TODAY -

Wars, Devastation, and other important events in Kakching
(1573 - 1945 A.D.), Manipur
- Part 2 -

Kshetri Bira *

  Kakching Lamkhai
Kakching Lamkhai in 2016 : Pix - Bond Thokchom Cha



Translated by: Vikram Nongmaithem

Events during the Chieftainship of Budhiraj Yengkhom Perukpa:

1761 Meidingu Chingthangkhomba stationed a huge force at Kakching to defend from the Avas at the gates

1764 Stockades and fortification using straw were made at Kakching. A fierce battle took place between the Meiteis and the Avas. The Meiteis fled and the Avas won a huge victory. This was known as the First Devastation.

The main battlefield was at Khurailakpa Loukol. The site was known as Khurailakpa Loukol because the Meitei forces were led by the Khurailakpa. Khurailakpa is the dignitary just below the Senapati who used to be the General of the Meitei forces in the chain of command.

1782 Forests were cleared at the Maha Ching foothills to cut trees for making stockades and defensive walls. King Chingthangkhomba was present in person himself. The long fortification, stretching from Leimangai Chingjin to the southern banks of Sengmai river at Kerching, came to be known as Unapal (Una- Leaves, Pal- Barrier) as it was camouflaged with leaves to look like a forest.

1786 While beating a smelted iron rod on the stone plate during an iron smelting process, the hot iron rod suddenly disappeared and even after a long search it was never found. The people were very much distressed as this was considered an inauspicious sign.

1790 Kakching Keithel was developed during the time of Chingthangkhomba

Events During the Chieftainship of Budhiraj Moirang Athouba ( Samuroiba)

1795- One tiger was caught at Kakching; the villagers of Pallen and Tarao caught one rhinoceros and brought it to the king's palace. During those days the Taraos settled at Leimangai Chingjin which was within hearing distance to the settlement of Kakching.

To cite an example:
A mother cooking Uti (a local cuisine) sings:

As the straw fire of kitchen burns so fast,
As the khari-uti overboils in the heat,
As my child on my back cries,
My Tarao friend calls out at me...


1799- Budhiraj Athouba was killed by the people of Kakching during Meidingu Rabeinyachandra's reign.

1804 During Chourajit Mahararaj's reign Moirangthem Dayananda and the son of Shampan Hanjaba were exiled to Kakching. It was the first case of the exile of dissidents to Kakching by a Meitei king. Loi villages were few in number at the time. Later the number increased to 38.

The Loi villages were
Chakpa , Thoubandong, Kha Sengmai Andro , Awang Sengmai,
Phayeng, Koutruk , Leimaram, Thongjao , Kakching, Shikhong ,
Ningen, Tingshang, Loikak Leishangkhong ,Waikhong, Khurkhul,
Waikhok, Khamran Khunbi Tellong , Wangoo, Nungngoo, Sugnu,
Langathel, Pallen , Aarong Sengmai Wairangba, Chandrakhong,
Suisa Kameng, Ngaprum, Kakching Wairi, Heirok, Khangabok ,
Nachou, Sagolmang and Ningthoukhong.

1805 107 war captives from Mayanglam were made to settle at Kakching by Chourajit. They had been granted Yumnak Sagei (surnames and clans) by a royal decree of the king. These newly settled captives were integrated into the already existing clans of Kakching. It was socially agreed upon that Mayanglambam and Kshetrimayum, Naorem and Yengkhom would become shared clans respectively.

1805 Phungganai Hazari was sent from the palace to command the forces to fight against the Kabaws at Kakching Panjao Pallen

Events during the Chieftainship of Budhiraj Kshetri Tekkhal

1806 - The three villages Kakching, Pallen and Kakching Khunou (all of them were settled by the Kakching people) were forced to construct a large fortification and defensive walls at Unapal (literally meaning 'Barrier made of leaves' as it was camouflaged with leaves to look like a forest).

Disgusted and angry with the cruelty and use of too much forced labour, the villagers of Pallen, Kakching Khullen, Wairi, and Kakching Khunou went to the palace to fight against the king. They were also joined by the Keirois (a group of Lois).

The cause of the rebellion was that the princes were busy fighting against each other for the royal throne while the foreigners repeatedly attacked and harassed the people by taking advantage of the infighting among the princes.

1813 The forces of Marjit and Chourajit fought against each other for 11 days at Kakching Panjao. Chourajit was ultimately defeated and fled to Mayanglam (Cachar).

1820 Taku Ningthou (Dacoit King) Herachandra fought and drove away the Ava forces from Kakching. The command center of the Ava forces was located at the site of the present Assam Rifles garrison, Kakching.

The Seven Years Devastation (1819-1826) was a period of untold misery and sufferings for the Kakching people. It would be worthwhile for us to recall The Treaty of Yandaboo (1826) which ended the oppression of the Avas upon the people of Manipur valley. The background of the history of that period runs like this. Chingthangkhomba had five sons namely Rabeinyachandra, Madhuchandra Chourajit, Marjit and Gambit Singh.

In 1799 Chingthangkhomba placed Rabeinyachandra on the throne of Manipur.From this moment began the cloud of suspicion, animosity and contempt among the sons. By 1801 Rabeinyachandra had been assassinated. Madhuchandra also met the same fate in 1806.

When Chourajit became the king, his younger brother, Marjit tried to dislodge him from the throne and when the plot failed he fled and took refuge in the court of Ava. As per Marjit's request the king of Ava sent a messenger to Chourajit to pardon his brother. Chourajit pardoned Marjit.

However, after returning to the palace Marjit never relented and revolted again and failed. He then fled to Cachar. From there, along with some companions he reached the court of Ava passing via Arakan and stayed there for seven years.

He entreated the Ava king to help him gain the throne of Manipur on the condition that he would be a vassal king and relinquish Kabaw valley to the king of Ava. In 1812 the king of Ava invaded Manipur along with a large army to place Marjit on the throne.

From Tumu the invading army divided into two columns- the first column led by Marjit swept down toward Kakching while the other led by the Raja of Samjok reached Heirok. The Avas were defeated in the battle of Heirok and Pitambar Singh, the son of Chourajit's uncle killed the Raja of Samjok. The victorious forces of Chourajit then marched towards Kakching.

After five days of fierce fighting Chourajit was defeated by his brother, Marjit and fled towards Cachar. After letting the Ava forces stay in Manipur for ten days Marjit allowed them to return to their own land.

Normalcy returned for a short while in Manipur after Marjit became the king. However, the king immersed himself in luxurious lifestyle which he had been habituated to while living in the court of Ava. Above all, assassinations of supporters of Chourajit began. Plans were hatched to destroy and eliminate the sons of his uncle.

In 1818 he invaded Cachar with a large army. It would have been an easy victory for Marjit had it not been for the help King Govindrachandra of Cachar provided Chourajit. Marjit retreated to Manipur hastily. In a short span of time Chourajit with the help of Gambir Singh became the ruler of major portions of land in Cachar. At that time Gambir Singh stayed in Sylhet.

In 1819, Badawpaya, the mentor of Marjit died and his grandson Bagyidaw succeeded him. The new king summoned the Manipur king to be present at the coronation ceremony at Ava and pay homage to him which was customary for any vassal ruler, Marjit defied the Royal summon and refused to attend the ceremony.

Enraged at this Bagyidaw sent a large army. The site of the battle was at Kakching. Marjit got defeated and fled with a large entourage to Cachar. Marjit was received with open arms by his elder brother, Chourajit .

Marjit brought with him the image of Govinda and handed it to Chourajit, which is symbolic of offering the kingship of Manipur. During these years Taku Ningthou Herachandra (Dacoit King), the son of Rabeinyachandra, tried to drive away the Avas from the soil of Manipur using guerilla tactics.

At the same time, Gambir Singh became the ruler of a larger portion of Cachar by driving out Gobindrachandra, the rightful ruler of Cachar. In the meanwhile the Avas had invaded and conquered Manipur. This rise of the power of the Avas had its repercussions Cachar too.

A well-crafted diplomacy of the British who also had their interests in Burma brought about a reconciliation of the three Manipur princes, Chourajit, Marjit and Gambir Singh. As per the agreement Gambir Singh formed an army solely composed of 500 Meiteis in Sylhet which came to be known as the "Manipur Levy".

The British forces fighting side by side with the Manipur Levi drove away the Avas from Cachar and further advancing towards the east, these forces drove all the Avas from Manipur beyond the eastern bank of the Ningthou Turel (Chindwin River). The British and the Avas (Burmese) signed a treaty which came to be known as the Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826. By this time there were only 45 households left at Kakching Khullen.

Events during the Chieftainship of Budhiraj Yendrenbam Chegam

1831- The best swordsmith Nandababu from Kakching Wairi was called up at the palace of Manipur to make the royal coronation sword

1841 One tiger was caught at Kakching

1842 One Bamon (Brahmin) who had an argument with the Maharaja was exiled to Kakching. Being so poor and socially ostracized, children mockingly sang of his deplorable condition thus:
Simple boiled uti
With its plain taste Goshai Goshai
The pointed nose Goshai
Wrapping tour loincloth around your ears
Going hungry; without even the salt
Surviving on boiled bamboo shoots


1845- The Kakching Senapati who was sent to battle by Maharaj Narasingh brought 75 Kabaw war captives and 6 mithuns

Events during the Chieftainship of Budhiraj Mayanglambam Punshiba

1846 Four men who had been exiled to Kakching were called up at the royal palace and pardoned; one tiger was caught this year at Kakching

1849- One Takhellambam Dayanidhi who had killed a cow and eaten beef was pulled like a dog to the palace; Dayanidhi was detained and the two persons Gopi and Shyamo, who took him to the palace were sent back after a harsh beating

1852 One tiger was caught at Kakching

1855 - The Kakching people ostracized Budhiraj Punshiba after demolishing his house for bad conduct

1857 There was a 'Kei Chanba' at Naoripat.
('Kei' means tiger and 'Kei Chanba' is a method of entrapment of tigers by the villagers by surrounding the area with bamboo stacks and encirclements. Usually the tigers would hide for days and there were night vigils. When they finally appeared out of hunger or tried to attack people they were either shot or speared to death or killed with other weapons.

Famous tiger hunters were hired from surrounding villages to take part in the event. Because of dense forests tigers would often kill or attack humans and cattle and were much feared.)

Events during the Chieftainship of Budhiraj Moirangthem Gourashyam

1858- A Kangjei (a traditional form of modern foot hockey) match was organized at Kakching under the Maharaja's auspices; Kakching and Waikhong folks compete for Khubak-Eshei ('Khubak' means 'Palm of the hand' or literally 'Clapping' and 'Eshei' means 'Song'. In a 'Khubak-Eshei' performance two teams would stand facing each other and sang in turn with the clapping of hands).

1861 There was a Khubak-Eshei competition at Kakching for the 13 villages of Sugunu, Wangoo, Chairen, Tonshen, Mahou, Kakching Khunou, Waikhong, Thongjao, Pallen, Langathel, Lamding, Wangjing, Kakching Wairi and Khullen; during the events, the Maharaja's daughters stayed at Kakching for 4 days

1862- 80 people from Kakching ran away towards Ava during the lunar month of Chairen

1868 There was consternation at Kakching due to a horrible act in which a man of Kshetrimayum killed his own younger brother and fled to Ava; 105 persons from Langathel and Pallen also fled to Ava

1875 Maharaja Chandrakirti invited the folks of Kakching Wairi, Khullen and Khunou to perform Jagoi-Eshei (Dance-drama) inside the premises of inner pologround inside the royal palace; by that time Manipur had been deeply influenced by Gauriya Vaishnavism

1891 A unit of British soldiers ambushed Wangkhei Meiraba and his fellows killing 20 soldiers

Events during the Chieftainship of Budhiraj Naorem Shajou

1892 Maxwell introduced the Panchayat system for the first time in Manipur. Later Kakching had two Panchayats. The Panchayat drum of Khullen was made of Chingthrao (Camel foot tree) which was cut by the villagers from Tusarok. The drum for Wairi Panchayat was made from a mango tree (locally known as 'Heinou') cut down from Mantak village.

1893 - A bridge builder was attacked with a sword by the locals as a punishment for his carelessness in the construction of the bridge. It so happened that when a British officer visited the southern part of the valley the bridge collapsed and this incident embarrassed the people.

1910 Churachand Maharaj visited Kakching to discuss the issues of the villagers. By that time Kakching Khullen had 120 households.

1917 The Maharaja came to join the Shradha ceremony of Budhiraj Shajou. It was during the Lunar month of Thawan. And during the Lunar month of Poinu he stayed at Kakching for six days.

During the year the frequent spearing of cattle at the grazing grounds at the east of Kakching Mamang Loubuk by the Ngamei Haos who were brought by the British to subdue the rebellious Khongjais led to fierce debates between the village elders and the British. The Maharaja also fined the Kakching people on the allegation that they supplied bullets to the rebel Khongjais.

Events during the Chieftainship of Budhiraj Naorem Angou

1921 Maharaja Churachand stayed at Kakching for eight days.

1929- There was an incident of Kei Chanba at Sumak Leikai. The tiger killed Naorem Shagor, Yengkhom Lokul and Irengband Thokchao. The tiger was about seven forearms long.

Events during the Chieftainship of Budhiraj Naorem Thanil

1930 There was a widespread news and belief all over Manipur that there was a divine incarnation at Kakching. Later, it was found out that a thief named Basanta had stolen an idol from a temple and placed elsewhere. Thirty persons were also arrested in relation to this heinous crime. This infamous incident came to be known as Basanta Laiphao.

1931- The Maharaja along with Moirang Pandit Achouba sang the ceremonial hymn at the Shradha of Kakching Senapati.

Events during the Chieftainship of Budhiraj Yengkhom Pakhoi

1943- There were aerial bombings at Kakching by the Japanese during the Lunar month of Hiyangei. Two persons by the names of Moirangthem Madhu and Tombi Devi, a maiden were killed. Many coolies also died. Here, the writer intends to mention that a 743 page book have been published detailing the accounts of the Second World War. Mentioning all of them here would be an almost impossible task.

1945 With the end of the Second World War Kakching's path to peace, prosperity and progress began to take long strides.

Concluded .....

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

1. Cheitharol Kumbaba (The Court Chronicle of Kings of Manipur)
2. Statistical Account of Manipur by R. Brown
3. Report on The Eastern Frontier of British India by R. B. Pemberton
4. Manipur and Naga Hills by Sir James Johnstone
5. Gazetteer of Manipur by E. W. Dun
6. The Meitheis by T. C. Hudson
7. History of the Hill Tribes of the North-East Frontier of Bengal by Alexander Mackenzie
8. Gazetteer of Naga Hills and Manipur by B. C. Allen
9. History of Burma by Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. Phayre
10. Manipur under British Management by J. Shakespeare
11. Meitei Yek Salai by Naoroibam Indramani
12. Sanggai Phammang by Dr. Konsam Manikchand
13. Kakching by Naorem Gandhar
14. Miyat
15. Gazetteer of Upper Burma and Shan State by J. George Scott
16. A History of Assam by Edward Albert Gait
17. History of Tripura by E. F. Sardys

* Kshetri Bira is a Sahitya Academy Award 2011 winning writer for his novel, Nangbu Ngaibada (Waiting For You) and has also published many other works of fiction as well as non-fiction.
Vikram Nongmaithem is a freelance writer.



* Kshetri Bira wrote this article , which was translated by Vikram Nongmaithem and published at e-pao.net
Vikram Nongmaithem can be reached at vikramnong(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on April 01, 2020 .


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