Ukhrul / Hunphun
Happiness is here
|Elevation||1,662 m (5,453 ft)|
|• Official||Tangkhul (Naga)|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Sex ratio||1002 ♂/♀|
Ukhrul/Hunphun is a town in Ukhrul district in the state of Manipur, India. Ukhrul district is the home of the Tangkhul Naga. It is the administrative headquarters of the Ukhrul district. There are also four sub-divisions in the district for administering the villages in and around it. The villages, however, are governed by the 'village heads'.
Ukhrul is located at  It has an average elevation of 1,662 m (5,453 ft) above sea level. It has a wet summer and cold, dry winter..
People and history
Ukhrul is a land of beautiful mountains interspersed by numerous tribal inhabitants echoing with the rhythms of tribal cultures and rich wild life. This virgin land has enchanting calls to people who love to spend time in tranquility. Besides the serene environment, the ways of life of the simple and friendly tribals who have been known for generations for their honesty and integrity leave one spellbound. Such are the people of the hill.
Ukhrul district is the home of the Tangkhul. The Tangkhuls belong to the great Mongolian race which is spread all over the World. Linguistically, they belong to a large language family called Sino-Tibetan, within that family to the sub-family Tibeto-Burman. In general this points towards an origin in the north, that is south-west China and Tibet. It is believed that the earliest home of the Tangkhuls was the upper reaches of Huang Heo and Yangtze Rivers which lies in the Zinjiang province of China. Like the other desert areas of the world, the people including the Tangkhuls migrated from this place to different directions. One group moved towards east and southeast to be become known as Chinese, another group moved southward to become the tribes of Tibeto-Burman which includes the Tangkhuls and other Naga sub tribes. That was between c. 10,000 BC to 8000 BC. This movement has continued into recent historic times. S.K. Chatterjee noted that from 2000 BC onwards, Sino-Tibetan speakers from China pushed south and west and entered India. According to W.I. Singh, in his History of Manipur, the Tangkhuls settled in the Samshok (Thuangdut) area of Myanmar. It is believed that they belong to the Yakkha tribe in China.
The Tangkhuls as also other Naga tribes came to Manipur, Nagaland, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh through Myanmar. Some of them also settled down in Myanmar and did not venture further. However, their movement over Myanmar and into India was spread over a period of time. They entered the present habitat in waves following one another and in some cases in close succession. The Tangkhuls came together with the Maos, Poumais, Marams and Thangals because all of them have references to their dispersal from Makhel (Makrefii) a Mao village in Senapati district. They had also erected megaliths at Makhel in memory of their having dispersed from there to various directions.
The Tangkhuls point out to the association of their forefathers with the seashore. Most of the ornaments of the Tangkhuls such as kongsang, huishon, etc. were made of sea shells, cowrie and conch shells a prominent feature of the people who live on the shore.
By the 2nd century AD Tangkhuls were living in Samshok (Thuangdut) in Myanmar. Ptolemy, a Greek astronomer and geographer of Alexandria, in his Geography of Further India c. 140 AD, referred to the Tangkhul Naga (Nangalogue) at Triglypton (Thuangdut). Tangkhuls began to disperse from Samshok after the invasion of Ko-lo-feng and his successor I-mau-shun the king of Nan-chao in the closing part of the 8th century AD and beginning of the 9th century. They were further driven towards the north west of Myanmar by the Shan people.
The Tangkhul as also other Naga tribes have travelled from China to Myanmar and from there they came to their present land traversing through innumerable snow-covered landscapes, mountains and wild forests confronting wild beasts and tribes. Thus, the exodus of the Tangkhul from China to Myanmar and finally to India is indeed a story of heroism of human courage and endurance. In course of time every Tangkhul village became a small republic like the Greek city states. Every village had an unwritten constitution made up of age-old conventions and traditions. The Tangkhul villages were self-sufficient except for salt, and self-governing units ruled by hereditary or elected chief assisted by a Council of Elders. The chief was a judge, administrated and commander rolled into one.
The ancient Tangkhul history is hitherto an unrecorded past. History however became more enlightened by the beginning of the 13th century owing to the cultural, trade and sometimes turbulent relations which had grown up with the people of the valley. References to the Tangkhul were found as early as the 13th century during the reign of Thawanthaba (1195-1231 AD) of Ningthouja Meitei dynasty. The chronicles refer to the frequent raids in many tribal villages by these Kings.
There has always been some form of relationship between the Tangkhul and the Meitei in terms of political alliance and trade relation. Some items of Naga material - culture indicate a long history of contact between the plain and hills. The "Elephant Cloth" (Leirungphi), for instance, resplendent with complex animal designs, worn by the Nagas of Manipur, has its origin in the wish of the ruler of Manipur in the mid-seventeenth to present his Naga allies with a special cloth. The popular Tangkhul shawl "Changkhom" is also known as "Karaophi" in Manipur. The Tangkhul dance (pheichak) was known as "Chingkheirol" in Manipur, from the fact that it came from "Chingkhei" (North East of Imphal).
During the reign of the most powerful Meitei King Pamheiba a.k.a. Garib Nawaz (1709–1748) for the first time, the heartland area of the Tangkhul country was brought under the suzerainty of Manipur. In 1716, the king’s forces invaded the great Tangkhul village of Hundung and sixty eight prisoners were captured. In 1733, the king sent a military expedition to Ukhrul and conquered. The outcome of the expeditions incurred heavy casualty on the King’s forces; the royal chronicles record the death of seventy Meitei soldiers. The defeat of these two big villages situated in the heart of Tangkhul country was landmark in the establishment of the Meitei political hegemony over the Tangkhul hills which started feeling the brunt of the Meitei power. The Ningek inscription of king Garib Nawaz refers to the Khullakpa of Okhrul (Ukhrul). Ukhrul was the headquarters of the Tangkhul Long (Tangkhul Assembly), as well as the Tangkhul annual fair locally known as "Leh Khangapha" used to be held at Somsai in Ukhrul. Hence the fall of Ukhrul in 1733 in the hands of the Meitei Maharaja herald the fall of the Tangkhuls country.
The next significant relationship between the hills and the valley took place during the reign of Bhagyachandra (1759–1762 and 1763–1798). In 1779 king Bhagyachandra established a new capital at Langthabal about seven kilometers south east of Imphal. For the nest 17 years Langthabal remained as the capital. He employed many Tangkhul and Kabui Nagas in the digging of moats around the new capital of Langthabal. Of the Tangkhul chiefs, Khullakpa of Hundung and Ukhrul made friendship with the king.
The relationship between the Tangkhuls and the Meiteis during the mediaeval period was not only of wars and conquests. They also carried on trade and commerce. The Tangkhuls supplied cotton to the valley. They also came and did sale and purchased in the Sanakeithel which was the principal market in Imphal. The Tangkhuls are used Manipuri coin of bell-metal locally called ‘sel’ as a medium of exchange which was first introduced during the reign of Khagemba (1597–1652). The boundary of Manipur and Burma (Myanmar) was laid down by an agreement signed between the British authorities (East India Company) and Burma on 9 January 1834 on the river bank of Nighthee (Chindwin). Article No.4 (iii) of this agreement relates to the Tangkhul country. "Fourth (iii) - On the north, the line of boundary will begin at the foot of the same hills at the northern extremity of the Kabo Valley and pass due north up to the first range of hills, east of that upon which stand the villages of Chortor (Choithar), Noongbee (Nungbi), Nonghar (Nunghar), of the tribe called by the Munepooriis (Manipuris) Loohooppa (Tangkhul), and by the Burmahs Lagwensoung, now tributary of Manipoor." As a result of this boundary demarcation without the knowledge let alone consent of the Tangkhuls, many Tangkhul village situated in Somrah hills are included under Burma. Later, when India and Burma attained national independence, the Tangkhuls found themselves totally dismembered belonging to two different countries.
Culture and tradition
Ukhrul is dominated by the Tangkhul Nagas. They have a rich culture. Each cultural activity is centred on the propitiation of deity known as "Kameo". They have their own traditional folk dance known as 'pheichak'. Pheichak occupies an important place in the life of the Tangkhul. There are many forms of pheichak and every pheichak depicts or expresses the life of the people. Raiyot is the war dance which is performed before and after going to war. Luivatyot, shomkhapyot, luirayot etc. are different forms of pheichak associated with the agricultural life of the people. The life and art of the tangkhul are attractive and captivating. Their different costumes, utensils, architecture, monuments and memorials depict their dexterity in art, which also speak of their sense of beauty and finesse. Though there are common costumes and clothing, both for males and females, there are also some costumes and clothing patterns exclusively meant for male and female. Some of the traditional clothes are:
- Haora (men's mostly)
- Chonkhom (women's mostly)
- Tangkang (for men and women)
- Luirim (man’s mostly)
- Raivat Kachon (Common)
- Khuilang Kachon (women's mostly)
- Phingui Kachon (common)
- Phaphir (common)
- Phorei Kachon (men's mostly)
- Luingamla Kashan
Exclusive women's wear:
- Phangyai Kashan (for maiden unmarried women)
- Kahang Kashan
- Seichang Kashan
- Thangkang Kashan
- Khuilang Kashan
- Kongrah Kashan
- Kuiying Muka (upper cover)
- Zingtai Kashan
- kongsang Kashan
Exclusive men's wear:
- Kahang Malao
Music and dance
Tangkhuls are music lovers and their songs are soft and melodious. Apart from encoding into the music the varied seasonal and cultural ideas and philosophies, music is a medium wherein historical events are also related in the lyrics. In as much as religious fervor is incorporated and composed in the songs, the romantic nature of the people also finds its expressions in the music. There are various varieties of songs, some are mood special, some are festival/seasonal specials. These folksongs and folklores can be taught and sung by anybody, anytime, but there are also some specific musical expressive melodies of every region or area.
These folksongs and folklores can be played or accompanied by musical instruments. Some of the musical instruments are the tingteila (violin), tala (trumpet), phung (drum), mazo (woman's mouth-piece), sipha (flute), kaha, and ngashingkhon (bamboo pipe).
Corresponding to the rhythmic composition of the songs, the dances of the Tangkhuls are also rhythmic and these are eventful and vigorous. Thrilling as they are, there are also some special occasional dances, like the Kathi Mahon - dance for the dead, Laa Khanganui - virgin dance during Luira Festival, Rain Pheichak - war dance etc. Many young Tangkhuls have initiated the continuation of the old folk form into modern Popular culture. An attempt by Reuben Mashangva to infuse folk lyrics and melody into modern songs are a good examples of the young trying to come to term with the past and their western /Christian oriented tradition of music.
The present Tangkhul music can be divided roughly into the following categories:
- Folk song: A purely uncontaminated songs that has been handed down by the ancestors through oral tradition. Such songs are sung during the traditional festival like, Luira, Mangkhap, Thisham and therleo phanit.
- Gospel song (Vareshi Laa) are songs translated from the Christian hymnals, which includes all the Christian popular songs. these songs are promoted by the various Church associations and are sung in the church.
- Lungchan Laa (romance song) is the most popular type of songs sung by the youths. It is western in tone and melody but retain the symbolic and lucid beauty of the traditional songs. In fact the lungchan laa can be consider as the pop songs of the community.
- Folk Blue: Started by the well known folk singer Reuben Mashangva in the late 1980s, this style has almost become a movement of blending the past with the present. many scholars and writers have taken keen interest in knowing and exposing the style.
Traditional tools, implements and ornaments
Varao Kazei, Zeithing, Kazei, Vakui, Malah, Mayongcha, Khairei, Pheimakhei, Kuisikhai, Kangra, Ngalasop, Huishon, Ngalsop Kasai, Mayong pasi, Khommasing, Haar Kazao, Nakhui, Mani.
The house structure is more or less similar for all the villages, but the carvings on the posts and blinks vary from village to village and area to area. To display the splendour and wealth of the rich and noble families, tree trunks - tarung are erected in front of the house. Some even erect monumental/memorial stones in the courtyards or at some prominent sites in the village area. Construction of all these entails strict ritualistic procedures and norms.
The Tangkhul wear a colourful traditional dress. Women wear 'kashan' and 'kongsang' while men have their shawl known as 'haora'. However, as with the rest of the world, they have been rapidly westernized as a result of globalization.
The official language is English. However, there are different kinds of dialects for every village. There are more than 250 dialects estimated to be spoken in each and every village, but the lingua franca is the Hunphun (Ukhrul) dialect. The first Tangkhul primer was published by the Rev. William Pettigrew in 1898. Since then much literature has come up. The complete Bible was translated and published in 1936. The Tangkhul Literature Society, the premier literary institution of Tangkhul Nagas, was formed in 1937. Tangkhul languages has been included as major Indian language subjects by the CBSE, ICSE and MBSE.
Three members are elected to the legislative assembly of the state. The three constituencies are Phungyar, Chingai and Ukhrul. Among the three constituencies the constituencies of Phungyar and Ukhrul have produces candidates of repute and have even occupied the Chief Minister's post. The Tangkhuls are highly politically aware tribes, though the British introduced the direct electoral politics to them they are not new to the system of electing a leader through consensus and selection. The Tangkhul Naga Long which is the apex body of the tribe is governed by a president who is elected by the village representatives.
The people of Ukhrul have also produced besides the two chief ministers (Yangmaso Shaiza and Rishang Keishing) many able leaders for naga national movements such as Rungsung Suisa and Thuingaleng Muivah. Ukhrul is part of Outer Manipur (Lok Sabha constituency).
Agriculture is the main economics activity of the Tangkhul who live in this district. There is no good supply of electricity. Transport and communication infrastructures are also at a bare minimum. Hence, no industry is found here.
Education and Literacy
Ukhrul has a literacy of 91%, the highest in the state of Manipur and the 3rd most literate town in India (Census 2011). The town has some of the best schools in the state. Some of the popular schools include OTC Juniors' Academy, Savio High School, Alice Christian HSS, St. Thomas School, Sacred Heart HSS, etc. In addition, OTC JAU have won the 'State High School of the Year' award nine times, which is a record. The town has several schools which are either independent or are affiliated to one of the following boards: Board of Secondary Education Manipur (BSEM), Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
The colleges in the town include:
- William Pettigrew College
- Sentinel College
- St. Joseph College
Moreover, the town has several Professional Training Institutions but among them only one training center is affiliated to SPC Education Center (a venture of Super Platinum Center for Education and Sewa Sansthan), an ISO 9001:2008 certified organisation (registered by the government of India, NCT New Delhi) and MSME.
- The Raingam Enterprises (professional study center: regular and correspondence)
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Ukhrul.|
- District Census Handbook: Ukhrul
- Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Ukhrul
- "Assembly Constituencies - Corresponding Districts and Parliamentary Constituencies" (PDF). Manipur. Election Commission of India. Retrieved 2008-10-07.[permanent dead link]
- The Raingam Enterprises