Kangla (Meitei: ꯀꯪꯂꯥ, /kang-lā/) is an ancient seat of monarchical government of the Meitei rulers of Ancient Kangleipak (early Manipur) in present-day India. It was a fortified grand royal residence as well as a religious site of the Meitei language speaking people and the Sanamahism following people of South Asia. Nearly 360 important Meitei shrines are present inside the Kangla.
Officially known as the "Kangla Fort", and also often termed as the "Kangla Palace", the Kangla is sometimes referred to as the "Mecca of the Meiteis" or the "Jerusalem of the Meiteis", showing how much the Meiteis revered the place, like Muslims respect the Mecca and the Abrahamics respect Jerusalem. Anyone from any religious backgrounds can enter the Kangla without any question.
The Kangla has been proposed to be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for which the first steps of discussions were moved in the Indian Parliament House.
After the Burmese annexation (1819 to 1826), the British annexation (1891 to 1947) and the Assam Rifles (Indian Army) occupation (1949 to 2004), the Kangla is now a property of the Government of Manipur. It is restoring various ancient and mediaeval ruins, and developing many museums and archaeological institutions inside the ancient site.
According to the earliest historical records, king Tangja Leela Pakhangba (1445 BC – 1405 BC) ruled Ancient Kangleipak with the Kangla as its capital. He is credited for being the builder of the Ancient Kangleipak civilization.
His son and successor Ningthou Kangba (1405 BC – 1359 BC) is best known for being the developer of polo in Manipur, who played the game of polo in the "Manung Kangjeibung", a royal pologround inside the Kangla. Polo is the national sport of Ancient Kangleipak.
After Ningthou Kangba, many kings of different dynasties ruled the Kangla. After the decline of the Khaba dynasty, the Ningthouja dynasty got the powers to hold the Kangla in 33 AD, with the enthronement of Meitei King Nongda Lairen Pakhangba.
The successors of King Nongda Lairen Pakhangba ruled the Kangla until the Anglo Manipuri war of 1891, when the Kangla was annexed by the British Empire. From 33 AD until 1891 AD, there was a gap of 7 years in the centuries long Meitei rule of the Kangla, when the Burmese Empire annexed the kingdom of Kangleipak (alias Manipur kingdom) for 7 consecutive years, from 1819 AD to 1826 AD (starting from 3212 MF to 3218 MF in Meitei years). The period of those seven years is called "Chahi Taret Khuntakpa" (literally meaning "Seven Years Devastation" in Meitei language) in Meitei history. During the seven years, the Kangla was said to be converted into the breeding ground of the wild animals.
During the British rule, Meitei commoners as well as royalties were to take special permissions to enter the Kangla as it was occupied by the British officials.
After the independence of Manipur from the British Empire in the year 1947, the Kangla got access to the public of Manipur.
However, in 1949, two years after the freedom from the British empire, Manipur became a part of the Indian republic. So, the Kangla was under the control of the Assam Rifles, a military unit of India. Being a military base camp, the Kangla was again not freely accessible to the public, though entry is possible only with special permissions.
The removal of the Assam Rifles base camp from the Kangla was a long demand of the people of Manipur since its annexation. It was after 45 years of protests against the government that the long cherished demand of the people of Manipur was fulfilled in the year 2004, with the outstanding dedication of several Meitei women. Thangjam Manorama, a Meitei woman, was rapped and murdered by the army personnel of the Assam Rifles in the year 2004. In reaction to the cruel event, 12 Meitei women disrobed themselves and stood in front of the Western Kangla Gate, and carrying banners with messages painted in red, writing “Indian Army Rape Us” and “Indian Army Take Our Flesh”. The news was reported on many international media platforms at that time. The action of the 12 Meitei women were strongly supported by various international women rights and human rights activists. As a result, the Government of India was compelled to remove the base camp of the Assam Rifles from the Kangla.
It is a strong belief among the Meitei people that the group (whether ethnic group, political party, military units, or any other) that annexes the Kangla is equivalent to the annexation of the entire Manipur.
Just after the departure of the Assam Rifles from the Kangla in 2004, the Government of Manipur as well as several Meitei social groups are investing lots of efforts in developing the remaining ruins of the Kangla as much as possible.
Today, the Kangla is the property of the Government of Manipur.
The landscape of the Kangla looks like a trapezium (a deformed square) when seen from the satellite mapping. The Imphal River flows in the middle of the Kangla. The ruins of the Kangla in the western side (right side) of the river are preserved still today. Unfortunately, everything in the eastern side (left side) of the river are unpreserved and are inhabited by the masses of people.
Being a fort, it has moats (Meitei: Thangapat). There are two moats, the outer moat (Meitei: Mapan Thangapat / Mapal Thangapat) and the inner moat (Meitei: Manung Thangapat). In the past, there were strong brick walls next to each moats. Both the walls were demolished during the British annexation of the Kangla in 1891.
Under the protection of the two moats, there is a citadel, which encloses the royal residence. Specifically for this fortress, both the royal residence and the citadel seem to be a single entity. It is called the "Sanggai Yumpham" (roughly translated as "Grand Residence" in Meitei). In the past, there were walls on all the four sides of the square shaped-citadel. After the Anglo Manipuri war of 1891, the British army demolished most parts of the northern and the western walls. The eastern and the southern walls of the citadel are still standing today. So, observing through satellite mapping, the citadel looks like a slightly V-shaped wall, and no longer a square wall enclosure.
Flora and faunaEdit
The Kangla is also known as the "Lungs of Imphal" because of being thickly forested and is rare of its kind inside the heart of the metropolis.
However, due to several development and construction works in the past few decades, there were some minor but significant quantity of deforestation inside the Kangla.
In 2009, the Kangla Fort Board established the Kangla Herbal Garden, to emphasize the planting of medicinal plants inside the Kangla.
In June 2019, the Government of Manipur, under the Green Manipur Mission, planted around 700 indigenous fruit-bearing tree saplings inside the "Nura Heikol" (literally meaning "Women’s garden of fruit" in Meitei language) of the Kangla.
In May 2022, the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD) planted around 50 fruit-bearing plants inside the Kangla.
The climate of the Kangla usually has the same climate as Imphal city. However, the Kangla, being a deeply forested place, provides its visitor a cool weather even on a day of scorching sunshine in the crowded city.
For communication outside the religious platforms, Meitei language (officially called Manipuri) is the most widely known and spoken language. An English speaker will not find it difficult to communicate as there are tourist guides available who are fluent in English.
For communicating with the people inside the religious platforms, Classical Meitei (Classical Manipuri) is the most suitable one. However, having a brief knowledge of Manipuri will also help a little.
Most priests ("maiba" in Meitei) and priestesses ("maibi" in Meitei) in the shrines speak in Classical Meitei, starting from chanting verses to simple chatting.
To get into the Kangla, there are three major gateways available, the Western Gate, the Southern Gate and the Northern Gate. Historically, the Eastern Gate was also functional. After a long period of closing, the Government of Manipur is renovating the Eastern Gate to be opened very soon (as of 2022).
- 1 Kangla Sanathong (Kangla Western Gate, Kangla Royal Gate). The Kangla Sanathong (lit. "Kangla Grand Door" or "Kangla Golden Door" in Meitei) is the gateway from which most visitors enter the Kangla. Meitei architectural designs are distinctly featured in the Gate's building. ₹10 per person to cover the entire Kangla.
- 2 Kangla Southern Gate. This gate is adjacent to the Chief Minister's bungalow and the Sanjenthong Bridge.
- 3 Kangla Awang Sanathong (Kangla Northern Gate). This gateway is next to the North AOC, Imphal-Jessami Road.
Fees and permitsEdit
To enter the Kangla, ₹10 is the entry fee for one person.
No permission is needed for just an entry as well as simple photography and videography. But for extensive film shooting or wedding photography, videography, etc., people need to take special permissions from the authority.
₹10 is charged for using one bicycle for one hour to roam the place. Bicycle riders need not to worry about losing their bicycles as everywhere is under the CCTV supervision and all the 4 gates of the Kangla are guarded by heavy securities. No one can take out the bicycles outside of the Kangla. If you are bringing your own bicycle, as it is not allowed to be taken inside the Kangla, you have to keep it in the parking area.
₹100 is the fee for one person for riding battery run three- or four-wheeler vehicles to ease the coverage of the entire sites in the Kangla.
Please don't bring pet animals.
To get around the Kangla, visitors can walk by feet or can hire either a bicycle or a three/four wheeler vehicle.
- 1 Archaeological Museum, To the southern side (right side) of the passage way as one enters the Kangla from its Northern Gate after a little distance of walk. The Archaeological Museum houses the replicas including that of the memorial stone of Meitei king Chandrakirti Singh found in Ukhrul, Churachandpur, Tipaimukh and areas of Imphal Valley. Besides, it also houses the stone tools belonging to the Stone Age found in the Tharon Cave and the Kangkhui Cave of Manipur. It preserves the hardened pots and inscriptions. Various antique coins are also on display in this museum. Ancient artefacts collected from the excavations of Sekta, Khangabok and the Kangla are also on display. free.
- 2 Chingkhei Eekon (Chingkhei Ikon, Chingkhei Pukhri), northeast of the royal residence (citadel). Literally meaning "Northeastern Pond" in Classical Meitei, this water body is sacred to the Meiteis, and is situated to the northeast of the royal residence (citadel). free.
- 3 General Slim's Cottage, to the western side (right side) of the passage way when one enters from the Northern Gate of the Kangla. It is a historical British officer's residence building. free.
- 4 Hijagang (Kangla Boatyard), to the west of the Pakhangba Temple, to the north of the site for Meitei Heritage Park. This boatyard building houses 4 traditional Meitei watercrafts, including 2 "Hiyang Hiren"s (race boats of Meitei royalties) and 2 "Tanna Hi"s (race boats of Meitei commoners). The "Hiyang Hiren" boats are made of Uningthou woods (Classical Meitei for Phoebe hainesiana) while the "Tanna Hi" boats of Tairen woods (Classical Meitei for Cedrela toona). free.
- 5 Iputhou Pakhangba Laishang (Lord Pakhangba Temple), North of the site for Meitei Heritage Park, East of the Hijagang (Boatyard), south of the Nungseng Eekon, west of the Tomb of Meitei King Bodhchandra. This ancient temple dedicated to God Pakhangba was restored between 2008 and 2019. It features a sacred altar and the 7-coloured flag designed roof, symbolising the 7 Meitei clans. free.
- 6 Kangla Herbal Garden (Herbal Garden, Kangla), to the north of the "Manung Thangapat" (Classical Meitei for "inner moat"). This garden houses multiple species of medicinal plants. It lies to the North of the "Manung Thangapat" (Classical Meitei for "inner moat"). It should not be confused with the State Herbal Garden, which is also situated inside the Kangla. free.
- 7 Kangla Museum, Western side (left side) of the passage way as one enters the Kangla from its Southern Gate. The Kangla Museum showcases the lifestyles of the Meitei royalties, ancient Meitei artistic and cultural heritage and the maps of Ancient Kangleipak. free.
- 8 Kangla Uttra Shanglen (Uttra Sanglen), West of the Royal Residence (Citadel), east of the statues of the Guardian Dragons and the Main Western Kangla Gate, north of the ancient Pologround, south of the Marong Khong water channel and the tomb of Meitei king Bodhchandra. This building is a religious office dedicated to Meitei religion (Sanamahism). Designs of traditional Meitei architecture are distinctly featured with the holy "chirong"s (literally "horns" in Classical Meitei), which are the V-shaped structures adorned on the roofs of the building. The building is easily recognisable as two giant statues of dragon lions stood at its western front. free.
- 9 Luphou Nung, to the southern side of the Kangla Uttra Shanglen and to the northern side of the Manung Kangjeibung (Inner Pologround). "Luphou Nung" is a historical gravestone of a Chinese invader, kept inside the Kangla fort in Imphal. A Chinese invader named "Moidana" (or "Mayadana") was defeated and slain by Meitei king Mungyamba of Kangleipak (Manipur) kingdom in 1576 AD. The invader was crushed and buried under the "Luphou Nung" stone. It lies to the southern side of the Kangla Uttra Shanglen and to the northern side of the Manung Kangjeibung (Inner Pologround). free.
- 10 Marong Khong, to the east of the Pakhangba Temple, to the south of the Rose Garden, to the north of the tombs of Meitei kings, Nara Singh and Bodhachandra Singh. This rectangular shaped elongated water body is a sacred pond of the Meitei people, located on the northern side of the tombs of Meitei kings, Nara Singh and Bodhachandra Singh. free.
- 11 Memento Museum (Kangla Information Centre and Gift Shop), To the southwest of the Main Western Kangla Gate, to the northwest of the Nura Heikol Garden (Biodiversity Park). This museum cum information center cum shop houses large collection of mementoes, related to ancient, medieval and modern Meitei culture. free entry.
- 12 Nungseng Eekon (Nungjeng Eekon, Nungjeng Ikon, Nungjeng Pukhri), To the north of the Pakhangba Temple, to the west of the Rose Garden, to the east and the south of the Inner Moat. This rectangular shaped sacred water body is located in the northern side of the white coloured Pakhangba Temple. "Nung" (/noong/) means "inner" (referring to "inner body") and "seng" means "purification" or "cleansing" in Classical Meitei. free.
- 13 Nungseng Apicha (Nungjeng Apicha), to the southwest of the Nungjeng Eekon, to the south and the east of the Inner Moat. Literally meaning "smaller Nungseng / Nungjeng" in Classical Meitei, this small square pond is a sacred water body, at the southwestern corner of the Nungjeng Eekon. free.
- 14 Nura Heikol (Biodiversity Park), East of the Outer Moat, west of the Inner Moat, southwest of the Main Kangla Gate, north of the Rock Garden. Literally meaning "Women’s garden of fruits" in Meitei language, in this fruit orchard, 700 indigenous fruit-bearing tree saplings were planted in the year 2019. free.
- 15 Rock Garden, to the south of the Nura Heikol (Biodiversity Park) and to the west of the Kangla Museum. This garden is easily recognisable with the circular passage ways adoring its entirety. It lies to the south of the Nura Heikol (Biodiversity Park) and to the west of the Kangla Museum. free.
- 16 Rose Garden, East of the Pakhangba Temple and the Nungseng Eekon, north of the Royal Residence (Citadel) and the Kangla Uttra Shanglen. This garden consists of 4 square areas, each consisting of 4 square flower beds. On its adjacent western side, the Kangla Cafeteria is situated. free.
- 17 Sacred site of Lord Wangpulen (Wangbren), South of the Royal Residence (Citadel), east of the State Herbal Garden. This holy shrine dedicated to Meitei water God Wangpulen (Wangbren) displays various sculptures and idols of many deities, mythological creatures and several cultural artefacts. free.
- 18 Sanggai Yumpham (Royal Residence / Citadel), To the east of the Kangla Uttra Shanglen, to the northeast of the ancient pologround, to the south of the Rose Garden. This old fortified palace compound is partially in demolished state. Its eastern and southern walls are still standing today. It covers a square shaped area of 600 x 600 feet enclosed by brick walls of 14 to 20 feet in heights. free.
- 19 Site for Meitei Heritage Park, South of the Pakhangba Temple, west of the ancient pologround, north and east of the Inner Moat. It is a Heritage Park dedicated to the Meitei people and is also known as Meitei Heritage Park. It is located at the southern side of the Pakhangba Temple and the Hijagang (Boatyard), inside the Kangla. free.
- 20 State Herbal Garden, to the south of Sanggai Yumpham, the fortified royal residence (citadel) and to the west of the sacred site of Lord Wangpulen (Wangbren). This garden also houses several medicinal plants. It should not be confused with the Kangla Herbal Garden, which is also situated inside the Kangla. free.
- 21 Tomb of King Bodhchandra (Manglen of Ningthou Bodhchandra), To the north of the Kangla Uttra Shanglen, to the east of the Pakhangba Temple, to the south of the Rose Garden, to the west of the Royal Residence (Citadel). It is the place where the mortal remains of Meitei King Bodhchandra (Bodhachandra), the last ruler of sovereign state of Manipur Kingdom, were consumed with flames on the 9th December, 1955. free.
- 22 Tomb of King Narasingh (of Ningthou Nara Singh), To the east of the Tomb of King Bodhchandra, to the north of the Royal Residence (Citadel), to the south of the Marong Khong water channel. It is the place where the mortal remains of Meitei King Nara Singh were consumed with flames. free.
- Bicycles are available inside the Kangla. One can roam anywhere inside the Kangla. Just walking around on foot couldn't cover the entire place on a single day. So, riding a bicycle helps the visitor a lot in covering the entire place faster than just walking. Personal cycles are not allowed to be taken inside the Kangla. Personal vehicles should be parked at the reserved parking zone.
- Photography is allowed as a part of the freedom of panorama. The architectural, archaeological, botanical, historical, ornithological photography can be extensively done here.
- One can carry out religious pilgrimages around the 360 sacred sites of the traditional Meitei religion (Sanamahism) inside the Kangla.
- One can try plogging whenever possible. Kangla is usually clean and tidy regarding human-disposed garbages but leaves fallen from the trees will make plogging possible.
- Film shooting and wedding videography need special permission. But vlogging needs no special permission. One can do lifecasting (video stream), livestream, photoblog, video podcast, etc. at personal level.
- Early morning and evening timing are ideal for jogging on the hundreds of pathways around the woods, temples, parks, palaces, museums, gardens, etc. Normally, Kangla opens at 9AM but if you want to enter earlier, you need special permission, like others who came for jogging in the early morning.
- Research (on either archaeology, architecture, bird life, culture, history or plant life)
- Fields are immensely available for research as buildings, excavations, wildlife, etc. are found in the Kangla. Most trees are pinned with medium-sized boards (cards) writing Meitei names, English names and scientific names of the very species.
- 1 Memento Museum (Kangla Information Centre and Gift Shop), To the Southwest of the Main Western Kangla Gate, to the Northwest of the Nura Heikol Garden (Biodiversity Park) (on the right side of the passage way as one enters from the Western Gate ("Kangla Sanathong" or "Nongchup Sanathong" in Meitei) of the Kangla). This museum cum information center cum shop houses large collection of mementoes, related to ancient, medieval and modern Meitei culture. As the name suggests, besides providing its visitors the information about the Kangla, it also sells many items, especially artefacts, related to the Kangla primarily and related to the overall Meitei culture secondarily. free entry.
Eat and drinkEdit
- 1 Kangla Cafeteria, to the west of the Rose Garden inside the Kangla. International and indigenous Meitei foods and drinks are available here.
Obey COVID-19 guidelines.
Other than the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors do not need to worry about safety from any external threats, bullying, robbery, teasing, etc. At every nooks and corners of the Kangla, policemen are engaged to guard and secure the entire zone. Some policemen patrol the area riding on bikes at the intervals every few minutes. Still, make sure to take care of your belongings.