Saving Ahom kingdom - Local youths push for Unesco tag to protect Charaideo

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  • Published 18.01.06

Charaideo (Sivasagar), Jan. 18: Going by historians, the Egyptian pyramids are their only competitors. But now, the vast expanse of the sacred burial ground of the kings and queens of the Ahom kingdom, popularly called maidams, lies desolate, uncared for and abandoned.

Well, almost. A band of 20 local youths, bunched under the Charaideo Ancient Monument Monitoring Committee, has vowed to see to it that the ancient monuments are not only saved but the place gets a World Heritage Site tag from Unesco.

Three-fourths of the maidams, spread over an astounding 2,000 bighas, are either in ruins or under encroachment. Led by a local graduate, Madhurjya Rajkonwar, the youth brigade organised the Charaideo festival with the help of the Charaideo sub-division administration to highlight the maidams? plight. The fortnight-long festival ended on January 10.

?Our job was mainly to provide guidance to the visitors who come here annually. We had also organised an exhibition, which depicted the various monuments of the site and some information about them. It was a very encouraging experience for all of us,? Rajkonwar said.

The festival drew around 10,000 visitors, including a group from Austria.

Appeals for donations have not fallen on deaf ears either. A group of Germans, that had visited Charaideo, pooled together 20,000 Euros (nearly Rs 10 lakh) for the project. The money was handed over to the committee last year.

At present, there are some 40-odd maidams but very few of them are ?protected? by the ASI and the state archaeology department.

Local residents said there could be nearly 150 maidams in and around the area.

The committee?s objective is to search and identify all those monuments, which were constructed when Charaideo was the seat of administration of the Ahom rulers.

?Most of us know that Charaideo was the first kingdom of the Ahoms, but we identify it mostly with being a royal burial ground. However, the most important thing is that Charaideo was the first capital. So we have decided to first protect the deoshall and the langkuri doul (places of worship), remains of which still exist,? Rajkonwar said.

The committee has also started initial work on reconstructing the deoshall. The model for the deoshall, which will be in conjunction with the ones in Thailand and China, had been endorsed by Gauhati University historian J.N. Phukon.