The capital city of Manipur and home to the historical Kangla Palace, Imphal is renowned for its world-famous 'Ras Lila' dance, the Sangai dancing deer and its historical association to World War II. Much of the history of this place is blotched with stories of blood battles, unceasing revolutions and the trials and tribulations of activists like Irom Sharmila to free Manipur from the clutches of armed forces. Although not much is known about pre-historic Imphal, the city came into limelight after the first Anglo-Manipuri war in the year 1891. This checkered history or the city was further influenced by the battle of Imphal during World War II. The British rulers upgraded this region into an important military base to evade invasion from the bordering countries. Since then, Imphal has served as an important military centre that is maintained by the Indian Army. Scroll down the article to know more on the edifying facts on the history of the city.
Erstwhile ruled by Kin Khaba, the throne of Imphal was later ceded by the Pakhangba leaders. It was here that the powerful clan of Ningthouja tribe originated. With time, the Ningthouja tribe expanded their dominion over the land and emerged as one of the most influential group in the field of politics and warfare. The Kangla palace, which is the pride of Manipur was built by King Khagemba and his son Khunjaoba but was destroyed by the British during the Anglo-Manipuri War. During the reign of Maharaja Bhagyachandra, the region witnessed several Burmese invasions. However, with the help of Maharaj Gambhir Singh and the forces of Manipur, Kangla was liberated from the incursion of the Burmese army.
The region remained peaceful until the intrusion of the British officials in 1891. Due to the internal differences between the members of the royal family, the British decided to intervene and sort out the problem by sending Mr. J.W. Quinton to negotiate the matter. However, matters grew worse and Senapati Tikendrajit had to be banished from the capital. This in turn led to the first Anglo-Manipur war in 1891. The undeclared autocratic rule over the Manipur by the British angered the local people. In the following year, the Anglo-Manipur, war broke out between the British and the Manipuri commander in chief. The English forces attacked the palace and gunned down the walls of the Kangal fort. Since the capture of the state in 1891, Manipur remained as a part of the British rule until Indian Independence.
Memories of World War II
Many of us are not aware of the significant part played by India during the World War II. The battle of Imphal was fought during World War II in 1944 with the view to capture British colonies that was significant to the 'Burma Campaign'. The Japanese forces invaded Burma in order to annihilate the English army that was stationed at Imphal. But failed to do so and was forced to retreat back as several members in their army were severely injured. This, in turn, led to the biggest defeat in Japan's history. The attack on Burma made the British aware of the strategic importance held by the city of Imphal in the Northeast region. Since then the English troops maintained a strong army base in the city to not only circumvent from being captured by the Japanese military but also to be on high alert from other external forces.