Imphal, April 11: Three historical stones, installed during the rule of Maharaja Chandrakriti in the mid-19th century, to mark the eastern boundary of the then Manipur kingdom with Burma, have disappeared, according to a senior official.
The official, Keithellakpam Dinamani, joint director of the arts and culture department, revealed that the matter came to light when a nine-member team went on a research tour to the interior Kamjong district.
“The team found two stone engravings of Chandrakriti Maharaj earlier found at the confluence of Sanalok and Namphalok rivers have disappeared. These stones had an inscription in Bengali script and engravings of Chandrakriti footprints. Another boulder at nearby Chatric Khullen village with the image of Hanuman was also found missing,” Dinamani said.
These stones stood as the historical boundaries of the then erstwhile Manipur kingdom with Burma, he added. The team appealed to the local villagers to return the stones with the engravings and even offered a monetary award, Dinamani said.
The site from where the stones had “disappeared” is uninhabited and is surrounded by thick forests. The nearest village is at least 4 or 5 km away.
In 2011, archaeological teams had found that the stone inscriptions had been dislodged from their original position, Dinamani said.
“The team could retrieve the stones and put them in the original places at that time,” he added.
Noting that inscribed stones were used by erstwhile Manipur rulers to demarcate boundaries, Dinamani said inscriptions at Behiang in Churachandpur district, at Tipaimukh at the confluence of Tuivai and Barak rivers in the southern part of the state, and the Kohima stone bear testimony to it.
This disappearance of the historical stones has raised concern and alarm among the people of Manipur, especially the researchers, scholars, and historians.
These stones are a part of the historical and cultural heritage of the region, and their loss is seen as a loss for the entire community. The local government and the relevant authorities have been urged to take immediate action to locate and retrieve these stones.
This incident also highlights the need to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of the region and the importance of community involvement in the protection of historical artifacts.