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Home > Blogs > Manipur in Vrindavan-Part 2-Of Kings and Queens

Manipur in Vrindavan-Part 2-Of Kings and Queens

by Dr Rinkoo Wadhera Oct 23rd 2023

 Once upon a time, there was a princess….

Kangleipak Ima -Maharani Manmohini-Patron of Manipuri Rani ki Kunj-Wikipedia

 A romance unfolds, blossoming like a perennial flower , planted in the tapestry of time…

A princess from Manipur and a king from Tripura find themselves entwined in a captivating tale that spans four centuries, a narrative woven with threads of matrimony and an unwavering devotion to Radha and Krishna. This enduring love story bridges the regal realms of Manipur and Tripura, a tradition that continues to be cherished through the ages.

Picture Manipur, a Vaishnava kingdom dating back to the 15th century. Here, Princess Manmohini, revered as Kangleipak Ima, the mother of Manipur, embarked on a journey of love with Maharaj Bir Chand Manikya, the king of Tripura. Fueled by devotion and a desire to create a sacred haven, Princess Manmohini implored the king to build a temple for her people in the spiritual heartland of Vrindavan.

Responding with swift enthusiasm, the king crafted a masterpiece, a palace-like temple named Manipur Rani ki Kunj, translating to the Temple of the Queen of Manipur. This exquisite edifice found its place behind the sanctuary of Gopeshwar Mahadev, the revered guardian deity of the enchanting Vrindavan forests.

And so, amid the celestial melodies and the timeless whispers of the sacred groves, Manipur’s love story etched itself into the very fabric of Vrindavan. A testament to devotion, a symbol of enduring love, the Manipur Rani ki Kunj stands as an immortal homage to a romance that transcends the bounds of time.

Vrinda Kunj Ashram. Source: Tripadvisor

Manipur Rani ki Kunj (Temple of the Queen of Manipur) or Vrinda Kunj peeps from behind the sanctuary of Gopeshwar Mahadev, the patron deity of  Vrindavan forests!

Matrimony and Geography

From ancient times Manipur and Tripura were  two independent princely kingdoms. Like Manipur, Tripura also merged with the Indian Republic after 1947. Geographically, it is only a portion of Assam that stands between Manipur and Tripura . In the early period,  Manipur was called Mekhali by the Tripuris and to the Manipuris the kingdom of Tripura was known as Takhen/Takhel( Dakshin).

Manipur is flanked by Nagaland in the North, Mizoram in the South, Cachar district of Assam in the West and Burma in the East. It was only after  Indian independence that Manipur was merged with the Indian Union on 15 October 1951. The state enjoyed the status of an independent princely state till 1981.  

 

British India map of Northeast India and Myanmar, Bengal Assam Meghalaya Arunachal Pradesh Nagaland Manipur Mizoram Tripura regions 1891.Wikimedia commons

 

A page of the manuscript Cheitharol Kumbaba (A Royal Chronicle of Manipur) written in the Meitei Mayek script. Wikimedia commons

Court Chronicles: History and Legends

The enduring connections between the royal houses of Manipur and Tripura trace their roots back to the 16th century, meticulously chronicled in the Manipur court records, Cheitharol Kumbaba. The annals of Tripura, Rajmala Ba Tripurar Itihas, further unfold a poignant chapter in the 19th century history, narrating the ‘Seven Years Devastation’. This was the period of  Burmese invasion of Manipur from 1819 to 1825 A.D. This harrowing period forced a multitude of Manipuris to seek sanctuary in Tripura, culminating in a permanent settlement of Manipuri communities within the region.

In this tumultuous era, the reigning Tripura monarch, Kashichandra Manikya (1826-1829 A.D.), not only extended refuge but also forged matrimonial ties with the esteemed royal lineage of Manipur. Kashichandra Manikya, in a testament to human connection transcending political boundaries, took a royal Manipuri woman as his consort, intricately weaving the destinies of the two states.

The rich tapestry of matrimonial alliances continued to flourish within the Royal House of Tripura. King Bhagyachandra, a venerable figure, played a pivotal role by bestowing his daughter, Princess Hariseswari, in marriage to Tripura’s King Rajdhar Manikya II. Symbolizing a harmonious exchange, when Bhagyachandra embarked on a pilgrimage via river routes, Rajdhar Manikya displayed camaraderie by furnishing 15 boats and a substantial sum of seven hundred silver coins to ease the travel expenses of the Manipur monarch. This historic intermingling of royal lineages not only perpetuated a tradition but also forged an indelible bond, fostering enduring ties between Manipur and Tripura that transcended the passage of time.

Raja Birchand Manikya of Tripura-Source-tilla.in

 

Royal Union and Court Culture

The matrimonial alliances not only fostered cordial relations between the two states but also led to a deep assimilation of cultures and religions. The royal house of Tripura, thereafter, became intricately intertwined with the cultural splendor of Manipur. While some Tripuri kings married Manipuri girls from ordinary families, the distinguished position of chief consort was exclusively reserved for Manipuri princesses. These women played a significant role in enriching the cultures of both states and contributed to the development of temples, known as kunj, in Vrindavan.

These tales of love and cultural exchange, woven together, have etched an indelible mark on the histories of Manipur and Tripura. As traditions flourish, the legacy of these royal unions perseveres, nurturing enduring connections between these two northeastern states of India.

Read more on this in Manipur in Vrindavan: Part 3

Cover image: Maharani Dhanamanjari & King Churchand on 17th March, 1905. Wikipedia

Reference

Adhikari, Udainarayan., ―Social – Cultural Relations Among States in Pre – Independence India, A Study of Tripura & Manipur, Akansha Publishing House, New Delhi, 2010.

Singha, Sri Kailashchandra., ―Rajmala Ba Tripurar Itihas, Akkhar Publication, Agartala, 1405 Bangabda.

Devi, Khwairakpam Renuka. “REPRESENTATION OF THE PRE-VAISHNAVITE CULTURE OF THE MEITEIS:” CHEITHAROL KUMPAPA” OF MANIPUR.” In Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, vol. 72, pp. 501-508. Indian History Congress, 2011.