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,
- "Poirei Meetei Leipak" or Poileipak or Kangleipak --- to themselves
- "Kathes" or "Ponnas" --- to the Burmese
- Hsiao Po-lo-mein --- to the Chinese
- Cassay --- to the Shans(Tais)
- Moglai --- to the Cacharis and Bengalees
- "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 inter-mountainous 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.