Imphal, 1908

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Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.


Capital of the State of Manipur, Eastern Bengal and Assam, situated in 24° 49' N. and 93° 57' E. A cart-road connects Imphal with Kohima and the Brahmaputra valley, and bridle-paths cross the hills that separate Manipur frDin Cachar and Burma. The population in 1901 was 67,093, of whom nearly 96 per cent, were Hindus. The history of Imphal cannot be distinguished from that of the Manipur State, but of recent years it has been notorious owing to the outbreak that occurred there in 1891. A palace revolu- tion had taken place, the Raja had fled from the country, and the Chief Commissioner, Mr. Quinton, had proceeded to Manipur to settle the newly appointed ruler on the throne, and to arrest the Senapati who was the original instigator of the revolution. The Senapati declined to obey the summons of the Chief Commissioner, and the troops sent to arrest him were fiercely attacked. The engagement continued till the evening, when an armistice was agreed to, and the Chief Commissioner, with four officers, entered the Raja's fort under a safe-conduct. The Manipuris, however, broke faith, the Political Agent was speared, and the Chief Commissioner and his three com- panions formally beheaded by the public executioner. The attack on the Residency was then resumed ; and the defenders, thinking it untenable, retreated to Cachar. A few weeks afterwards Imphal was re-entered by three columns of troops and satisfaction exacted for the outrage.

Though containing a large population, Imphal is an overgrown village rather than a town in the ordinary sense of the word, and more than half the working males are dependent on agriculture for their support. Three rivers converge at this point ; and along the banks of each river is a single row of cottages, each standing in a garden about half an acre in extent and buried in dense groves of bamboos and fruit trees. Viewed from above, the town has the appearance of a dense forest with a large square clearing in the centre. In this clearing are situated the palace of the Raja, the cantonments and offices, and the houses of the European residents. The town contains a small jail with accommodation for 100 prisoners, and a hospital with 14 beds. The rainfall is moderate (70 inches), and as Imphal lies about 2,000 feet above the sea, the climate is cool and pleasant. The daily bazar held in the town is the great centre of trade for the valley. Drinking-water is usually obtained from the rivers, which are exposed to every form of pollution, and outbreaks of cholera are frequent and severe.

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