March 21, 2023

Guwahati, The ancient city – History of Guwahati

Guwahati, The ancient city

There have been numerous mythological references to Guwahati that clearly state that it was the capital of mythological kings such as Bhagadatta and Narakasura. Guwahati has been linked to stories and incidents from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

In the city of Guwahati, there was a town called Pandu, named after King Pandu, the Pandavas’ father. In the Tila hills, there is also a temple dedicated to Pandu, the King. It is also believed that the Pandavas lived in Guwahati disguised as Ganesha during their exile.

Guwahati was known in ancient times as Pragjyotishpura, a name derived from Jyotish Shahstra, which means astrology.

Pragjyotishpura was the capital city of Assam during the Varman and Pala dynasties, and it remained so until the 10th / 11th century AD. However, the city gradually lost its glory between the 12th and 15th centuries.

Guwahati and its Rulers:

The Ahom ruled Assam for nearly 600 years, and Pragjyotishpura was the seat of the Borphukans, who were given authority over civil and military responsibilities.

They lived in the present-day Guwahati neighbourhoods of Fancy Bazaar and Bharalumukh at the time. During the Ahoms’ reign, the Deputy Commissionner’s current campus served as the Borphukan’s residential quarter for over a century.

When the Mughals invaded Assam many years ago, they were chased back by the Ahoms, led by General Lachit Borphukan, in the Battle of Saraighat, which was fought near Guwahati.

Cloudy sunset, IIT Guwahati | Cloudy sunset, IIT Guwahati | Flickr

Guwahati was originally known as Gowhatty during pre-colonial and colonial times, before being renamed Gauhati during British rule, and finally Guwahati in the late 1980s.

Guwahati has undergone numerous changes and developments in various sectors ranging from the industrial to the educational to the commercial, and so on.

With the passage of time, the town’s advancement rate can also be seen to increase at a very rapid pace, making it more and more efficient for the people.

Hindu Empires

Archeologists value the Ambari exhumation because it sheds light on previous dynasties and kingdoms. Starting from the 6th century AD, the town was referred as Pragjyotishpura, which deciphers as the ‘light of the east’.

Under the reign of Pala and Varman, who were thought to be part of the Kamarupa Kingdom, the region became an important centre. According to Xuanzang, a Chinese traveller, the city was one of the most prosperous provinces in the 7th century AD.

According to his description, the region was ruled by Varman King Bhaskaravarma, who established a strong navy base and a flourishing trading centre.Guwahati saw the rise of the Kamata Kingdom following the collapse of the Pala dynasty.

From the 12th to the 15th centuries, the Kamata Kings ruled the area. With the rise of the Ahom Empire, the location lost its importance as a commercial trading post and became primarily a military hub.

Mughal Empire

By the beginning of the 16th century, the Mughal emperors’ forces dominated the subcontinent. Despite their best efforts, the Muslim leaders were unable to conquer certain areas of the country, Guwahati being one of them.

The Battle of Saraighat, fought in the vicinity of Guwahati in 1671, was led by the capable commander general Bir Lachit Borphukan of the Ahom kingdom.

Historians regard Bir Lachit Borphukan as a heroic figure in Guwahati history because it was thanks to his military expertise that the Ahom army was able to defeat the Mughal army seventeen times.

Birtish Raj

By 1826, the lower half of the state of Assam was under British control. By 1906, the area had been incorporated into British India. Initially, the state of Assam, including the city of Guwahati, was merged with the Bengal Presidency.

Later that year, in 1906, the city was referred to as an important part of Assam’s eastern Bengal. Following independence, Assam’s capital was relocated from Shillong to Dispur, which is now the administrative centre of Guwahati.

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