The Boundaries of Manipur – Naoroibam Indramani (Part 3)


The Boundary Commission for proper demarcation of the southern boundary of Manipur was set-up by the Government of British India in the year 1894 between Burma and Manipur comprising of the following members from both Burma and Manipur.

Representing Burma:

  1. B.S. Carey, Esq., C.I.E., Political officer, Chin Hills.
  2. Captain F.B. Longe, R.E. Survey of India, and 12 followers.
  3. Lieutenant W.H. Dent, 2nd Battalion, (P.W.0) Yorkshire Regiment, Intelligence officer, and two surveyors.
  4. Lieutenant B. Trydell and 50 rifles, 1st Burma Rifles as escort.
  5. Commissariat in charge of Sergeant James, and one Hospital Assistant.

Representing Manipur:

  1. A Porteous, Esq., Political Agent Manipur.
  2. Captain M.A-Kerr, Lieutenant H. Baillie, and 100 rifles, 43rd Gurkhas as escort and one Hospital Assistant.

In addition to the above names, Howchinkup, the Chief of the K ain how tribe, and his own following of young Chins accompanied Mr. Carey. The boundary to be demarcated was to run through country which he claimed as subservient to himself. Thus he was particularly concerned in the work. Howchinkup was a young man of about 20 years, was rather more civilized then the other Northern Chins, and dressed like Burmese. In addition to Howchinkup were the headmen of Haulkam and Hianzan and of several of the villages lying near the south of the Manipur plain.

On 28th January, Mr. Carey, Mr. Porteous and Captain Longe went to a small bluff hill about 3 miles to the south-west of Tinzin, called by the Chins Le Sang Mwell and by the Burmese Nataung to view the surrounding country. It was decided that the Tinzin Chaung, or as it was called by the Chins the Tui Sa should formed the boundary for the eastern portion, starting from where the river debouched into the Kabaw Valley up to one of its sources on the Tang. It was also decided that the party should march to Hianzan village, and from there ascended the high hill called Molben from which the course of the Tui Sa could be surveyed and possibly its sources ascertained.

On 29th January, they started on that day at about 10 A.M. The Manipur party, who had Tohkil coolies, got off at 7.30 A.M. Out route led them west through about 2 miles of plain and then uphill to a height of about 2,100 feet, and then down to the Tui Sa. This route, along which they travelled and which passed through the Thado Chin villages of Haulkam and Hianzan and so on to Shilmong (Lenacot), was one of the two regular routes to the plains in this neighbourhood, while the other ran to the south of it from Shimong through Hianzan, Balbil, Haitsi and so to Yazagyo in the Kale valley.

They camped in some cultivated fields called Bampei on the left bank jhumed last year and were very extensive. Distance from Tinzin was about 8 miles, over which they took 4 hours, but their coolies, who were chiefly Burmans carried loads for them. Carey sent a Surveyor round by the Tui Sa to get a traverse of the river, as it was to form the boundary.

On 30th January, they halted in camp to give their Burman coolies, who utterly broke down, a rest, and also to wait for some fresh Chin coolies whom How Sa was a fine stream, full of mahseer, flowing in a south-easterly direction. It was hidden away between steep hills, the banks of the river being covered with dense bamboo jungle. The Surveyor arrived about midday, having made a traverse of the river from Tinzin, the distance by water being 13 miles to their camp. The stream quite near the camp, was crossed by a Chin bamboo suspension-bridge about 20 feet above the water. The Manipur party marched on to Haulkam about 3 miles off and camped there.

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On 31st January, they marched on that day to the site of Pangchin called by the Burmese Oinchin. The inhabitants of this village in olden days had a reputation as thieves and robbers, About 50 years ago there used to be five villages between the Tui Pu (called by the Burmese Nanpalaw Chaung) and Tui Sa (Tinzin Chaung), called Pinzin, Haulkam and Hianzan and two others; they were all large villages and belonged to the Kamhaw tribe, of these Haulkam and Hianzan were only existed. The road crossed the Tui Sa and went up to the village of Haulkam, which consisted of about 8 houses and was hidden away amor large trees, but was commanded from the north-west. The headman’s name of their village was Khamkwa. Haulkam was 2,094 feet above the sea level. On arrival there they found that the Manipur party had marched on to Hianzan, so they continued their march and camped on the site of Pangchin village, which was about a quarter of a mile off the road to the south. Distance from 1st night camp seven and half miles. Water there was very scarce. All that denoted that a village formerly existed there were large spaces of treeless jungle covered with long rank grass, there were no charred posts of other remnants. Pangchi was 3,207 feet high.

On 1st February, starting this morning they turned to the main road and marched on to Hianzan, eight and half miles. In places the road was very bad and narrow, it led direct from that camp to the high hill called Molben. When nearing the foot of this hill, their road met a larger and much more frequent route from Hianzan village to ‘mule cultivations, this road had been lately repaired, and was renewed annually by the villagers. About one and half miles from the village the road crossed a small stream which flowed down from Molben, horn this stream the water was led into the village by means of female bamboos very cleverly laid down and protected by logs of wood. The chief objection to this water course was that the lead crossed the road several times and was likely to get disturbed and the water misdirected from its course. The village of Hianzan consisted of about 60 houses and was in fair condition. The Headman’s name was Lunhyan, he was an oldish man and was nearly quite bald. The village was situated on one of the spurs which led down from Molben to the Tui Pu, and was commanded only from the north. Camping-ground in the vicinity of the village was good, either to the north or south, the latter being particularly suitable. Water from the lead was plentiful, there was also a stream some little distance down the khud to the east. Hianzan, inhabited by Thado Chins, was 4,168 feet above the sea level.

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On 2nd February, Mr. Carey, Mr. Porteous and Captain Longe went up to Molben to survey and find the course of the Tui Sa, but it was too cloudy to do anything except got the top cleared of jungle. Both Dent’s Surveyors were out surveying round the village. Molben was a prominent feature in the neighbourhood and an excellent view was obtained from the top.

On 3rd February, a party went up to Molben, which was called by the Burmese Sababon Taung, it was triangulation station 6,343 feet above the sea level. The hill top was entirely cleared of jungle, except for one tree, on that day, and as the Tui Sa was found to run conveniently, it was finally decided the boundary should follow its course. Mr. Dent went into the headman’s house on that day, the porch of which was full of skulls of animals of every description. In this compound was a post about 8 feet high on which was carved all the animals he had slain up to date. This was kept as a sort of record, and when he dies, his own figure will be carved on it, together with those of his wife, slaves, and the number of gongs he possessed, etc. The carving was rough but it was easy to distinguish what animals the sculptor had endeavoured to portray. It was, in fact, a record of the life of a Chin, and was, after his death, set up in a place kept apart for these posts. Chins worshiped nats and spirits, and put up bamboos and peeled branches of trees in their compounds, but apparently to a much less extent than the Kachin north of Bhamo do.

On 4th February, their next move was to Shilmong (Lenacot) in order that they might pick up more rations and then moved on to what had been known as the Letha range, which was Burmese name and should properly be called Tang, there to discover a source of the Tui Sa, up which the boundary could run. They left Hianzan about 8 A.M., the Manipur party starting at daybreak. Before leaving they got rid of all their Burman coolies and had only Chins for the rest of the time who proved themselves excellent transport. Their road took them west to the Tui Pu. The descent was very steep and at that time quite impassable for laden mule transport. The river flowed south and was over 2,000 feet below the level of Hianzan village. Height 2,147 feet. It was advisable to carry water from this river because there was very little along the road. The river-bed was rocky and confined between steep hills.

There were very few bamboos which was rather a curious circumstances as the banks if the streams were generally lined with them. They then went uphill, at first the ascent was steep, but not so bad as on the left bank of the river, then up a gradual ascent till a height of over 6,000 feet was reached. When well on the spur and about 4 miles from the Tui Pu, the road passed near a little streamlet to the left, i.e. south and about 20 yards from it. There was a good camping-ground, but as the water was scarce they decided not to halt, but to proceed on to some water a few miles further along the road. After still going uphill along a spur which led to the Tang, they suddenly turned down the khud to the north. From thereon, the road had been made by the Manipur party, but was very steep and bad. It led them through fine trees of immense size for one and half miles with a drop of 500 feet from the main route down to a lake in the middle of primeval jungle on the banks of which they camped for the night.

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The lake was about 100 yards by 60 yards with an average depth of two and half feet, the bottom was muddy. This little bit of water, hidden away in dense jungle, was near one of the sources of the Tui Pu, it was little known by the Chins, in fact of all their following only one had been down to it before.

However, it was satisfactory to know of its locality as there was none to speak of between the Tui Pu and Shilmong along the road. The Bins called the place Tui Pu which signifies “big water”. Hidden away on the middle of dense jungle at so high an altitude in the midst of very steep khuds, one might had expected to have heard a weird legend connected with it, but such was not the case.

On 5th February, Mr. Carey, Mr. Porteous, Captain Longe and Mr. Dent returned to the main road along previous route, while the remainder took a rather more direct road. On the top of the spur, where the pathway down to Tui Pu led off from the main route.

Their route took them towards the Tang, gradually ascending through thick jungle, while the tops of the hills were bare. Those patches generally face south, while the northern side was covered with dense jungle. On the top of the Tang, they got a beautiful view of the surrounding country. To the south-west the Gambo, one of the sources of the Tui Pu, and its whole valley leading down to the plains was very distinct. This river, believed to be the one chosen by Pemberton in 1834, was supposed to be identical with the Nanpalaw and from this point his choice had proved to be a good one. The Tarn ran north and south and formed the watershed between the Chindwin and Manipur rivers. To the west was the village of Shilmong, and in the distance range after of hills, mostly running north and south, were plainly visible. On descending towards Shilmong, Howbi peak was first visible, that was a triangulated point from the Manipur side and was very prominent feature as that rose to a height of about 5,000 feet just at the southern end of the Manipur plain. Shilmong or Lenacot – the latter name being at that time obsolete was considerably lower than the Tang. It was very small village of about 25 houses, inhabitants being Yoes. There were still the remnants of an old stockade round the village. There they found their rations which had been stored for them by the Chins.

To be continued.


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