The rise and fall of glorious Cachari kingdom
Contd from previous issue
Their rule began at Dhansiri Valley around 1150 A.D. In fact, the Cacharis were among the earliest of the Tibeto-Burman Tribes in Eastern India who came in contact with the Brahmanical order of Hinduism.
They learned various arts and crafts from the bearers of this order.
They learnt the art of building houses with bricks from their Aryan neighbours and deeply swayed by the Brahmanical religion and customs so much so that they did not merely rest satisfied by holding Hindhu ceremonies such as Durga Puja and others but sought ultimately their descent from the Mahabharata hero Bhima, the Pandava and called themselves Hairambas after the wife of the former.
This happened at a later date, probably in the 15th Century. But the Hindhu influence began to dawn on them from the very beginning.
The Cacharis built their capital city at Dimapur on the bank of the Dhansiri River by 1200 A.D. which grew eventually to become a great city of brick-built houses and fortresses.
They ruled from Dimapur for nearly four centuries. What is most wonderful is that their kingdom then included Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur, North Cachar Hills, Darang, even Bhutan and hilly tracts in the north-east.
It is also probable that their kingdom extended, at least in part, to Kamarup and Goalpara as well after the Palas ceased to be a ruling power in Western Assam by the beginning of the 13th Century.
From Dimapur, a fort as big as Kangla Fort only, the Cachari rule extended even upto Jaintia Hills. The major tribe which stood in the way of the Cachari supremacy was the Ahoms during the 13th-16th centuries.
The Ahoms changed the course of Cachari life-style, and events forcing the latter to depart from both the Brahmaputra and the Dhansiri Valleys, their two very important possessions.
The Ahoms entered the Patkai range in 1228 A.D. from Yunan Province and some say from Shan State in Burma and after roaming about there for some years came down finally and settled in the upper Brahmaputra Valley around 1238 A.D.
In this way, the Ahoms began their rule in Assam, and in course of time, became a strong political power here which they were able to retain until the British took over it in 1826 A.D. It is known to all that the Ahom rule of Assam lasted for more than 600 years.
However, the Cacharis did not yield to the Ahom pressure entirely.
They managed to hold their own at the Dhansiri valley for a long time, and at tracts which are now Dima Hasao and part of Kamarup and Goalpara districts.
While at Dimapur the Cacharis considerably enhanced their strength and power. Their national glory, too, was increased here and as a people they found themselves very well-organised worthy of a valiant nation. But the Ahoms with their bigger population and stronger strength were determined to exert their sway over everybody.
Naturally, they had a series of encounters with the Cacharis spreading over for more than two-hundred years in which the Cacharis mostly lost. Subsequently, being unable to bear the Ahom pressure any more, the Cacharis left their country and fled southward to Maibong near the present Haflong in Dima Hasao in 1536 A.D.
The Ahoms who ruled from Sibsagar destroyed the Cachari capital at Dimapur which had become a lonely city after the Cacharis fled.
The ruins of Dimapur are now tourist attraction though not the size and beauty of Kangla Fort in Imphal City in many respects.
The Cacharis, thereafter, never returned to the Dhansiri Valley. Instead, they built a new capital at Maibong on the Mahur River in the present Dima Hasao District about 70 miles south of Dimapur.
It is very close to Tousem Sub-Division of Tamenglong District of Manipur.
Their might and glory diminished at Maibong. (It was during the reign of Maharaja Chhandrakirti Singh that the Cacharis of Maibong entered the boundary of Manipur to attack it at Barail Range.
It is said that the Maharaja hired some Koireng fighters to repulse the invading Cacharis. For this, the writer doesn’t claim that the fighters were the present Koirengs of Manipur as there was no proof of Koireng settlement around that range. It is also a mystery to ascertain which fighters of the Koirengs were mentioned in the theatre.
It is also mentioned in the History of Manipur Vol-I by Prof.Gangmumei Kamei and other History Books on Manipur.)
At this time, the territory of the Cacharis which they had was also equally small. The adjoining Nowgong was their only possession. And here also, they did not get any opportunity of living peacefully.
The Ahoms always tried to make frequent inroads to the Cachari kingdom. On the one hand, the Koches of Kamtapur dreamt of establishing a great empire in the North-East India. Their king Naranarayan sent expeditions in different directions immediately after he became king in 1534 A.D. and his brother Gen Chilaray reduced to submission many nations including the Ahoms.
The Cachari king also submitted to him. Thus, the Cacharis had very little opportunity to organise themselves and live peacefully as a dominant race like the Ahoms or the Koches.
Yet, from Maibong they were able to rule for a comparatively long time and extend the boundaries of their kingdom to Mikir Hills, now Karbi Anglong and Cachar plains in the extreme south.
Even after they had been weakened, their king Jasanarayan could defeat the king of Jaintia Hills and extended his rule over there and he even won a war with the Ahom king Pratap Singha in 1606 A.D.
When the Ahoms attacked the Cachari kingdom again in 1706 A.D., the Cachari king Tamradhvaj abandoned Maibong and fled to Khaspur on the bank of Barak River in the plains which became his new capital until 1824 A.D. Much of their territory was already gone: Nowgong went to the Ahoms, Jaintia to its erstwhile rulers.
To be contd