The Battle Of Khongjom and the Manipuris in the Anglo-Manipur War - 1891
- Part 3 -

Dr. Yumkhaibam Shyam Singh *

Khongjom Day Observation of the historic Battle of Khongjom 1891 at  Khebaching :: 23rd April 2016
Khongjom Day Observation at Khebaching on 23rd April 2016 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

Immediate cause

Maharaja Chandrakirti died in 1886 and his son Surachandra Singh ascended the throne of Manipur. The new king was incompetent and, therefore, was dethroned after a palace revolt engineered by Bir Tikendrajit Singh on September 21,1890. Kulachandra ascended the throne on 23 September of that instant. Surchandra, reaching Calcutta, applied to the Viceroy to regain his lost throne. After due discussion, Lord Landsdowne directed the Chief Commissioner of Assam to recognise Kulachandra as the Raja of Manipur, and at the same time to deport Tikendrajit beyond Manipur.

This latter provision was the culmination of the British interference in the affairs of the independent kingdom of Manipur. Mr. Quinton, Chief Commissioner of Assam, arrived at Imphal on 22nd March, 1891, with an escort party of 400 British Army. Repeated Darbars (conferences) were scheduled to arrest Tikendrajit but failed. Ultimately, in the early morning of the 24th March the British Army under Lt. Brackenbary fired the first shot at Kangla with an objective of arresting Yuvaraj Tikendrajit. The war thus began with the declaration of war by the Manipuris too.

Impact of the attack at Kangla

After the whole day's fighting on the 24th March, the British declared ceasefire at 8 P.M., and ultimately fighting ended. For a Darbar to be held instantly at Kangla, 5 British Officers and a Hindustani bugler came to Kangla. In the Beginning of the Darbar, those Manipuri nobles expressed their willingness to hold the conference with the British Officers only. Therefore, they asked the Sahibs to allow the Hindustani bugler to go back to the residency.37

It also indicated that the Manipuris did not like any Hindustani to join the meeting at that critical moment. When the conference failed, the exited Manipuri masses killed Mr. Grimwood, and on their pressing demands, other four Officers-Mr. Ouinton, Colonel Skene, Lt. Simpson and Mr. Cossins were also killed inside the Kangla Fort. At Mayangkhang (near Senapati) another two British Officers- Mr. Melville and Mr. O'Brian were also killed by the army of Manipur in collusion with the Nagas of that place.

The Battle of Khongjom

Knowing the serious situation of the British in Manipur, by the second week of April, three powerful columns of British Army were sent via Silchar, Kohima and Tamu. Manipuris had to challenge this powerful British Army. On the number of Manipuri warriors and their war eguipments, the Hindu reported on the 9th April, 1891: "The state had an army of 5439 infantry, 501 artillery, 400 cavalry and 700 Kuki irregulars. But the Ex Maharaja says he had a regular army of 8000 men not including the Kukis and the hill Levies. The hillmen said to be always at the service of the ruling family consisting mostly of Kukis are faithful but difficult to control. They number 10,000 and receive no pay but are exempt from taxes."

To resist the advancing British column from Tamu, 700 Manipuris were sent to Thoubal under Wangkheirakpa and Yenkhoiba Major. At this critical time the Maharaja appointed Subedar Paona Brajabasi and Chongtha Mia Singh to the posts of Major and four hundred sepoys under the two Majors were reinforced to oppose the British force from Burma (Tammu Column).

The party under Wangkheirakpa made a strong stockade at Thoubal. Orders were issued to Majors Paona Brajabasi and Chongtha Mia Singh to proceed towards Palel by the Burma Road. But seeing the British reconnoitring party, the two Manipuri Majors constructed their mud made fort on the bank of the Khongjom River. One day before the battle, Lt. Cox spied out the disposition of the Manipuri troops at Khongjom. The latter opened fire to Cox's party.

Realising the gravity of the situation, the two Majors reguested the Commander-in-charge at Thoubal to supply the pounders of high calibre. Failing which, those 400 Manipuri warriors under the two Majors had to face the British Army with their small weapons. The historic Battle of Khongjom was fought on the 23th April, 1891. (This date invites rethinking)

On this day, 50 Gurkha Rifles under Captain Drury, 50 Madras Infantry (Burma) under Lt. Grant and 35 Mounted Infantry of the 12th Madras Infantry (Burma) under Lt. Cox surrounded the fort of Manipur at Khongjom. Thinking that the force under Captain Drury was not strong enough for the purpose, General Graham who had then arrived ordered out another 200 rifles of 2-4:h Gurkhas with Captains Rundall and Carnegy, and 2 guns of No. 2 Mountain Battery under Lt. Persse for reinforcement and attack of the Manipur fort which was poorly equipped.

When the war began, powerful British guns effected fatal impacts at the fort of Manipur, but those gallent Manipuri warriors fought till their last breathe to safeguard the territory and independence of Manipur. It was the decisive battle of the Anglo-Manipur war. On the 27th April, 1891, the British Forces occupied Kangla resulting in the end of freedom all the Manipuris.

Concerted effort of the Manipuris in the war

It is really undeniable that the Manipuris living both in the hills and the plain fought the war united. Traditions express that Maharajas maintained a very sound relationsip with the hill people of Manipur. Till today. everyone could see Manipuri festivals like Lai-Haraoba, Mera Hao Chongba etc. in which all the Manipuri communities join together and witness these festivals with great joy. Earlier, or Mera Hao Chongba, the Tankhuls who had gathered at Imphal were given the liberty to collect anything they like from the Imphal Market. The Maharaja was to pay the incurred more to the concerned traders. This tradition was know as Tangkhul Potlak'(Traditional right of the Tangkhuls to take away commodities without payment).

Having such unbreakable bond of unity, there were any Manipuri hill brothers in the Kangla Fort when it was attacked on the 24th March, 1891. It has already been stated that two Tangkhuls also lost their lives in the hand to hand of that morning. At Mayangkhang, as mentioned earlier, when the British Officers - Mr.Melville and Mr. O'Brian were attacked, the Nagas of that place played a great role under theit chief Chirai Naga.

The Kukis and the Nagas of the South west Manipur also showed their great animosty resulting in repeated skirmishes when Mrs. Grimwood and the British Army retreated on the Cachar Road in March, 1891. At the time of advancing the British column from Silchar, the Kukis of Manipur broke the suspension bridge over the Irang R:ver to check the British advance. When the Manipuris were defeated, Maharaja Kulacha-chandra, his brothers and a great number of Manipuri followers took shelter at Chassad for some days.

The then Chief Political Officer in Manipur also reported on 27th April, 1891: "The Regent, Senapati, and brothers left palace for Tangkul hills 8 p.m. 26th." After the war, 5 Manipuri leaders viz. Jubaraj Tikendrajit, General Thangal, Niranjan Subedar, Kajao Singh, Jamadar and Chirai Naga of Mayangkhang were hanged to death by the British Authorities.

Another 22 leaders- Kullachandra Dhaja Singh (Ex-Regent), Prince Angao Singh (Senapati), Lokendrajit Birjit Singh (Wangkheirakpa), Samu Singh (Colonel alias Luwang Ningthou), Chongtham Nilamani Singh (Ayapurel Major), Chongtham Mia Singh (Major), Uru Singh (Usurba), Chaoba Hida (Machahal), Gun Singh (Kongdram), Kumba Singh (Laisraba), Dhaja Singh (Mayengba), Nam Singh (Nepra, Machahal), Trilo Singh (Nongtholba Satwal), Dhon Singh (Sagolsemba), Ghuna Singh (Ingujamba Jamadar), Ningthouba Singh (Chingshuba), Thaoba Singh (Phanjao Jamadar), Tonjao Singh (Mangsatba Jamadar), Chaobatol Singh (Heigrujamba Subadar) Paradhumba Singh (alias Ashangba Kut),Chowkami Naga of Mayangkhang and Gowho Naga of Mayangkhang were transported for life.


The Anglo-Manipur War was thus a remarkable event in the annals of Indian history in general and that of Manipur in particular. To the gallant and independent loving Manipuris, the greedy and suppressive acts of the colonial British Government were just like poking the lion repeatedly. Hence, their main target of retaliation focused mainly on those British Officers. It is apparent that the aged Thangal General knew and felt the ultimate objective of the British was to annexe Manipur.

It is also apparent that the Manipuris could not challenge the might of the British. That is why they expressed their deep rooted anger and animosity towards the British by executing the British Officers.


* Dr. Yumkhaibam Shyam Singh (HoD, History Imphal College, Govt, of Manipur) wrote this article for 'Manipur Today' that was published by DIPR Manpur in April 2017
This article was posted on August 02, 2017.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Culturals @Mera Houchongba #2 :: Gallery
  • Kang Chingba @ Wangkhei :: Gallery
  • North East Fashion Week #2 :: Gallery
  • Know The Meetei
  • Indo-Naga Peace Process :: Articles
  • Not just the Gateway
  • Use milk for silky smooth skin
  • Mobile Application for Sangai Festival
  • Manipuri Mega Photo Contest Finalist
  • 5 point resolution on Naga Political Issue
  • NE is least favoured tourist destination
  • Final: Hazari/Tombi Polo #1 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival 2017- Events Schedule
  • #TB hotspot cannot be on blindspot
  • United Metal 3.0 @Imphal
  • My name is Kom, Mary Kom
  • Swachch Bharath Swasth Bharath
  • Sangai Festival 2017- Online booking site
  • The Killing Fields (2013-17) :: Timeline
  • Mary set on Olympic gold
  • For every causes, there is a reason
  • Moibung Khunou -near khurkhul :: Gallery
  • Miss Kut #4 :: Gallery
  • On the Naga Framework Agreement
  • Media Challenge: Glance from hills #1
  • GIS day at NIT Manipur
  • Pangal Leader Mohammed Hanif Shah
  • NPF questions Speaker convening meet
  • Painting Exhibition by Babli Das (Tripura)
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Looking out for possible measures
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #7 : Ooba
  • Cultural Program @ MCA :: Gallery
  • Parihal, Nimshimphy, Neilianthang: eMing
  • Ningol ChakKouba @MBC #3 :: Gallery
  • Oh dear Daddy, see I a Native Proud: Poem
  • Buddha's metta and karuna #3
  • Narendra Modi will never play Nehru
  • Photo Caption Contest by
  • General Call to All Former NPF Leaders
  • Penguin Readathon & Book Gifting
  • ENNG opposes inclusion of TCL..
  • Report alarm for Arunachal
  • Loktak witness drastic fall in migratory birds
  • Lecture on 'Rohingya Resettlement'
  • 'Weaves of Ching-tam' @London :: Gallery
  • Opening: Jadonang Football #1 :: Gallery
  • Robert's Weaves of valley & hills at London
  • Remembering boy..felled by fake encounter
  • Reorganisation of North Eastern Council #1
  • Sangai Photo Awards 2017 : Contest
  • Meeyam meekup nahum singna leibiyu
  • HighWays : Govt. needs seriousness
  • Singcha Wuya Won @Kamjong #4 :: Gallery
  • SDG Consultation: NE :: Gallery
  • North East Fashion Week #1 :: Gallery
  • Distribution Patterns of the Asian Eye
  • Sustainable Development Goal Consultation
  • Wrangle in Mapithel dam: Legal perspective
  • In the Slums of Heaven :: Poem
  • Wreath Laying Ceremony for AR Martyrs
  • Time to take a bow, Robert
  • Create jobs for NE to stop trafficking
  • March: Mera Houchongba #4:: Gallery
  • Sin-Lang Fest @DM College #2 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival: Ideas for a change
  • A shadowy dreamer :: Poem
  • Winter - A blessing in disguise for us ...
  • Course in Nanotechnology at NEHU
  • Pamel : Serene Natural Hub, near Lamlai
  • Vacancy at YVU Financial Services, Thoubal
  • System Operators @PR Enterprise, Khurai
  • Just by showing concern will not change..
  • Food Stall @Phayeng #2 :: Gallery
  • Miss Kut #3 :: Gallery
  • The moment :: Poem
  • Board exams decoded
  • 3rd NE Fashion at Itanagar: Day 2
  • Conference : North East in Globalized Era
  • NE-IAS launched to support Startup India
  • Painting Competition on Conservation
  • Ramkung Pamei is new MHJU Chief
  • Priyogopal (Senior Artist)- Photo :: eRang
  • Kabui Dance @Jadonang Football:: Gallery
  • Fashion @NE Festival, Delhi :: Gallery
  • Deviance and Corruption in Kangleipak
  • Applied health research is vital to #endTB
  • 3rd NE Fashion at Itanagar: Day 1
  • Tri-nation Motorcycle Rally reach Imphal
  • Traffic woes continues
  • Kwatha festival #1 :: Gallery
  • Kokkhum Festival #1 :: Gallery
  • Special Rapporteur on Human Rights
  • The threat to balkanize Manipur
  • Cry of a Dying River - 6 :: Poem
  • Biological based integrated Congress grass
  • 3rd Audition of Fagi Unplugged
  • Sadar Hills District Demand: News Timeline
  • Of clean environment
  • Paonam Lily (Archery) Reception :: Gallery
  • North East Fest @ Delhi :: Gallery
  • Girls Football- Nov 4 #2 :: Gallery
  • IBSD, India & VITO, Belgium signed MOU
  • First angioplasty for in-stent restenosis
  • RIST Popular Talk-33: Quantum Hall states
  • Commonwealth alumni event of NE
  • Lecture on The Rohingya Conundrum
  • Tri-National Motorcycle Rally
  • 3rd North East Fashion Week at Itanagar
  • ILP Nov 30 deadline: Why not only for valley
  • Expected changes, do we see ?
  • Festival of Raas Leela #2 :: Gallery
  • Sin-Lang Fest @DM College #1 :: Gallery
  • Hari Uthan- Kang Chingba #2 :: Gallery
  • Code of silence: Concealing gender justice
  • God Rules Over All :: Poem
  • Five day 'Flower Show' at Ukhrul
  • Go birding to honour Bird Man of India
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Uphul Waiphul and Leikhom Leinang
  • A reminder to Central Govt.
  • Ningol Chak-Kouba @Pune :: Gallery
  • Miss Kut #2 :: Gallery
  • Meitei Pictographic Writings :: Book Review
  • Careers related to mental health
  • Beauty & Money for a purpose
  • Human rights infractions in Mapithel Dam
  • AMAND Ningol Chakouba at Pune : Report
  • Chef Required at Kakching
  • NHPC Raising day at Loktak Power Station
  • Of ST demand, ILP, peace talk
  • For elderly people
  • Prof. Nongmaithem Tombi Singh : A Profile
  • Hazari/ Tombi Polo Tournament #2:: Gallery
  • U-17 Footballer honored by Guv :: Gallery
  • Just in favour of nocturnal life
  • Dance of Fire Flies at Autumn :: Poem
  • North East Festival bids farewell
  • Agenda of Govt spelt out at DBC, Maram
  • Nurturing the future
  • Ningol Chak-Kouba @Delhi #2:: Gallery
  • NE Fashion Weekend @Delhi #1 :: Gallery
  • History will not forgive us
  • A girl :: Poem
  • Pre-merger political party struggle
  • JRF wanted at NIT Silchar
  • Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party
  • Welcome to Southern Nagalim greeting
  • March: Mera Houchongba #3:: Gallery
  • Girls Football- Nov 4 #1:: Gallery
  • Taxi- raising Air Pollution in Ukhrul
  • Back to basics to #endTB: Do it right
  • Man with Flower's Life :: Poem
  • Skill development training with MUDA
  • Quiz Competition at NE Festival
  • Free cataract operation at Loktak
  • Traffic control- still a flop show
  • Pui Thangamliu -Photos #1 :: eRang
  • NH7 Weekender [28 October] :: Gallery
  • Surjalal: Fellow of American Physical Society
  • Ithai Barrage for Irrigation: Beautiful Promise
  • NE Festival 2017 starts off
  • The Sun & the Cloud :: Poem
  • Land encroachment at Lamka College
  • Salesian College Grabs UK Project
  • Nagaland CM met Rajnath reg. Naga issue
  • Ranked 5th in women safety: stereotyping?
  • Prime focus
  • Miss Kut #1 :: Gallery
  • Hari Uthan- Kang Chingba #1 :: Gallery
  • Kangujam Chinglensana (Hockey) feted
  • reach the tipping point for childhood TB?
  • A round of applause for N Biren, CM..
  • Link Research with Education for NE
  • Culture is beyond Religion: Najma Heptulla
  • Vacancies @ Chirag Estate, Gurgaon
  • Defection of some party workers : NPCC
  • ST for Meiteis: Final say rests with Delhi
  • Understanding responsibility
  • Chavang Kut @Tengnoupal :: Gallery
  • Sub-Junior Girls Football #2:: Gallery
  • A crusade for a greener Manipur
  • Tourist Guide as career option #2
  • 'Govt working for inclusive development'
  • Namsai gets Buddha relic from Thailand
  • 5th NE Festival at Delhi: Program Schedule
  • 20th Asian Charter for Human Rights: Video
  • National Unity Day at Ukhrul
  • Ningol Chak-Kouba @Delhi #1:: Gallery
  • Happy Kut Wishes :: e-pao Flash
  • Let's be racist
  • 3rd Ningol Chakouba, Delhi : A Report
  • Dr. Rahejuddin Sheikh : Best Director Award
  • Conference: North East in Globalized Era
  • Chothe: Shabu Hong Rein :: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • IT Employment Devlp Course :: Gallery
  • NH7 Weekender [27 October] :: Gallery
  • Red Light Area in Manipur ?
  • Candle light for Belinda Morse :: Gallery
  • Exhibition of Pottery Crafts #2 :: Gallery
  • Phayeng Cultural programme :: Gallery
  • Khongjom War Memorial #3 :: 360 ° View
  • Ichangi Laidhi #1 :: eRang
  • Ningol Chakkouba by Paomee:: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba @Kolkata :: Gallery
  • Tourism Day @ Phayeng #1 :: Gallery
  • Ningol to her mapam lamdam :: Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download it
  • Mera Men Tongba :: Gallery
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Kh Ninthoinganba
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Thounaojam Jeakson
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Nongdamba Naorem
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Dheeraj Moirangthem
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Amarjit Kiyam (Captain)
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Thangjam Boris
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Wangjam Suresh
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Md Shahjahan
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #4 :: Gallery
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • Landscape of Manipur #7: Wallpaper