The Chutiya Kingdom c. 13th century during the reign of King Gaurinarayan.
|Common languages||Assamese, formerly Chutiya language|
|Historical era||Medieval Assam|
• Founded by Birpal
• Expansion under Gaurinarayan
• Ahom-Chutiya war
|1513 -17th century|
• Siege of Sadiya
|17 April 1524|
|Today part of||India|
|Part of History of Assam|
|Rulers of the Chutiya kingdom (1187 - 1524)|
|Sutiya monarchy data|
|Peacock Flag (Royal Flag)|
|Golden cat and sword (Coats of arms)|
|Part of a series on the|
The Chutiya Kingdom, (pronounced Sutia) (চুতীয়া in Assamese) (1187-1673), also known as Chutia, Sutiya or Sadiya, was a state established by one of the Chutiya chieftains named Birpal in 1187 CE in the areas comprising the present-day Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Birpal was one of the numerous Chutiya chieftains/rajas (who ruled Upper Assam and Arunachal) and initially ruled parts of present-day Arunachal Pradesh. Over the years he and his successors united all the hill and plain Chutiya kings of Assam as well as Arunachal Pradesh to form the greater Chutiya kingdom after the fall of Pala dominance. It was the largest kingdom in Assam after the fall of Kamrupa and before the rise of Ahom kingdom. The kingdom absorbed the ancient Pala dynasty of Kamarupa and reigned for over 400 years in eastern Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with its capital at Sadiya and Ratnapur. It became the dominant power in eastern Assam in the 12th century and remained so until the 16th century with its domain from Parshuram Kund in the east to Vishwanath in the west and in the process of its expansion had absorbed many local communities and tribes.
Among the Chutiya kings was Gaurinarayan (Ratnadhwajpal), son of Birpal. He brought many other Chutiya groups into his kingdom. In 1224, Ratnadhwajpal defeated another Chutiya king named Bhadrasena, the king of Swetagiri, and conquered the area between Subansiri and Sissi rivers, i.e. present-day Dhemaji district. In 1228, he went on another campaign to further expand his kingdom and subjugate the Chutiya king Nyayapal (ruling the areas between Biswanath and Subansiri,i.e. present-day Biswanath and Lakhimpur districts) and marched toward Kamatapur, where he formed an alliance with the Kamata ruler by marrying a princess. Then he marched to Dhaka, and made friends with the Gauda ruler. The hostilities with the Ahoms began when the Chutiya Kingdom expanded to the south during which the Ahom king, Sutuphaa, was killed by the Chutiya king during a friendly negotiation. This conflict triggered a number of battles between the two sides which saw the great loss of men and money. The simmering dispute often flared till 1524 when the Ahoms struck the Chutiya Kingdom at its weakest state, took Sadiya and killed the then king, Nityapal. The Ahoms established their rule by instituting the position of Sadiyakhowa Gohain, a newly constituted position of frontier-governor in charge of Sadiya. But the Chutiya had dispersed to frontier regions, and continued raids against the Ahoms. It finally ended in 1673 when they fell under the domination of the Ahoms.
- 1 History
- 2 Inscriptions
- 3 Geography
- 4 Gunpowder and Cannons
- 5 Monuments
- 6 References
Chutiya Bhuyan chieftains
Bhuyans were chiefs of North Indian settlers who migrated to Assam in two separate groups once during the Mleccha rule of the 9th century and again during the Kamatapur rule in the 14th century. They were given land in central Assam by the Indigenous Mleccha and Kamatapur kings in order to promote Sanskritisation in Assam. The first group was called the Baro-Bhuyans. The Baro-Bhuyans settled in the region west of the Chutiya kingdom i.e. parts of the present-day districts of Darrang and Sonitpur. The Bhuyan status at that time was open to royals of any ethnicity and the rule was a confederation type, due to which many Chutiya chieftains of Sonitpur and Lakhimpur districts also adopted the title. These were known as the Chutiya Bhuyans who ruled as sovereign states until Gaurinarayan brought them under the greater Chutiya kingdom in the early 13th century.
The founder of the medieval greater Chutiya kingdom was Birpal who claimed descent from the legendary Bhishmak and reigned in 1187. He ruled over 60 clans with his capital on a hill called Swarnagiri and assumed the title of Gayapal. He was succeeded by his son Sonagiri assuming the title of Gaurinarayan.
Gaurinarayan alias Ratnadhwajpal was one of the most powerful Sutiya kings. He brought under his sway the tribes of neighboring mountains; the Rangalgiri, the Kalgiri, the Nilgiri, the Chandragiri, and the Dhavalgiri. He conquered the whole northeastern region of Assam which included the areas of present-day Arunachal Pradesh and assumed the title "Lord of Hills". In the year 1224, with a large army, he descended on the valley of Brahmaputra, attacking and deporting another Chutiya king, Bhadrasena, ruler of the Swetagiri. In the expedition, he gained rich booty and many prisoners of war belonging to the Brahmin, Tanti, Sonari, Sutar and Kumar classes and settled them in various parts of the kingdom. He built his capital at Ratnapur (Majuli), hence also called Ratnadhwajpal and used certain techniques to advance the agricultural system in the kingdom. The neighboring Chutiya king, Nyaya Pal surrendered with costly gifts even before he was attacked. To cement the alliance, he married the daughter of Nyayapal. He built a line of forts along the foot of the bills against inroads by the hill tribes and built large tanks and temples for his people. In Kamatapur, when Kamateswar refused his daughter for one of the Gaurinarayan sons, the king marched against him, constructing a road with forts at certain intervals. Alarmed at the energy displayed by his troops, Kamateswar agreed to give one of the princesses in marriage to the Sutiya prince.
These expeditions by Gaurinarayan took Chutiya Kingdom to supremacy to such an extent that after a few years the impact of his power was felt even by the Gauda ruler. The Gauda ruler, possibly Khesav Sen, made friends with Gaurinarayan who sent one of his sons to that country to be educated. Unfortunately, the Sutiya Prince died there and the corpse was sent to Gaurinarayan, who was then engaged in building a new city. He named the city as Sadiya (Sa-Corpse, Diya-Given) which later on became the capital of the Chutiya Kingdom. Extensive remains of buildings and fortifications built during the rule of the Sutiyas near about Sadiya still point to the importance of the region in the past.
During the reign of Ahom king Sutuphaa, there were frequent skirmishes between Ahoms and Sutiyas. In 1376, Sutuphaa was killed by the Sutiya King Jayadhwajpal during a friendly encounter. During the following years, both sides were involved in numerous battles.
Ahom-Sutiya conflicts (1513-1522)
Dhirnarayan alias Dharmadhwajpal, engaged in many battles with the Ahoms. In 1513, in a battle with the Ahoms, king Dhirnarayan attacked the Ahom Kingdom both by land and water. The Ahom were victorious in the battle fought at Dikhoumukh. Later in 1520, the Sutiyas invaded Ahom territory twice; in the second invasion the Sutiyas killed the Ahom commander and were successful in defeating the Ahoms in the battle fought at Dihing.
The kingdom saw its weakest state under Nityapal, the husband of Dhirnarayan daughter Sadhani. In 1522, Dhirnarayan due to his growing age passed down his throne to Nityapal. The Sutiya nobilities and ministers resisted the decision of giving away the throne to Nityapal. In 1524, due to Nityapal incapable rulership, the Ahoms taking advantage of this chance attacked a much weaker Chutiya Kingdom. As a partial culmination of the inter-kingdom feud, the Ahoms took Sadiya and killed Nityapal. Further to strengthen their position, the Ahoms set up colonies in the Sutiya country and a number of Brahmins, blacksmiths and artisans were deported from Sadiya to Charaideo. However the Sutiyas went to the countryside where they were still in power and continued their fight against the Ahoms to reclaim their lost territories. The conflict went on for the next 150 years until it finally ended in 1673 when the Sutiyas fell under the domination of the Ahoms and were absorbed into their state.
Rulers (1187 - 1524)
|1||1187 - 1210||23 y||Birpal||Gayapal|
|2||1210 - 1250||40 y||Ratnadhwajpal||Gaurinarayan|
|3||1250 - 1270||20 y||Vijayadhwajpal||Shivanarayan|
|4||1270- 1285||15 y||Vikramadhwajpal||Jagatnarayan|
|5||1285 - 1305||20 y||Gauradhwajpal||Pramonarayan|
|6||1305 - 1325||20 y||Sankhadhwajpal||Harinarayan|
|7||1325 - 1343||18 y||Mayuradhwajpal||Goluknarayan|
|8||1343 - 1360||17 y||Jayadhwajpal||Bijonarayan|
|9||1360 - 1380||20 y||Karmadhwajpal||Nandeshwar|
|10||1380 - 1400||20 y||Satyanarayan|
|11||1400 - 1420||20 y||Laxminarayan|
|12||1420 - 1440||20 y||Dharmanarayan|
|13||1440- 1465||25 y||Pratyashnarayan|
|14||1465 - 1480||15 y||Yasnarayan|
|15||1480 - 1500||20 y||Purnadhabnarayan|
|16||1500- 1522||22 y||Dharmadhwajpal||Dhirnarayan|
|17||1522 - 1524||2 y||Nityapal||Chandranarayan/Nitai|
The Chutia kings were involved in building many temples and forts. They often granted lands to Brahmins nearby these temples. These grants were recorded in the form of stone or copper inscriptions. Some of these have resurfaced over the years in the recent past as late as 2002.
List of inscriptions
The list below gives the details of the inscriptions.
|1||Barmurtia Beel Inscription||Copper plate||Satyanarayan||1392 A.D.||Ghilamora, North Lakhimpur|
|2||Ghilamora Inscription||Copper plate||Lakshminaryan||1401 A.D.||Ghilamora, North Lakhimpur|
|3||Chapakhowa Inscription||Copper plate||Dharmanarayan||1428 A.D.||Chapakhowa, Sadiya|
|4||Tamreswari Temple Wall Inscription||Brick inscription||Dharmanarayan||1442 A.D.||Tamreswari Temple, Roing, Arunachal Pradesh|
|5||Dhenukhana Inscription||Copper plate||Satyanarayan||1392 A.D.||Dhenukhana, North Lakhimpur|
|6||Bhismaknagar Inscription||Brick inscription||Lakshminaryan||1403 A.D.||Roing, Arunachal Pradesh|
|7||Ghaarmora Satra Royal Bell||Bell inscription||Satyanarayan||1390 A.D.||North Lakhimpur|
|8||Nahoroni Inscription||Copper plate||Pratap Narayan/Nandeswar||1375 A.D.||North Lakhimpur|
|9||Dhakuakhana Inscription||Copper plate||Dhir Narayan||1520 A.D.||Dhakuakhana, North Lakhimpur|
The Chutiyas held the areas to the north of Brahmaputra from Parshuram Kund in the east to Vishwanath in the west which represents the areas of Dhemaji district, Lakhimpur district and Sonitpur district of present Assam. To the north, it controlled the present Miri Hills, Abor Hills and the Mishmi Hills (Rangalgiri, Kalgiri, Nilgiri, Chandragiri, Dhavalgiri) in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. To the south of the Brahmaputra, it had parts of Sibsagar district, Jorhat district(Majuli) and almost the entire Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts under its rule.
Gunpowder and Cannons
Many historians believe that it was in Assam where gunpowder was invented.There had been trade between China and Assam in 1st Millennium AD and Assam had certain degree of civilization. British traveler and historian J.B. Traveneer states: “It is believed that it is the same people who in ancient times first discovered gun and gunpowder, which passed from Assam to Pegu and Pegu to China. This is the reason why the discovery is generally ascribed to the Chinese”. Another British researcher, J.P. Wade says: “The firearms were first made in Assam. When the Ahoms came to Assam they fought with the Chutias. The Chutias battled the Ahoms with cannons and other varieties of firearms. Therefore, it can be proved that firearms and gunpowder were traditionally made in early Assam."
That the Chutiyas were using firearms can be ascertained by the fact that when the Chutiya Kingdom was annexed by Ahoms, the Ahoms acquired a lot of things from the Chutiyas. One of those was the big gun, Mithaholong, which was the one of the largest classes of big guns which were produced in this part of the country. It has been recorded in the Buranjis that Ahoms had captured a piece of heavy Artillery gun or Bortop called Mithaholong from the Chutiyas who were also known to the use of gunpowder. S.K. Bhunyan (1969) in the war against the Chutiyas the Ahoms had also captured seventy nine pieces of matchlocks called Hiloi.  The Deodhai Assam Buranji mentions the number to be 1000 pieces.  As per History of Assam by Edward Gait, the first usage of gunpowder by Ahoms date back to their war against Turbak in 1532. Up to this time the Ahoms weapons consisted of swords, spears and bows and arrows. The Chutiyas were defeated in 1527. The offices related to gunpowder like Hiloidhari, Khanikar, etc were also formed after 1524 A.D. which indicated that the Chutiyas were the first to use gunpowder in Assam. It is believed that the gunpowder and firearms in this part of India was of a better quality than rest of India. It is known that when Mir Jumla went back from Assam he took with him 675 big guns and about 4750 maunds of gunpowder in boxes because they were in much better quality than what they used.
The Chutiya rulers were involved in building forts, temples, and palaces during their rule. However, most of these monuments have disappeared in the heart of the river Brahmaputra during the 1950 Assam–Tibet earthquake and the remaining are now in a dilapidated state as no initiative has taken place to conserve them.
Some of the known monuments built during the rule of Chutia kings include:
This was the most notable among the temples built by Chutia kings. The name "Tamreswari" was given as the roof of the temple was made out of copper. The wall and doors of the temple were well designed with beautiful works. There were two giant elephant sculptures with silver tusks at the main door. The walls were made without any mortar and instead used iron dowels and brackets. The whole temple was surrounded with brick walls and on the western wall there was a place for human sacrifice.. Although the temple is now completely submerged under marshy lands due to silt deposition in 1959, previous studies show that the main statues of the temple were built of sand stone and granite.
The Bura-Buri Than(temple) is another important temple built by the Chutia kings. It was dedicated to Shiva-parvati locally known as Gira-Girasi in the Chutia language. Although the structure has fallen due to natural calamities, the base still remains intact upon which a new temple has been built. The foundation is an octagonal shaped base made of stone with each edge spanning 3.4 meters in length. The temple was built using granite stone and fixed using iron dowels and brackets similar to the ones used in Malini Than and Tamreswari temple. The temple was surrounded by a wall built using bricks of 18-25 cm length and 12-17 cm breadth.
The Bhismaknagar Fort located in Roing is an important monument built by Chutia kings with the walls of the fort spread over 10 sq. km. A brick with the name Lakshminarayan indicates that the fort was repaired during the 15th century. The Bhismaknagar central complex extended over an area of 1860 square meters and displays three halls, six ingresses and two extension rooms. There is also a 2 meters high stone wall inside the complex. The architecture of the fort displays medieval culture. While quarrying in the fort, enormous pieces of work of art like potteries, terracotta figurines, terracotta plaques and decorative tiles were recovered.
Malini Than is a late medieval temple built by the Chutia kings in the borders of Abor hills(Likabali). It is similar in architecture to the other temples like Tamreswari and Bura-buri Temple, made purely out of stone fixed using iron brackets. The presence of Durga statues indicates that the temple was an important site for worshiping the mother goddess.
The Ita Fort is thought to be one of the early forts which the great Chutia king Ratnadhwajpal initially built all around his kingdom from Biswanath till Disang. The bricks used in the fort hint to later repairs in the 14th century. The fort has an irregular shape, built mainly with bricks dating back to the 14th-15th Century. The total brickwork is of 16,200 cubic metre length. The fort has three different entrances at three different sides, which are western, the eastern and the southern sides. 
Basudev Than is an ancient pre-Vaishnavite Vishnu temple established by the Chutia kings. The land of the Satra (where it was originally located) was donated by the Chutia king of Sadhayapur/Sadiya, Satyanarayan in 1392 A.D. to Narayan Dwij for Basudev Puja. But, due to floods, the site of the temple was abandoned and a new temple was established in 1401 A.D. by king Lakshminarayan (son of Satyanarayan). Here the land of the temple was granted to a priest named Ravidas Vanaspati whose descendant Bahude finally gave the land to the Vaishnavite saint Damodardev Ata for setting up the Satra. From then on, the temple and the satra merged and it was known as Narua Satra. In 1683 A.D. it was finally transferred to the present-day location. After that, the Satra was transferred to several other saints and finally Achyut Ata, with the help of Aldhara built a new temple in the location. According to the copper plate inscriptions found in Dhenukhana, the statues of the former temple included Basudev, Ishan(Vishnu), Amba(Durga) and Ganesha. During the days of Damodardev, another statue of Basudev carved out of black stone is said to be transferred from Kundil in Sadiya which was he capital of Chutia kingdom.
Gharmora was an ancient pre-Vaishnavite Satra established in the 13th century in Sadiya. According to the Assamese manuscripts stored in the Satra, the Satra was originally founded under the grants of a king of Sadiya in the early 13th century. It was established by a Brahmin saint named Shankarishan on the banks of a river in Sadiya. It is mentioned that the founder, Shankarishan originally hailed from Gauda(Bengal) and two princes of the Chutia king were disciples of the saint. The elder prince later invited him to settle in Sadiya during his reign and offer his teachings to the common masses. The saint was donated a Vishnu idol and a monastery was built to worship Vishnu in the form of tribal tantric traditions. The old king during his last days often visited the Satra and discussed philosophy and religion with the disciples of the Satra. The old king soon died while staying in the Satra and that is how the Satra got it's name as "Ghai-mora" Satra or "the Satra where the king had died". Later after the fall of the Chutia kingdom, the Satra was transferred to Lakhimpur district.
The Satra today has a large collection of old artifacts and items from the Chutia era which includes a bell with the name Satyanarayan inscribed in it, Xorai, Doba, Bera Kahi, Kekura Dola, Pikdan, Bhugjora, etc.
The Garakhia/Baghar Chukar Doul is located about 25 kms from Dhakuakhana headquarters between the rivers Charikangia and Kara in a region known as Chelajan. It is a brick temple with an octagonal ground-plan erected by the Chutia kings in the late medieval period. In elevation, the eight vertical walls end in a plain veranda and thereafter each wall tapers into triangular form terminating in a common pinnacle. The height of the temple is roughly 3.50m and its door is of 60cm x 60cm measurement. The size of the door and the inner space of the garbhagriha suggest that the cell was used for the enshrinement of the deity alone. Near to the temple there exists a starred brick altar meant for religious rituals hinting the site to be a major worship place during the ancient times. It is believed that sacrifices of animals took place in the temple. The copper plate inscriptions of the Chutia kings found nearby indicate that the region had a Vaishnavite cult which the kings promoted by giving land grants to priests worshipping Vishnu and Krishna. Every year, Holi or Doul Utsav has been celebrated in the temple by the nearby people. There have been many statues of gods and goddesses found near the temple. One of the statues was found in the year 1959 by a fisherman while fishing in the Bordol lake near the temple and was carved out of black granite. Another statue of Lord Krishna playing the flute was found in the Amtoli lake measuring 5 inches and 0.4 kg. These statues have been found to be very similar to the ones established in the Basudev Than which was originally constructed by Chutia kings.
The Buroi Fort which was located on the banks of the Buroi river in the Gohpur sub-division of Biswanath district was built by Chutia kings mostly as a defensive measure. The fortification included two stone walls made of chiselled sand stone blocks put together with great precision. A large number of these stones were found to contain marks cut deeply into the sandstones which were identical to the marked stones of Tamreswari temple which indicate that the same group of kings were involved in building both the monuments.
According to the British explorer W.N.Edwards, the forts are of considerable size, with lofty ramparts and deep ditches, and having tanks of good waters within the defences. Above the ramparts, there are high mounds of Earth which may have acted as watch towers. The roads are well connected from the Brahmaputra to the gorges of Buroi and the massiveness of the wall and the scale of labour involved points to it as an important work. Each wall is more than 300 yards in length, of great breadth, and built of solid blocks of stones squared and piled neatly. A gateway in the centre opens towards the centre. At some places, bricks were used in the interiors. These bricks were similar to the ones found in Pratapgarh and Ita fort, but were made of local material with a sandy texture. The stones of the walls ranged from 12 to 14 inches in length and 8 to 10 inches in breadth and depth, to small pieces of 4 inches squares.
Apart from these monuments, others include ruins of an ancient town are found between the river Dhal and Ghagar to 8 km east of the present town of North Lakhimpur built by Lakshminarayan, the Rajgarh ruins in Dhemaji district, Sepakhuwa fort in Sadiya, Pratapgarh of Biswanath district, Bakhar Bengena of Sibsagar district, Gomsi ruins near Pasighat, Ramkapith Temple of Sibsagar district, Pratimagarh ruins of Sadiya, Petuwa Gosani Temple of Narayanpur, Panchanan Dewaloi of North Lakhimpur town, Tezu Fort , Bolung Fort of Lohit district, Aroimuriya fort of Tinsukia district, Rakhya Dewaloi of Sibsagar district, Deohal of Charaideo district, etc.
- Prakash 2007, pp. 911–916.
- Sadiya is an Assamese name for the king of the Chutiyas. It was the name of the kingdom as well its capital
- Prakash 2007, pp. 913.
- Gogoi 2006, pp. 20–21.
- Prakash 2007, pp. 267.
- Pathak 2008.
- Baruah, Swarnalata. Chutia Jaatir Buranji. 2007, p.579.
- Gunpowder was invented In Assam
- (PDF) http://www.ijhssi.org/papers/v4(6)/Version-2/D0462017022.pdf Missing or empty
- Bhuyan, S.K.Deodhai Assam Buranji(Chutia r Kotha).Dept. of Historical and Antiquarian Studies, 1932, p. 200.
- "Sadiya - Tourism, History, Culture and other facts". Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- Baruah, Swarnalata. Chutia Jaatir Buranji. 2007, p. 433.
- Itanagar Official website
- Baruah, Swarnalata. Chutia Jaatir Buranji. 2007, p. 466.
- Garakhia Doul-A Chutia monument
- Edwards, W.N. Journal of Asiatic Soceity of Bengal. 1904, p. 255.
- Edwards, W.N. Journal of Asiatic Soceity of Bengal. 1904, p. 258.
- Baruah, S L (1986), A Comprehensive History of Assam, Munshiram Manoharlal
- Prakash, Col. Ved (2007), Encyclopedia of North East India, 2, Atlantic Publishers & Dist.
- Pathak, Guptajit (2008), Assam's history and its graphics, Mittal Publications
- Gogoi, Punyadhar (2006), War Weapons in Medieval Assam, Concept Publishing