The recently concluded Bhagyachandra National Dance and Music Festival held at the ruins of the old Govindaji Temple inside the Kangla was, to say the least, impressive. Not only did performing arts lovers of the state have the opportunity to see the performances by some of the best exponents of dance forms in the Indian classical tradition but it was also a rare opportunity to see a part of the Kangla done up and lit to bring out it grandeur to its fullest. The Kangla was for long inaccessible to the public and even now entry is still restricted to daylight hours. The days of the festival thus also allowed the public to see this historic place at night, and what a glorious sight it was. If any tangible evidence of historical heritage can make anybody proud, this would have to be one of them for the people of the state by and large. We are certain the treat was reciprocal for the performers as well, considering the large turnout of audience each day and their appreciative nature. On the third and final day of the festival, there was hardly any space to even stand on. Yet the crowd hung on to watch and enjoy the performances to the very last act. Nobody would have any doubt how much in love with the performing arts Manipur is, and it is no wonder the place has also produced, and continues to produce, many superlative artistes of its own.
But there are certain points to be noted in the upkeep of the Kangla. At the moment, there are visibly many renovation works being done inside the complex. We hope they are being done with expert guidance. In the past there have been cases of renovation work actually altering the faces of these ancient structures to give them a modern finish. As evidence we can recall the manner the Thangal Temple at the Palace Compound was given a cement coating and then white washed a few years ago by the state’s archaeological department, robbing the building of the dignity it earned by sheer age. On another front, one of the complaints by visitors is they end up bewildered inside the complex as there are no indicators whatsoever to give them an idea of the history of the different monuments. We wonder why the government is not listening for many newspapers, including IFP, on several occasions on this extremely obvious lacuna. At the least, the government should have already erected stone plaques besides these sites with brief descriptions of the monuments and their history. And there can be no denying there is plenty of history inside the Kangla waiting to be told. Indeed, a tour within the complex can give a fairly comprehensive idea of the history of the erstwhile kingdom, both ancient and recent.
There are many other irritants the government must bring to an end at the soonest. Visitors are often confronted with cacophonous sirens blaring from VIP vehicles and their convoys of escorts zipping through the complex. This is understandably with an eye on saving the VIPs of the oppressive congestions of the busy streets outside. While some allowance must be given to VIPs, it must have a limit when it concerns such a sacrosanct space as the Kangla. Some restrictions should also be put on the VIPs. As for instance, horns and sirens within the complex must be banned, and a speed limit placed on any vehicles entering the complex. Entry permits must also be strictly time bound, perhaps during office going and returning hours only and not at any other time. The vehicles must also be allowed only on certain routes only. The important point is, first and foremost, the sanctity of the Kangla must not be compromised at any cost, not any more or less by VIPs. Second, this complex is already turning out to be a tourist attraction and as the state opens up this attribute can safely be predicted to increase in magnitude. This being the case, it is important anybody who desires to visit the place is made to feel as welcomed as possible. Third, the Kangla complex is turning out to be quite a refreshing green spot in the ever increasing concrete jungle of Imphal city. Restricting vehicle entry would be towards this end of nurturing the ecology within too.