The Kachari kingdom was a powerful kingdom ruled by the Dimasa King. The Dimasa kachari kingdom and others (Kamata, Chutiya) that developed in the wake of the Kamarupa kingdom were led by chieftains of indigenous communities of Assam and are examples of indigenous state formations in Medieval Assam. Remnants of the Dimasa kingdom lingered until the advent of the British, and this kingdom gave its name to two districts in Assam: Cachar and North Cachar Hills (Dima Hasao district).
|13th century CE–1832|
|Capital||Dimapur, Maibang, Khaspur, Haritikar|
|Historical era||Medieval India|
|13th century CE|
• Annexed to British India
The origin of the Kachari Kingdom is not clear. According to tradition the Kacharis of Dima Hasao had their domain in Kamarupa and they belonged to a lineage called Ha-tsung-tsa. Some of them had to leave due to a political turmoil and while crossing the Brahmaputra some of them were swept away—therefore, they are called Dimasa ("son of the big river"). Gogoi (1968) suggests that the kachari ghats on the river banks of the Brahmaputra support this tradition. Be that as it may, the similarity in traditions and religious beliefs with the Chutiya kingdom supports this tradition of initial unity and then divergence. The Dimasas had a tradition of worshiping Kechai Khaiti, the war goddess common among all Bodo-kachari tribes: as the Rabhas, Tiwas, Koch, Chutias, etc. According to an account, Sukaphaa (1228–1268) encountered them in the Tirap region (currently in Arunachal Pradesh), soon after they had to leave a place called Mohung (salt springs) due to a stratagem by the Nagas.
By the 13th century the Kachari kingdom extended along the southern banks of Brahmaputra river, from Dikhow river to Kallang River and included the valley of Dhansiri and present-day Dima Hasao district. According to the Buranjis (that called the kings khun timisa), the Kachari settlements to the east of Dhansiri withdrew before the Ahom advance. The Chutiya Kingdom existed in the Northeast and the Kamata Kingdom and the Baro-Bhuyans to its west.
Hostilities with AhomsEdit
The Ahoms settled into the track between the Chutiya and the Kachari Kingdoms that was inhabited by the Borahi and Moran people. The first clash with the Ahom Kingdom took place in 1490, in which the Ahoms were defeated. The Ahoms pursued peace, and an Ahom princess was offered to the Kachari king and the Kachari took control of the land beyond the Dhansiri. But the Ahoms were getting powerful and pushed the Kacharis back west. In 1526 the Kacharis defeated the Ahoms in a battle, but in the same year, they were defeated in a second battle. In 1531 the Ahoms advanced up to Dimapur, the capital. The Dimasas in accordance to their animistic faith believes cows (Mushu) to be "Gushu" (impure). This belief is still held by the Dimasas. When the Kachari army attacked the Ahom's army, they took the cover of cows. The king of the Kachari Kingdom along with his mother and many royals were murdered after the Ahoms reached the city. The Ahoms later installed Detsung as the king of the Kachari Kingdom with yearly taxes of 20 Elephant and 1 lakhs of rupees (mudras). But in 1536 the Ahoms attacked the Kachari capital once again and sacked the city. The Dimasa abandoned Dimapur and retreated south to set up their new capital in Maibang. "Mai" means "Paddy" and "bang" means "Plenty or abundance".
At Maibang, the Dimasa Kachari kings came under Brahmin influence. The son of Detsung took a Hindu name, Nirbhay Narayan (Sankritised name), and established his Brahmin guru as the Dharmadhi that became an important institution of the state. The titular deity of the Dimasas changed from Kechai Khaiti to Ranachandi in the 16th-century as a result of Hinduisation. The royal family came under Hindu influence at Maibang, though the first conversion of a Kachari king to Hinduism is recorded in Khaspur, much later. According to a legend constructed at the time, the royal family descends from Ghatotkacha, the son of Bhima of the Mahabharata fame, and Hidimbi, a princess of the kachari people.
Chilarai attacked the kingdom on or after 1564, during the reign of either Durlabh Narayan or his predecessor, and made it into a tributary of the Koch Kingdom. The size of the annual tribute—seventy thousand rupees, one thousand gold mohurs and sixty elephants— testifies to the resourcefulness of the Kachari state.
A conflict with the Jaintia Kingdom over the region of Dimarua led to a battle and the defeat of the Jaintia king (Dhan Manik). After the death of Dhan Manik, Satrudaman the Dimasa Kachari king, installed Jasa Manik on the throne who manipulated events to bring the Dimasa Kacharis into conflict with the Ahoms once again in 1618. Satrudaman, the most powerful Dimasa Kachari king, ruled over Dimarua in Nagaon district (Long before it was ruled by Tiwa King (Jongal Balahu), North Cachar, Dhansiri valley, plains of Cachar and parts of eastern Sylhet. After his conquest of Sylhet, he struck coins in his name.
By the reign of Birdarpan Narayan (reign around 1644), the Kachari rule had withdrawn completely from the Dhansiri valley and it reverted to a jungle forming a barrier between the kingdom and the Ahom kingdom. When a successor king, Tamradhwaj, declared independence, the Ahom king invaded Maibong and destroyed its forts in 1706 and the king had to take refuge in Khaspur.
The fictitious but widely believed legend that was constructed by the Hindu Brahmins at Khaspur goes as follows: During their exile, the Pandavas came to the Kachari Kingdom where Bhima fell in love with Hidimbi (sister of Hidimba). Bhima married princess Hidimbi according to the Gandharva system and a son was born to princess Hidimbi, named Ghatotkacha. He ruled the Kachari Kingdom for many decades. Thereafter, kings of his lineage ruled over the vast land of the "Dilao" river ( which translates to "long river" in English), now known as Brahmaputra river for centuries until 4th century AD. It is believed that Kacharies participated in the Mahabharata war too.
The king at Maibang was assisted in his state duties by a council of ministers (Patra and Bhandari), led by a chief called Barbhandari. These and other state offices were manned by people of the Dimasa group, who were not necessarily Hinduized. There were about 40 clans called Sengphong of the Dimasa people, each of which sent a representative to the royal assembly called Mel, a powerful institution that could elect a king. The representatives sat in the Mel mandap (Council Hall) according to the status of the Sengphong and which provided a counterfoil to royal powers.
Over time, the Sengphongs developed a hierarchical structure with five royal Sengphongs though most of the kings belonged to the Hacengha (Hasnusa) clan. Some of the clans provided specialized services to the state ministers, ambassadors, storekeepers, court writers, and other bureaucrats and ultimately developed into professional groups, e.g. Songyasa (king's cooks), Nablaisa (fishermen).
By the 17th century, the Dimasa Kachari rule extended into the plains of Cachar. The plains people did not participate in the courts of the Dimasa Kachari king directly. They were organized according to khels, and the king provided justice and collected revenue via an official called the Uzir. Though the plains people did not participate in the Dimasa Kachari royal court, the Dharmadhi guru and other Brahmins in the court cast a considerable influence, especially with the beginning of the 18th century.
The region of Khaspur was originally a part of the Tripura Kingdom, which was taken over by Chilarai in the 16th century. The region was ruled by a tributary ruler, Kamalnarayana, the brother of Chilarai. After the decline of Koch power, Khaspur became independent. In the middle of the 18th century, the last of the Koch rulers died without an heir and the control of the kingdom went to the ruler of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom as dowry. After the merger, the capital of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom moved to Khaspur, near present-day Silchar. In the 18th-century, the Hailakandi region was annexed to the Kachari kingdom.
The Dimasa Kachari kingdom came under Burmese occupation in the late early 19th-century along with the Ahom kingdom. The last king, Govinda Chandra Hasnu, was restored by the British after the Yandaboo Treaty in 1826, but he was unable to subjugate Tularam Senapati who ruled the hilly regions. Tularam Senapati's domain was Mahur River and the Naga hills in the south, the Doyang river on the west, the Dhansiri River on the east and Jamuna and Doyang in the north. In 1830, Govinda Chandra Hasnu died. In 1832, Tularam Senapati (A Hojai) was pensioned off and his region was annexed by the British to ultimately become the North Cachar district; and in 1833, Govinda Chandra's domain was also annexed to become the Cachar district.
After Gobinda Chandra HasnuEdit
In the early nineteenth century, after being dislodged from Meitrabak (Present day Manipur), its princes made Cachar a springboard for the reconquest of the territory. In 1819, three brothers occupied Cachar and drove Govinda Chandra Hasnu out to Sylhet (now in Bangladesh). The kingdom of Cachar, divided between Govinda Chandra Hasnu and Chaurajit in 1818, was repartitioned after the flight of Govind Chandra among the three Meitrabak princes. Chaurajit got the eastern portion of Cachar bordering Meitrabak which was ruled from Sonai. Gambhir Singh was given the land west of Tillain hill and his headquarters was at Gumrah, Marjit Singh ruled Hailakandi from Jhapirbond. The British annexed the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom under the doctrine of lapse. At the time of British annexation, the kingdom consisted of parts of Nagaon and Karbi Anglong; North Cachar (Dima Hasao), Cachar and the Jiri frontier of Manipur.
Rulers and KingsEdit
|Capital||King||Date of Accession||Reign in Progress||End of reign|
|Yasho Narayan (Satrudaman)||1583?||1601|
|Chaurajit Singh (from Manipur)||1819||1823|
|Gambhir Singh (from Manipur)||1823||1824|
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Census Data Finder/C Series/Population by Religious Communities
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- "In the 13th century the Dimasa kingdom extended along the south bank of the Brahmputra, from Dikhou to Kallang and included the Dhansiri Valley and the North Cachar Hills."; "During 16th to 18th century AD they established a State of their own which covered modern South Assam (Barak Valley, parts of Assam Valley and intervening North Cachar Hills) and some parts of Nagaland and Manipur." (Bhattacharjee 1987:222)
- (Bhattacharjee 1992:392–393)
- "(T)he Kacharis of North Cachar believe that they once ruled in Kamarupa and their royal family traced its descent from the Rajas of that country, from the line of Ha-tsung-tsa." (Baruah 1986:187-188)
- "The tradition current among the Dimasas of Cachar mention their kingdom in ancient Kamarupa and how during a political turmoil they had to cross the big river (Brahmaputra; Dilao) and a large section of their people were washed away." (Bhattacharjee 1992:392-393)
- (Gogoi 1968:268)
- "(That the Chutiyas and Sadiyal Kacharis were identical) is also supported by the similarities in traditions and religious beliefs associated with both the tribes." (Baruah 1986:187)
- Kechai Khati worshipped by Bodo-kacharis
- Rabhas worship Kechai-khati and celebrate the Kechai-khati festival once every year
- Kechai-khati festival of Rabhas
- The Tiwas as well as the Koch also worshipped Kechai kati. The Koch general Gohain Kamal built temples dedicated to Kesai khati in Khaspur for the Dehans who were Tiwa and Mech soldiers from Gobha, Nellie and Kabi.
- Kechai-khati wrorship of Chutias
- "There is at Sadiya a shrine of Kechai Khaiti the tutelar deity of the Kacharis, which the Dimasa rulers continued to worship even after the establishment of their rule in Cachar." (Bhattacharjee 1992:393)
- (Baruah 1986:188)
- (Bhattacharjee 1987:222)
- (Ramirez 2007:93)
- "It was (at Maibong) that the Dimasa state formation process entered into a crucial phase under Brahmanical influence." (Bhattacharjee 1987:222)
- "Another significant development in the process of Hinduisation of the royal family and the aristocracy was the transformation of the titular deity Kechai Khaiti to Ranachandi." (Bhattacharjee 1992:394)
- (Rhodes 1986:166)
- (Bhattacharjee 1992:394)
- (Sarkar 1992:83)
- (Sarkar 1992:83)
- "By this time the Kacharis had completely withdrawn from the Dhansiri Valley, which had reverted into the jungle, forming a natural barrier between the Ahoms and the Kacharis. The Ahoms still, however, regarded the Kacharis as being a subject nation." (Rhodes 1986:164)
- "...but when the next king, Tamradhvaja, boldly proclaimed his independence, the Ahom King Rudra Simha invaded Kachar in December 1706. Tamradhvaja could offer little resistance, and Maibong was soon occupied and its fort demolished." (Rhodes 1986:165)
- "Thus it is clear that this is an invented tradition by the Brahman pundits in the later stage of the monarchy in the Cachar plains. Although this is fictitious, people within the community strongly believe in this story of their ancestry." (Bathari 2014:17–18)
- (Bose 1985, p. 14)
- (Rhodes 1986:167)
- Not mentioned in the list of kings in (Rhodes 1986)
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