PLACES OF INTERESTS

Something profound

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

-Mother Teresa

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

-Winston Churchill

MIR JUMLA'S TOMB

Near Ferryghat, on the approach to Thankuranbari lies the tomb of a great Mughal general Mir Jumlah who was instrumental in the Mughal expedition to the East/ North East during Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb' rule. Sir Edward Gait in his exceptional book "a history of Assam" has detailed Mir Jumla’s exploits as follows. "When Mir Jumla was made governor of Bengal and had occupied Dacca (now Dhaka) after the flight of Prince Suja to Arakan, Jayadhvaj Singh who ascended the throne of "the Ahom Kingdom in November 1648 sent an envoy to him to say, that he had taken possession of the country solely in order to protect it from the Koches and that he was prepared to hand it over to any officer whom the governor might send for the purpose.

 

Rashid Khan was accordingly deputed to receive back the im­perial lands but Jayadhvaj Singh sent a letter to Rashid Khan calling upon him to withdraw his troops. These matters were duly reported against Pran Narayan the King of Koch Bihar.

When appointed viceroy of Bengal, Mir Jumla had been specially enjoined by Aurangzeb to "Punish the lawless Zamindars of the province especially those of Assam and Magh (Aracan) who had caused injury and molestation to the Muslims". Mir Jumla occupied Koch Bihar but failed to capture the King Pran Narayan who escaped to Bhutan. He left a garrison of five thousand men in Koch Bihar and then on 4th January 1662 set forth on his invasion of Assam, Rashid Khan joined him at Pangamati but the local Zamindars thinking it impossible that he could defeat the Ahoms, held aloof. Owing to the dense jungle and the numer­ous rivers the journey was most tedious and the daily marches rarely exceed four or five miles.

Mir Jumlah now divided his army into two divisions, one of which marched up the South bank of the Brahmaputra while he himself, with the main body crossed the Monas by a bridge of boats and advanced along the north bank. The fleet kept pace with the army. It comprised a number of ghrabs or large vessels carrying about fourteen guns and about fifty or sixty men, each of which was in tow of four Kosahs or lighter boats propelled by oars. Most of the ghrabs were in charge of European officers, amongst whom Portugues Predominated. The total number of ves­sels of all kinds was between three and four hundred.

 

 

On receiving news of the loss of Jogighopa Jayadhvaj Singh hastily despatched large reinforcements to Saraighat and Pandu, but the Muhammadan arrived before them. The Ahom forces again declined an engagement. The troops on the north bank fled to Kajali so rapidly as to escape a turning movement by a detachment under Rashid Khan. Those South of rivers were not so fortunate; they were overtaken by flying force and large numbers of them were killed. The fort of Saraighat which was at Guahati (now Guwahati) which at this time was wholly or chiefly on the north bank of the river was occupied on the 4th of February 1662. A fort at Beltola succumbed to a night attack and the garrison was put to the sword.

After halting three days at Gauhati where the Darrang King came in and made his submission. Mir Jumla started on his march for Gargaon and Ahom capital. Half way to Samdhara the whole Army crossed to the South bank in boats, the passage occupying two days. The Dimarue Raja sent in his nephew to attend in the Nawab and explain his own absence on the grounds of sickness.

The advance along the South bank continued, and on the 20th February, the Army encamped so near the Ahom fort of Simlagarh that a cannon ball fired from it passed over the Nawabs' tent. This fleet occupied a very strong strategic position.

To avoid the loss of life which would have been involved in storming it, siege was decided on. Gradually under heavy fire trenches or covered ways, were carried close up to the walls. A night attack on these trenches was re­pulsed though with difficulty and a night or two later (on the 25th February) the final assault was delivered. The resistance made by the defenders was comparatively feeble and as soon as they found that the wall had been scaled and the gate broken open they fled without attempting to save their guns and other war material, all of wh ich fell into the hands of the victors. On entering the place next day. Mir Jumlah was surprised at the strength of the fortifications and in" iew of the bravery of the Ahom soldiers at this period, it is difficult to explain why a more stubbom defence was not made.

Possibly it was because on this, as on many other occasions they had the misfor­tune to be under inefficient or timid leaders. On the fall of Simlagarh the garrison of Samdhara lost heart and having destroyed their store of gunpowered fled without waiting to be attacked Mil' J umlah placed a garrison in Samdhara and appointed a Muhammadan official as Faujdar of Kolibar. Mil' Jumlah rested his army for 3 days at Kolaibar and then continued his march. The march was continued to Salagarh which the Ahom evacauated on the approach of the Muhammadans. At this place several Ahom officials appreared with letters from Jayadhvaj Singh asking for peace. Gi"en the situation Jayadhvaj Singh sent orders to the commanders on both banks to concentrate at Lakhua.

The Dihigvias so shallow above its junction with the Brahmaputra that it was impossible for the fleet to go further. Mir Jumlah therefore left it at Lakhua. After halting there for three days during which time he was joined by a number of deserters from the Ahom cause, he set out with his land forces along the direct road to Garhgaon. Debargaon was reached in two days. The third day he halted and on the fourth hen marched to Gajput. Here he heard of the flight of the Raja and at once despatched a flying column with all speed to Garhgaon to seize the elephants and other property which had not already been removed. Next day the main nody encamped at the mouth of the Dikhy and the day following, the 17th march, the Nawab entered Garhgaon and occupied the Rajas' palace. Eighty two elephants and nearly three lakh of rupees worth of gold and silver were found at Garhgaon and also about 170 storehouses each containing from one to ten thousand maunds of rice. it is said that Mir Jumlah opened a mint at Garhgaon and caused money to strick there in the name of the Delhi Emperor. The muhammadans occupied a number of villages whose inhab­itants soon began to accept the position and to settle down quaitly under their new rulers.

It was Nawabs' intention to spend the rainy season at Lakhau, but three days continuous downpour indicated an early commencement of the monsoon, and as the captured elephants were not yet fully trained and could not be got to work properly and without them it was impossible to transport in time the boot)' taken at Garhgaon it was resolved instead to camp at Mathurapur, village on high ground seven miles south-east of Garhgaon.

By this time the rains had set in, Jocomotion became difficult and the real troubles of the invaders began. The Ahoms, took advantage of the inclemency of the season to cut off communications and supplies to seize and kill all straggters from the main body and to harass the Muhammadam garrison by repeated surprises, especially at night.

With the progress of the rains, Mir Jumlah found it more and more difficult to maintain his outpost, and they were withdrawn to Garhgaon and Mathurapur. These places alone remained in his hands. All the rest country was reoccupied by the Ahoms and Jayadhvaj Singh returned from Namrup to Solahiri only four stages distant from Garhgaon. Even Garhgaon and Mathurpur were closely invested that, if a man ventured to leave the camp, he was certain to be shot.

The Ahoms renewed their attacks upon Garhgaon. The Muhammadans were now reduced to severe straits. They were exposed to constant attacks both by day and by night. The only food generally obtainable was coarse rice and times. Salt was sold at thirty rupees per seer, butter at fourteen rupees a seer, and opium at sixteen rupees a tola. Fever and dysentery became terrible prevalent and a detachment which numbered fifteen hundred men at the begin­ning ofthe war was reduced to five hundred. Many horses and draught cattle also died. To add to his troubles Mir Jumlah heard that Prann Narayan had returned and driven out the garrison he had left in Koch Bihar. The troops, commanders and common soldiers alike had become utterly dispir­ited and they thought only of return ing to their own houses.

Towards the end of September, howeve, the rains ceased and communications became cas ier. Larger quantities of fresh supplies of all kinds were sent from Lakhua and reached Garhgaon about the end of October. The Mughals quickly recovered their morals. The land having dried-up their country were once more able to operae and Jayadhvaj Singh and his nobles again fled to Namrup. but again difficulties arose. Owing to famine in Bengal, further supplies were not forth coming. Mir Jumlah fell seriously ill and could travel only by palanquin; and his troops were so discontended that large numbers threatened to desert farther than enter the pestilential climate ofNamrup or risk having to pass another rainy season in Garhgaon. Mir Jumlah was thus com­pelled to listen to the Rajas' repeated overtures and peace was agreed to . A treaty was concluded accordingly and on the 9th january 1663 to the intense joy of his army. Mir Jumla gave the order to return to Bengal.

The main nody of the army marched down the South bank of the Brahmaputra as far as Singiri Parbat, where it crossed to the North bank Mir Jumlah himself traveled by palki from Gargoan to lakhua by boat from lakhua to Kolibar and from thence by palki to Kajalimukh a distance of eighty four miles. Mir Jumlah rested a few days at Kajali and while here (on the 7th February 1663) the army was frightened by a terrible storm of thunder and lightening followed by a severe earthquake, the shocks of which continued for half an hour. From Kajali a move was made to Guahati where Rashid Khan was installed against his will, as Fanjdar. 
The Nawab who had a reapse at Kajali, now became dangerously ill and was to proceed direct to Dacca. He grew rapidly worse and died just before his ship reached Dacca on the 30th March 1663. His mortal remains were buried in the hillock at Thakuranbari near Mankachar