Manipur History

The earliest references to 'Manipur' date back to the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata, in which several characters, such as Chitrāngadā, Ulupi, Babruvahana, and Iravan, are 'Manipuris'. The earliest references to Nagaland are found in the Indian epic Mahābhārata. Several characters from the region, such as Princess Ulupi and Prince Iravan, were referred to as Naga people in the epic. The word Naga is perhaps derived from Nag or belivers of snake god. The people were originally referred to as Chingmee (Hill People) or Hao (Tribes) in the history of Manipur.

Still, much of Manipur's early history is undocumented. The recorded history of kingship started from 33 A.D., which marked the coronation of Pakhangba. After Pakhangba, a series of kings ruled over the kingdom of Manipur. The independence and sovereignty of Manipur remained uninterrupted until the Burmese invaded and occupied it for seven years in the first quarter of the 19th century (1819-25). Manipur was invaded by Myanmar in 1762. After that, the ruler of Manipur had to pay a tribute to the Burmese ruler.

In 1819, the Manipuri king, Bhagyachandra did not attend the coronation of Burma’s new king, Bagyidaw. In retaliation, Burma sent a punitive expedition to Manipur. Bhagyachandra asked for British help and that led to a seven year war between Britain and Myanmar. It ended with the treaty of Yandaboo in 1826. Manipur then became a part of British India. It saw an uprising against the British under the leadership of Tikendrajit Singh who was hanged for his rebellion against the British overlords. The Indian National Army, led by Netaji Subash Chandra Bose with the help of the Japanese held Imphal under siege for almost four months.

After independence it remained a Union Territory and gained full Indian statehood only in 1972. In the 1960s, President’s rule was imposed in this region owing to unrest. It has also witnessed tribal rebellion in the past. Surrounded by blue hills with an oval shaped valley at the centre, rich in art and tradition and surcharged with nature’s pristine glory. Manipur lies on a melting pot of culture. It is birth place of Polo. This is the place where Rajashree Bhagyachandra created the famous Ras Lila, the classical dance of Manipur, out of his enchanting dream by the grace of Lord Krishna. Her folk dances reveal the mythological concept of creation of Manipur.