Manipur is a state in Northeast India, with the city of Imphal as its capital. It is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south and Assam to the west. It also borders two regions of Myanmar, Sagaing Region to the east and Chin State to the south. The state covers an area of 22,327 square kilometres (8,621 sq mi) and has a population of almost 3 million, including the Meitei, who are the majority group in the state, the Meitei Pangals (Manipuri Muslims), Naga tribes, Kuki/Zo tribes and other communities, who speak a variety of Sino-Tibetan languages. Manipur has been at the crossroads of Asian economic and cultural exchange for more than 2,500 years. It has long connected the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia to Southeast Asia, China (or East Asia), Siberia (Russia), Micronesia, and Polynesia, enabling migration of people, cultures and religions.
History. The history of Manipur Meities is chronicled in Puyas or Puwaris (stories about the forefathers), namely, the Ninghthou Kangbalon, Cheitharol Kumbaba, Ningthourol Lambuba, Poireiton Khunthokpa, Panthoibi Khongkul, and so forth in the archaic Meitei script, which is comparable to the Thai script.. Hill tribes have their own folk tales, myths, and legends. Manipur was known by different names at various periods in its history, such as, Tilli-Koktong, Poirei-Lam, Sanna-Leipak, Mitei-Leipak, Meitrabak or Manipur (present day). Its capital was Kangla, Yumphal or Imphal (present day). Its people were known by various names, such as Mi-tei, Poirei-Mitei, Meetei, Maitei or Meitei. The Puwaris, Ninghthou Kangbalon, Ningthourol Lambuba, Cheitharol Kumbaba, Poireiton Khunthokpa, recorded the events of each King who ruled Manipur in a span of more than 3500 years until 1955 CE (a total of more than 108 kings). Ningthou Kangba (15th century BCE) is regarded as the first and foremost king of Manipur. There were times when the country was in turmoil without rulers, and long historical gaps exist between 1129 BCE and 44 BCE. In 1891 CE, after the defeat of the Meiteis by the British in the Anglo-Manipuri war of Khongjom, the sovereignty of Manipur which it had maintained for more than three millenniums, was lost. In 1926, it became a part of Pakokku Hill Tracts Districts of British Burma until 4 January 1947. It regained its freedom on 14 August 1947. On 15 Oct 1949, Manipur was unified with India.
- Imperial Period. In 1824, the ruler of Manipur entered into a subsidiary alliancewith the British Empire in the Indian subcontinent, which became responsible for Manipur’s external defence. The British recognised that the state remained internally self-governing, as a princely state. During World War II, Manipur was the scene of many fierce battles between Japanese invaders and British Indian forces. The Japanese were beaten back before they could enter Imphal, which was one of the turning points of the overall war in South Asia.
- Modern History. After the war, British Indiamoved towards independence, and the princely states which had existed alongside it became responsible for their own external affairs and defence, unless they joined the new India or the new Pakistan. The Manipur State Constitution Act of 1947 established a democratic form of government, with the Maharaja continuing as the head of state. Maharaja Bodhchandra was summoned to Shillong, to merge the kingdom into the Union of India. He is believed to have signed the merger agreement under duress. Thereafter, the legislative assembly was dissolved, and in October 1949 Manipur became part of India. It was made a Union Territory in 1956 and a fully-fledged State in 1972 by the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971.
- Geography. The state lies at a latitude of 23°83’N –25°68’N and a longitude of 93°03’E –94°78’E. The total area covered by the state is 22,327 square kilometres (8,621 sq mi). The capital lies in an oval-shaped valley of approximately 700 square miles (2,000 km2), surrounded by blue mountains, at an elevation of 790 metres (2,590 ft) above sea level. The slope of the valley is from north to south. The mountain ranges create a moderated climate, preventing the cold winds from the north from reaching the valley and barring cyclonic storms. The state has four major river basins: the Barak River Basin(Barak Valley) to the west, the Manipur River Basin in central Manipur, the Yu River Basin in the east, and a portion of the Lanye River Basin in the north. The water resources of Barak and Manipur river basins are about 1.8487 Mham (million hectare metres). The overall water balance of the state amounts to 0.7236 Mham in the annual water budget. (By comparison, India receives 400 Mham of rain annually. The Barak River, the largest of Manipur, originates in the Manipur Hills and is joined by tributaries, such as the Irang, Maku, and Tuivai. After its junction with the Tuivai, the Barak River turns north, forms the border with Assam State, and then enters the Cachar Assam just above Lakhipur. The Manipur river basin has eight major rivers: the Manipur, Imphal, Iril, Nambul, Sekmai, Chakpi, Thoubal and Khuga. All these rivers originate from the surrounding hills. Almost all the rivers in the valley area are in the mature stage and therefore deposit their sediment load in the Loktak lake. The rivers draining the Manipur Hills are comparatively young, due to the hilly terrain through which they flow. These rivers are corrosive and become turbulent in the rainy season. Important rivers draining the western area include the Maku, Barak, Jiri, Irang, and Leimatak. Rivers draining the eastern part of the state, the Yu River Basin, include the Chamu, Khunou and other short streams. Manipur may be characterised as two distinct physical regions: an outlying area of rugged hills and narrow valleys, and the inner area of flat plain, with all associated landforms. These two areas are distinct in physical features and are conspicuous in flora and fauna. The valley region has hills and mounds rising above the flat surface. The Loktak lake is an important feature of the central plain. The total area occupied by all the lakes is about 600 km2. The altitude ranges from 40 m at Jiribam to 2,994 m at Mount Tempü peak along the border with Nagaland. The soil cover can be divided into two broad types, viz. the red ferruginous soil in the hill area and the alluvium in the valley. The valley soils generally contain loam, small rock fragments, sand, and sandy clay, and are varied. On the plains, especially flood plains and deltas, the soil is quite thick. The topsoil on the steep slopes is very thin. Soil on the steep hill slopes is subject to high erosion, resulting in gullies and barren rock slopes. The normal pH value ranges from 5.4 to 6.8.
- Flora. Natural vegetation occupies an area of about 14,365 square kilometres (5,546 sq mi), nearly 64% of the total geographical area of the state, and consists of short and tall grasses, reeds and bamboos, and trees. Broadly, there are four types of forests: Tropical Semi-evergreen, Dry Temperate Forest, Sub-Tropical Pine, and Tropical Moist Deciduous. There are forests of teak, pine, oak, uningthou, leihao, bamboo, and cane. Rubber, tea, coffee, orange, and cardamom are grown in hill areas. Rice is a staple food for Manipuris.
- Climate. Manipur’s climate is largely influenced by the topography of the region. Lying 790 metres above sea level, Manipur is wedged among hills on all sides. This northeastern corner of India enjoys a generally amiable climate, though the winters can be chilly. The maximum temperature in the summer months is 32 °C (90 °F). The coldest month is January, and the warmest July. The state receives an average annual rainfall of 1,467.5 millimetres (57.78 in) between April and mid-October. Precipitation ranges from light drizzle to heavy downpour. The capital city Imphalreceives an annual average of 933 millimetres (36.7 in). Rainfall in this region is caused by The South Westerly Monsoon picking up moisture from the Bay of Bengal and heading towards the Eastern Himalaya ranges. This normal rainfall pattern of Manipur enriches the soil and much of the agrarian activities are dependent on it as well. Manipur is already experiencing climate change, especially changes in weather, with both increased variability in rain as well as increasingly severe changes in temperature.