Rushali is a Tourism and Hospitality Management graduate. Takes interest in criminal psychology.
Sukaphaa- The first Ahom King
Before we proceed to talk further about Charaideo, we need to first get into a brief history of the Ahom Kingdom and its kings.
Mong Mao, now in parts of China and Myanmar, was ruled by King Chao Tai Pung who had a son, Pao Meo Pung and a daughter Blak Kham Sen, Blak married Chao Chang Neu and had a son Sukhaphaa. Since, Pao Meo Pung and his queen had no male heir, Sukhaphaa was said to be the crown prince, since he was the nephew. But a son born late to Pao Meo Pung took away the right to inherit the crown from Sukhaphaa. In 1215 CE, he left the kingdom.
He's said to have crossed the Irrawaddy river, Khamjung river and the Nangyang lake where he and his men had to fight the Naga tribes. After winning over them, he laid foundation to a new mong (nation) here under Kan Khrang Mong. He further moved on to Namrup in Brahmaputra valley in 1228. He further moved across the current day Assam in search of a capital.
Charaideo- The Symbolic Capital
Charaideo was the first capital of the Ahom kingdom chosen by the first king, Sukaphaa. Though the capital was shifted later, Charaideo remained of symbolic importance. The burial of the Royals happened here. It is said that when the king was buried, just like in the Egyptian burials, everything from materials to humans were buried alongside him to be of use in his/ her afterlife. This could range from combs or jwellery to helpers and wives. Again bearing resemblance to Egyptain culture, small pyramids or heap of mud was erected over the burial ground. These were called maidams and such tumulis are found in various other parts of the world.
There are about 150 maidams in Charaideo out of which 30 are protected and under supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India. The rest of the maidams have been left unattended and is facing the wrath of time and destruction by humans who have rummaged most of the unprotected tombs. Out of the unprotected ones, the largest is the Bali Maidam which got its name by the fact that it is surrounded by sand. It is said that this maidam faced destruction at the hands of the British when they tried to retrieve the wealth from the maidam but were unsuccessful in doing so.
End of the 600 year Ahom Rule
Ahom had several flaws in its laws and rivalries among its own kings/ families. Moreover economic crisis was rampant in the kingdom especially during the late 18th century. Political and religious conflicts between the Ahom's and the Moamoria's yet again kept the kingdom from surging for 36 years. The second last and most obvious reason for the end of the Ahom Kingdom was the Burmese invasion which happened thrice between 1817 and 1826. In 1821, Burmese King Bagyidaw decided to annex Assam and send Mingimaha Tilwa for the cause. In the fight that ensued, Patalang, the Ahom King Chandrakanta Singha's military commander died forcing him to flee. By March 1822, Chandrakanta had formed his own army and camps in Jorhat after taking back the Guwahati and Assam Chokey. By July 1922 his army was attacked twice both of the fights; he lost, forcing him to flee to British occupied territories.
The Burmese rule in Assam continued till the British fought the Anglo-Burmese war and the Burmese were forced to sign the treaty of Yandabo by both sides where Burmese were forced to give away not just the occupied Assam but several places in Burma as well. The beginning of the British rule in Assam was said to have been a threatening and violent period for the common people. Children were taken/ killed, 2/3rd of men were murdered and women faced harrassment. This expensive war, moreoever crippled British Indian economy and caused a severe crisis.
But by the end of all the happenings, the Ahom rule had more or less been completely banished.
Charaideo has been renovated and the maidams can be visisted by tourists. There is also an accompanying museum about the place. Nearby areas have significant monuments which are examples of the grandeur of the Ahom rule like Kerang Ghar, Rang Ghar, Sivadol temple, etc which are all located in Shivsagar/ Shibsagar.
Lorna Lamon on July 27, 2019:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interesting and informative article. Thank you for sharing.
Liz Westwood from UK on July 27, 2019:
You have added interesting background information to your article.