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Nongpok Thong and Nongpokthong

IFP Editorial: Reopening of the historic Kangla Nongpok Thong is significant in terms of overturning colonial disruptions in the state. But, nowhere in our ancient chronicles do we find a prediction that seems to say reopening of the Kangla eastern bridge would usher in peace and prosperity in the state.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 11 Jan 2023, 5:54 am

Kangla Nongpok Thong (PHOTO: IFP)
Kangla Nongpok Thong (PHOTO: IFP)

It is indeed noteworthy for the present government led by Chief Minister N Biren Singh to have achieved the reconstruction of the historic Kangla Nongpok Thong and subsequently handed over to the general public on Tuesday. Much had been said about the significance of the Kangla Nongpok Thong among which the most prominent prediction is that reopening the Kangla eastern bridge would usher in peace and prosperity in the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself lauded the N Biren Singh government for taking up such an initiative to bring peace, prosperity and happiness in Manipur. The said eastern bridge of Kangla was demolished by the British after taking over Kangla in 1891 purely out of strategic concerns as the Assam Rifles was stationed on the western part. In the days of yore, the Imphal River flowed through Kangla and the Meitei Kings seems to have a different strategic view with regard to the river flowing through it. The eastern part stretch covered the areas of present Sanjenthong Officer’s colony, New Checkon and Golapati Minuthong while the easternmost boundary was the present New Checkon Road running upto Minuthong Bridge.

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Old records and maps bears testimony to this fact. So, essentially the Kangla Nongpok Thong was a bridge connecting the western and eastern portions of Kangla. We agree, reopening of the historic bridge is significant in terms of overturning colonial disruptions in the state. But, nowhere in our ancient chronicles do we find a prediction that seems to say reopening of the Kangla eastern bridge would usher in peace and prosperity in the state. Well, we find many references with regard to ‘Nongpokthong’ in our chronicles. Here, we have to understand the difference between ‘Nongpok Thong’ and ‘Nongpokthong’ also.

Nongpok Thong means eastern bridge, while Nongpokthong means the gateway to the east. The references with regard to reopening of ‘Nongpokthong’ in our ancient chronicles has been interpreted in many ways in modern times among which opening of trade relations with Myanmar and Southeast Asia is one. Well, what we could deduce from the recent events is that some vested interests are out to take advantage of the honest enthusiasm of the Chief Minister N Biren Singh.

There are other important things in Kangla that the state government needs to put its efforts. Being a site of political and religious importance, Kangla has grown into a formidable fortress city through the centuries. It is from this capital that the Ningthouja clan gradually wielded enough political and military power and grew up to be the most dominant clan in Manipur. The State Government had engaged Prof. Nalini Thakur of School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi to prepare a Concept Development Plan (CDP) of 'Kangla Fort' after the the Manmohan Singh government handed over the historic Kangla Fort to Manipur state government on 20 November 2004.

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According to convention, Professor Thakur had recommended restoration and renovation of the existing structures and that no new structures should be constructed. With the new structure of Pakhangba Temple besides Light and Sound show structure, the declaration of Kangla as a World Heritage site has run into trouble. Today, the general upkeep of Kangla is also is almost absent as funds are minuscule. The British style house inside the Kangla known as Slim’s cottage which now houses the office of Superintendent of Archaeology once used to be the headquarters of General Slim during World War II who oversaw the resistance of Japanese forces and consequent onslaught by Allied forces.

The Museum inside the Kangla was constructed by the British. There are several other small houses constructed by the British in the Kangla and they are part of our history. And to cap it, the sacred Kangla should not be reduced to a tourist destination but should be treated as a site for preserving and showcasing the proud heritage and culture of an ancient state at the crossroads of South Asia and Southeast Asia.

- EDITORIAL

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kangla eastern gatekangla nongpok thongnongpokthong

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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