If you are visiting the North East, do not miss out the Capital city of Manipur, Imphal. And one of the major tourist attractions of this city is the ancient Kangla Fort or Palace. It is not only a seat of power but also a religious land is known for the number of temples in the vicinity.
Kangla Fort is one of the oldest forts in Imphal. It lies on both sides of the Imphal river
It is the ancient capital of the state of Manipur and was ruled by the Monarchs belonging to Meetei dynasty. Kangla is dated to 33 AD and the first God-King ruler who is believed to rule from the fort was Nongda Lairen Pakhangba.
The fort was developed and renovated by various kings in the following years. The British took residence in the fort after a major battle with the Manipuris. After Independence, it was used by the Assam Rifles, part of paramilitary forces of India. Now it is under the of Government of Manipur since 2004.
Inside the fort
Kangla fort was partly destroyed during the Second World War raids by Japanese. Some details of the construction of the fort are mentioned in the royal Chronicle called Cheitharol Kumbaba. Here are some details as to how it was built and what has remained and restored:
- Ruins of the Citadel
It was 20 feet high it was built with burnt bricks included the coronation site of the king Pakhangba. The citadel had three entrances and the southern entrance is connected to Shree Govindajee temple.
- Uttra ruins
This is another in-ruins site where the coronation and installation ceremonies of the Manipur kings took place at one time.
Kanglashas are two are two huge protective dragons in front of the Kangla memorial. They were also the royal emblems of the Meeti kings who rule this area. Destroyed during the British occupation in 1897, both have been restored to their original glory in the year 2007.
- The Govindajee Temple
It was built during the rule of Maharaja Nara singh in 1864, The temple is dedicated to Lord Govinda(Krishna) and Radha. The temple experienced a huge damage during the earthquake in 1868 and was restored by Maharaja Chandrakriti between 1859-86.
- Kangla Museum
It is built in old Victorian style and constitutes exhibits from culture, legends, and history of Kangla and Manipur. There are two galleries inside. One has different maps of the area at various stages of its evolution. The second gallery holds the archaeological finds and artifacts of Manipur.
- Holy places of the Manipuris
There are many holy places inside the Fort that are centers of worship for Manipuris. These include Nungjeng Pukhri pond, Nunggoibi – the place to worship the Goddess of War, Manglen – cremation site of Manipur kings, Kangla Men surung – the place where kings were coronated, site of Lord Kobru, Paotak Pung, Pakhangaba Khuda and more…
Some of the structures that came after the British rule are
- Field Marshal General Slim’s Cottage
- Hospital of Assam Rifles
- Memorial Stone at Kekrupat
- Samadhi of Maaraj Bodhachandra of Manipur
- Sir Akbar Hydri’s Tomb
Restorations of late have brought back some of the lost regality of this place. Some paintings, old walls, ancient temples and hidden tunnels inside the palace can be admired by tourists.
You can also see a helipad or walk around the green lawns and play a Polo game in the grounds here.
The Fort is open from 7 am in the morning to 5 pm in the evening. Entrance Tickets are very nominal. Note that the fort has its official off on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Other attractions in the vicinity
1. Hiyangthang Lairembi Temple
The temple is located on a small hillock in Imphal. Durga Pooja is conducted in great fervor between September-October months of the year here.
2. India Peace memorial
This place is located on the Tiddim Road some 17 km away from the city.
3. Ima Keithal – Mothers’ Market
It is One of the Only Women’s markets in the world. It is 500 years old. You can buy local food, fish, clothing, handicrafts and local chilli Morok in this market.
To reach there:
Flight: The airport is 8kms from Imphal.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Kohima. This city has regular rail services to Dibrugarh and Guwahati.
Road: The National Highway 37 connects Imphal to cities like Silchar in Assam.