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Chilarai Dhubri.JPG
Statue of Chilarai at Dhubri, Assam
DynastyKoch dynasty

Shukladhwaja (IPA: [ʃʊkləˈdwɑːdʒ]; 1510–1571 AD), or more popularly Bir Chilarai (IPA: [/ʧɪləˌraɪ/]), 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 got his name Chilarai because, as a general, he executed troop movements that were 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]


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

Chilaray 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 Chilaray, 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. Chilaray'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 Chilaray managed to occupy the capital of Ahom, Garhgaon.

Several kings, namely the then Raja of Manipur and the Khasi chief (Viryyavanta), submitted to the Koch army. Chilaray and his army also vanquished and killed the Jaintia Raja, and Rajas of Tippera(Tripura) and Sylhet. Chilaray is said to have never committed brutalities on unarmed common people, and even those kings who surrendered were treated with respect. They were harsh to kings and soldiers who refused to surrender, but the brothers never annexed conquered territories nor oppressed the people. They only collected tributes from the vanquished kings. They even treated enemy prisoners kindly, and gave them land-grants to settle.

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

The duo (Chilaray and Naranarayan) turned towards Bengal, but unforeseen circumstances led to Chilaray's capture by the Afghan Sultan Sulaiman Karrani, while Naranarayan retreated to his capital. Much of the Koch kingdom was then captured by the Afghans. However Chilaray 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.

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

Bir Chilaray Divas[edit]

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

Bir Chilaray award[edit]

The Directorate of Cultural Affairs, Government of Assam instituted these awards in 2005. Theycomprise a shawl, a citation, and a cash award of Rs. 100,000[7][8]


  1. ^ "Article Details". Ht Syndication. 3 March 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  2. ^ "History Book of Cooch Behar". Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  3. ^ Baruah Sarma, Geetima. "Bir Chilaray – The Great General of Assam". Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  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. ^ "BirChilaray – Assam Online Portal". 1 April 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Chilaray | Bir Chilaray | Bir Chilaray | History of Chilaray | Kamata kingdom | Bir Chilaray Divas | Bir Chilaray Award". Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  8. ^

Further reading[edit]