Manipuri Polo, to the British.
He died in 1886 AD at Kangla in Yumphal.
||Maharaja Surchand Singh (1886-1890
AD or 3289-3294 MF.).
Surchand, the eldest son of Chandrakirti ascended the throne after
his father. He ruled for 5 years. In 1890, his younger brothers, Zillangamba
and Angousana revolted against him along with Jubaraj Tikendrajit.
Kullachandra, the elder brother of Tikendrajit, became the king.
Surchand and his brothers left for Calcutta in the pretext of going
to Brindabon. He requested the British Government to restore his throne.
Lord Landsdowne, the viceroy of India ordered Mr. J.W. Quinton, Governor
of Assam, to recognise Kullachandra as the King but to arrest Jubaraj
Tikendrajit. Accordingly Mr. Quinton and his army raided the residence
of Jubaraj without prior notice. However, they could not capture Tikendrajit.
In further attempts, Mr. Quinton, Mr. Grimwood, the political agents
along with five other British officers were killed.
The British Government
waged open war against Manipur. Three columns of army were sent to
Imphal from three directions: 1. Tamu (Moreh)- in south-east, 2. Kohima
(Nagaland)- in the north and 3. Cachar (Assam)-in the west. In this
Anglo-Manipuri war, the forces from the west and north advanced to
Imphal after strong fighting. But in the south at Khongjom (40
km from Imphal), Paona Brajabashi and his army resisted repeatedly
in spite of the larger and superior British Army. Paona lost his life
on the war and British conquered Manipur on 27th April, 1891 AD. Thus,
Manipur lost its independence. Jubaraj Tikendrajit and Thangal General
were hanged by neck on 13th August, 1891 AD at Mapan Kangjei-bung
Singh (1891-1941 AD or 3289-3339 MF):
| On Thursday
22nd of Langban, 1891 AD, the political agent of Manipur called Maharani
Moirangthem Chanu and Jubaraj Churachand (8 yrs old) and made him
the king. At this time Sri Govindaji was brought to the newly constructed
Palace at Imphal. During his reign, NUPI LAN I (Womans war,
1904 AD, a revolt against the forced labor) and NUPILAN II (1939AD)
Singh (1941-1955 AD or 3339-3353 MF):
| After his
highness Maharaja Churachand, his eldest son Budhachandra became the
king of Manipur with Ishori Devi, the princess of Nepal as Leima or
Maharani. World War II broke out in Manipur from April 1942-Jan. 1945
AD. Manipur was bombarded continuously for two years and the country
was destroyed completely including Imphal and the Maharajas
Palace. Markets were closed and paddy fields were not harvested during
the war. People were suffering but Manipuris were too proud
to beg for help. Several movements led by Neta Irabot sprang up in
the demand for self rule of Manipur against the British Government.
He went undergound in 1946 AD and died in 1955 AD in Burma. After
the war, at 12 midnight of Thursday 28th August (Thawan), 1947 AD,
the British handed over Manipur to Maharaja Budhachandra Singh and
Maharani Iroshi Devi. Maharaja entered Kangla at Imphal and
hoisted the National Flag of Manipur bearing the Dragon God Pakhangba.
Top-guns were fired 18 times in honor of the Sovereign Kingdom in
the presence of a large crowd. However, it did not last long.
The newly formed independent India and its Government in New Delhi
pressured the King to sign a merger agreement with India under very
unusual circumstances. Maharaja signed the documents on 21st September
1949 AD at Shillong without prior consideration and approval from
elected members of the Manipur Assembly. On October 15, 1949 AD, Major
General Rawal Amar announced the annexation of Manipur at the Assam
Rifles ground. Thus, Manipurs status was lowered to a
Part C territory under the Indian rule. In 1953, Prime Minister Jawaharlal
Nehru discontinued the payment of Kabow valley agreement to Manipur.
This angered many of the local people. Budhachandra Maharaja
died in 1955 AD.
On 21 January 1972, Manipur was granted Statehood after several years
of demand by All Manipur Students Union and several political organisations.
The ceremony was performed at the Palace Polo ground in Imphal . In
1992, Meitei-lon (Manipuri) was included in the Eighth Schedule as
one of the 18 official languages of India. Manipur has yet to see
an industry and a proper road connection to the rest of India. Air
transportations are provided from Calcutta, New Delhi, Gauhati
and Silchar but much beyond the reach of commoners.