Bongaigaon

ASSAM

Past and Present of Bongaigaon

Creation: The decision of the Government of Assam in 1989, to create a new  District of Bongaigaon curving out some areas of the Goalpara and Kokrajhar District with its headquarter located at Bongaigaon was quite challenging.  It was the political and administrative exigencies which had necessitated to create this new district suddenly although the people of Bongaigaon and the adjoining areas were demanding a new Sub-Division with its headquarter to be located at Bongaigaon from the very beginning.
This decision to create a new  District, Bongaigaon was quite challenging because the very idea to create such a district was neither a long standing one nor a tested one.  Moreover, the decision to set up a district headquarter at Bongaigaon was more challenging as there was no Sub-divisional infrastructure in this town, whereas the other newly created district head quarters of Assam had Sub-divisional infrastructures of their own. In the absence of such basic infrustructural facilities, the initiation of the activity of the district headquarter was almost started on the street, which was not only challenging task but also novel one.  Designed by Pranjal Saikia
On 29th September, 1989, the creation of Bongaigaon District was declared by the Government of Assam with its headquarter at Bongaigaon.   The major portion of the areas of erstwhile Bijni and Sidli estates along with tracts of Eastern Duars was curved out of Goalpara and Kokrajhar District in October, 1989 in order to create a newest district of Assam, i.e. Bongaigaon.  Although the logistic behind  the creation of this new district was no doubt an administrative one but the political as well as economic exigencies were also responsible behind its creation.
Background(a): The original Goalpara district was first created in 1822 A.D. by David Scott- an employee of East India Company, who was the first Commissioner of newly created North East Rangpur district Hd. Qr. at Rangpur town(now in Bangla Desh) and newly created Goalpara district was also tagged with North-East Rangpur district for administration. The erstwhile Bijni Kingdom's area which included the undivided Garo Hills district area also constituted the original Goalpara district area in 1822. In 1866 Garo Hills  was separated from Goalpara district area and in the same year a new district named "Greater Koch Behar" was created and the residual portion of Goalpara district was withdrawn from Rangpur and tagged with Koch Behar. In 1874 a new province named Assam Valley Province was created by British Govt.(Successor of East India Company) and Goalpara district area was withdrawn from Koch Behar and tagged with Assam Province which continues till today unless petty political gambling disturbs. Now the original Goalpara district has given birth of four districts namely (i) Goalpara (ii) Dhubri (iii) Kokrajhar and (iv) Bongaigaon.
(b) Hitherto referred, Bijni Kingdom was first establishment by Bijit Narayan alias Chandra Narayan in 1671 comprising the area of undivided Goalpara district.Chandra Narayan was the son of Parikshit Narayan who was the grandson of Yuvaraj Sukladhwaj alias Chilarai, the world hero(1510-1571 AD). He was the younger brother of Moharaj Naranarayan, the great emperor of Kamrup Rajya alias Kamata Empire alias Koch Empire of 16th century.The first capital of Bijni Kingdom was at modern Bijni town from 1671 to 1864 and thereafter shifted to Dumuria(now known as Dalan Bhanga) due to attack by Jhawlia Mech - a local chief under Bhutan Kingdom. The big and dreaded earthquake occured at 5 PM, on 12th June/1897 badly damaged the royal palaces of Dumuriya caused the shifting of the Capital temporarily to Jogighopa and thereafter permanently shifted to Deohati forest area now known as Abhayapuri named after Rani Abhayeswari in 1901, which continued upto 1956 when Govt. of India took over this Kingdom. At present Bongaigaon district is having three Civil Sub-Divisions, namely (1) Bongaigaon  with Hd. Qr. at Bongaigaon  (2) North Salmara with Hd. Qr. at Abhayapuri town and (3) Bijni with Hd. Qr. at Bijni town.90 % area of Bongaigaon district belonged to erstwhile Bijni Kingdom and 10% area from Sidli Kingdom, Raja Bhairabendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur and Raja Ajit Narayan Dev were the last kings of Bijni and Sidli Kingdoms respectively. Joy Narayan, Shiv Narayan, Bijoy Narayan, Mukunda Narayan, Haridev Narayan, Indra Narayan, Amrit Narayan,. Kumud Narayan and Rani Abhayeswari were the Kings and queen in between the founder king Chandra Narayan and the last king Bhairabendra Narayan of Bijni Kingdom.
On naming the district: The name of Bongaigaon town and district is the elongation of a fig and old village named Bongaigaon alias Bong-ai-gaon situated on the southern border of the town. According to hearsay (1) in the long past there were plenty of wild(Bon) Cows (Gai) in the surrounding hilly and forest areas. So, the villagers assembled time to time to drive away the wild cows for protecting their crops. Thus this area was popularly known as Bon-Gai-Gaon. (2) In that big village areas there dwelt one nature-poet named 'Bong' (Bong Roy) who could induce laughters to all his bye-standers with his cryptic but harmless oral composition describing the situation on the spot and in return he could collect grains or coins voluntarily offered by the audiance. This was his only source of income and profession. Thus his areas was roughly identified as the village of Bong(Ray) i.e. Bong-er-Gaon=Bongaigaon that is in course of time. This Bongaigaon village area was famous for orange fruits which were sold inter-alia other agricultural products in the nearest market named Birjhora Bazar located at the heart of present Bongaigaon town.The word Birjhora was derived from Bir+Jirowa(Jirowa means resting place) of Bir(hero). It is held that the noble hero Chilarai took here rest for about two months during rainy season at the time of his invading the neighbouring Kingdoms of entire north-east India.
The People: From the chequered historical background of this district, it can easily be surmised that the entire area was ruled by Kings/Zaminders/Feudal Lords hailing from the Koch-Rajbonshies belonging to Indo-Mongoloid ethnic group of  peoples right from 15th centuary to the end of princely states in 1956 A.D. The kings of this area had their hoary past and can be traced back to the "Kiratees" of epic age(Mahabharata fame) that is pre-vedic age. These Kiratees of dimpast are also mentioned in Kalika Puran and Jogingi Tantra and also in histories written both by native and foreign schoolers.

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Naturally Koches alias Koch-Rajbongchies and Kocharies are the original sons of the soil of this new district. Ravas, Garos, Yogis,Kalitas, Kayasthas and older Muslims are also indegenous who settled in this part of land prior to the advent of Britishers in North East Region.After advent of British Govt. in this part of land , a new term named Bodo/Boro was coined deliberately by European historian.According to them the word Bodo/Boro is a generic term and its species are (i) Kocharies (ii) Koches (iii) Rabhas (iv) Garos (v) Lalungs (vi) Hajongs and (vii) Chutiyas

Socio-Cultural Spectrum :

(a) Everyman and place do possesses some peculiarities and particulraties that constitute the inherent identity inspite of heterogeneous elements.Apart from prevalent common environment in the erstwhile Bijni Kingdom and undivided Goalpara district of 1822, the most striking factors of Bongaigaon district are the Hilly Caves(Gumphas) and stone carvings of Jogighopa hill-rocks demonstrating the existance of Budhist culture. The hills and the hilly rocks , the rivers, natural and man made ponds, the deep forest, the trees, plants and the bushes -- Jogighopa HIl
Rockcut Cave all are animated and these are either friendly gods and goddesses or evil spirits causing sufferings to men especially amongst rural areas."Ram Rajar Garh" near Deohati village is a man-made historical pond which was excavated by Ram Singh of Ambar Kingdom of Rajasthan. Ram Singh was grand son of Man Singh of Ambor Estate(Rajasthan) who excavated here with army of Delhi Sultan at the time of invading Ahom Kingdom in the second half of 17th century.
(b) Worshipping of benevolent gods and goddess or driving away evil spirits by incantation of "Mantras" or black-arts are the common mental make up and 99% of indigenous rural people even today are followers of pantheism and strong believer in inevitable destiny and are guided more by heart then head,more by emotion then by reason.The prime God named  Mahadev is whorshiped almost universally at least in this district area.Bhairab Hills range, Mohadev Hills range and Bhumiswar Hill are famous for ruins of sculptures, idols,Siva etc. are pictorial sites awaiting archeological research works and when renovated these spots will be interesting and charming tourist centres of this district.

                    Golden Langure

A View of Kakoijana Hills These potential tourist spots having rare and varied species of trees,birds,insects and even "Golden Langure" at Kakoijana Hill range, are eagerly awaiting for protection and promotion. In addition to Tam Ranga" and "Konora Beels"(natural ponds) area can supply fresh and tasty fishes almost to entire Assam if commercially managed which can also be used as ideal angling spots. Inspite of pantheistic view of life and worshipping of Gods and Goddesses,Shreemanta Sankardeva (1449-1569) the propagator of one Supreme God known as "Vishnu" enjoyed ample scope for spreading his Ism and received warm patronage from Koch Kings and peoples.Kotasbari, Sankarghola,Bishnupur etc are the indelible foot-prints of Shreemanta Sankardev and his associates in this district.
(c) "Shakti Puja's"(Worshiping of female deities headed by Bageswari/Kali-Thakurani/Buri-                        aie/Moharani/Kalikarpat etc ) are also found in every nook and corner of this district.Bageswari temple - the central and oldest Temple of Bongaigaon town area alongwith  Kalimandir near Swahid Bedi, Buri Aie of Bhakaribhita , Moharani temple of Khagarpur, Kalikarpat of Kakoijana Hills range, Jogodhatri of Sidalsati etc are worth mentioning spots. It is really interesting to note that Mohadev and his entire family members are worshipped both individually and collectively in simple or gorgious manners on different dates in their official or covering names like Buri Thakurani/Garja/Kalima/Bamboo Puja/Madan Kam, Ganesh Puja of Lalmati near Abhayapuri town etc. are worth mentioning . raniabha.jpg (16732 bytes)

Courtesy : Ambika Charan Choudhury