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Lopamudra Bhattacharjya
Date of Publish: 2018-03-12

ECHOES OF A DYNASTY: KACHAMARI

 

Dayang , a tributary of Dhansiri river , is historically more illustrious than the latter. But both the rivers witnessed the rise and fall of the Kachari Kingdom. There are many historical remnants in the Dayang Valley that can be a source of great exploration into a distant era. It is assumed that the first capital of Kachari kingdom was in Kachamari of Dayang-Dhansiri basin. The Kacharis are of Mongoloid origin and they entered the Brahmaputra valley many years before the expedition of the Tai-Ahoms. But there is a dearth of historical reccords related to this kingdom unlike the Ahoms. Researches are going on this era based on archaeological sources, legends, oral tradition and folk literature.

It is really fateful that the identity of builders and actual time of establishment of the amazing remains of two Kachari capitals, Kachamari and Dimapur, are not left for the future progeny. The clash between the Ahoms and the Kacharis began in 1493 A.D. and continued upto 1497 A.D. at Hamdai where the Ahom General Frasenmung Burhagohain defeated the Kachari King Det Sung and compelled them to withdraw to Dimapur. The place from which the Kacharis began to move back is known as Kacharihat today and Kachamari is the place where Kacharis were killed. The former name of Kachamari was Kachari Pathar. The invasions and destructions by the Ahoms caused depopulation of the vast Dhansiri plains and in course of time the glories of this medieval Kachari capital, overshadowed by dense forest , became inaccessible. It was by chance that the British explorer Theodor Block located these forgotten ruins. Thus , through the tenacious effort of the British these matchless historical creations came to the notice of the local people and thereby to us.

Monoliths of Rajabari: Rajabari is archaeologically a significant site of Kachamari. It is amidst lush tea gardens and is situated by the Jamuguri-Nagura Road. Many historians express their doubt that there might be a fort of certain Kachari king in Rajabari. But no factual account is available for this assumption. There are altogether 36 monoliths in Rajabari. The site has been protected now by Archaeological Survey of India.

The Chessman Type Monolith: There is a single chessman type monolith in Rajabari which has been shaped out of a stone shaft measuring about three metre in length and 75 cm in diameter. The builder of this column converted the top into a simple , inverted kettle drum, shaped the middle part into a waist with decorative rings and the lower portion into a skirt embossed with beaded rings, swords, dragons, and elephants. Many scholars believe that this column is an outline of the phallic symbol of god Siva, the most favourite icon of Kacharis. The chessman type single monolith of Rajabari might be an initial experimentation of the same type of megaliths with more refined carvings that dominate the remains of Dimapur, the last capital of Dimasas. This single monolith is not a part of any structure and it may suggest that the purpose behind its construction must be a commemorative one.

Stelle cum foliage type Monoliths : The stele cum foliage type monoliths are the most attractive and antique pieces of Rajabari. The shape of these slabs are broad at the bottom and become narrower towards the top. The monoliths are decorated with wheels of different sizes, creepers and flowers- especially lotuses, birds and animals like horses and elephants, images of gods and goddesses, dragons etc. In his report published in the 1906-07 issue of Annual Report of Archaeological Survey of India, Dr. T. Block has described these monoliths as follows—

“ At a distance of 55 feet from this column (i.e. the chessman column mentioned elsewhere) is a double row of stones—24 altogether. It looks as if line consisted of 12 stones, but ruinous state of the place and the thick jungle made it impossible to take accurate measurements. The distance between the stones was about 10 feet. Here again , the two lines run from north to south. The stones in the western line appear to have been larger than in the eastern line. There are also some indication of the height of stones gradually decreasing from centre towards each side, as in Dimapur pillars. ...”

This report from Dr. Block can be a reliable source for the researchers from which they can reconstruct the unavailable records of the Kachari kingdom .

Telishaal : It is also a significant site of Kachamari where we find two ancient stones probably used for extracting oil. It is believed in local tradition that Telishaal was a centre of oil distillation in the distant past even though there is no historical record regarding it . So, here again there is a vast scope of researches that can unfold totally a new aspect of Kacharis and the succeeding dynasties.

The ancient tanks of Kachamari, Joy Pukhuri, Bijoy Pukhuri have also many hidden facts to reveal. These tanks are very big in size. According to local sources these tanks covered about 80 bighas of land in the past. Unfortunately the area has now shrunken due to the lack of consciousness of the common people or may be for the negligence of the government departments. Joy pukhuri has become so much shallow that the villagers are doing a bit of cultivation in some parts of it. The scenic beauty of Bijoy Pukhuri is really worth mentioning. Different kinds of migrated birds also visit this tank during winter. Government should take prompt steps to dig and conserve these two ancient tanks. These places can be very easily turned into attractive tourist spots through some beautification projects.

Bishnu pukhuri and Bishnu Temple of Kachamari indicate the tradition of worshipping different Hindu idols by that tribe. The idol of Lord Bishnu is found in the centre of a small pond that is named as Bishnu Pukhuri. The pond is surrounded by trees and ancient bricks and stones of the ruined temple. Actually this temple is a major point to delve into the past. The whole area is scattered with idols of gods and goddesses . Some of them are kept in nearby households for worshipping. A Laxmi temple was established there in 1969 . Here we find an ancient Laxmi idol.

Many of the historic stones are being used by the local people for household purposes, like, for washing clothes, to cross canals etc. Some weapons and scriptures related to that era can be found in many households. Such situation is not safe at all. The Archaeological Survey of India and Government of Assam should come forward to preserve scientifically these historical assets.

A cultural museum can be set up in Kachamari where these scatterd assets will get a safe abode. It will not only help the researchers but also will promote the area in tourism map. It is the need of the hour and we should realise the urgency of protecting this heritage site. The echoes of the distant past in Kachamari can be heard in every part of it and our careful steps to explore it will certainly glorify our own history.

Lopamudra Bhattacharjya

All photographs used in this article were taken by the author

( Lopamudra Bhattacharjya, based in Golaghat town in Assam and a teacher by profession, is a short story writer. She is a regulator contributor of articles and short stories for several newspapers and magazines both in English and Assamese. She can be reached at lupamudra.bhattacharjya@gmail.com )

 

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