Gadadhar Singha or Supaatpha (Assamese: স্বৰ্গদেউ গদাধৰ সিংহ, reign 1681–1696) established the rule of the Tungkhungia clan of the Ahom kings that ruled the Ahom kingdom till its climactic end. He was the son of Gobar Roja, a descendant of Suhungmung, and who had become the king for a mere 20 days. Previously known as Gadapani, Gadadhar Singha was able to stabilize the kingdom after the decade long turmoil following the Ahom victory in the Battle of Saraighat. This period saw the ruthless power grab of Debera Borbarua and Laluksola Borphukan's abandonment of Guwahati and oppression via Sulikphaa Lora Roja. Gadadhar Singha retook Guwahati from the Mughals for good, and established a strong rule of 'blood and iron'. He came into conflict with the Vaishnava sattra and made way for Rudra Singha, his son and succeeding king, to take the kingdom to its zenith.
Gadadhar Singha made his capital at Barkola.
Gadadhar Singha, known as Langi Gadapani, was the son of Gobar Gohain who was made the king by Debera Borbarua in 1675. Gobar Raja was the king for only 20 days and was executed after the fall of Debera Borbarua at the hands of the forces of Atan Burhagohain. After Laluk Sola Borphukan had Atan Burhagohain murdered in 1679, he installed Sulikphaa Lora Roja as the king and tried to become the de jure ruler of the Ahom kingdom. He began a campaign to inflict wounds on Ahom princes who were eligible for the throne. To escape this, Gadapani had to become a fugitive hiding in the Naga hills. The area that Gadapani had fled, may be some where near present-day Mon district is, that was inhabited by the Konyak Naga. During this time his wife Sati Joymati, was tortured and killed by the henchmen of Sulikphaa and Laluk Sola Borphukan.
Years in exile
Gadapani's stay in the Naga Hills are shrouded in mystery, for not much is known about the 2 years in exile. However, the hills are abound with various lores, folktales and legends about Godadapani. The physical attributes of Gadapani were very robust, charming and very handsome. According to one legend Gadapani, after the death of his wife Jaimoti, he was heartbroken and had, become very brooding. It was during this time that his well wishers in fact married him a Konyak girl Watlong. Sadly though, Watlong while coming down with Gadapani from Konyak territory, died at a place named Naginimora while delivering a child. During his time in exhile his Naga friends had got him married to a very beautiful girl Zinyu. Noted Historian and Litterateur Padmanath Gohain Baruah first characterised a Naga girl Dalimi, in his play Joymati. It was shown that it was this girl that Gadapani had come into contact while he was in exhile. Rup Konwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala's First Assamese Film also showed Dalimi, as a daughter of Naga chieftain who had fallen for the charms of Gadapani.
At the time of Gadadhar Singha's accession to the throne, the Ahom kingdom was being sapped by internal dissensions, and patriotic feeling had become so weakened that many deserted to the Mughal side, who had re-occupied Gauhati, and were gradually pushing their frontier eastwards. The hill tribes too became emboldened and raided villages in the plains. Before he died he had quelled all internal disputes, revived the waning national spirit, driven the Mughals beyond Manas and, by prompt punitive measures, put a stop to the raiding and restored the prestige of the Ahoms among the turbulent tribes on the frontier.
His first act after becoming the King was to equip an army to oust the Mughal from Gauhati. He appears to have met with very little opposition. The forts at Bansbari and Kajali fell at the first assault, and a great naval victory was gained near the mouth of Bar Nadi, the whole enemy fleet falling into the hands of Ahoms. In 1682 Gadadhar Singha waged the Itakhulir Rann (War of Itakhuli) and captured Guwahati back from the Mughals and brought an end to the eighty years of Ahom-Mughal conflicts. The Fauzdar of Guwahati fled and the Ahom army pursued the Mughals as far as Manas river. A vast amount of booty was taken in Guwahati, including gold and silver; elephants, horses and buffaloes, cannon of all sizes and guns, swords and spears. This was the last war with the Mughals. Henceforth both sides accepted the Manas as the boundary.
The Nagas were often found to be raiding the Assamese villages in the border areas. He forged matrimonial alliances with the Nagas and assured peace and tranquility at the border areas. He married the extremely beautiful daughter of the warlike Nokpu(Ao) warrior Assiring, Sentishila, fondly renamed by him as Dalimi. And renamed the ancient Asheimba- Yimuba gate as Assiringia Duar and granted a large piece of land amounting to many thousand bighas as Assiringia Khat (present day Naginijan Tea estate,under Assam Tea Corporation)near Nakachari in Jorhat district of ASSAM, valuable scarves and shawls made of finest silk, steel daos, Ahom Hats (Japees) gold and diamond ornaments and a muzzle-loading gun, to his father in law, Assiring, thus ensuring good matrimonial relations with the Aos, apart from his Konyak kinsman.
He was a Shaivite, as were his succeeding kings, and his reign saw the beginning of the conflict between the Sattra and the Ahom kings. To help propagate this form of Hindu worship he built the Shiva temple Uma Nanda Temple(Devaloi) at the Peacock island in middle of river Brahmaputra at Guwahati. Gadadhar Singha was keenly alive to the importance of public works. He built the Dhodar Ali a 211 km. long road from Kamargaon to Joypur touching Mariani using the lazy (dhod means lazy in Assamese) opium addicts, Aka Ali and many other roads. Two stone bridges were built and a number of tanks were evacuated. The earliest known copper-plate grant recording grants of land by Ahom Kings to Brahmins or Hindu temples, date from his reign.
A noteworthy measure of this monarch was the commencement of a detailed survey of the country. Gadadhar Singha became acquainted with the land measurement system of Mughals during the time he was hiding in Lower Assam, before he succeeded to the throne. As soon as the wars were over he issued orders for the introduction of a similar system throughout his dominions. Surveyors were imported from Koch Behar and Bengal for the work. It was commenced in Sibsagar and was pushed on vigorously, but it was not completed until after his death. According to historians, the method of survey included measuring the four sides of each field with a nal, or bamboo pole of 12 feet (3.7 m) length and calculating the area, the unit was the "pura" or 144 square feet (13.4 m2) and 14,400 sq ft (1,340 m2). is one "Bigha". A similar land measurement system is still being followed in modern Assam-- 144 sq ft (13.4 m2). is one Lecha, 20 Lecha or 2,880 sq ft (268 m2). is one "Katha", and 5 Katha or 14,400 sq ft (1,340 m2). is one Bigha.
Gadadhar Singha died in February, 1696, after a reign of fourteen and a half years. Gadadhar Singha left two sons, Lai and Lechai, and his elder son Lai succeeded him. Under Lai, who took the name Sukhrungphaa (Hindu name Rudra Singha), the Ahom kingdom reached its zenith. The royal robes of Swargadeo Gadadhar Singha made of gold and a gold umbrella are preserved in the Bengenaati Satra of Majuli, Assam.
Brown's note on Gadadhar Singha's tomb
Reverend Nathan Brown of the American Baptist Mission, referring to the opening up of the tombs of Ahom kings in Charaideo, wrote: "The tomb of King Gadadhar at Soraideo, as nearly as we could calculate without instruments, was ninety feet high, and so natural in its appearance that a stranger would scarcely have suspected it to be anything more than an ordinary hill...Thirteen of these royal tombs were dug open during my residence in Assam, and I was told in the flowery language of the country, that when King Gadadhar's tomb was opened 'the backs of three elephants were broken with the weight of the treasures it contained', meaning simply that three elphants were well loaded down."
- The Journal of the Assam Research Society. 27. Kāmarūpa Anusandhān Samiti. 1983. pp. 36–.
- Gait E.A. A History of Assam, LBS first edition 1983
- Bhuyan, S.K., Early Britush Relations with Assam, First Edition 1928
- Bhuyan, S.K., Tungkhungia Buranji or A History of Assam, 1681-1826 A.D., First Impression 1933; Published by Department of Historical and Antiquarian Studies, Government of Assam, Narayani Handiqui Historical Institute, Guwahati, Assam.