The Thangching mountain is about 2,109 metres above the sea level. The mountain range spreads between Barail range (from Oligocene to Miocene i.e. around 35 to 50 million years) and the Disang range (Tertiary period from Pleistocene to Eocene i.e. 1.8 million to 58 millions). However, as lime stones are available near Moirang at Sugnu (situated at 746 metres above sea level), it has closer relation with the mountain ranges of Ukhrul and Chandel. Generally there are crevices and caves at the places where limestone is available. There are sites in this region where the Stone Age people lives as we get evidences. Moreover, considering the sample of rocks available in the hillocks like Sendra, Thanga and Karang etc. it is also known that the Thangching range is closely related to the Barail range. Semi ever green tropical forest is there at the Thangching mountain along with the associated rich flora and fauna. The Sangai (brow antlered deer) found at the foot hills of Thangching range at Keibul Lamjao is famous throughout the world as the state animal of Manipur. There are also other animals, like tigers, deers, bears, kharsa and other kinds of animals. Various kinds of fishes are also available at Loktak lake and migratory birds are also seen here.
Thangching Chingoirol (Prayer):
The mighty God Thangching, supreme ruler of the Kege Kasalel and residing at the ancient Langpum of Moirang, sitting at Nungmu Tumdaba (Imperishable block stone), sleeping at Nungpi Sidaba (Immortal stone) Ruler of the South Western Realm, supreme in (size) magnitude, in length, in height, and has been reigning as such. The mighty God, Thangching being the lord of the wind and always associated with gentle breezes, and sitting alone on Khuyol Fak (a divine mat) and also known as the king of Thanga Tolpal, Kege Laishapung including all the demigods, is the supreme God of the Southern Realm of The State (Lainingthou), and the Lainingthou lives at the elevated southern hill ranges. He is being described as the first ruler of the civilization of Moirang, that comes on the banks of Loktak lake having nine branches. He approached the region along with his consort Koilel Leima and son Tampak Ningthouba from Kangkalu Leihou Pokpi and through the plains of Ngangkha village in the middle and the founded the kingdom of Moirang. And this is the glory that has been sung through the ages.
The only Creator, who in the dispenser of destiny for all, having decided to create the world and enjoy the festival of life asked the Lianingthou Thangching Koylellai, an incarnation of the God, Konchil Tukthapa Pakhangba, to come down from heaven and settle on earth. Then, after searching for a good place to live, the Lainingthou ultimately selected the mountain of Thangching to be the first place for His abode. The Lainingthou has been guarded by the seventeen deities, viz, (ii) Paote (ii) Polang (iii) Ipunlen (iv) Itailen (v) Ikanglen (vi) Nungchongpa (vii) Nungkapa (viii) Nungkacheng (ix) Laikacheng (x) Wantoupa (xi) Wangngoupa (xii) Wanmupa (xiii) Chali Shenpa (xiv) Makukulol (xv) Shalung Laitang (xvi) Langchensen (xvii) Leinai. And besides, He has also been attended by sixtyone Salois (generally regarded as mischievous Spirits), being led by Ngoupa.
After living at the top of the Thangching mountains like this for many years, one day the Lainingthou thought of developing another abode at the heart of the land of Moirang. So, on Sunday in the month of Sajibu (April), He came down the Thangching Hills riding white tiger and His entourage constisting of his wife Koilel Leima Ilik Kongpal Ningthou Chanu, who is also regarded as Tulel Laicha Iwai Khambi (controller of rivers), Khongchat Leimai Hanpi (pioneer of stroll), Ngangkha Lammit Chumbi (known of the best place in the entire land of Ngankha), Ayang Lamka Houlakpi (one arriving fast), Kangkulu Leihoupokpida Thangmei mapal Thanpi (lighter of the nine torches of knowledge) Fantala Meimang fampi (who is always at the forefront any 10 seat in any gathering) and Lamloi Tanpi (who walks with gaity); and also His son Tampak Ningthoupa and other escorts. He was riding in a throne with canopy and their party entered the land of Ngangkha. Thus the Lainingthou established the civilization of the Keges and Moirang became of kingdom. That is why the Lainingthou Thangching is regarded as the founder of Moirang and Kege, the land where both the good and evil could be found and also the great lake, Loktak with its nine branches has served as its mirror. He is, thus, prayed as the Lainingthou (God king) of Moirang.
There is the shrine of Lainingthou Thangching Koylellai at the peak of the mountain of Thangching. But there is also a story that Khuyoi Tompok (154-264 A.D.), a king of the Mangang clan brought down Lainingthou Thangching from the hills to the plains for the convenience of the people for performing Lai Haraoba religious festivals (to please the God). And during the reign of king Loitongba of the Mangang Dynasty (1122-1150 A.D.), the king of Moirang failed to inform the king (1127 A.D.) about the Thangching Laiharaoba. Then, king Loitongba got angry with the king of Moirang, Urakongyangba and his younger brother Chingkhuba, who was next to the king in hierarchy and invaded Moirang for their indecency and for not doing justice to Khamba and Thoibi; it was an act of punishment. During their period, a Kabui man called Salang Amaiba had a very good relationship with the king of Moirang. Salang Maiba is also a significant person, who brought amity and friendship between the Meeteis and the tribals. Therefore, Moirang Thangching and other Gods who are guarding the realm of different directions are the very important Gods of the seven Salais (clans). According to the ancient texts, Chingoirol, Chinglon Laihui and Nunglon, it is said – “Now it is to be said to know Thangching.
The Shrine of Thangching Koylel king is at the top on the hill of the Thangching. There, at that site, is also the Sanggai Impham (the royal courtyard); near it is the sanctum sanctorum; and that sanctum is called Sanggulei Pokpi (birthplace of Sanggulei). Three stones are lying there. One stone covers the precious gem of Thangching. Another stone covers a Choinou (gold) smoking pipe, a Choinou (gold) knife and a Choinou (gold) walking stick. Another stone is the breeder of Choinou Yalanchai (gold and silver). Near it grows the immortal tree, U Talu (a big and beautiful tree). A Choinou Khongnang (golden tree) is also there. Near it, is another sanctum too. Water comes out from there. The evergreen immortal tree oozes a fluid, it has branches, having seven leaves. There are two stones – one white and another red – beside the tree. The white one is the alter of the Salailen, it is the rock that breeds the white elephant. It is divine; its name is Nongdrengkhomba. The red rock is the alter of Thongnang Ningthou (king); it breeds the Lion. There are seven colours among the rocks nearby. There rocks breed gold, silver, gems, precious stones, metals and brass etc. One of the names of the rocks is Leihingnu Chasoubi. The name of another rock is Tekki Leihing Chi. It is also the name of the red rock.
The items required for worshipping Thangching are – one Phamphi (cloth) two Phiraks, one Thakan (canopy), one Phida (a piece of cloth to sit on), five Uchiwa (a kind of bamboo), five Firans (flags), five Khoiru Thaomei (wax fire), five hei manam naiba( fruits having pleasing smells), Sugarcane and fruit, five laphois laphangs (hands of bananas), three Lakons (plantain leaves), four leisangs (flowers), three Sarengs (a kind of catfish), three Nganois (pontus-parpus), three (cleanly washed clothes) Phiroys for three gods, Ngangkha Wandon Naheiphu (a kind of earther jar), Yotsubi (a kind of fireplace tripod grate), Khabei Chegap, Yotkhunet (tongs and ladle), Sen Khunet (coins), Cheng fou (rice and paddy), Thum Kakup (a kind of round shaped salt plate), Shen Kakup (coins) Choinou hee (gold boat), Yalanchai Hee (Boat made by silver), five Konyaipu (kind of metals), Saren ok (pig for sacrifice), one Yelhing yen (white hen or cock surrogate), Khongji-Nashi (bracelets for feet and hands), one Thathin Ta (spear), one Saphat Thang (a kind of knife and in butchery) and five Yerums (eggs). This must be known”. There is also a very significant sacred place known as Hangoi Pat just at the peak of the Thangching hills when we climb from ridge protruding like the head of an elephant.
There are seven pinnacles at the top of the Thangching mountain. There is also a royal palace of gold, and a rocky throne. The king Thangching has been sitting on the throne facing south west. There is an Uthum (a kind of local tree) tree growing in front of it. To the south of it there are three doors of wind; one of them lies beneath the hill. It is covered by a round rock, the shape of which resembles a Yangkok (winnower or a round bamboo mat for husking rice). At another hilltop, there is the second cover of stone which looks like a rocky round dinner plate. And the third one looks like a basket, which is at another apex of the hill. It is to be noted that these are the three doors of wind. There are two ponds also near the gold palace of Koilel Leima (the consort of Thangching). If we drink water from a pond, we can become a demigod; and the water from the other pond will make us human. There is a pond too, near the golden palace of Sangairen (Thangching). The fringe of the pond looks like the tip of a conch.
The water flowing from that peak forms the main water body of the river Moirang. “In mythological tale, when Chothe Thangwai Pakhangba reigned at a place called, ‘Pu-Liklai Thingree Nachaoba-O’ situated at the western side of Moirang river, Angangnga, the son of Nongkham king Koubarel, was reigning at the eastern side of Moirang river, known as the region of Ngangoi. However, the origin of the God king Koubarel and His consort Thoudu Nongnang Leima is at the Koubru mountains. Koubru is the first Kangla (Kangla is the generic name where the ruler lives). This Kangla is surrounded by seven streams. They are (1) Khakhong (2) Laikhong (3) Marongkhong (4) Fishukhong (5) Lilhakhong (6) Charoikhong and (7) Yambikhong. These streams are also there at the central Kangla or Imphal Kangla developed later on. At the place where water has been flowing from the source at the tip end of the conch-shaped hillock there is a big grove of plantains; a plantain plant having the stem big enough for three men to embrace it. There are four gates of this palace of Thangching. The northern gate is known as the Choinou (gold) Thongmanbi. This gate is made of stone. It is guarded by the deities with clubs and stone implements. It leads to the land of Takhel. Never go to it. And never go the western gate too. But if you go to the eastern gate you will get the abode of Gods. All the nine apexes of the hill range are similar. They appear more or less the same. These are the sites of nine deities. One must know it.
The name of Lainingthou Thangching is Choinou (gold) Nongningthou Tarengba, know it, that at the royal robe of Thangching, there grows a lotus of gold. And near it, is a stone that produces fire”. Moreover, there are a lot of sacred places or sites at the Thangching hill range as we find a lot of such sacred spots inside the central Kangla, generally known as the Kanglei Pungmayol. In this regard, it is written in the ancient text, (Puya) “Nunglon”; – Precious Gems and stones, magnificent! Breeder of Gods! I tell you the places where they are; listen with attention and gently, O Human beings! This is a secret. I am telling it for your knowledge. There are seven stones for Thangching, the colour is red. It is called, Yai. The place is called Kanglei Pungmayol, because of it, being the residence of the two Supreme God and Goddess; it is called Mayai Sumtong Pal Kangla Thon Talet Thollangmei (They are the separate regions of Kangla). It is also known as Milen Tongmulapa Ching; another name is Langsang Ching Mayol (central). O. In the next region, there is another stone, also called Yai. It looks like a human being. The colour is red. It faces Moirang. It appears to be kneeling down. The name is Thangching. At the corner of Moirang (the south west corner), there is a mould known as the Chouplipung. There is also another stone called Yai. It is a red stone. The name is called Thangching. Use blood for worshipping it. You will be victorious. At the southern portion, about two hundred elbow lengths from Khakhong there is another mould called Nungshit pung (mould of wind). There is a stone called, Yai. It has a divine look. The colour is red. It faces the direction of Moirang. Its name is called Thangching. If there is a strong wind, with blood you worship it; it will be good. There are five thawai (spirit soul element) in the body. The spirit soul, Thangching lives in the portion just below the navel and above the genitals (the lower abdominal part). The consort of Lainingthou Thangching known as Ayang Leima is the daughter of king Eelik Kongpal Ningthou.
The Lainingthou Thangching, who had been assigned as one of the regional, guardian gods at the time of creation by Thawa, is worshipped as His (Thawa’s) substitute in Sajibu Cheiraoba (Meetei New Year’s Day), Lamta Thangja [Saturday in the month of Lamta (March/April)], Khunthong latpa of Feiyeng people (a kind of socio-religious festival of Feiyeng community) Umang Lai Haroaba (Merry making of Gods & pleasing them) and other Saroi Khangba (offering to the evil spirits) rituals etc.
The Lainingthou is worshipped at many places of His domain like Central sylvan groove at Moirang, Thanga, Thanga Moirangthem, Ngangkha village, Kumbi Santhong, Ithing, Thamnapokpi, Terakhongsangbi, Keirelphabi, Phougakchao, Ithai, Sagang-Santhong, Moirang-Khunnou, Leimapokpam Siphai, Angtha, Mantak, Toronglaobi, Keibul Lamjao, and Thinunggei Awang Leikai etc. with great fanfare and festivity for bringing prosperity, growth and development of mankind and land. He is one of the Gods, who decides the seasonal changes, and having His abode near the Loktak lake and found plenty of water, the year which he sets for season’s first rain, happens to be a season of drought. There is little rainfall. For this reason, our great forefathers prepared water bodies like ponds in such years. As there would be no proper irrigation, seeds are to be sown in low lying fields without the provision for transplantation. Such saying were in general use. The Koireng community also regards Moirang Thangching as their deity. There are some accounts like O. Bhogeshwar’s “Ningthourol Seireng” which say that Moirang Thangching deity became the Koireng community living in the South-West region. Besides, in the old Moirang villages, the practice of worshipping Thangching and Nongshaba as their great great fathers was vogue. Like this, the Kom community also worshipped Lainingthou Thangching, great great grandfather Wangpulen, and Nongshaba in the land of Mantak at Kakching.