Churachandpur Profile

Sominthang Doungel *

 landscape of Churachandpur in August 2012
landscape of Churachandpur in August 2012 :: Pix - Nongmai M

Churachandpur is a famous district of Manipur. It is situated within the eastern hilly regions of Manipur 60 kilometres south from the Capital Imphal. It covers 4570 square kilometres and lies in 93.15 degree East and 94.0 degree East Longitude, 24.0 degree East and 24.3 degree north Latitude.

It is on an elevation of 914.4 metres with beautiful landscape and salubrious climate. The district is bounded by Sadar Hills in the North, Myanmar in the south, Chandel and Bishnupur in the East and Assam and Mizoram in the west.

The climate of Churachandpur is at best in the month of October to March. It is extremely cold in the month of December and January. The District attracts huge rainfall from April to September. Before the coming of the British, Churachandpur was inhabited by different tribes who were collectively known as Kukis.

During those days the present town which is the greatest valley in Churachandpur district was known as L. Haokip reserved areas. Haokip reserved areas extended till Paldai lui near Singngat in the south. It is bounded by Koite river in the north, Khuga river in the east and Tuila river in the west.

This valley part of L. Haokip reserved areas was infested with mosquitoes and people felt safer to reside in the hilly side which came to be known as Songpi village. It is rather abtruse to locate the exact date of the establishment of Songpi. However, taking into account events of the boundary dispute, Songpi had with Singngat it is believed to be as old as Singngat village which was established in 1800 AD.

Songpi, the biggest village during those days was made one of the three Sub- divisional Headquarters and BC Gesper ( ICS) was posted as the first SDO of Songpi Sub-division. During those days there was not a single Village in the Present Churachandpur town. However, in the surrounding areas some villages like Khopibung, Gelmol , Teising , Bijang and Songpi were already there. . Thus, the entire area of the present churachandpur town was under the authority of Songpi Chief.

With the return of some natives who joined the Allied British Force as Labour corps in France during the First World War, BC Gesper, the Sub-divisional Officer of Songpi organized a grand feast to welcome them. Maharaj Churachand Singh was also invited to attend the feast as Guest of Honour. To venerate the visit of Maharaja Churachand Singh, the Songpi sub-division was renamed as Churachandpur sub-division.

In 1993, Churachandpur sub-division was further divided into two circles namely - Churachandpur and Thanlon. At the end of the Second World War in 1945, the two circle offices were placed under one sub-divisional unit known as Churachandpur sub-division.

As the Christian Missionaries ( NEIG Mission) set up their HQ at Songpi village it came to be known as Mission Compound or Old Churachandpur, which remains relevant till today. The district came under Japanese aerial attack during II World War. It was a battle ground between the INA supported Japanese Army and the British Army.

The Songpi sub-division being already occupied by the Missionaries, a new administrative office was established at Hill Town. On 21st January, 1972 Manipur was confered the status of a full - fledged state under the Indian Union. The following year, three more Legislative Assembly Constituencies were carved out in Churachandpur namely : Henglep, Tipaimukh and Singngat.

Churachandpur district now has 6 Assembly constituencies and hence 6 members of Legislataive Assembly. In 1961, Churachandpur town was notified as a small Tribal Community which was upgraded to a municipality in 1978. Ten years later the Municipality status was abolished as it could not have the privilege of Rural Development funds.

The district is divided into five Revenue Sub- Division namely -
i) Churachandpur Sub- division,
ii)Singngat Sub- Division,
iii) Thanlon Sub- Division,
iv) Tipaimukh Sub- Division and
v) Henglep Sub- Division.

Revenue sub-divisions are contiguous with the Tribal Development Blocks except for Churachandpur sub-division where there are two blocks namely : - Churachandpur and Samulamlan Block. The Sub-divisional officer also act as a Block Development Officer. In 1980, the Border Road Task Force ( BRTF) constructed Tipaimukh and Guite stretched of road upto the boundaries of Mizoram. The district is now well connected by roads.

Almost the entire district is affected with shifting cultivation practices resulting in creation of ecological disturbances. Shifting cultivation involved the slash-and-burn of felled trees and a thick smog and huge eclipse the sun when jhum areas are burnt during the month of April and May.

The earlier 15-20 years cycle of shifting cultivation on particular land has reduced to 2 - 3 years now. This has resulted in large scale deforestation, soil and nutrient loss, and invassion by weeds and other spices. Attemps have been made to provide other alternatives of livelihood to the local population by the Govt. agencies and NGOs.

Apart from large number of timber species, there are innumeral varieties and kinds of orchids, medicinal plants, ferns, bamboos, canes, wild relative of large number of our cultivated plants and even plants of biological curiosities. The forest division of Churachandpur is gently hilly in the southern part.

The general appearance of the hill ranges is that of irregular ridges, occasionally rising into conical peaks and flattened ridges of bare rocks. Varieties of flowers and trees and different animals like bear, deers, wild hog, reindeers and many more different species of animals and birds are found. Rivers like barrack river, Tuijang, Tuipi, Mongkai, Leimatak are the important rivers of the districts. Among the rivers from the south, Tuitha river flows in the eastern heart of the Churachandpur town.

 A waterfall in Churachandpur District :: 2012
A waterfall in Churachandpur District :: 2012 :: Pix - Boris Oinam

Churachandpur is currently inhabited by different tribes of Kukis. Languages spoken in Churachandpur district includes :

Thadou Kuki language
Paite-kuki language
Hmar-kuki language
Vaiphei-kuki language
Gangte-kuki language
Zou-kuki language
Simte-kuki language
Kom-kuki language
Aimol-kuki language
Chin-kuki language

These different tribes have a common customs and cultures and comfortably communicate by using their own dialects. This shows that they are ethnically one group. Churachandpur has a modern outlook and cosmopolitan culture is visible everywhere. In the beginning of the 20th century, Christianity spread in the district which has a great bearing on the life of the Kukis in Churachandpur district.

People from other states like Bihar, Assam and Uttar Pradesh also migrated to start their own business. Most of the grocery stores and other small business are owned by these group of people. Among the hill districts of Manipur, Churachandpur is the most rapidly developing district headquarters. The lingua-franca in this district is each own dialect.

All societies are patriarchal and the system of hereditary chiefship is prevalent. Their cheiftainship passes by the right of birth. The women group also plays a very pivotal role in agriculture and animal husbandary. There are few entrepreneurs since they traditionally ran after government jobs only.

An overwhelming majority of the people of Churachandpur are now imbibed into Christian faith. The rapid spread of education and Conversion into Christianity has not materially changed the social order, but it helped in bringing to an end the savagery that characterized an early tribal life.

As of 2011 census Churachandpur has a population of 271274. It ranks 575th in India out of the 640 districts. The population density of it is 59 inhabitants per square kilometres with a sex ratio of 993 females for every 1000 males. According to 2011 census a total of 477 people lived on foot-path without any roof to cover. This approx 0.17% of the total populationof the district. About 6.70% of the district population lives in urban region and 93.3% lives in rural region.

Churachandpur has a high literacy rate, which can be attributed to the initiatives of the church, NGOs and Private edu-preneurs. There are two government degree colleges- Churachandpur college and Lamka college. Several Govt. schools with fake teachers are non-functional and the absence of good govt. colleges compelled many students to seek admission elsewhere.

However, the district is well served by competitive private schools. Some of the schools which have made excellent contribution to the educational standard of churachandpur district are - Donbosco school, St. Mary School, St. Paul Institute, Blue Star Academy, Salt Brook school, Rayburn school, Sielmat School, Young Learners' School, etc.

The unprecedented ethnic clash between the Paite-Kuki and Thadou-Kuki in 1997-98 disturbed this delicate human ecoloogy in Churachandpur town. however, better sense prevailed among the two groups and the town recovered from the bitter agonies of ethnic conflicts.

There are all sorts of amenities and facilities available for daily needs. There are Tourists house, circuit house, hospital, custom checkpost, stock offices, inspection bungalow, sub- divisional offices and educational institutions.

 Khuga Dam, a multi-purpose project located in south of Churachandpur town , Manipur :: August 21 2016
Khuga Dam, a multi-purpose project located in south of Churachandpur in August 2016 :: Pix - Lamdamba Oinam

There is also a Mini Stadium at Tuibong with construction nearing completion. State owned All India Radio has a local station which transmit various programme of mass interest. There are also various cable operators offering quality services which telecast on incidents occuring in town such as events, festivals and accidents.

There is a telegraphed facilities and telephone companies like Airtel, Aircel, BSNL, Reliance, Vodafone, Idea etc are also rendering their services in the district. Some notable museums of Churachandpur are Agape Museum at Tuibong and Tribal Museum at Hill Town. The general administration of churachanndpur rest in the hands of the Deputy Commissioner. Social responsibilities lies in the hands of the Chairman, Autonomous District Council and law and order rest in the hands of the Superintendent of Police and the Commander, Assam Rilfes.

Churachandpur district has tourist spots like Khuga Dam ( a multipurpose project dam) which is about 7kms from Churachandpur town. The dam project began in 1983 with an estimated cost of Rs. 15 crores. The dam is constructed to irrigate the plains of ccpur within 20kms of the dam site. It is expected to provide 1.7 mega watt of electricity for the town and supply 5 million imperial gallons of drinking water for the town.

The dam was set to be completed within four years. The construction came to a standstill due to alleged financial irregularities. The project resumed in 2002 and the estimated cost has gone upto over 280 crores. It is now one of the most beautiful artificial lake of North-East India.

About 32 kms from Churachandpur is the Tonglon cave, an important tourist attraction. There is also Ngaloi waterfall about 5kms from the town near the old headquarter Songpi where tourist lodge has also been constructed by Manipur Government.

Set on the panoramic western banks of Tuitha river, Churachandpur is one of the most beautiful districts of Manipur.

* Sominthang Doungel wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was posted on February 20, 2021.

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