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Manipur at a glance


The Land

Many old civilizations of the world flourished at one time and perished slowly when factors governing the self-sustaining dynamics of those civilizations failed. The two river valley civilizations viz. Mesopotamia (between the rivers Tigris and the Euphrates) and the Indus Valley civilization died probably due to ecological failures, consequent socio-economic effects while the Nile valley and Hwang Ho Civilizations could sustain life till the present day. Equidistant spatially from the Fertile Crescent and the Indus Valley civilizations on the one hand and the Funan and the Hwang Ho Civilization on the other, the little and modest Manipur Civilization existed before and after the Christian era. Location Map Manipur Valley has been the cradle of human civilization as Alfred Lyall(1908) rightly describes it as "an oasis of comparative civilization" amidst the barbarians. All manifestations of characteristics ascribed to the life of Pithecanthropus and its transitional refinement into a cultured society have formed the pavement of this little odyssey.


Manipur, meaning city or land of gems is a sanskritized name given to the land when its plains people, the Meiteis were hinduised in the 17th century A.D. Manipur was known by various names to different countries and states in the past (Kabui, 1988) such as,

  1. "Poirei Meetei Leipak" or Poileipak or Kangleipak --- to themselves
  2. "Kathes" or "Ponnas" --- to the Burmese
  3. Hsiao Po-lo-mein --- to the Chinese
  4. Cassay --- to the Shans(Tais)
  5. Moglai --- to the Cacharis and Bengalees
  6. "Mekele" --- to the Assamese


Manipur was known to the Arabic, Persian, Greek, Roman, Chinese, Burmese, Shan and other historians as the international trade route of the past (comprising the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Oriental countries) passed through the intermountainous tracts of the region. Manipur was featured in Ptolemy's Atlas.


A trend of constitutional monarchy reigned throughout the history of the two millennia old political organization of the state. Since 33 A.D. till the rule of the last monarch, Maharaja Bodhachandra seventy-four kings ruled Manipur.


In 1891, Manipur was defeated by the British but Queen Victoria did not annex it to the British Empire. It remained governed by the Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 till its eventual merger with the newly born Republic of India on October15, 1949. At present, the state has nine districts, five in the hills and four in the valley.


During the course of history, Manipur's size extended or contracted according to the fluctuating fortune and prowess of her monarchs. The present boundary of Manipur more or less remained fixed since the controversial transfer of Kabo Valley to Burma in 1834.




Manipur has a total surface area of (22,327) sq. km. forming 0.7% of the total land surface of the Indian Union. It is situated between the parallels (23o50'N) -(25o41'N) and the meridians (92o59'E) - (94045'E). Administrative Map. It has a border of 854 km of which 352 is international border with Burma on the East. The remaining 502 km long border separates her from the neighboring states of Nagaland on the North, Assam on the West and Mizoram on the South and the South West. Physiographycally the land is divisible into a central valley and the surrounding mountains. Physiographic Map. The plain or the valley is approximately (2238 sq. km.) accounting to 10% of the total area. Out of this an area of 550 sq. km. is occupied by lakes, wetlands, barren uplands and hillocks. The valley is oval shape with a NNW-SSE orientation and has a gentle slope towards the South measuring 798 m above m.s.l. at the extreme North and 746 m above m.s.l. at the Southern end. The Imphal city stands at an altitude of 790 m above m.s.l.


Two river systems viz. the Barak-Bramhaputra System and the Chindwin-Irrawaddi System drained the entire State. The Barak River and itstributaries form the sub-system in the western hills and join the earlier system. Important tributaries under this sub-system are the Dzuko, the Leimatak, the Irang, the Makru and the Tuivai flowing in a NE-NW orientation.


The Imphal or Manipur River meanders through the Manipur valley in a NW-SE direction. Its important tributaries are the Kongba, the Iril, the Thoubal, the Heirok Sekmai, the Khuga and the Chakpi rivers. The Manipur River passes through a gorge flow out of the state to join the Chindiwin River in Myanmar.


The mountains are divided into the Western Hills comprising the Koubru-Laimaton, Makui-Longbi, Kala Naga and Vangai ranges, while the Eastern Hills comprise the Siroi Mapithel and Yamodoung ranges. The highest peak in the state is Mt.Essau or Tenipu(9824 ft/2994 m).





Dayal and Duara (1963) outlined the classification of rocks in Manipur which is more or less in line with that of Oldham (1883) with some modifications after the views of Pascoe (1929) and Evans (1932). The geologic succession according to them is

Age Rock Type
Recent to sub-recent Alluvium
Oligocene Barails
Intrusive rocks Disang Series

Intrusive rocks
(Cretaceous to early Eocene)

Cretaceous Axials

Tectonically, the whole of Manipur forms a part of the great geosynclines that apparently had original basin topography of ridges and furrows. Sediments started depositing in the geosynclines, argillaceous sediments deposited in the furrows and arenaceous and calcarious sediments in the ridges. The structural zones within the broad eugeosyncline as classified by Aubuoin (1965), from West to East are:


Assam-Arakan trough (Eugeosynclinal furrow)

Arakan Yoma Eugeosynclinal ridge)

West Burmese trough (Eugeosynclinal furrow)

Pegu Yoma (Eugeosynclinal ridge) and

East Burmese trough (Eugeosynclinal furrow)


The zones are broadly N-S trending and nearly eastern half of Manipur falls in Arakan Yoma (ridge) that extends from Nagaland through Manipur and sinks into sea at cape Negrais in Myanmar. They appear again in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and again further in the outer islands of the Malayan sea.


In the Imphal valley, lenses of the argillaceous sediments were deposited in the Assam-Arakan trough (furrow).


Thus, Manipur constitutes a part of the Burmese Arc, which extends northward into the eastern syntaxial bend of the Himalayas and southwards as extension of the Patkai and Kohima synclinoria trending NNE-SSW with a high dip. It occupies rock formations, which are geologically quite young being on out, come of the Tertiary Orogeny of the Himalayas from the shallow bed of the Tethys Sea. The oldest formations are the Disangs (Eocene Age) which is about 58 Million years old. The Disangs occupy almost the entire eastern half of the state. Geological Map It is represented by a sequence of splintery shale with minor mudstone, silstone, sandstone and limestone. The limestone has yielded typical Maestrichtian microfossils such as Globogerina and Globotruncana (foraminifers) thus indicating upper Cretaceous age. Certain foraminifers like Assilina sp. indicate middle Eocene age. Presence of some Tertiary Mollusca and Coraline Algae has also been recorded.


The Disangs are overlained by the Barails which are Oligocene in age (about 36 Million years). It occupies central and western parts of Manipur. It is characterised by abundance of carbonaceous matters.


The Barails are again succeeded on top by the Surma and the Tipam which occur in the western margin characterised respectively by argillaceous sequences. An ultrabasic belt is found on the eastern fringe of Manipur which is an intrusion into the Disang group and reflects the Ophiolite Zone. The belt is considered to extend towards Indonesia on the other.




The hills of the whole zone of the eastern frontier of India including Manipur were built up during the late Pleistocene period and hence isostatic and seismic balances are yet to be attained. Manipur falls in one of the most seismically active zones of the Trans-Asiatic Earthquake Belt. This is of tectonic origin associated with momentary relief of mechanical strain arising from mutual displacement (vertical and horizontal) of separate blocks of lithosphere, Khan et al (1985) believed that the ultramaphic belt along the Indo-Burma border may be a plate boundary between Indian and Burmeses plates.


Valley Formation


Legends have it that Lord Shiva made Manipur valley which once underwater by draining the water through a tunnel drilled by his trident through the southern hills. A similar legend traces the earliest centres of human settlements on top of higher peaks like the Nongmaijing Hill (Longmaiching) and the Koubru Hill etc. when the valley at the lower reaches remained a vast sheet of water. Downward human migrations into the valley started as the water receded. Some investigators are of the view that the valley was formed as a result of a lake being filled up by the riverborne sediments. The present Loktak and other lakes in the valley are said to be the remnants of the original lake. But the lacustrine origin of Manipur valley has been questioned by various other theories. Dun (1996) was of the opinion that the Manipur Plain was formed by the depositions of a stream that was blocked by some convulsions of earth movements. Rajkumar (1982) also supports the theory of the riverine origin of the valley. In his words, the Manipur River and its tributaries that at the same time drained the area of the valley may closely connect the formations of Manipur valley with the upliftment of South Manipur Hills and subsequent downcutting of the area. Lithologically, the valley represents the axial region of an anticlinorium, the weak crest of which have been eroded. The erosional environments of the past in the valley have been studied in geomorphorlogical and geoarchaeological perspectives by several workers (Joshi et al (1979), Rajkumar (1982), Thokchom, (1984)). Fluvio-lacustral sediments are encountered in many parts of the valley to a depth of 152 m below the ground level (b.g.l). And, at the same time black clay of lake formation is exposed upto 40 m above the modern water level of the Loktak Lake. A few C14 data on Carbonised samples from Lamphel (at a depth of 0.35 to 0.40 m) and the Loktak Hydel Project area (at a depth of 5.3 m to 12 m) indicates that the age of the central and southern parts of the valley ranges from 7,980±470 B.P. to 25,000±600 B.P. The above observations drive us to infer that a considerable vertical change in the lake level has occurred in the valley. The lake levels were conspicuously higher around 25 K.B.P. - 23 K.B.P. (Thokchom, 1984). Thus, the origin and evolution of the valley may be ascribed to a tectonic theory and neo-tectonism remarkably influenced by a long history of fluvio-lacustral system. The valley remained free from Pleistocene glaciation. There was not a singular existence of lacustrine basin in the valley during the Quaternary. Low energy, fluvo-lacustral system anastomosing drainage with a number of disconnected lentic waterbodies on aggraded land dominated the landscape of this intermontane valley in the Quaternary.




From the marine environment under the Tethys Sea, the land was raised slowly and exposed to the warm climate of the tertiary period. It appears that the land escaped the Pleistocene glaciation of the early Quaternary. But, it remained cool and dry. There is no geological evidence of Quaternary glacial or periglacial climate upto an elevation of about 1500 m a.s.l. In fact, ferruginous (oxidised) cement and matrix of gravel formations in the region suggest a sub-tropical Quarternary (Joshi et al., 1979). The climate in the late Quaternary was warm and humid (Thokchom, 1984) and it has not changed drastically since then.


Modern Climate


Besides the influence by its locations around the latitudes just north of the Tropic of Cancer, the climate of the state is governed by the relief of land and the rain bearing winds viz. the South-West Monsoon in summer and the North-East Monsoon and the Mediterranean winds in Winter. The eastern lowlands along the Indo-Burma border and the Western Assam Manipur border lowlands fall between the altitudes 30-100 m above m.s.l. and thus reigned by a tropical climate. The Manipur Valley at a height of 780-800 m. above m.s.l. has sub-tropical climate while the higher reaches of the mountains surrounding the valley have a temperate climate.


Referring to latitude of 24oN, Manipur valley at an average height of 790 m. above m.s.l. receives direct and diffuse solar insolation as follows.



Total radiation    = 290.36-780.86 cal/day/sq.m.

Visible radiation = 113.37-295.37 cal/day/sq.m.



The minimum values are recorded towards the winter months - a peak in June. Duration of bright sunshine has a variation of 3 hrs/day in July and 9 hrs/day in January. The surface level pressure ranges between 900 mb and 930 mb. Five seasons are distinct in the state viz; Summer (May-June), Rainy (Monsoon) (July-Sept), Autumn (Oct.-Nov), Cold winter (Dec.-Feb) and Spring (March-April). Since the onset, duration and amount of precipitation of the monsoon rain are erratic, this season classification may not hold good for a particular year and thus serves for general reference. The temperature ranges from 2oC to 36oC. Annual rainfall is sometimes as low as 975 mm and sometimes as high as 2,646 mm. Average relative humidity is between 36% and 100%. Rate of evaporation at the level of Imphal valley is between 1.8 mm in January and 4 mm in May.


Population of Manipur according to the Provisional Results of 2001 Census


Total Population

Sex Ratio (females per 1000 males)


(per sq. km)

Decadal growth in % (1991-2001)














































Imphal West







Imphal east





















Note: Population density at the District level is calculated on the basis of provisional area figures.

Source: Directorate of Census Operations, Manipur.

| Dev. of Technology | Manipur at a Glance | Industrial Scenario | Market Organisation | Natural Resources | Human Resource |

| Technology sources | Technology for transfer by MASTEC | Local Technology in Manipur | Banking and Finance | Grant makers |

| Entrepreneurship development | Industrial Consultancy of NE | State Govt. Departments | Other useful websites |

| Contact us | About TBIS | About MASTEC | Current News | Home |