History Files
 

 

Far East Kingdoms

South Asia

 

 

 

Assam

Assam is a state lying in the far north-east of modern India, with Bangladesh bordering it to the west. The people mainly belong to a mix of Mongoloid, Caucasian and Australoid races, speaking Austro-Asiatic, Indo-Aryan, and Tibeto-Burman language types. In the mythological period Assam experienced its first known rulers under a dynasty called the Danavas. They and the succeeding Naraka dynasty find mention even in epics such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, Kalika Purana, Yogini Tantra, and so on. At this time, Assam was known as Kamarupa (Pragjyotisha), which was crystallised in a kingdom of the same name that emerged into history in the ninth century AD.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

Danava Kings

The Danava were the first accounted kings in the Assam region of India, beginning the region's political history. Mention of them can be found in Hindu literature, but no other source material has survived to confirm their existence. The chiefs were mountain people, possibly of Mongoloid origin, who were known in literature as the Kirata.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

Mahiranga

Founder of the dynasty.

Hatakasura

Sambarasura

Ratnasura

Ghatakasura

Killed by the first Naraka king.

14th century BC

Ghatakasura is killed by Narakasura who founds the dynasty of Naraka kings that subsequently rules the region.

Women tea pickers in Assam
Assam remained a largely rural region even in the nineteenth century, when it was the one of the world's largest producers of tea

Naraka Kings

The Naraka were another semi-mythical dynasty in Assam, as were the Danava before them. Similarly, they are only mentioned in Hindu literature, with no external confirmation, although there is probably a basic truth in the existence of a powerful dynasty of kings around whom later legends were built. The first Naraka king, Narakasura, killed the last of the Danava kings and claimed his territory, founding a dynasty which was probably aboriginal.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

Narakasura

Founder of the dynasty.

c.1310s BC ?

Narakasura is apparently killed in battle by Lord Krishna of Dwarka and his spouse, Satyabhama. Perhaps not all of the kings of this dynasty are known, but the prominent ones are shown below.

Bhagadatta

Took part in the Kurukshetra War in the Mahabharata.

c.1300? BC

One of the contemporaries of Jarasandha of Magadha is Jayatsena, probably an ally and vassal who rules a section of the kingdom independently after Jarasandha's death. Jayatsena takes part in the Kurukshetra War in the Mahabharata as one of the leaders on the side of Kauravas, along with Srutayus of Kalinga, Paundraka Vasudeva of Pundra, Karna of Anga, and Malayadwaja of the Pandyas. Bhagadatta of the Naraka kings is also involved in the war.

Vajradatta

Vajrapani

Subahu

Suparua

Last Naraka king. Assassinated by his ministers.

c.1230s BC ?

The Narakas are not mentioned again and Assam becomes obscured by the mists of time, for at least a millennium. The Varman kings are the next to emerge, the first historical dynasty in the region.

Varman Kings
AD 350 - 655

The Varman kings were the first rulers to emerge into history in first millennium Assam (Pragjyotisha), and the first to be mentioned for the region since the mythological kings of the Mahabharata period. The Varman claimed direct descent from the Naraka kings, but their kings are sometimes mistakenly lumped in with the later Kamarupa kings in modern lists. The kingdom was situated around the Brahmaputra river valley, around present day Guwahati and Tezpur.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

350 - 374

Pushyavarman

Founded the kingdom.

374 - 398

Samudravarman

398 - 422

Balavarman I

422 - 446

Kalyanavarman

446 - 470

Ganpativarman / Ganendravarman

470 - 494

Mahendravarman / Surendravarman

494 - 518

Narayanavarman

518 - 542

Bhutivarman / Mahabhutivarman

542 - 566

Chandramukhavarman

566 - 590

Sthitavarman

590 - 595

Sushisthavarman

595 - 600

Supratishthavarman

600 - 650

Bhaskaravarman

Brother. Said to be an illustrious king.

mid-600s

The Kamata kingdom emerges in western Assam.

650

Bhaskaravarman assists Harshavardhana of Thaneshwar against the Gauda King Shashanka. Even though Bhaskaravarman is a Hindu he also patronises Buddhism. He dies without a heir.

c.650 - 655

Avantivarman

655

After the short reign of Bhaskaravarman's sole successor, the kingdom falls under the dominion of the Salasthambha Mlechha dynasty. A Varman dynasty later emerges in Samatata, but it is unclear if that bears any relation to the Varman kings of Assam.

Mlechha Kings
c.AD 655 - 900

The Mlechha (or Mlechchha) kings were local natives of long standing, pre-dating many of the later arrivals, including any Indo-Europeans (Aryans) in the region. They emerged as kings at roughly the same time as the Kamata kingdom in Assam. They gained control of the territory which had very recently belonged to the now-extinct Varman kings. They established a capital at Hadpeshwar (present day Tezpur).

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

c.655 - 675

Salasthambha

c.675 - 685

Vijaya / Vighrasthambha

c.685 - 700

Palaka

c.700 - 715

Kumara

c.715 - 725

Vajradeva

c.725 - 745

Harshadeva / Harshavarman

c.750 - 765

Balavarman II

c.765 - ?

?

Name of this one, possibly two, king(s) unknown.

? - c.790

Pralambha / Salambha

c.790 - 810

Salambha

c.810 - 815

Arathi

early 800s

Pala king Devapala conquers Pragjyotisha (Assam), where the (unnamed) king submits without a fight.

Traditional Assamese dwellings
Traditional Assamese dwellings remained the same for many centuries

815 - 832

Harjaravarman

832 - 855

Vanamalavarmadeva

c.835

The first of the Kachari kings claims to rule in the town of Dimapur in Assam, probably as little more than powerful chieftains at this point.

855 - 860

Jayamala/Virabahu

860 - 880

Balavarman III

890 - 900

Tyagasimha

900

The Mlechha are forced out of their base by the Kamarupa Pala kings and are pushed towards Dimapur, Maibong, Khaspur and Sadiya. The remnants of the Mlechha later establish new kingdoms; the Kachari kingdom at Khaspur and the Chutiya kingdom at Sadiya. Kamarupa takes over the bulk of their former territory.

Kamarupa Pala Kings (Pragjyotisha)
c.AD 900 - 1100

Kamarupa (or Kamrupa, or even Kamrup) was an ancient Indian region in south-eastern Bengal and Assam. It was known as Pragjyotisha in mythology. Assam itself was also known by this name in the ancient period, but it is not clear if the kingdom bore the region's name, or vice versa. It is possible that Pragjyotisha's origins as a distinct kingdom far predated its emergence into history.

Its earliest reference is found in the Allahabad Prashasti, where it is noted as an eastern frontier state along with Davaka, Nepala, Karttrapura, and Samatata. The kingdom was known as Kirat Pradesh (or Twipra, which equates to modern Tripura). It defeated the Mlechha kings and took control of their territory. Unlike their Buddhist Pala counterparts in Bengal, the Kamarupa Palas were Vaishanavites and drew their lineage from the Varman kings.

The dating for these kings is shown differently in some sources, with the names of the first six kings being unrecorded and Brahmapala reigning about 990-1010. The subsequent order is the same down to Dharmapala, who is shown reigning about 1095-1115. The same sources erroneously place the last of the Mlechha kings, Tyagasimha, in the Kamarupa list at about 970-990.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

c.900 - 920

Brahmapala

Kingdom founder.

c.920 - 960

Ratnapala / Rativapala

c.960 - 990

Indrapala

c.975 - 990

According to the copperplates issued by his successors, the Chandra king, Kalyanachandra, makes his power felt in Gauda and Kamarupa. He may be responsible for delivering the final blow to Kamboja power in northern and western Bengal and thereby paving the way for the revival of Pala power under Mahipala I.

c.990 - 1015

Gopala

c.1015 - 1035

Harshapala

c.1035 - 1060

Dharmapala

c.1060 - 1100

Information on the Kamarupa kings becomes very sketchy and confusing from this point. Dharmapala is often claimed as the last independent king who is overthrown by the Pala king, Ramapala, and a regional governor is installed. However, the timescale appears too long for this to be true, unless the given dates are wrong. Ramapala does not accede to the Bengal throne until 1077, making this the earliest date at which he could conquer Kamarupa. Instead, the occasional claim that Jayapala succeeds Dharmapala is probably an accurate one. The dates are approximate here, so Jayapala may also immediately succeed Dharmapala, but this cannot be proved.

c.1075 - 1100

Jayapala

c.1100 - 1110

The Pala king, Ramapala, apparently conquers Kamarupa about 1100 and sets up a Pala governor to control the territory in his name.

Gaud Pala Kings of Bengal (in Assam)
AD 1110 - 1140

The Pala king, Ramapala, restored much of the past glory of his Pala dynasty in Bengal. After crushing a rebellion, he extended his empire farther, reaching as far as Kamarupa (Assam) about 1100-1115. Here, he replaced his Assam Pala cousins with Timgyadeva, the new Pala governor for the region. But Timgyadeva declared his independence in 1110, setting himself up as an independent king. The same thing happened in 1140, briefly, before the governors were removed entirely.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

1110 - 1126

Timgyadeva / Timeyadeva

Former Pala governor. Declared independence.

1126

While it seems to take some time for his former Pala masters to deal with Timgyadeva, retribution for his declaration of independence arrives in the form of Kumarapala, son of Ramapala. Timgyadeva is deposed (his ultimate fate is unknown) and a new governor is assigned to the region.

1126 - 1140

Vaidyadeva

Former Pala governor. Declared independence.

1140

Following the death of Kumarapala, his Pala governor in Assam, Vaidyadeva, also declares his independence, but his reign is very brief as the Kamarupa kings take this opportunity to restore their own rule.

Kamarupa Kings (Restored)
AD 1131 - 1228

Following the Pala conquest of Kamarupa, and the establishment of regional governors, it took just a generation for the Kamarupa kings to restore themselves to independence. However, this was a different Kamarupa kingdom, weaker than before, and lacking the kind of control it may formerly have exercised in Assam. Many of its former territories soon came to host other small kingdoms and fiefdoms. To the east arose the Chutiya, Ahom and Kachari kingdoms. To the west the Barobhuyan chiefs formed a buffer region between the east and the Kamata kingdom.

The previous king, Jayapala, is shown as the first ruler of the restored kingdom, which would have made him at least seventy when he died, if not older. While this is not beyond the bounds of possibility, it does seem unlikely. It is possible that they were two different men, perhaps father and son, although that doesn't tally with usual naming practices in Indian kingdoms.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

c.1131 - 1138

Jayapala

Restored, but unlikely. Perhaps the real name has been lost.

c.1138 - 1145

Vaidyadeva

c.1145 - ?

Rayarideva

? - c.1175

Udayakarna

c.1175 - 1195

Vallabhadeva

1185

The Khen kings emerge in Assam, elevating themselves from local chieftains to kings as a power vacuum emerges with the decline of the Kamarupa kings.

1187

Kamarupa's decline is highlighted once again as the Chutiya kings emerge to the east of the kingdom, in north-eastern Assam.

Tea transportation in Assam
Elephants were a regular feature in tea transportation in Assam

12th century

The Barobhuyan chieftains emerge to the west of Kamarupa in Assam, forming a buffer region between Kamarupa and the Kamata kings.

c.1195 - 1228

Vishvasundaradeva

1224

During his rule, Ghiyasuddin of the Khilji Malik in Bengal builds up a powerful navy and takes on Kamarupa, among many others.

1228

The Kampura kingdom finally collapses, although it has probably already been much-reduced in territory. The Ahom kings succeed them in Assam, based more to the east. The Kachari kings also begin to emerge in eastern Assam. Kamarupa itself later becomes the capital of the Koch kings.

Ahom Kings
AD 1228 - 1838

The Ahoms belonged to the Shan Tai Mong Mao race which originated in parts of southern China and south-east Asia. Adopting the Hindu religion, they formed kingdoms in regions of Kamarupa (in Assam) in the early thirteenth century. They also gave their name to the region, Ahom being the ancient version of the Anglicised Assam.

The largest of these kingdoms was formed by Sukhapa, a Shan prince who captured parts of Assam after descending from the Patkai mountains. He ruled from his capital at Charaideo, but this was the first of many capitals, suggesting either a semi-nomadic kingship, or a constant shifting of power and alliances to retain the kingship. The Ahom kings initially ruled territory to the east of Kamarupa, arising alongside the Chutiya and Kachari kingdoms..

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

1228 - 1268

Sukhapa

Founder of the dynasty.

1257

Mameluke king of Bengal, Iuzbak, proclaims himself an independent ruler. The ambitious Iuzbak attacks and occupies Bihar and, buoyed by his success, he invades Kamarupa. This proves disastrous and Iuzbak is killed in battle.

1268 - 1281

Sutepha

Son.

1281 - 1293

Subinpha

Son.

1293 - 1332

Sukhangpha

Son.

1332 - 1364

Suharampha

Son.

1336

The Kachari kings emerge as a recognisably independent kingdom based at Dimapur in Assam.

1364 - 1369

There is an interregnum, although the circumstances are unknown.

1369 - 1376

Sutupha

Brother. Killed by the Chutiya king.

1376 - 1380

A second interregnum hits the dynasty following Sutupha's untimely death.

1380 - 1389

Tyaao Khamti

Son of Sukhangpha. Assassinated.

1389 - 1397

Yet another assassination provides another interregnum in the unsteady rule of the Ahom kings. The next to claim the kingship eight years later moves the capital to Charagua, perhaps to increase his security.

1397 - 1407

Sudangpha / Bamuni Kumar

Son.

1407 - 1422

Sujangpha

Son.

1422 - 1439

Suphakpha

Son.

1439 - 1488

Susenpha

Son.

1488 - 1493

Suhenpha

Son. Assassinated.

1493 - 1497

Supimpha

Son.

1497 - 1539

Suhunmung / Dihingia Roja I

Son. Assassinated. Ruled from his capital at Bakata.

1498

The Khen kings fall to an Islamic invasion.

1500

Three years after the accession of Suhunmung (also known as Swarganarayan), the Jayantiya kingdom emerges in Assam, located just above the north-east corner of modern Bangladesh.

1510

The Koch kings replace the Khen kings in southern Assam.

1522

As a partial culmination of their inter-kingdom feud, the Ahoms take Sadiya and kill the Chutiya king. The position of sadiyakhowa gohain is created, the governor of Sadiya. The Chutiyas, forced away from their capital, rally in the countryside and conduct guerrilla warfare against the Ahoms.

1539 - 1552

Suklenmung / Garghyan Roja

Son. Ruled from his capital at Garhgaon.

1552 - 1603

Sukhampha / Khura Roja

Son.

1586

During his reign, the Kachari king, Satrudaman, is also responsible for an invasion of the Jayantiya kingdom which begins a period of increased Kachari dominance there, although they are rivalled by the Ahoms.

1603 - 1641

Susengpha / Pratapsingha / Burha Roja

Son. Also known as Buddhiswarganarayan.

1616

The descendants of the brother of the last king of Koch Hajo are allowed to form the Ahom vassal state of Derrang.

Susengpha expands his territories to the west and comes into conflict with the Moghuls, probably during the reign of Jahangir, signalling later trouble for the Ahom kings. Despite this serious mistake, the king makes a good ruler and administrator. He also brings the Barobhuyan chieftains under his domination.

1641 - 1644

Surampha / Bhoga Roja

Son. Also known as Jayaditya Singha. Deposed by Sutingpha.

1644 - 1648

Sutingpha / Nooriya Roja

Brother. Deposed and murdered by his son, Sutamla.

1644 - 1648

Nooriya Roja and King Jasamanta Ray of the Jayantiya kingdom become involved in a dispute over territory, which sours the previously good relations between the kingdoms.

1648 - 1663

Sutamla / Jayadhwaj Singha

Son.

Sutamla rules from his capitals at Bakata and Garhgaon, which had also served Suhunmung and Suklenmung in the first half of the sixteenth century. He adopts the monotheist Mahapuruxia religion.

1660 - 1663

Mir Jumla, the Moghul subahdar of Bengal, is an enterprising ex-employee from Golconda who switches sides to join the Moghuls. He is made governor of Bengal, where he does a commendable job, expanding his territory to include Kamarupa and Koch Bihar.

1663 - 1671

Supangmung / Chakradhwaj Singha

Cousin.

1671

Supangmung's general, Lachit Borphukan, stems Moghul expansionism by defeating their more powerful army at Guwhati during the Battle of Saraighat. The Ahom troops use the terrain to their advantage, coupled with every other trick in the book to demoralise and disorder their opponents.

1671 - 1672

Sunyatpha / Udyaditya Singha

Brother. Deposed as an unpopular bigot.

1672 - 1674

Suklanpha / Ramadhwaj Singha

Brother. Poisoned.

1673

The Chutiyas fall under the domination of the Ahom kings, and are absorbed into their state. The Kachari and Jayantiya kings remain in power in various other parts of Assam.

1674 - 1675

Suhunga / Samaguria Roja

A descendent of Suhunmung.

1675

Gobar Raja

Great-grandson of Suhunmung.

1675

Gobar Raja is deposed by Atarn Buragohain and executed.

1675 - 1677

Sujingpha

Grandson of Pratapsingha. Deposed & blinded. Committed suicide.

1677 - 1679

Sudoipha

Great-grandson of Suhunmung. Deposed and killed.

1679 - 1681

Sulikpha

Of the Samaguria family. Deposed and killed.

1681 - 1696

Supatpha / Gadadhar Singha

Son of Gobar Raja.

Supatpha governs from Borkola, establishing the rule of the Tungkhungia clan. He retakes Guwahati from the Moghuls and proves to be a good administrator.

Tea transport in Assam
Transporting tea by boat was another stage in the journey before the advent of the railway

1682

The Moghuls attacked the vassal kingdom of Derrang, deposing Suryanarayan there. The kingdom is ended, but the Ahoms regain control of the region.

1696 - 1714

Sukhrungpha / Rudrasingha

Son. Ruled from Rangpur.

Sukhrungpha banishes his brother, Lechai, fearing his ambitions. Lechai's son later returns to lead a rebellion against a later king.

1714 -1744

Sutanpha / Siba Singha

Son. Adopted the Shaktism religion.

1744 - 1751

Sunenpha / Pramata Singha

Brother. Built Rangghar amphitheatre.

1751 - 1769

Surempha / Rajeshwar Singha

Brother.

During his reign, Surempha builds Manikarneshwar temple, along with Sureshwar and Siddheswar temples. He also sends an army to aid the ruler of Manipur, who has been deposed by the Burmese.

1769 - 1780

Sunyeopha / Laxmisingha

Brother.

Sunyeopha starts to persecute followers of the Mahapuruxia religion, which leads to disunity in the kingdom and the Moamoria Rebellion, which is led by Mohanmala, son of Lechai. The king is held captive by rebels for a time but later regains his kingdom.

1780 - 1795

Suhitpangpha / Gaurinath Singha

Son.

Suhitpangpha loses Rangpur to rebels from Mormaria. He rules the kingdom from his capital at Jorhat and commissions a team of Nora astronomers to re-examine the history of the Ahoms.

1795 - 1811

Suklingpha / Kamleshwar Singha

Great-grandson of Lechai. Killed by smallpox when young.

1811 - 1818

Sudingpha

Brother. Deposed and imprisoned.

1818 - 1819

Purandar Singha

Descendent of Surempha.

1819

Purandar Singha defeats the Burmese during their invasion of Assam, but the capital at Jorhat falls to them.

1819 - 1821

Sudingpha / Chandrakanta Singha

Restored following the removal of Purandar Singha.

1819 - 1824

Soon after he is restored to the throne, Sudingpha is forced to flee from the capital after an invasion of Assam by the Bagyidaw Burmese is led by Milingmaha Tilwa. The Ahoms are ruled by the Burmese, with the brother of Hemo Aideo, the Bagyidaw queen of Burma, ruling as a puppet.

1821 - 1822

Jogeshwar Singha

Burmese puppet ruler. Removed.

1822 - 1824

As Burmese attention on the Ahoms begins to waver from 1822, their puppet ruler is removed. Purandar Singha is restored to the throne, but this time as a tributary raja of Upper Assam, subject to the authority of the British East India Company. In 1824 the start of the Anglo-Burmese War forces the occupiers to fully concentrate on their own lands, ending the period of occupation.

1822 - 1838

Purandar Singha

Restored.

1830

The last of the Kachari kings dies without a heir and the British East India Company annexes the kingdom under the details of its Doctrine of Lapse.

1835

The Jayantiya kingdom also finds itself being annexed by the East India Company.

1838

Assam is converted into a principality by the East India Company, ending the rule of the last remaining independent Assam kings.