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|Dimasa Kingdom, Dimasa-Kachari Kingdom|
|Dimaraji, Hidimba Raji|
|Capital||Dimapur, Maibang, Khaspur, Haritikar|
|Historical era||Classical India|
|•||Annexed to British India||1854|
The Kachari (Pron: kəˈʧɑ:rɪ) Kingdom was a powerful kingdom on the Indian subcontinent, located in the region of Assam, India. The rulers belonged to the Dimasa people, part of the greater Bodo-Kachari ethnic group. The Kachari kingdom and others (Kamata, Sutiya), led by chieftains of indigenous tribes, developed in the wake of the Kamarupa kingdom, were examples of indigenous state formations in Medieval Assam. Remnant of the Kachari kingdom existed till the advent of the British, and this kingdom gave its name to two present districts in Assam: Cachar and North Cachar Hills.
The origin of the Kachari Kingdom is not clear. According to tradition, the Kacharis Dimasas had to leave the Kamarupa Kingdom in the ancient period due to political turmoil. As they crossed the Brahmaputra river some of their compatriots were swept away down river and came to be called Dimasa (Dima-basa), sons of the great river Dima, the Dhansiri river. Dimasa had a tradition of worshiping Kechai Khaiti, the goddess in Sadiya. According to a legend constructed at the time the royal family was Hinduized at Maibong, the royal family descends from Ghatotkacha, the son of Bhima of the Mahabharata fame, and Hidimbi a princess of the Dimasa people.
Kachomari was situated on river bank of Daiyang of Golaghat district in Assam, the first capital of Hidimba kingdom before establish the capital at Dimapur.
Dimapur is said to have been named after Hidimba. Dimapur is a corruption of Hidimbapur, meaning the city of Hidimba of Mahabharata, who is believed to be the progenitor of the Kacharis. Later Hidimbapur devolved to Dimbapur and then finally to Dimapur. While another popular belief is that Dimapur etymologically is named after Dimasas, where Dimasa and pur (which means river) is amalgamated. Dimapur etymologically transtates to "City of the Dimasas".Ahom Buranjee chronicles mentioned Dimapur as "Che-Dima" meaning city of Dimasas. By the 13th century the Dimasa 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, the Dimasa Kachari settlements to the east of Dhansiri withdrew before the Ahom advance. The Sutiya Kingdom existed further east and the Kamata Kingdom to its west.
Dakhsin penetrated deep into the hilly country and lastly arrived at a recess which was mostly flat rich in pasturable grounds stretching here or there. He built his seat here and named the valley as Rangamatia. It was so named probably because of the red soil of the earth Ranga-Red, Matia -Soil.
Hostilities with Ahoms
The Ahoms settled into the tract between the Sutiya and the Dimasa Kachari Kingdoms that was inhabited by the Borahi and Matak peoples. The first clash with the Ahom Kingdom took place in 1490, in which the Ahoms were defeated. The Ahoms pursued for peace, and an Ahom princess was offered to the Dimasa Kachari king and the Dimasa Kachari took control of the land beyond the Dhansiri. But the Ahoms were getting powerful and pushed the Dimasa Kacharis back west. In 1526 the Dimasa 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 of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom or Hirimba Kingdom under the cover of cow (Mushu). 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 Dimasa Kachari army attacked the Ahom's army, they took cover of cows. The king of the Dimasa 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 Dimasa Kingdom with yearly taxes of 20 Elephant and 1 lakhs of rupees (mudras). But in 1536 the Ahoms attacked the Dimasa Kachari capital once again and sacked the city. The Dimasa Kacharis abandoned Dimapur and retreated south to set up their new capital in Maibang. Maibang is Dimasa Kachari origin dialect. "Mai" means "Paddy" and "bang" means "Plenty or abundance".
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At Maibang, the Dimasa Kacharis 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 king's genealogy was drawn from Bhima of the Pandavas, and his son Ghatotkacha born to Hidimba.The kingdom then came to be known as Heramba, and the rulers Herambeswar.
The legend that was constructed by the Hindu Brahmins at Maibong 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 Maibong 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, store keepers, 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.
Chilarai of the Koch dynasty in western Assam attacked the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom in 1562 during the reign of Durlabh Narayan and made it into a tributary of the Koch Kingdom. The size of the annual tribute—seventy thousand gold mohars and sixty elephants— testifies to the resourcefulness of the Kachari state. A small colony of Koch soldiers, who came to be known as Dehans, enjoyed special privileges in the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom. 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, North Cachar, Dhansiri valley, plains of Cachar and parts of eastern Sylhet. After his conquest of Sylhet, he struck coins in his name.
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.
The 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 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 Hasnu
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 or Kings
- Nirbhay Narayan (1540-c1550)
- Durlabh Narayan or Harmesvar (c1550-1576)
- Megha Narayana (1576-1583)
- Satrrudaman (Pratap Narayan, Jasa Narayan) (1583-1613)
- Nar Narayan (1613-)
- Bhimdarpa Narayan (Bhimbal Konwar) (-1637)
- Indraballabh Narayan (1637-)
- Birdarpa Narayan (-1681)
- Garurdhwaj Narayan
- Tamradhwaj Narayan (1699-1708)
- Queen Chandraprabha
- Suradarpa Narayan (-1730)
- Dharmadhwaj Narayan (Harischandra Narayan)
- Kirichandra Narayan (1735-1745)
- Gopichandra Narayan (1745-1757)
- Harischandra II (1757-1772)
- Krishnachandra Narayan (1772-1813)
- Gobindchandra Narayan (1813-1830)
- Tularam Senapaty(Thaosensa)(Died 12 October 1850)
- Bose, Manilal (1985), Development of Administration in Assam, Assam: Concept Publishing Company
- Gait, Edward A. (1906), A History of Assam, Calcutta
- Barpujari, S. K. (1997), History of the Dimasas (from the earliest times to 1896 AD), Haflong
- Bhattacharjee, J. B. (1992), "The Kachari (Dimasa) state formation", in Barpujari, H. K., The Comprehensive History of Assam, 2, Guwahati: Assam Publication Board, pp. 391–397
- Gogoi, Padmeshwar (1968), The Tai and the Tai kingdoms, Gauhati University, Guwahati
- Rhodes, Nicholas G.; Bose, Shankar K. (2006), A History of the Dimasa-Kacharis As Seen Through Coinage, Mira Bose, Library of Numismatic Studies, Kolkata and Guwahati
- Dundas, W. C. M., An Outline Grammar And Dictionary Of The Kachari (Dimasa) Language (based on Barman, Mani Charan, Kachari Grammar).