The first steps in the Kangla Fort project were to conduct Historical Studies and a study of the site (Database of Inventories) of the fort that were submitted along with a Preliminary Concept Plan. The findings led to the Statement of Significance that starts this volume, i.e. why is the fort so important. Issues of authenticity and other needs of the people are dealt with in Conservation Issues, while the cultural resources of the fort are described in Rediscovering Kangla Fort. The need to integrate heritage management into mainstream management is discussed in Core Management. All these aspects are brought together in the Kangla Charter that is to form the legal basis for future activities in the fort. The Concept Development Plan provides the framework for the Archaeological Park Scheme, while the Integrated Management provides an integrated mechanism for managing the fort as a cultural resource as well as urban area. Finally, the Conservation Guide sets forth the necessary guidelines for preservation and restoration activities in the fort.

The Project Overview in Volume-II provides a physical context to the Archaeological Park Scheme while Concept Development discusses site strategies in detail, before the final section on Projects details out all the projects including designation of areas, summary of activities, list of concerned agencies in each case, and preliminary budgets.

Introduction to Kangla Charter

The word “Charter” is used to denote that the proposed Kangla Charter is the “meta level” document that is required to protect cultural resources in the development process. It is an emerging core framework to guide all projects and the managers when there is neither legal protection for resources nor appropriate management measures. It is for the Government of Manipur to use the logic and principles of the Kangla Charter to ensure both protection and management for the cultural resources of Kangla fort.

In order to ensure the maintenance of the cultural values of Kangla Fort this special Charter is the first step, before implementation of the Archaeological Park Scheme / Concept Development Plan (refer Chapter 6). The flexibility that exists within the planning process needs to be taken advantage of to later develop a long-term need for a new legislation called the Archaeological Park Act, which will be an extension of the Kangla Charter.

The core of effective urban management is a legislative framework. Instead of terming it as a bill or a legislative document we have called it the Kangla Charter. However this charter has the same function as a legislative document. The function of the Charter as legislation is to protect and manage all resources (cultural, natural and ecological) comprehensively - yet it also is a development guide listing out the do’s and don’ts clearly.

The aim of the Kangla Charter is to enable and involve all departments, agencies, community and other stakeholders to work together with a common Memorandum Of Understanding i.e., partnerships between the government and the people of Manipur.

The Significance of Kangla

A Charter is based around a Statement of Significance that establishes the importance of the entity in question. Kangla Fort, as has been described earlier (refer Chapter 1) is significant at a local, state, national, and international level, which can be summarized through the following statements.

“The antiquity and continued occupancy and use of Kangla for over two millennia make it unique. Kangla, the single representative of Manipuri culture has existed as the capital of the Ningthouja dynasty for nearly 2000 years – and today represents the history, culture and integrity of the people of Manipur.”
“Kangla is sacred and intimately related to the Meitei culture, cosmogony and the religious history of Manipur since ancient historical times.”
“Kangla Fort is unique in India and by belonging to a family of South Asian forts, represents an Asian Regional Fort Type”
“Kangla Fort contains a polo ground that is unique as it probably is the oldest polo ground in India”
“The purpose of the Kangla Charter therefore is for maintaining the significance of the fort as paramount. All actions should be within the limits of the Charter.”

Archaeological Park Concept

In order to address the challenge of mainstreaming heritage management yet maintaining the heritage significance (refer Chapter 1), the concept of the Archaeological Park is proposed within the existing legal framework of the state. The process is conceived as a part of the urban management and mainstream development of Imphal. The concept of an Archaeological Park is also aimed at managing the cultural resources of areas, which have varied heritage of different historical periods. The methodology evolved to realize the Archaeological Park Concept emerges from a thorough consideration of the existing laws; its lacuna and problems understood; development of an integrated framework so as to cover values and facets that have been ignored or left out in the existing systems.

This is a new paradigm and not an extension of many outdated laws that are in use in the country. The concept of the Archaeological Park provides the opportunity for the present and future citizens of Manipur to rediscover their cultural heritage in a truthful manner through a first hand interaction with heritage. The concept of the Archaeological Park is therefore summed up in the following statements:

“An Archaeological Park can be termed as a definable area with definable boundaries distinguishable by heritage resources and land related to such resources, which has potential to become an interpretative, educational and recreational resource for the public. Though the priority is the built and archaeological heritage, ecological and landscape aspects are not excluded. This is the way of protecting heritage resources, including discovered / undiscovered underground structures till the resources to excavate them are found.”
“An Archaeological Park will not preclude recreational usage as long as the needs of heritage are not compromised. It will primarily serve educational and conservation needs. Educational by introducing the past to people through innovative and enjoyable ways so that they perceive their city as pluralistic and layered. As these layers are unfolded, one hopes that people will develop a positive attitude towards the city itself and inspire them to become responsibly involved in the heritage management process. This will serve the needs of heritage management in a truly participatory manner.”

Governing Principle for Conservation - Authenticity

Authenticity is the governing principle for conservation all over the World today (refer Chapter 2). The Nara Document on authenticity is a document of the ICOMOS, which states the principles of authenticity and is internationally accepted (refer Appendix 1). The Nara Document on Authenticity is conceived in the spirit of the Charter of Venice, 1964, and builds on it and extends it in response to the expanding scope of cultural heritage concerns and interests in our contemporary world. The Nara document is given great weightage by UNESCO thus it becomes even more relevant in case of Kangla Fort, as the fort is a potential World Heritage Site. Hence it has been used as a model for the Kangla Charter.

Authenticity as defined in the charter means that there should be integrity and truthfulness in form and design, materials and substance, use and function, traditions and techniques, location and setting, and spirit and feeling, and other internal and external factors of the cultural resource.

The NARA document has far reaching implications in the context of Manipur and its culture and heritage specifically in the case of Kangla Fort as many layers of history are overlaid each other and they are present today within the fort in various forms enmeshed with each other. Regarding the plurality of historical layers the NARA document states the following:

“Cultural heritage diversity exists in time and space, and demands respect for other cultures and all aspects of their belief systems. In cases where cultural values appear to be in conflict, respect for cultural diversity demands acknowledgment of the legitimacy of the cultural values of all parties”.

Resolving Existing Legislation

There are presently three sets of legislation applicable to Kangla Fort. These are:

  1. Manipur Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1976 (referred to in this document as the State Monuments Act) This Act is responsible for the protection and preservation of historical monuments, archaeological sites and remains that exist in the state of Manipur.
  2. Manipur Town and Country Planning Act, 1975. This Act is responsible for regulating the development process within the state of Manipur.
  3. Cantonments Act 1889. This Act is responsible for declaring Kangla Fort as a cantonment area.

At the outset it is clear that the Cantonment Act has the potential to create a conflict of governance and use within the fort. In order to remove the conflict and achieve clarity in the control structure of Kangla Fort as an Archaeological Park the Cantonment Act must be repealed immediately and the area brought entirely under State Government control.

On the assumption that in some near point in the future the Cantonment Act will no longer apply, the Charter resolves the lacunae within the two remaining sets of existing legislation – which will apply - as follows:

  • The Town and Country Planning Act, while allowing for development and change through the process of Zonal Plans, Development Plans and Schemes, does not recognise the significance of Kangla Fort as a unique heritage resource. The notation of Kangla Fort as Regional Park in the present Master Plan for Imphal, while allowing for recreational uses to be developed in the park, does not afford enough protection or management for its cultural resources.
  • The Gazette Notification 515 under the State Monuments Act ’76 has its limitations. This definition allows only for protection and preservation of certain entities within the entire park area. However some areas within the park which belong to present date (which is not recognized as a valid time period by the Act to be classified as monument), hence cannot be categorized as monument as per the Act. Such areas simultaneously need protection to avoid neglect and subsequently encroachment. Judicious application of “usage” from the Town Planning Act can improve maintenance and will deter neglect
  • If only the Monuments Act were to be applied to the park then it would remain inaccessible to the people of Imphal. It would remain as a monument, which they would not be able to participate in. If Kangla Fort has to be opened up to the local community some recreational use has to be accommodated within the park. Therefore, spaces for recreational use for the people and community of Imphal should be provided for within Kangla Fort as per clauses of the Town Planning Act.
  • The conflicts are resolved by the use of applicable clauses from both the Monuments Act and the Town and Country Planning Act, which allows for change, and by designating specific areas of Kangla Fort as governed and protected by either of these Acts depending on the need established through research. Protection for the various sectors and entities is listed later in this Chapter.
“Kangla Fort as an Archaeological Park shall use the applicable regulations of the Manipur Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1976 and the Manipur Town and Country Planning Act, 1975 to achieve the highest standards of protection and management for its cultural heritage and a new life and harmony for the park in which the people of Manipur shall be a partner with the Government of Manipur.”

Cultural Resource Management

For purposes of comprehensive protection and effective management of the cultural resources, a multi-level management approach is necessary, the need for which has been described in more detail in Chapter 4. The various aspects of management needed and the organizations involved need to be resolved to manage the complex cultural resource entity of the Kangla fort.

A Cultural Resource Management approach means all aspects of cultural values of park entities are assessed, and their significance stated. The information gathered shall be compiled into a Cultural Resource Database that shall be the repository for all details about the entities including their significance (refer Chapter 3). The cultural significance becomes the basis of the policy on which decisions measures and actions are taken. The entire park as a cultural resource entity is brought under management with monitoring and review process. A responsible agency and the required technical expertise are other aspects of management that will be provided. This will provide a management system for all stakeholders, users, and decision-makers to follow.

“All aspects of management of Kangla Fort, including the protection and management of all its cultural resources as well as the monitoring and review of all management activities shall be integrated within the ambit of the Charter with the aim of achieving the highest standards of management for the Archaeological Park.”
“The cultural significance and other information about the all the cultural resources of Kangla Fort shall be permanently documented and archived in a manner that is equally and freely available for all citizens of Manipur and others who may be interested to see.”

Categorization of Cultural Resources (Refer. Dwg. Nos. 05 & 06)

The cultural resources belonging to the historical layers described earlier (refer Chapter 2) as found on site (refer Chapter 3) were placed in the following broad categories after the analysis and assimilation of the inventories. These have been categorized both on the basis of the time period that belonged as well as their nature – whether they were buildings or open spaces, their scale and use.

Archaeological Heritage
Remains from the Manipur Period Fort like earthworks, moat, walls, ruins, moats, and large areas with under ground heritage.
Architectural Heritage
These are buildings both from the British period and the Manipuri period. The Manipur State Monuments Act already protects some of the Manipuri period buildings.
Sacred heritage
The sacred heritage is mostly linked to the Maitei culture and includes shrines, open spaces, memorials, trees and ponds ( pukris).
Historical features
These are both from the Manipuri and the British period. This category includes memorials, inscriptions, and gravestones.
Historically important open spaces and other features part of the cultural landscape.
This category relates to the geographical aspect of the fort and areas that contribute to the cultural landscape like the historical open spaces – polo ground & colonial gardens, and geographical features such as the river, river bund, river bank, other open spaces (which may be archaeological, assessment needs to be done) etc.
Residual buildings
These are buildings from the British period to the more recent times and are unprotected. These have to be reassessed before any development takes place within the Kangla Fort.

The categories of cultural resources are listed in the following tables. It must be noted that some of the cultural contents show multiple categorization and therefore multiple values of which all must be preserved. For example the Uttra is both archaeological and sacred, and therefore its historic, archaeological, and sacred values must be equally protected.

“The cultural heritage diversity of Kangla Fort Archaeological Park is to be maintained in it’s entirety and all inherent values present are to be protected, with all conservation or development activities maintaining the significance of these values”.
“The Cultural Resources of Kangla Fort Archaeological Park are to be protected managed, and conserved in a manner consistent with the aims of the Kangla Charter and in which all inherent and significant values are maintained.”