Manipur's Rajbari in Shillong’s Redlands needs renovation; SMSU urges relevant authorities to preserve the historical site
Once Majestic “Shillong Rajbari”, built during 1942-43 by the Last King of Independent Kingdom of Manipur- Maharaj Bodhachandra lays in a deplorable condition. The historic “Rajbari”, located at Shillong’s Redlands in Laitumkhrah stands on an area measuring 1.93 acres. The Rajbari holds a significant place in the history of Manipur, as it was here that the Independent Kingdom of Manipur merged with the Indian Dominion. On September 16, 1949, Maharaj Bodhachandra left Manipur for Shillong to hold dialogues on the Indian Constitution with the Union of India. However, upon his arrival at the Rajbari, Indian Union security forces took the Maharaj under house arrest and allegedly forced him to sign the Manipur-India merger agreement on September 21, 1949.
After the death of Maharaj Bodhachandra who reigned from 1941 to 1955, Parihanba Okendro reigned as the titular king of Manipur from 1955 to 1976 under the Indian Union. It is said that Parihanba sold the site where the Rajbari stands to one wealthy Assamese businessman in 1980 which led to the formation of Shillong Manipuri Students Union (SMSU) in a bid to save the land. In 1988, the then Manipur Chief Minister RK Jaichandra tried to reclaim the historical land but it was in vain after the State Congress government disintegrated. Though efforts were made to renovate the historical site under the funding of North East Council worth 13 crore rupees, the project retracted due to failure to produce relevant land documents.
It was only during the tenure of Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren who after a series of negotiation with the Meghalaya Government finally reclaimed the land after paying necessary land revenue. The Chief Minister in August this year reclaimed the land by paying a land revenue of 91 lakh 4 Thousand 784 rupees to the Meghalaya Government. He then announced that the Rajbari will be revamped and renamed as the ‘Manipur Bhawan’. Former Vice President of Shillong Manipuri Students Union Wangjam Sanatomba claims that Maharaj Bodhachandra’s wife - Ishori Devi’s land located adjacent to the Rajbari has also been encroached by nearby residents due to the lack of a caretaker. He said, SMSU has been taking major roles to conserve the Royal estate to its former Glory for future generations.
Structure of the Rajbari still remains intact, but it may get ruined anytime in the near future, as no renovation has been done so far. Appreciating the state Government, W.Sanatomba appealed to declare the site as a Royal Heritage of Manipur and start the construction of the proposed Manipur Bhawan in the site by keeping the Rajbhari buidling intact, to accommodate youths from Manipur studying in Shillong and other visitors.