THE STONE BRIDGES OF THE AHOM ERA

There are people here in spite of broken bridges
Some with baren bosoms
Others with their bosom covered by hues of green
                    
The Namdang Stone Bridge
The ethnic Tai Ahoms had brought a new dawn to Assam which created a glorious era in Assam History. They had laid the foundation of the greater Assamese nation building by uniting the indigenous ethnic tribes of Assam and also built the economic base of the nation with a work culture for better entrepreneurship. In the Ahom Era, different works were assigned to different persons and for which they were inspired and also rewarded and punished according to their performances in their assigned duties. It is noteworthy that the distribution of different duties to different portfolios in the Ahom monarchy had ultimately instigated the nation for a work culture and better economic development.

The Ahoms had given a fine example of their progressive work culture by constructing the Dhod'or Ali by mobilizing Dhods( those who pretended to be lazy). Once the Ahom King Gadadhar Singha declared that he would himself give food and shelter to the Dhods. All the Dhods assembled together and the king too gave them shelter in a special house. One night the house was burnt out, all the Dhods came out of the house except three greater Dhods. All the Dhods were assigned to build a road which was later named as Dhod'or Ali. The three real Dhods had also escaped and they too were appointed as the cooks of the workers. Such instances of fine work culture is rare in the world history. The Ahoms had made many 'Gar'(Mounds)s to protect the dynasty and the capital. These Gars were also used in the time of war along with some underground tunnels. They had also built many roads, bridges for better transportation system in Assam. The Tai Ahoms were really experts in technique and engineering activities. They had built many stone bridges, royal palaces and temples with brick, stone and egg, bora rice, urad bean, which were moulded and used as an indigenous type of cement.
There are ten stone bridges of the Ahom era –

1) Namdang stone bridge: One of the major roads, constructed by the Ahoms in the Bor Ali which runs from Gorgaon to Dikhowmukh through Juktoli, Joysagar, Athaisagar and Gaurisagar. This road was known as Gajpuria Ali too and this was the main land route of the Ahom Dynasty to the river Brahmaputra. This two lane road is divided in Kumar gaon and Namdang gaon near Boliaghat by the river Namdang and for better communication through the Bor Ali, the greatest Ahom King Rudra Singha constructed a stone bridge there in 1703, and it is known as the Namdang Stone Bridge.

This historic bridge is located a few kilometres away from the Sivasagar town and the present 37 No. National Highway is passing over it. The unique characteristic of the bridge is that it was cut out from a single solid piece of rock hundreds of year old. But it is also said that the bridge was made by assembling a number of huge stones collected from the Naga Hills. The craftsmen who were known as 'Silakuti' in the Ahom era constructed the bridge with those stones and indigenous cement made of Duck egg, Borali Fish, Bora rice, black lentils, lime etc. The bridge is a little carved in shape and is 202 ft. long, 21 ft wide and 5.6 ft high. Sculpture has been cut on the pillars of the bridge and it has seven culverts. It is said that the craftsmen made this historic bridge in a single night which stands still, challenging various national calamities like earthquake and flood.

2) Darika stone bridge: There was another stone bridge in the Dhod'or Ali, 5 km away from Gorgaon. This stone bridge is known as  Darika stone bridge and it is located in such a place where three rivers Dijoikhana, Towla and Sarunoi embraces each other and in the ancient time that place was regarded as a sacred place by the Ahoms.

The Darika stone bridge was constructed during the rule of Su-Seng-Fa Pratap Singha around 1611 to 1649. There had been fine sculptures on the bridge, but now these are almost destroyed. The ONGC, Nazira has built another bridge to save the original stone bridge which demands ample scope of tourists' attraction.

3) Dijoikhana stone bridge: The long road from Gorgaon to Nagaland through Charaideo is known as the historic Dhod'or Ali and the road diverted from Dhod'or Ali between Garmur and Tenga pukhuri is the Rohdoi Ali which crosses the Dijoikhana jan(Stream). This Dijoikhana jan flows from the sadhua pukhuri(pond). Swargadeo Supatfa( Gadadhar Singha) constructed a bridge on that Rohdoi Ali over the Dijoikhana jan to commemorate the memory of a pohari,( a woman who sells fish or vegetables) named Rohdoi. It is written in history that three poharis - Rohdoi from Roha, Vadoi from Tipam and Aghuni from Sologuri saved Gadapani, pretended him as a dead thief, covered his body with cloth, and acted crying, while Gadapani was searched by the soldiers of Lora raja. Later, his sons constructed temples, roads and bridges in the name of these three poharis and this Dijaikhana stone bridge is one of them which is also a little curved in shape like the Namdang stone bridge. There were two temples in both the edges of the bridge, but now they have vanished.

4) Na Duar stone bridge: The Na duar stone bridge is another important stone bridge of the Ahom Era. It was constructed in the 10th of Puh month, 1652 Saka. It is found in history that when Swargadeo Rudra Singha shifted the capital from Gorgaon to Rangpur, he tried to protect the capital with big Gorh(mound) which is known as Rajgarh. In the south of Rajgarh there stands Borduar, Paniduar in the east and Na duar in the west. In the time of Rudra Singha there was a foot bridge made of wood. Later in the rule of Siva Singha that foot bridge was reconstructed with stone and bricks in 1652 Saka. This stone bridge is located on the edge of Poharadar Ali which is known as Na-duar stone bridge. It has two big culverts.

5) Nafuk stone bridge: During the time of Siva Singha, a stone bridge was constructed in Nafuk. It is mentioned in history that this bridge was constructed of 26,000 pieces of stone, 30,300 bricks, 18 Karal gaats , 64 Mun (40 kg) black lentils, 30 dang fish, 136 mun lime stone, 125 mun bora rice, 550 mun jaggery, 1216 mun samuk lime, 1229 mun Saka lime, 38 kher dhuna and 184 Dhul.

6) Namti stone bridge: Although it has not been written in any history book, I have gathered some information about another stone bridge of the Ahom Era in Namti. The historic Dhod'or Ali is crossed by a small river, Namti near the boundaries of Mout gaon, Komarsuk, Dibual and Na-Pam. This small river is flowing from the Naga Hill and mingles with the Namdang river in the plain. And there is a bridge over the Namti river with two big culverts. This bridge has no curved shape like the other stone bridges of the Ahom era. Both the edges of the bridge are same in size like the Dorika stone bridge and the culverts of the bridge has similarities with Dorika and Dijoikhana stone bridge. The nearby area is popularly known as 'Namtipul' only for this bridge and the dwellers of the area call it a pul (culvert) instead of bridge. To the east of the bridge there stands the 'Samoguria Rajar Maidam'.

Other than these six stone bridges of the Ahom era there is some information, gathered from my field study about another 4 stone bridges, specially constructed during the time of Gadadhar Singha. One bridge was constructed over the Nam-tula river, east of the Rohdoi tank. The other bridges were constructed in Hahchara, Demow and Geleki.

The link road from Sivasagar town, crossing the Dikhow river, to Bor Ali is known as Na-Ali. And in Amguri, there is a place known as 'Naw-Jirua Ghat' near this Na-Ali, where there is another pul(culvert) made of stone - which is known as Na-Ali pul. There is another culvert in Demow Sukan pukhuri, known as 'Komoldoi Pul'. In the time of Swargadeo Rudra Singha two bridges were  constructed in Borphukan Ali at Demow with stone and bricks. King Sudoifa also constructed a stone bridge in Buka Nagar.  Stepmother of Gauri Nath Singha, Nafuki Rajmaw constructed another stone bridge over the Nafuk river with a temple. And there is Silghat in the Tawkak river near this Nafuk stone bridge. But history is completely silent about this Silghat. In North Guwahati, there was another stone bridge at Monikarneswar.

All the stone bridges mentioned above have not been well maintained or re constructed for long. Many of them have already been destroyed. All the stone bridges, constructed in about 16th century need to be well preserved not only to remember our glorious past, but also to prove us as civilized people who are proud of the great Tai Ahom Dynasty and love Assam by heart.

Editorial note prepared by
Tulika Chetia Yein
Poet and Researcher of Folk Culture



DIMORIANREVIEW, VOL-5, ISSUE-5, SEP-OCT 2018 RELEASED

We express our thankfulness to all contributors in this issue for their unconditional support and cooperation in making our effort successful this time also. 

We acknowledge also to the honorary advisory board, honorary technical review board and all members of editorial team for their guidance, support and cooperation.

We sincerely acknowledge with thanks to Ms Tulika Chetia Yein for writing from Editors’ Desk in this issue. She is a Poet of numerous poems who has also authored and edited several books and magazines respectively and Researcher of folk culture. Tulika Chetia Yein is a name of her repute in the field of literature and socio-cultural researches in recent time in Assam. She is writing from early time of her life and with the passion and zeal, she also contributes for most of the newspapers, magazines published in Assam regularly.

Some of the books authored by her are - "Mounotar Atmapath" - a collection of poems based on self-experience’, "Hanhir Akash Premor Akash" - a collection of prose, "Swapnor Swadesh Mur Arunachal" - an autobiography, "Akash Nothoka Rati" - a collection of poems, "Swapna Premor Prathona" - a collection of poems, "Shaa Puharot Sivasagar" - a historical account of Sivasagar, "Royal Architecture of the Ahoms" - a bilingual booklet on the architecture during the Ahom reign in Assam and so on.  

Recently, she has been announced for the ‘International Tathagat Creative Award 2018’ by Siddhartha Tathagat Art & Cultural Organisation, Uttar Pradesh, which is stated to be awarded during November, 2018 for her contribution in the fields of literature and socio-cultural researches. We congratulate her for such achievement and also wish her good health, good things and more accolades in life.

Hope readers will love reading this issue also!
Editors
DIMORIANREVIEW
Vol-5, Issue-5; September-October 2018

1 comment:

  1. Good & Great, keep going Tulika & show the world the path of life with light

    ReplyDelete

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