The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - H.H. Godwin-Austen, Journal of a Tour in Assam, 26th November 1872 to 15th April 1873

caption: Kooki head-taking; description of Imphal
medium: tours
person: Ogle
ethnicgroup: Kooki
location: Kwakel Tongba Imphal
date: 16.3.1873
person: Godwin-Austen/ H.H.
date: 26.11.1872-4.4.1873
person: Royal Geographical Society, London
text: 16th March
text: When starting early I made across the level plain for the ridge West & overlooking the Thobal. Its height with Noopitel standing high up at the back was very deceptive & I found it in the heat of the morning [62] sun pretty stiff. At the southern end of this high mass called Maphowching. I obtained an excellent view over the Thobal side & then following the same ridge North for a couple of miles got in a large area, gradually descended down a spur into the valley of the Laimakhong on to camp at Lamlai under our Trig station of Mungching. This valley has much improved in appearance since my first visit, the plain then perfectly black is now looking fresh & green after the recent rain & the oaks coming into leaf, hiding the peculiar appearance they present from the round masses of a kind of misteltoe which grows on so many of them. The Munipuri men wear sandles of untanned buffalo hide called by them "Khurgong"
text: [sketch: "Wako" put up over a Kuki's grave on large bamboo bough with twigs pointed each carrying one of three bird-like effigies.
text: Ogle did not come in from observing at the trig station until some time after dark. Before I quit the valley of Munipur some description of Imphal while fresh in memory will well come in here. Imphal, as the capital of the country is always called by the Munipuris, is made up of a scattered number of large hamlets covering an area of about [blank] square miles, the houses composing a holding each stand in their own closure, surrounded by a low mud wall surmounted very often by a fence composed of long grass kept together by slips of bamboo. A "cantonment" expresses the nature of the place for most of the males are enroled in the army & serve the raja a certain number of days in the year. 3 guns fired in the fort is the signal for the Assembly of the whole force in Imphal & neighbouring villages. The roads are well raised above the ground & laid out with great regularity, the main ones running away for several miles in perfectly straight lines. Save within the fort the houses are nowhere packed together as a street or bazar. A few large pepul trees occur here & there along the road sides & some fine trees are to be seen in a Tope on the Imphal Turel of the fort, the usual fruit trees, common to the Eastern districts & plantain but the principal growth is bamboo planted on the lines of boundary between the many small holdings so that looking at the place from a distance every house is hidden & one great wood is all that is seen & it is not until the flanks of the tilas around are ascended that the habitations [64] become visible.
text: The Rivers Imphal Turel & [blank] flow through the place the one through the fort & Eastern quarter, taking its rise in the valley under the Koupru ridge, on the side of Sengmai, the other draining out of the extensive marsh on the NWest & flowing down through the Western quarters under a low tila called Chinga mukka where the Political Agent has built a small bungalow as a summer residence. The marsh mentioned above covers a large area & extends quite up to the Eastern base of the isolated Langol ridge which with Nongmaiching Hill on the opposite side gives Imphal a character quite peculiar to itself & there is not wanting a very general appearance to Srinigar in Kashmir on a smaller scale, and that place was often especially recalled to memory when viewed from Chinga mukka. The Raja's residence is situated within a trapezoidal shaped fort, the longest side being to the West, in the centre of which is the entrance Gateway. [sketch: Gateway, Raja's Residence, Munipur.