The Kangla Fort is located on the bank of the Imphal River in Imphal city of Manipur state. Kangla means "dry land" in old Meitei. It was the traditional seat of the past Meitei rulers of Manipur. 'Kangla' was the ancient capital of Manipur from the ancient times down to 1891. Kangla is the most important historical and archeological site of Manipur. The kingdom of Manipur was established and developed at Kangla. Being a site of political and religious centre, Kangla has grown into a formidable fortress city through the centuries. It is from this capital that the Ningthouja clan gradually wielded enough political and military power and grew up to be the most dominant clan in Manipur. The royal chronicle gives many references to the construction of Kangla by successive reigning kings in Manipur. The major landmarks in the growth of Kangla Fort were constructed by King Khagemba, the conqueror of the Chinese.
The first battle of the Anglo- Manipur War of 1891 broke-out when the British forces attacked on 'Kangla', the Manipur Fort from 3 sides i.e., Silchar, Kohima and Tamu (in Myanmar). They conquered 'Kangla Fort' on 27 April 1891. Since then, 'Kangla' has been under occupation by the British Security forces and in the time of Indias Independence time in 1947, Assam Rifles occupied on it.
On 20th November, 2004, when the Assam Rifles handed over the Kangla Fort in Imphal to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it marked not only the end of 113 years of occupation of the fort, but also the beginning of the revival of a 2,000-year-old lost glory.
'Kangla' is regarded as the holiest place for the Manipuris. It is a centre of pilgrimage for all the Manipuris. The architecture of the fort is amazing and worth watching. It has great archaeological, religious and historical value. The main chamber is 20 feet high, and the fort is built of well-burnt bricks. The fort is surrounded by a moat having 3 entrances. There are 2 huge statues of Dragons in front which were damaged during the war. There is a temple of the local deity, Lord Pakhangba where the locals come for worship. The pond near the temple is believed to be sacred as the locals believe that he Lord resides here.
The fort is in quite a ruined condition today due to repeated attacks. The Manipur Government along with the Archeological Department has initiated the development and restoration of the fort. They also plan to make the fort into Kangla Fort Archaeological Park. The development of 'Kangla' has started recently. After completion of the development works, 'Kangla Fort' will become a unique Archaeological Park (Heritage Park), in the entire Northeastern India region. The essence of 'Kangla Development Project' is the preservation of the state heritage and to restore 'Kangla' to its pristine glory.