Cachar – the southernmost part of Assam has often found an inconsequential reference in historical books. The Dimasa-Kachari kingdom had a glorious history which found its culmination in the Cachar district of Barak valley. Relics of the Kachari dynasty beat in this valley in the monumental form of the Khaspur Fort and Kacha Kanti Devi temple.
Apparently, the Dimasas (tribe) reigned over the Kamarup state of Assam during the Classical period. However, in a tragic accident, while crossing the Brahmaputra valley to evade a political upheaval, some of the ill-fated Dimasa men were drifted away by the strong river currents. Ever since this incident, the Dimasas identifies themselves as “sons of the big river” meaning a clan which was breathed life by the mighty Brahmaputra.
Exploring the additional narratives revolving around the Dimasa-Kachari rule, legendary account of Hasengcha, a wonder boy who was reared by a tiger and tigress in a jungle nearby Dimapur became widely known. Later, this particular Hasengcha was deemed to be the precursor of the Dimasa dynasty in Maibang and Khaspur uptil the 19th century. The prime deity of the Dimasas was the war-goddess Kechai-Khaiti (one who eats raw flesh). Subsequently, they switched their devotion to Ranachandi (another form of Goddess Parvati or Kali). This sea change occurred when the Dimasas shifted their capital to Maibong, reasons owing to the attack of the Ahoms in 1536.
While in Maibang, the modus vivendi being a Hindu tradition, it had a profound impact on the mindset of the Dimasas.
Even so, the complete conversion of the first Kachari king to Hinduism came about only in Khaspur dated much later. With their conversion to Hinduism in the 18th century, the entire Kachari kingdom was named as Hidimba and its monarchs as Hidimbesvar. Narratives entwined around legends of that era exhibit the regal family to be originating/ emerging from Ghatotkacha, Bhima’s (gallant of Mahabharata) and Hidimbi’s (Kachari people’s princess) offspring.
Khaspur, which was initially a part of the Tripura kingdom, was governed by Kamalnarayana, sibling of the famous Koch king Chilarai. The 18th century which saw Bhima Singha to be the last Koch ruler of Khaspur had no male successor to the throne. Hence, his daughter Kanchani was married off to LaxmiChandra, the Dimasa emir of Maibang kingdom. This created an association between the two realms.
With the death of Bhima Singha, the Dimasas grabbed the chance to settle on a new plain with a newer perspective in hand. Consolidating the two kingdoms into one, people then saw the emergence of the powerful Kachari kingdom under King Gopichandranarayan.
The Rajbari or in other words, the ruins of the former King’s palace can be seen scattered here and there inside the present day tea-garden of Pathemara Tea Estate. Some of the former structures seem to have taken an absolute new appearance after renovation. The Bengali do chala roof is indicative of the aesthetic sense of the Kachari kings. Temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Devi Ranachandi accrue the tourist’s attention too. Remnants of the fortification wall can be seen standing strong in the complex till today.
The Singha darwaza, char chala staircase, the Snanghar (Queen’s bath) and their exquisite designs and motifs lay out the technical bent of mind of the Kacharis. With appropriate and proper refurbishment, the Khaspur site would make a permanent lodestone for tourists.
Pagan belief systems that were earlier practiced by the Kacharis got washed away under the Hindu aura. In fact, analyzing Kacharis since their footsteps in Cachar represent them as God-fearing people. Under the Hindu spirit, Kachari tradition of tribal habits and customs got supplanted by Hindu practices.
Dreams had a symbolic purpose in installing the prominence of the royals in the ancient times. Such was the backstory behind the founding of Kachakanti Devi temple. It is being said that Raja Krishnakanta dreamt a dream where he was dictated to establish a temple to worship a frightful form of a deity. When the message of this oracle was carried to the royal priest Sonaram Sarma, he laid the temple stones with Kachakanti Dev as its idol in present day Udharbond. Rites and rituals associated to adulating the Goddess was also imparted by the priest.
Sans proper upkeep, the models of cultural and religious pride of Silchar are in a staggering position. Being Silcharians, our endeavor ought to be to uplift this valley along with preserving our historical anecdotes. The ruins of Khaspur bellow unkempt and abandoned scenes of our heritage. With the rise in marketing industry, tourism can be a gainful venture for this valley. Assigning history specialist guides to cognize outsiders of the assets of Barak valley is sure to fascinate the adventure-minded folks. At this juncture, invoking the common people to safeguard their splintered legacy is the only way to turn this valley into a paradise.