Remember those tales your parents used to tell you at bedtime to lull you to sleep? Tales of mythical kings, queens, battles and creatures which used to fascinate our young minds? Well if you still are a child by heart with an urge to explore the mystical and the historical to discern them and learn more about them, Kangla Fort should be right up there on your to do list. The existence of this fort dates back to as far as 33 AD when the mythical God-king of the Meetei dynasty, Nongda Lairem Pakhangba, first ascended the throne.
Since then it has seen time work its claws on it as it went through countless renovations, demolitions and reconstructions. Other than the mythical past ascribed to it there is a great deal of historical value to this Fort. This fort was overrun by the British in the Anglo-Manipur war till it was recaptured by Assam Rifles whereupon it was looked after by the Indian government till Manmohan Singh gave its responsibilities back to the Manipur govt. Since then this fort has become one of the prime tourist attractions around Imphal, the capital of Manipur.
How to Reach Kangla?
The fort is situated practically inside the city. Once you reach Imphal, buses, cabs and auto rickshaws can be found in abundance to go to the fort which is a meagre twenty minutes away from the heart of the city. The famous Ima Market is situated just beside the fort which makes a trip to Kangla Fort effectively two birds with one stone.
Places to Visit Around Kangla Fort
The fort complex itself is an enchanting place to visit. But we would get to that later. There are plenty of places to visit around the Kangla Fort. So if you do go to the fort do make sure to not miss out on the following beauties.
1. Battle of Imphal Tours
This is a guided tour program where the guide would show you around the various sites and incidents of the twin Anglo-Manipur battles of Kohima and Imphal. In 2013 the UK Army Museum dubbed the twin battles as ‘Britain’s Greatest Battle’. You get to relive the blood and gore and the bravery of the local soldiers through the captivating description of the guides. This tour is situated about 1.7 kms away from the main fort complex.
2. Khongjom War Memorial Complex
Situated around 900 mts away from the fort the Khongjom War Memorial Complex is dedicated to the memories of the fierce warrior Paona Brajabasi and his fellow compatriots who laid down their lives for the country in the battlefield of Khongjom against the British. To celebrate this act of patriotism and valor every year on the 23rd of April Khongjom Day is celebrated. This memorial is perched on top of a hill which would offer you a magical view of the verdant valley and azure sky around it.
3. Imphal War Cemetery
The Imphal War Cemetery was originally built to accommodate around 950 graves of the casualties of the battles of World War II. But after the hostilities ended the Army Grave Services brought in graves from other cemeteries and the cemetery today holds around 1600 graves. If you want a quiet spot to catch your breath and enjoy the silence and solitude this is your spot.
Kangla Fort: A Reminder of The Lost Glory of The Indian Royals
The city of Kangla was the ancient capital of Manipur from where the Ningthouja kings ruled from the year 33 AD till 1891 when it was finally overrun by the British after the Anglo-Manipur wars. The fort was a symbol of the majestic royalty and a place of reverence for the locals. Very rightly so Kangla is the most important archeological and historical site in all of Manipur. Even though time and nature has slowly eaten away more than 70% of the original 1 sq. mile area of the fort the remains are no less spectacular. The prime attractions inside the fort are
1. Nungjeng Pukhri Achouba
This place is believed to be the abode of Lord Pakhangpa. This is a large pond one of the nine rivulets which adorn Kangla. This holy water is used to perform a number of cultural ceremonies like Apokpa Khurumba (ancestor worship), Pakhanba Chenghongba and Khayom Lakpa. This water is what the Ganga is to the Hindus.
Heard of human sacrifices? Well this was the site where the enemies were beheaded after a religious ceremony known as Huiyen Lallu Chanba. The priest performed the religious rites after which the enemies were beheaded as offerings. In a famous incident in 1981 five British officers including the then Commissioner of Assam were beheaded on this very spot. Creepily cool right?
this is essentially the name of the holy flame in which the remains of the deceased kings were cremated. This site was of great religious importance to the bygone royals.
A fort like structure inside the fort which can be dubbed as the last defensive wall of Kangla which was built in the 15th century to protect the inner sanctorums of the fort including the royal palace and other important buildings and sites.
5. Shri Govindaji Temple
Constructed by King Nara Singh this temple showcased the pride of the region. So much so that after the fall of Kangla the British took down gilded roof of the temple just to humiliate the locals. The building was reconstructed later after it was completely ruined by an earthquake. The pillar of the temple draw inspiration from Greek mythology and is an architect’s marvel.
6. Lord Ibudhou Pakhangba Leishang
This is a small temple situated at the dead center of the complex to symbolize the abode of the Lord Ibudhou Pakhangba, the resident deity of the place.
7. Kangla Museum
And lastly the Kangla Museum would serve you a perfect dessert to your trip through the lanes of history as it portrays specimens of the rich culture of the bygone era. Abundant cultural, military and religious specimens would help you get a comprehensive picture of the history of the fort and region.
Why Kangla of All Places
This was the place which changed the course of war for the Allied forces in Asia. Moreover this place is rich in the Indian cultures and traditions and above all, it is an archaeologist or historian’s dream as it is splattered with bits and pieces of history across every nook and cranny. This makes Kangla one of the most important historical places in India. So why wait? Go today and enjoy the experience before time claims it for eternity.