Manipur Kingdom
Meitei: Meetei Leipak
Coat of arms of Manipur
Coat of arms
Manipur State in the Hicky's Bengal Gazette of 1907
Manipur State in the Hicky's Bengal Gazette of 1907
Recognised national languagesMeitei language (officially known as Manipuri)
• Foundation of the Kangleipak Kingdom
• Accession to the Indian Union
• Merged into the Indian Union
194122,372 km2 (8,638 sq mi)
• 1941
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Early Seven Clan State
Kabaw Valley
Today part ofIndia
Meckley or Manipur kingdom in Mathew Carey's Map of Hindostan or India of 1814.
Kangla Uttra Sanglen at the Kangla Fort, former residence of the Meitei kings of Manipur. The two statues of Kangla Sha (Meitei dragon lions) standing in front of the inner gate were destroyed after the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891 but have been restored by the Manipur Government in recent years.
The princes of Manipur, Col. Johnstone, Thangal Major and the European officer in Kohima after relieving the fort from the siege of the Nagas, 1880
The Kohima Stone Inscription erected by Meitei King Gambhir Singh (Meitei: Chinglen Nongdrenkhomba), the Maharaja of Manipur, as the testimony of Meitei Dominance of Nagaland.
The Manipuri classical dance was developed by Meitei King Rajarshi Bhagyachandra (Meitei: Ching-Thang Khomba), the Maharajah of Manipur.
Raja Gambhir Singh (1788–1834) accepted British suzerainty in order to retrieve the kingdom from Burmese occupation

The Manipur Kingdom[1][2][3][4] also known as Meckley[5][6][7] was an ancient kingdom at the India–Burma frontier.[8][9][10] Historically, Manipur was an independent kingdom ruled by a Meitei dynasty.[11][12][13] But it was also invaded and ruled over by Burmese kingdom at various point of time.[14][15] It became a protectorate of the British East India Company from 1824, and a princely state of British Raj in 1891.[16] It bordered Assam Province in the west and British Burma in the east, and in the 20th century covered an area of 22,327 square kilometres (8,621 sq mi) and contained 467 villages.[citation needed] The capital of the state was Imphal.

Kangleipak State

The early history of Manipur is composed of mythical narratives . The location of the Kangla Fort on the banks of the Imphal River is believed to be where King Pakhangba built his first palace.[17]

Loyumba Shinyen, the written constitution of Kangleipak was formally developed by King Loiyumba (1074–1121) in 1110 AD.[18] He consolidated the kingdom by incorporating most of the principalities in the surrounding hills.[19] After subjugating all the villages within their valley Kangleipak kings grew in power and began a policy of expansion beyond their territory. In 1443 King Ningthoukhomba raided Akla (present day Tamu, Myanmar), an area ruled by Shan people, initiating a policy of Manipuri claims to the neighbouring Kabaw Valley.[19] The zenith of the Kangleipak State was reached under the rule of King Khagemba (1597–1652). Khagemba's brother Prince Shalungba was not happy about Khagemba's rule so he fled to the Taraf where he allied with the local Bengali Muslim leaders. With a contingent of Bengali Muslim soldiers led by Muhammad Sani, Shalungba then attempted to invade Manipur but the soldiers were captured and made to work as labourers in Manipur. These soldiers married local Meitei women and adapted to the Meitei language. They introduced hookah to Manipur and founded the Meitei Pangals (Manipuri Muslim community).[20] It is claimed that Manipur learned the art of making gunpowder from the Chinese merchants who visited the state around 1630 and had started making rockets named Meikappi by the early 18th century.[21]

Manipur State

In 1714, King Pamheiba was initiated into Gaudiya Vaishnavism by Shantidas Gosai, a Bengali Hindu from Sylhet. He made the Gaudiya Vaishnava faith the state religion, replacing Meitei religion, made the Meitei language (aka Manipuri language) written in Bengali script, destroying many documents of Meitei language written in Meitei script and changed his name to Garib Niwaj. In 1724, the Sanskrit name Manipur (transl. the City of Jewels) was adopted as the name of the state, to make the realm eponymous with Manipura of the Mahabharata. King Garib Niwaj made several incursions into Burma, but made no permanent conquest. After the death of Gharib Nawaz in 1754, Manipur was occupied by the Kingdom of Burma and the Meitei king Bhagyachandra (Meitei: Ching-Thang Khomba) sought help from the British, but when the British refused help he went to Ahom King Rajeswar Singha who sent a force of 40,000 under Haranath Senapati Phukan to free Manipur.[22] A treaty of alliance was negotiated in 1762 and a military force was sent to assist Manipur. The force was later recalled and then the state was left to its own devices.[23] Manipur was invaded at the onset of the First Anglo-Burmese War, together with Cachar and Assam.

British protectorate

Following the Burmese occupation of Manipur and of Assam, in 1824, the British declared war on Burma, which came to be known as the First Anglo-Burmese War. The exiled Manipur prince Gambhir Singh sought British help for raising a force and the request was granted. Sepoys and artillery were sent and British officers trained a levy of Manipuri troops for the battles that ensued. With British help, Gambhir Singh succeeded in expulsion of Burmese from Manipur, after receiving additional reinforcement, he expelled the Burmese from Kabaw Valley by 1826 as well,[24][25] and Gambhir Singh became the king of Manipur, after the war the Treaty of Yandabo was signed.[23] According to the British political agent McCulloch, by the treaty of Yandabo, Manipur was declared independent but being too weak by itself to remain so, and it’s position being in a military point of view, of too much importance to permit the chance of the Burmese obtaining the command of it, the British government has been compelled to guard against such a chance and to retain in the country a political agent, all border disputes having been settled by this officer.[26][27] However, the Burmese did not agree to the cession of Kabaw Valley. After prolonged negotiations, the British agreed to return Kabaw Valley to Burma, on the ground that Marjit Singh had already ceded it earlier. Some Manipuri scholars regard this as a lease to Burma.[28] as the British paid a compensation of 500 Sicca Rupees per month.[29][30] After these developments, Manipur is deemed to have become a British protectorate,[31] even though its ensuing status is debated till this day.[32]

At the death of Gambhir Singh, his son Chandrakirti Singh was only one year old, and his uncle Nara Singh was appointed as regent. That same year the British decided to restore the Kabaw Valley to the Kingdom of Burma, which had never been happy about the loss. A compensation was paid to Raja of Manipur in the form of an annual allowance of Rs 6,370 and a British residency was established in Imphal, the only town of the state, in 1835 to facilitate communication between the British and the rulers of Manipur.[23]

After a thwarted attempt on his life, Nara Singh took power and held the throne until his death in 1850. His brother Devendra Singh was given the title of Raja by the British, but he was unpopular. After only three months, the rightful heir Chandrakirti Singh invaded Manipur and rose to the throne. Numerous members of the royal family tried to overthrow Chandrakirti Singh, but none of the rebellions was successful. In 1879, when British Deputy Commissioner G.H. Damant was killed by an Angami Naga party, the king of Manipur assisted the British by sending troops to neighbouring Kohima. Following this service to the crown, Chandrakirti Singh was rewarded with the Order of the Star of India.

After Maharaja Chandrakriti's death in 1886 his son Surachandra Singh succeeded him. As in previous occasions, several claimants to the throne tried to overthrow the new king. The first three attempts were defeated, but in 1890, following an attack on the palace by Tikendrajit and Kulachandra Singh, two of the king's brothers, Surachandra Singh announced his intention to abdicate and left Manipur for Cachar. Kulachandra Singh then rose to the throne while Tikendrajit Singh, as the commander of the Manipuri armed forces, held the real power behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Surachandra Singh, after leaving Manipur, appealed to the British for help to recover the throne.[23]

The 'Manipur Expedition'

Main article: Anglo-Manipur War

The British decided to recognise Kulachandra Singh as Raja, and to send a military expedition of 400 men to Manipur to punish Senapati Tikendrajit Singh as the main person responsible for the unrest and the dynastic disturbances. This action and the violent events that followed are known in British annals as the 'Manipur Expedition, 1891',[33] while in Manipur they are known as the 'Anglo-Manipur War of 1891'.

The British attempt to remove Tikendrajit from his position as military commander (Senapati) and arrest him on 24 March 1891 caused a great stir. The British Residency in Imphal was attacked and the Chief Commissioner for Assam J.W. Quinton, Col. Sken, the British Resident and other British officials were murdered. In the middle of the unrest Ethel St Clair Grimwood, the widow of Frank St Clair Grimmond, the killed British Resident, was credited with leading a retreat of surviving sepoys out of Manipur to Cachar.[34] She was later lauded as a hero.[35]) A 5,000 strong punitive expedition was sent against Manipur on 27 April 1891. Three British columns entered Manipur from British Burma, Cachar and the Naga Hills, which after several skirmishes with the 3,000 men strong Manipuri army, managed to pacify the kingdom. Following the British attack, Tikendrajit and Kulachandra Singh fled, but were captured. Tikendrajit and those Manipuris involved in the killing of the British officers were tried and hanged, while the deposed King Kulachandra Singh and other leaders of the rebellion were sent to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands. Manipur was briefly annexed to British India by virtue of the doctrine of lapse. On 22 September 1891 when Meidingngu Churachand (Churachandra), a 5-year-old boy, was put on the throne, power was restored nominally to the Manipuri crown over the state. During the dynastic disturbances and the British intervention the Naga and Kuki hill tribes of the state lapsed into lawlessness, with numerous instances of murder and arson in the mountain villages, a situation that lasted well into 1894.[23]

Princely state under British Raj

The child ruler Churachand belonged to a side branch of the Manipur royal family, so that all the main contenders to the throne were bypassed. While he was a minor the affairs of state were administered by the British Political Agent, which facilitated the introduction and implementation of reforms. The first paved road to Manipur was inaugurated in 1900 —until then there had been no proper roads to reach the kingdom— and this improvement in communication facilitated a visit by Viceroy Lord Curzon in 1901. Raja Churachand was formally declared king in 1907 after completing education in Ajmer.[23] In 1918 he was given the privilege to use the title 'Maharaja' and during his reign Manipur enjoyed a period of relative peace and prosperity. In 1934 king Churachand was knighted by the British, becoming Sir Churachandra Singh.[36]

Between March 1944 and July 1944 part of Manipur and the Naga Hills District of Assam Province were occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army. The capital Imphal was shelled on 10 May 1944.[37][verification needed]

Twilight and end of the princely state

On 14 August 1947, with the lapse of paramountcy of the British Crown, Manipur regained its political autonomy that it had prior to 1891.[38][a] The Maharaja had signed the Instrument of Accession on 11 August 1947, which legality is argued by many,[41][42][43][44] ceding the three subjects of defence, external affairs and communications to the Union of India, while retaining internal political autonomy.[45][46][47][48] A 'Manipur State Constitution Act 1947' was enacted, giving the state its own constitution, although this did not become known in other parts of India owing to the relative isolation of the kingdom.[40] The Government of India did not recognize the Constitution.[49]

On 21 September 1949, the Maharaja was coerced to sign a Manipur Merger Agreement with the Union of India, to take effect on 15 October the same year, which legality is also disputed by many[50][51][52] As a result of the agreement, the Manipur State merged into the Indian Union as a Part C State (similar to a Chief Commissioner's Province under the colonial regime or a Union Territory in the present Indian structure), to be governed by a Chief Commissioner appointed by the Government of India. The representative assembly of Manipur was abolished.[53]

Unhappy with the central rule, Rishang Keishing began a movement for representative government in Manipur in 1954. The Indian home minister, however, declared that the time was not yet ripe for the creation of representative assemblies in Part C States such as Manipur and Tripura, stating that they were located in strategic border areas of India, that the people were politically backward and that the administration in those states was still weak.[53] However, it was given a substantial measure of local self-government under the Territorial Councils Act of 1956, a legislative body and council of ministers in 1963, and full statehood in 1972.[54]


Main article: List of Meitei kings

The rulers of Manipur state were entitled to an 11-gun salute by the British authorities. The present dynasty began in 1714.[55]

Rajas under Burmese rule

There were two feudatory kings during the time of the Burmese invasions.

Rajas under British protection

Rulers of the princely state under British Raj

British Political Agents

The Political agents were subordinated to the Chief Commissioner of Assam (Lieutenant Governor of East Bengal and Assam during 1905–1912)[56][verification needed]

British administrators

During the princely state stage (1891–1947), an Indian Civil Service (ICS) officer of the East Bengal and Assam cadre was appointed as the administrator, first as the Vice-president of the Manipur State Darbar, and, from 1916, as its President.[62][63][64][36]

Indian administration

Political agents

The Indian Agents were subordinated to the Governor of Assam.


The Dewans were representing the Governor of Assam.


The State of Manipur had a set of two flags, a white one and a red one. All featured the Pakhangba dragon in the centre, although not as prominently in the latter flags.[69]

White flag with coat of arms (1907–1949)
Red flag with Pakhangba (till 1907)
White flag with Pakhangba (till 1907)

See also


  1. ^ Some Manipur scholars tend to label this political autonomy as "independence".[39][40]
  2. ^ William MuCulloch authored Account of the Valley of Munnipore and of the Hill Tribes (1859).[58]
  3. ^ Robert Brown authored Statistical Account of the Native State of Manipur and the Hill Territory under Its Rule (1874).[59]>
  4. ^ James Johnstone authored My Experiences in Manipur and the Naga Hills (1896).[60]
  5. ^ John Shakespear authored The Lushei Kuki Clans (1912).[61]


  1. ^ Keen, Caroline (2015). An Imperial Crisis in British India. I.B. Tauris. pp. 150–152. doi:10.5040/9780755624355. ISBN 978-1-78673-987-2. Ghose maintained that under the Indian Penal Code only subjects of the Queen or foreigners residing in British India could be guilty of waging war against the Queen. Manipur was an independent sovereign state and..
  2. ^ Lloyd, Nick (2016). "Review of AN IMPERIAL CRISIS IN BRITISH INDIA: THE MANIPUR UPRISING OF 1891". Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research. 94 (380): 347–348. ISSN 0037-9700. JSTOR 44233143.
  3. ^ Sen (1992), p. 17
  4. ^ Andaya, Barbara Watson; Andaya, Leonard Y. (19 February 2015). A History of Early Modern Southeast Asia, 1400–1830. Cambridge University Press. p. 264. doi:10.1017/cbo9781139051323. ISBN 978-0-521-88992-6.
  5. ^ Temple, R. C. (1894). "Contributions Towards the History of Anglo: Burmese Words". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland: 152–164. ISSN 0035-869X.
  6. ^ Naorem, Deepak (2024), Chakrabarti, Anjan; Chakraborty, Gorky; Chakraborty, Anup Shekhar (eds.), "Making a 'Peter the Great' in an Imperial Frontier: Educating 'Natives' and Introducing English Language and Roman Script in Manipur", Indigeneity, Development and Sustainability: Perspectives from Northeast India, Singapore: Springer Nature, pp. 345–360, doi:10.1007/978-981-97-1436-0_17, ISBN 978-981-97-1436-0, retrieved 7 July 2024: "the kingdom of Manipur, often referred in the colonial accounts as Meckley"
  7. ^ Parratt, Saroj Nalini (2005). The Court Chronicle of the Kings of Manipur: 33-1763 CE. Routledge. pp. 14, 174. ISBN 978-0-415-34430-2.
  8. ^ Somorjit, Wangam (1 March 2016). Manipur: The Forgotten Nation of Southeast Asia. Waba Publications & Advanced Research Consortium. ISBN 978-81-926687-2-7.
  9. ^ Fantz, Paul R.; Pradeep, S. V. (1995). Clitoria (Leguminosae) of South Eastern Asia.
  10. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  11. ^ Arora, Vibha; Kipgen, Ngamjahao (2012). "The Politics of Identifying with and Distancing from Kuki Identity in Manipur". Sociological Bulletin. 61 (3): 429–449. doi:10.1177/0038022920120303. ISSN 0038-0229. JSTOR 26290634. S2CID 157167951. Historically, Manipur was an independent kingdom ruled by Meitei dynasty. The physical boundary of Manipur has been fluctuating with historical changes in political power and the intra state and the inter state boundaries
  12. ^ Singha, Memchaton (2016). "Marriage Diplomacy Between the States of Manipur and Burma, 18th to 19th Centuries". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 77: 874–879. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 26552717. Both Manipur and Burma succeeded in maintaining their status as independent princely states until the British occupation by in the last part of 19th century
  13. ^ Waikhom, Rangitabali (2002). "Women's Society and Politics in Pre-Colonial Manipur". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 63: 1356–1357. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44158255.
  14. ^ Thant, Myint-U (2001), The Making of Modern Burma, Cambridge University Press, p. 15, ISBN 978-0-521-79914-0
  15. ^ Lieberman, Victor (1996). "POLITICAL CONSOLIDATION IN BURMA UNDER THE EARLY KONBAUNG DYNASTY 1752 – c. 1820". Journal of Asian History. 30 (2): 152–168. ISSN 0021-910X. JSTOR 41931038.
  16. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Manipur" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 582.
  17. ^ Yuhlung, Cheithou Charles (2013). "The Identity of Pakhangpa: The Mystical Dragon-Python God of Chothe of Manipur". SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2317260. ISSN 1556-5068.
  18. ^ Bhattacharjee, J.B.; Bhattacharya, J.B. (2003). "'Loiyamba Shinyen': A Landmark in Meitei State Formation in Medieval Manipur". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 64: 362–368. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44145476.
  19. ^ a b Phanjoubam Tarapot, Bleeding Manipur, Har Anand Publications (30 July 2007) ISBN 978-8124109021
  20. ^ Nath, Rajmohan (1948). The back-ground of Assamese culture. A. K. Nath. p. 90.
  21. ^ Laichen 2003, pp. 505–506.
  22. ^ Comprehensive history of Assam, SL Baruah. pp. 296–297.
  23. ^ a b c d e f "Imperial Gazetteer2 of India, Volume 17, page 186 – Imperial Gazetteer of India – Digital South Asia Library". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  24. ^ Singh, Yumkhaibam Shyam (18 August 2022). "1891 Anglo-Manipuri War And Rarely Known Manipuri Heroes". Journal of Positive School Psychology. 6 (8): 4471–4478. ISSN 2717-7564. Gambhir Singh now decided to expel the Burmese from Kabaw Valley (plain area between Manipur of this day and the Chindwin River now in Burma) which had been for Manipur for ages in the past. Nur Singh was, therefore, sent along with 1000 men to Tamu on 1st January, 1826. On being asked for reinforcement, Gambhir Singh along with the two British officers left for Tamu on 13th January, 1826. Conquering not only Tamu but also Samsok, the prince unfurled the flag of Manipur on the bank of Chindwin on 1st February 1826.
  25. ^ R. Boileau Pemberton (1835). Report On Eastern Frontier Of British India. pp. 47–48. in June, 1825, he compelled them to evacuate the Muneepoor valley. In the following year, having obtained some re-inforcements, he entered Kubo, attacked the Burmese forces in their stockaded position at Tummoo, and pursuing them across the Ungoching hills, cleared the western bank of the Ningthee river of every opposing detachment...
  26. ^ Mcculloh (1980). Valley Of Manipur. p. 38.
  27. ^ "Colonial Historiography As A Lens To Comprehend The History Of Manipur". Boletin De Literatura Oral - The Literary Journal. 10 (1): 1474–1483. 1 November 2023.
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  29. ^ Aitchison, C. U. (Comp ) (1931). Collection of Treaties, Engagements and Sanads Relating to India and Neighbouring Countries. Vol. 12 edn: 5. Kerala State Library. Calcutta. p. 197.
  30. ^ Sanjeev, Thingnam (2015), "Recasting Space: Politics of frontier-making", Colonialism and Resistance, Routledge India, p. 243, doi:10.4324/9781315638317-21/recasting-space-thingnam-sanjeev (inactive 19 May 2024), ISBN 978-1-315-63831-7, retrieved 14 May 2024((citation)): CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of May 2024 (link)
  31. ^ Phanjoubam, Pradip (2015), The Northeast Question: Conflicts and frontiers, Routledge, pp. 3–4, ISBN 978-1-317-34004-1: "After comprehensively defeating the Burmese in 1826 in Assam and Manipur, and the signing of the Treaty of Yandabo, the British annexed Assam, but allowed Manipur to remain a protectorate state."
  32. ^ Sanatomba, Interrogation into the political status of Manipur 2015.
  33. ^ Ian F.W. Beckett, Victoria's Wars, Shire, ISBN 978-0747803881, p. 62
  34. ^ Reynolds, K. D. (2010). "Grimwood [née Moore; other married name Miller], Ethel Brabazon [pseud. Ethel St Clair Grimwood] (1867–1928), the heroine of Manipur". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/101006. Retrieved 11 October 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  35. ^ Ethel St. Clair Grimwood, My Three Years in Manipur and Escape from the Recent Mutiny (fl.1891)
  36. ^ a b "Indian Princely States K-Z". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  37. ^ Pum Khan Pau (2012) Tedim Road—The Strategic Road on a Frontier: A Historical Analysis, Strategic Analysis, 36:5, 776-786, doi:10.1080/09700161.2012.712387
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  39. ^ Akoijam, A. Bimol (28 July 2001), "How History Repeats Itself", Economic and Political Weekly, 36 (30): 2807–2812, JSTOR 4410908
  40. ^ a b Banerjee, S. K. (January–March 1958), "Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947", The Indian Journal of Political Science, 19 (1): 35–38, JSTOR 42748891
  41. ^ Sanatomba, Kangujam (2015), "Interrogating into the Political Status of Manipur", Colonialism and Resistance, Routledge India, doi:10.4324/9781315638317-15/interrogating-political-status-manipur-kangujam-sanatomba (inactive 19 May 2024), ISBN 978-1-315-63831-7, retrieved 11 May 2024((citation)): CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of May 2024 (link):"Furthermore, Section 9(b) of the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947, would certainly dispel any doubt about the titular status of the Maharaja, which was expressedly stated thus: ‘The Maharaja means His Highness, the Maharaja of Manipur, the constitutional head of the state.’ The Maharaja in his capacity as the constitutional ruler could not execute the Instrumentwithout proper authorisation and constitutional endorsement. This was simply on account of the fact that he was not a sovereign ruler and that Manipur was not a sovereign state then. Therefore, the act of signing the Instrument of Accession on 11 August 1947 by the Maharaja could not be considered an Act of the State. Hence, the Instrument was deemed null and void right from the moment it was executed... "
  42. ^ Ranjan, Amit; Chattoraj, Diotima (26 May 2023). Migration, Regional Autonomy, and Conflicts in Eastern South Asia: Searching for a Home(land). Springer Nature. p. 176. ISBN 978-3-031-28764-0. There is no legal and constitutional validity of the Instrument of Accession signed on 11 August 1947 that vested matters such as defense, external affairs, and communication in the Dominion of India..
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Further reading

24°49′N 93°57′E / 24.817°N 93.950°E / 24.817; 93.950