Historic Ruins in Assam

The practice of writing  objective history by Ahom Kings help us to know our past better. The historical chronology of major events in Assam since the thirteenth century is well known and there is no need of borrowing research works from outsiders or scope of rewriting history.

Unfortunately for the history of pre Ahom  Assam our source of information is limited. Mostly we have to turn to mythology and legends but the picture remains hazy.

The medieval defense structure at Raha called Jongalbalahugarh is believed to be constructed by legendary Tiwa king Jongalbalahu. But his father Arimatta constructed a fort called Baidyagarh near Rangiya in Kamrup rural district. This sounds less convincing but we are helpless to find further details. While Jongalbalahugarh  is modified as fisheries by the Government, the Baidyagarh in all probability contains “garh” in it just like “Bhangagarh” and “Rajgarh” in Guwahati.

Recently I had gone to a place called Ganeshpur  near Abhayapuri in Bongaigaon district. The place contains ruins of a thousand year old structure known as Lalmati Duramari Ganesh Temple reminding me of Madan Kamdev site near North Guwahati.

Madan Kamdev ruins are similar in style to Khajuraho’s erotic sculptures. Archeological findings indicate that the two structures could have been built in contemporary times. There is no proof if there is a connection between the two structures or if one structure was influenced by the other.

If we consider mythology, Kamrup the name by which ancient Assam was known is associated with Kamdev, the Hindu god of desire and sex. Some historians suggest that the current Madan Kamdev site was the capital of Kamrup. But to the best of my knowledge, central India, in which Khajuraho is located is not known for any mythological links with eroticism. Perhaps we can therefore claim that the tradition of making  erotic sculptures started in ancient Assam.

Past is sometimes forgotten easily. Assam history, written or oral does not tell that eroticism had a central place in its society ever. But history is also silent on how Buddhism which surely flourished across India, disappeared as a practicing religion.

The Madan Kamdev site and the Ganeshpur site were deserted for centuries. Serious excavation by authorities started only during 1970s in both the sites. History does not provide clear information on how these structures got destroyed and then deserted. Though earthquake is a ready explanation,  but  can we rule out other factors?

The  remnants at Ganeshpur site clearly indicate it was a  place of worship of Hindus. History confirms that the Khajuraho structure was  desecrated by Muslim invaders.  Perhaps Kamakhya temple in Guwahati also came under attack during the fifteenth century as per historians.

It is not illogical to assume that the Madan Kamdev and Ganeshpur structures were demolished by hostile enemies. While Kamakhya temple was rebuilt by Koch and Ahom kings in subsequent times, Madan Kamdev and Ganeshpur were ignored for long.

As a society we are proud of our history and heritage. After seeing the ruins of Madan Kamdev and Ganeshpur I feel that some extra ordinary work is needed to bring back the lost glory of the sites, specially at a time when we emphasize so much on Assam’s tourism potential. At the same time a lot needs to be done to trace the history of construction of the sites, which may contain inspirational information for us.


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