History of Barak Valley by North East Centre for Advanced Studies (NECAS)

By | December 22, 2013

NECAS throws light on ancient civilization in Barak Valley

SILCHAR, December 21: A new dimension has been added to the history of Barak Valley by North East Centre for Advanced Studies (NECAS). A team of research scholars under the guidance of Dr Apurbananda Mazumdar with the support of Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) have found evidences of a civilization in the valley that dates back to pre–medieval age. So far the history of this valley shows the emergence of Silchar as a cantonment town after the annexation of the region by the British in 1832 with the end of Dimasa Kingdom. According to the study of NECAS team, the findings are based on the historical information gathered from the copper plate inscriptions of Bhatera during the rule of Raja Gour Gobinda, also known as Raja Gobinda Keshab Dev who ruled this valley in the 11th century. Bhatera is a place in Sylhet from where the copper plates have been recovered.

Besides doing extensive works in various libraries including National Archive as well as other source materials, the team members have carried out survey of rural areas of the three districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi for identification of places as mentioned on the copper plates. It has been done on the basis of decipherment and examination of the inscriptions, their aetiological study, scientific methodology, geographical and historical analysis which have come out with vital information on the existence of urban civilization.

There are references to places like Salchappra, Singeri, Nilambazar, Bhagadahar, one near Banskandi and another near Patharkandi, besides rivers, Surma and Kushiara as well as Barak. Using digital technology and scientific study of names of places, their origin, usage, meaning and spelling, these places and rivers have been identified. It has also been established that the rulers of the time have given land grants to subjects in order to legitimize their rule and order and the places across Barak Valley have with them the suffixes of grants. In–depth analysis of the information gathered of a place on the basis of habitations, census records, voters’ lists and satellite imagery has further helped in identification of the places. The team, Dr Apurbananda Mazumdar said, has quite naturally depended on archaeological evidences. It has also brought out yet another vital information about significant human habitations, debunking the fact that the valley all around abounded with deep and dense forests, streams and rivers, flora and fauna.

Bhanga, 15 km from Karimganj town, on National Highway 7, earlier 44, has been found to be a port city along Kushiara and Surma, tributaries of Barak river. It is referred to as Navapattana, meaning a new town or city. It is a word that is found in Sanskrit and Pali and indicates the time of 4th century BC to 8th century BC. It has links with Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea through the waterways leading to Bangladesh and beyond. Bhanga has been a global trade centre and this has found mention in the accounts of Moroccan traveller, Ibn Battuta (1304), al Biruni, Persian scholar (973) and James Rennel (1743), Geographer and Historian.

With the passage of time, all trade has stopped by 18th century. Till 14th century, Bhanga has been a flourishing and crowded city. Dr Mazumdar has a word of caution. The findings are not final and calls for more detailed and thorough studies of the records, Historical and Geographical, as well as other source materials available. Dr Mazumdar presented his findings before a selected group of teachers, students and media–persons in the conference hall of Gurucharan College, Silchar recently. Source: The Sentinel