Assam is a land of scenic beauty. which yet has unexplored mountain ranges, evergreen forests, rare wildlife. All are known from history of Assam Mesh of rivers dominated by the Brahmaputra and Barak, expansive tea gardens, oilfields, varied fairs and festivals and pilgrims’ trails.
Assam Located in North East India. The latitude of Assam 24° and 28°N and longitude of 90° and 96°E and at the south of the eastern Himalayas. Assam or Axom has an area of 78,440 sq. km. Squeezed amidst the young mountains in upper and south Assam and old mountains in lower Assam. Assam are the valleys of Brahmaputra and Barak rivers.
Geographically, Assam is connected to the rest of India via a 22-km land strip in West Bengal. The popularly known as ‘Chicken’s Neck’, near Siliguri. Assam shares an international border with Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Ancient Time of Assam
The earliest name of Assam was ‘Pragjyotisha’ and its capital ‘Pragjyotishpur’. Which means ‘Eastern Light’, The region came to be known as ‘Kamrup’ later during the Puranic times after the name of Kamdeva. This means the God of Love. Some attribute the origin of the word Assam to the Ahoms, who ruled the state for 600 years. While some believe that its ‘uneven’ (asam) topography, comprising hills and plains, gave it the name Assam.
From the fourth century A.D. we have a much clearer picture of the history of Assam. Yuan Chwang’s (Hiuen Tsang) travel accounts reveal that Pusyavarman of the Varman Dynasty ruled Kamrup during that period. He was followed by other kings till the 17th when Bhaskaravarman (the contemporary of Harshavardhan) came to rule as the last king.
Various kings rule in Assam
After the Varmans, three other dynasties ruled Kamrup, beginning with Salastambha, followed by the Palas and then, the Khens. It is during the rule of the Khens that the Mughals first invaded Assam
After the fall of the Khens, the Koches rose to power in 1515 A.D. By that time, the Ahoms were also expanding their rule from the east. The Sutiyas were ruling in the extreme north-east, the Kacharis in mid-Assam and in between them. The number of chieftains called ‘Bhuyans’ were exercising hold over the Brahmaputra valley.
The Ahoms subjugated almost all of them and consolidated the entire valley into one empire. Almost they ruled for 600 years. They became an integral and dominant force in the history of Assam. An offshoot of the Tais or Shans of Southeast Asia, the Ahoms had their roots in Thailand. They migrated to the Brahmaputra valley and gave shape to the population of Assam of today.
The Battle of Saraighat
The Ahoms, subsequently, ruled the land till the province was annexed to British India in 1826. However prior to the British invasion the Mughals invaded and occupied the Ahom capital Gargaon in 1662. They forcing the king Swargadeo Jayadhwaja Singha, to flee to the hills. Subsequently, came the most towering personality of Assam history in the form of Lachit Barphukan, an Army General.
Lachit set out for Guwahati in August 1667, and by November that year, ousted the Mughals from the last Ahom frontier—Manas. In January 1668, Aurangzeb again dispatched a large army under Raja Ram Singh’s command to reoccupy Assam. Raja Ram Singh, encouraged by his initial success, launched a massive naval assault. The Battle of Saraighat was thus, fought in 1671 between the Mughal Empire (led by Kachwaha king Raja Ram Singh I) and the Ahom kingdom (led by Lachit Borphukan) on the Brahmaputra river at Saraighat, now in Guwahati. The battle lasted one full day and Lachit could not be thwarted this time.
Contribution of Lachit Barphukan
The huge Mughal army succumbed to defeat against a small contingent led by Lachit Barphukan.Colonial period In 1816, the Burmese troops attacked Assam and then, again in 1819. For a very brief period, they virtually ruled the entire Assam from 1819 to 1824. A reign of terror was unleashed by the Burmese on the people of Assam, who fled to neighbouring kingdoms and British-ruled Bengal. The war concluded after signing of the Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826 between the Burmese and the British, with the British taking control of Western Assam. Purandar Singha was made the king of Upper Assam by the British in 1833, the arrangement lasted till 1838.
Old Capital of Assam
Thereafter, the British gradually annexed the entire region.Decades later in 1906, Assam was made part of Eastern Bengal and Assam province. This was, however, revoked in 1911. In 1913, the first Legislative Council of Assam was formed, which transformed into the Assam Legislative Assembly in 1937 at Shillong, the erstwhile capital of Assam. With the partition of India in 1947, Assam became a constituent state of India. The district of Sylhet in Assam (excluding Karimganj sub-division) was given to East Pakistan (which later became Bangladesh) with the Sylhet Referendum held in 1946. These two arrangements caused large-scale migration into Assam.
Assam’s contribution to India’s Freedom
Assam’s contribution to the freedom struggle was evident from the days of Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Maniram Dewan, the first Assamese tea planter was interested in establishing private tea plantations in Assam. Due to the opposition faced from the British in establishing private tea plantations, he became hostile to the British and revolted by opposing their policies.
When the Indian sepoys started an uprising against the British, he could see an opportunity, and together with other activists like Piyali Baruah, he conspired against the British. Unfortunately, their conspiracy came to light and he along with other leaders was arrested. Maniram Dewan and Piyali Baruah were publicly hanged by the British for conspiring against them during the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. Their death was widely mourned in Assam and resulted in an open uprising, which was suppressed brutally. At the turn of the century (1920), Assam joined the freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi.
Assamese patriots of history of Assam
Assamese patriots like Tarun Ram Phukan, Nabin Chandra Bordoloi, Hem Baruah and others joined the National struggle for Independence. Even in the 1942 Quit India Movement, a number of martyrs laid down their lives, of which special mention may be made of Kanaklata, a teenaged girl who died in police firing while trying to hoist the National Flag at the police station of Gohpur.
Kushal Konwar, another young freedom fighter,
was falsely implicated in a train derailment case by the Britishers and was executed. Besides these, other incidents like destruction of a military air strip at Sorbhog by local villagers took place. In this way, people of different ethnic groups residing in Assam jointly participated in the freedom struggle. After Independence, Gopinath Bordoloi was elected the first Chief Minister of Assam.