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Chilarai Dhubri.JPG
Statue of Chilarai at Dhubri, Assam
Father Vishwa Singha

Shukladhwaj (IPA: [ʃʊkləˈdwɑːdʒ]; 1510–1571 AD), or more popularly Chilarai (IPA: [/ʧɪləˌraɪ/]) (Assamese: চিলাৰায়, Bengali: চিলারায়), was the younger brother of Nara Narayan, the king of the Kamata kingdom in the 16th century. He was Nara Narayan's commander-in-chief and he got his name Chilarai because his movement as a general was as fast as a chila (kite). Chilarai is known to have descended from the powerful founder of the Koch dynasty of Kamatapur, Biswa Singha. By his valour, he played a significant role in expanding the empire of his elder brother, Maharaja Nara Narayan. His valour ensured Koch supremacy over the Bhutia, Kachari kingdom and the Ahoms though several battles were fought between the Koches and Ahoms with countable victories for both sides.[1]


Chilarai was the third son of Maharaja Biswa Singha (1523-1554 A.D.).[2] His mother Padmavati was from the country called Gaur.[3]

Chilarai was instrumental in giving Srimanta Sankardeva protection and shelter, as well as marrying his niece Kamalapriya (alias Bhubaneswari). It was only due to his Royal Patronage that Sankardeva was able to establish the Ek Saran Naam Dharma in Assam and bring about his cultural renaissance. His son and grandson were responsible for breaking away of Koch Hajo from the parent kingdom.

Shukladhwaj also named Chilarai which means 'Kite Prince' was perhaps the greatest general that Indian history ignored. A master military strategist, he was the commander of elder brother and Koch king Naranarayan's army. Chilarai's valour ensured Koch supremacy over the Bhutia, Kachari kingdom (of Hadimba, now dimapur) and the Ahoms (though several battles were fought between the Koches and Ahoms with countable victories for both sides). In June 1563 the Koches under the command of Chilarai managed to occupy the capital of Ahom, Gargaon.

Several Kings namely the then Raja of Manipur and the Khasi chief (Viryyavanta) submitted to the Koch army.The Jaintia Raja and Rajas of Tippera(Tripura) and Sylhet were also vanquished and put to death by Chilarai and his army. It must be mentioned that Chilarai never committed brutalities on unarmed common people and even those kings who offer their surrender were treated with utmost respect. Only those kings and soldiers who refused to surrender were treated with strong hands. But the brothers never annexed conquered territories nor oppressed the people. They only collected tributes from the vanquished kings. Even enemy- prisoners were kindly treated and given land-grants to settle”.

Chilarai also adopted guerrilla warfare successfully- even before Shivaji Maharaja of Maratha empire did.

The duo (Chilarai and Naranarayan) turned towards Bengal but due to unforeseen circumstances Chilarai was captured by the Afghan Sultan Sulaiman Karrani while Naranarayan retreated to his capital. Much of the Koch kingdom was captured by the Afghans thereafter. However Chilarai and Nara Narayan later rebuilt the Kamakhya temple that the Sultan's army had destroyed.[4] They also patronized the great Vaishnavite movement of Sankardev.

Chilarai died in 1577 of small pox on the bank of Ganges.[5]

Bir Chilarai Divas[edit]

The birth anniversary of Mahabir Chilarai is organized by Government of Assam annually from 2005.[6] The Government also declares this day as state holiday.

Bir Chilarai Award[edit]

The awards instituted by the Directorate of Cultural Affairs, Government of Assam in 2005 which comprise a shawl, a citation and a cheque of Rs. 1 lakh [7][8]


  1. ^ "Article Details". Ht Syndication. 2013-03-03. Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  2. ^ "History Book of Cooch Behar". Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  3. ^ Baruah Sarma, Geetima. "Bir Chilarai – The Great General of Assam". Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  4. ^ Sukhabilāsa Barmā (2004). Bhāwāiyā: Ethnomusicological Study. Global Vision Publishing Ho. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-81-8220-070-8. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Donald R. Hopkins (15 September 2002). The Greatest Killer: Smallpox in History. University of Chicago Press. pp. 141–. ISBN 978-0-226-35168-1. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "BirChilarai - Assam Online Portal". 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  7. ^ "Chilarai | Bir Chilarai | Bir Chilarai | History of Chilarai | Kamata kingdom | Bir Chilarai Divas | Bir Chilarai Award". Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  8. ^

Further reading[edit]