Barpeta

Barpeta District was carved out of erstwhile Kamrup District of Assam in July 1983. The district derived its name from the head-quarter town of Barpeta. Created as a Civil Sub-Division in 1841 by the British Administration, John Batlor was the first administrative Officer of erstwhile Civil Sub-Division. Today the District consists of two- Civil Sub-Divisions, (1) Barpeta and (2) Bajali.

This Lower Assam District covers an area of 3245 square K.Ms and is bounded by international border i.e. Bhutan Hills in the North, Nalbari District in the East, Kamrup and Goalpara District in the South and Bongaigaon District in the West. The District lies between latitude 26'5'' North - 26'49'' North and longitude 90'39' East - 91'17' East.

The general Topography of the Barpeta District varies from low-lying plains to highland having small-hillocks in the South-West-corner of the District, namely Baghbar, Fulora and Chatala overlooking the scenic and mighty Brahmaputra river.

The river Brahmaputra flows from east to west across the Southern part of the district. The tributaries of these river that flows through the District are Beki, Manah, Pohumara, Kaldia, Palla, Nakhanda, Marachaulkhowa and Bhelengi flowing from North to South. Rivers Pohumara and Kaldia joins near Barpeta town to form river Nakhanda whereas Palla and Beki join with Nakhanda to ultimately form Chaulkhowa river.

HISTORY

Barpeta has been a place of great religious importance. Known by various names like Tatikuchi, Porabhita, Mathura, Vrindavan, Choukhutisthan, Nabaratna-Sabha, Icchakuchi,Pushpak Vimana, Kampur and Barpeta. It was Koch King Naranarayan who founded Barnagar (Sorbhog) The present District formed an integral part of the Koch-Hajo and the Ahom Kingdom till British Administration took over. From the ancient period Barpeta witnessed the rule of the Varmans (380-654) the Salasthamas (655-985) the Palas (985-1260) the Kamatas (1260-1509)& the Koches from 1509. During the Kamata & Koch rule major historical development took place. During this period large number of local feudatory-chiefs who are primarily land lords called 'Bhuyans' ruled the region. Number of villages constituted a 'Chakla' placed under a Bhuyan was patronised by the Kamatas. These Bhuyans arrived from eastern part of India like Kanauj, Gauda and Bengal who in passage of time became general Assamese caste and accepted the Vaishnava faith under influence of Shrimanta Sankardeva.

Koch King Naranarayan established his temporary capital at Barnagar. Here he met Shrimanta Sankardeva and his renowed disciple and sub-sequently accepted Vaishnavism when Sankardeva was invited by the monarch to Koch- Bihar. It was during king Naranarayan's regime at Barnagar the great saint established Satra at Patbaushi to spread his Socio-religious faith. The Koch rule ended with annexation by the Mughals. The valiant Ahom fought a number of battles against the invading Mughals. Some of the well-known battles were fought at Jakhlikhana, Bhabanipur and Bhatekuchi. Ahoms were defeated and Mughals took over the Administration and systematised the entire revenue adminstration. Kamrupa became a Sarkar,which was divided into Parganas. Barpeta,Khetri, Bajali, Barnagar, Bahbari and Bijni became Parganas. A Gomasta was appointed to run the 'Tapa' and a number of Tapas bacame a Pargana. For administrative convenience the Parganas were divided into Taluks, lats and villages. Parganas were placed under Barbaruas and Choudhuries. Taluks remained under Talukdar. They were assisted by Thakurias, Patwaries,Kakati,Gaon barika etc. who kept the revenue accounts. Judges in Parganas were called Shikdar,whereas Amin and Kanango were responsible for land-survey, assessment and collection of revenue.

With the advent of Shrimanta Sankardeva, this region turned into a religious place dotted with numerous satras and in fact Barpeta town came to be called 'Boikumthapuri Dham'. As a part of providing pantronage to various religious-places irrespective of religions, the Ahom rulers provided a large number of land-grants to the Satras. Dr. Maheswar Neog in his edited work" Prasya Sasanawali" has mentioned a large number of land-grants during the region of Shiva Singha,Rajeswar Singha,Lakshmi Singha,Gaurinath Singha and Chandra Kanta Singha. Grants were made to Muslim-Darghas of Shah Madar at Baushi, Shah Fakir at Barnagar,Panch Peer at Khetri, Syed Shahnur Dewan Fakir at Bhella,where Chandra Kanta Singha granted 100 bighas la khiraj land. Grants were made to Devalaya also. These grants were made in copper-plate inscriptions which are invaluable source of history.

Wide-spread destruction of life and property took place when the Maans invaded from Myanmar. Even the Barpeta Satra was razed to the ground during this invasion. To restore peace British army entered Barpeta to drove-off all the invaders. With the advent of British rule Mouzadari system came into effect.In 1841 Barpeta became a Civil Sub Division and John Batlor became the first administrator. As a part of policy of exploitation,land-revenue rates were suddenly enhanced which resulted in a number of peasant unrest in between 1893-94 particularly in Bajali and Sarukhetri area. Large number of arrests were carried out to foil attempts of unrest. The Lachima up rising is one such shining example of peasant revolt against British rule. Raijor Sabha constituted during this period raised the banner of revolt.



During the struggle for independence large number of people participated and were jailed. Madan Chandra Barman and Rauta Koch were first martyrs to sacrifice their lives during Quit India Movement of 1942. Some of the important Congress leaders who lead the Freedom-struggle are Umesh Chandra Brahmachari, Dhaniram Talukdar, Ganesh Lal Choudhury, Debendra Nath Uzir, Akshay Kumar Das, Bongshidhar Choudhury, Nanamohan Mazumdar, Golak Pathak, Sonaram Choudhury, Dr. Jinaram Das, Biswanath Das, Praneswar Das, Ambikagiri Raichoudhury, Mahendra Mohan Choudhury, Madhusudan Das, Upendra Chandra Das, Debendra Sharma,Naranarayan Goswami, Kabiraj Ghanashyam Das, and Chandraprava Saikiani. Mahatma Gandhi visited Barpeta in 1934. So did Jawaharlal Nehru in 1937.

PLACES OF INTEREST

BARPETA SATRA : The Satra located at the heart of the City attracts devotees from all over the State particularly during Holi when Doul festival is organised and annivarsaries of various Vaishnava Gurus. The buildings within the Satra premise are architectural achievements in its own right.The Kirtan Ghar is considered to be the largest in Assam. The Three Guru Asanas are placed in this buildings in honour of Shrimanta Sankardeva, Shri Madhavdeva and Shri Badula Ata. The two Satradhikars sit behind the Asanas to hold Nam-Prasangas regularly. Numerous buildings are located within the premise covering an area of 20 Bighas.

CHINPARA-VITHI: Chinpara-Vithi is the place where Srimanta Sankardeva landed from his boat at Barpeta on banks of Palangdi Bori; which is presently called Palangdihati. The Saint stayed here for six months to propogate his faith. This place is located about 1/2 K.M. North of Barpeta Satra. The Namghar established by the Guru still exist.

SUNDARIDIYA SATRA : Located near the Barpeta town this is a Satra that played an important role in spreading Vaishnavisim and reformation. Shri Madhabdeva founded the Satra and composed the "Bhakti Ratnakar" and "Namghosa" here in the original Vithi of the Satra.The great saint during his sojourn here dug a Well preserved till today and water of the well is considered holy.Three Guru Asanas are placed in the name of Shri Sankardeva,Shri Madhavdeva and Shri Badula Ata.

PATBAUSHI SATRA: This Satra is located 2 km north of Barpeta town. This Satra is frequented by large number of devotees and visitors as it was a cultural centre from where Satriya culture,art-forms and literature spread far and wide.Vaishnava Gurus like Shri Manta Sankardeva, Shri Madhavdeva, Shri Damodardeva and Shri Harideva stayed in the Satra for propagation of Vaishnava faith. Shrimanta Sankardeva lived here for 18 long years and composed 240 Bargeets, Shastra (literary religio- cultural text) and Ankiya nat (Dramas). The scripts are carefully preserved here. Of late the Govt. has taken steps for preservation of this treasures of Assamese heritage and planning to setup a Shrimanta Sankardeva Museum at the premises of the Satra. The Damodar deva Satra is also located in the same premises. Ahom Ruler Paramatta Singha constructed a Math in memory of the saint. This Satra is located at a distance of about 2 K.M. from Barpeta town.

GANAKKUCHI SATRA: Established by Sri Madhabdeva, the reformer stayed here for more then 18 years. The vithis of Shri Ram Ata and Shri Ram Atoi are also preserved here. A number of Sachipat Puthis composed by Shrimanta Sankardeva is preserved here. This Satra is located within the radius of Barpeta Municipality.

BARADI SATRA: This Satra was established by Shri Madhabdeva. The common people were greatly influenced by the preachings of this great scholar. This Satra became an important centre of learning.

PARI HARESWAR DEVALAYA, DUBI: This Shiva Temple was founded back in the ancient period.Located at Dubi near Pathsala of Bajali Sub-Division Ahom King Shiva Singha made land grants measuring about 760 Puras recorded in Copper-Plate inscriptions and donated an image of Goddesses Durga. There is a legend that Queen Fuleswari, wife of Shiva Singha, was instrumental in bringing "Devadasis" or Temple dancers from Upper Assam to perform dances for amusement of the deities of this Temple. The famous dance form "Devadasi-Nritya" is said to have originated in this Temple.

DARGAH OF SYED SHAHNUR DEWAN, BHELLA: A disciple of Muslim Sufi-Saint Ajan Fakir of Upper Assam Syed Shahnur Dewan came and stayed at Bhella region to spread the Sufi Philosophy of Islamic brotherhood back in the medeival period. This mystic is said to have divine healing power and cured a maternity problem of Queen Fuleswari, wife of Ahom King Shiva Singha. On curing the Queen, the King issued land grants and other patronages to the Fakir. Ahom King Chandra Kanta Singha also offered land through issue of Copper-Plate inscriptions which has been lost during the Burmese invasions of 1824.

GOROKHIA GOSAIR THAN,NIZ SARIHA(SORBHOG): Shri Narayan Das Thakur Ata, a disciple of Shrimanta Sankardeva came to offer his devotion that was said to be founded by some cow herds (Gorokhia). The building of this Than has a close resemblance of the Kirtanghar of Barpeta Satra. The Than covers an area of 25 Bighas where Doul festival is organised annually with great pomp and splendour.

MANAS NATIONAL PARK : Declared as a national park in 1990 Manas National park is located at Himalayan foothills where its having an unique bio diversity and scenic landscapes. It is one of the first reserves included in the tiger reserve network under project tiger in 1973. Covering an area of 2837 Sq.KM. Manas river flows through the park with unique blending of dense jungles and grass-land, harbours the largest number of protected species of India including tiger, leopard, civet, elephants, buffalo, pygmy hog, golden langoor, Assam roof turtle, and the Bengal florican. This park is included as a site of international importance under UNESCO's world heritage convention in 1988 as well as Biosphere Reserve in 1989. There are as many as 60 species of mammals,312 birds, 42 reptiles,7 amphibia,54 fishes and more than 100 species of insects The place can be reached by road from Barpeta Road(20KM) connecting National highway No-31 that connects rest of India. The railways connects Barpeta Road with rest of the country and Gopinath Bordoloi airport at Guwahati is nearly 160 KM from Barpeta Road town. The forest lodges are situated inside the park at Mathanguri which lies at a distance of40 K.Ms from Barpeta Road. Visitors are to obtain necessary permission for entry into park at the office of Field Director Manas Tiger Reserve, Barpeta Road.

BRASS METAL INDUSTRY OF SARTHEBARI : Sarthebari town is located in the easternmost corner of the district famous for the household brass metal industry. Large number households carry out this industry that expertises in making Sarais, Bota, Ban-Batis,Thals,glasses etc. that are traditionally used by the Assamese people. These utensils are unique contribution towards Assamese tradition and culture carried for long period of time. Due to increasing cost of raw materials that is to be imported from other state, the artisans are finding it economically difficult to continue the industry.

RIVER SIDE VIEW : The main rivers of Barpeta namely Manas, Beki and Brahmaputra present scenic beauty that would bring appreciation from environmentalists and tourists alike. View from the bridges on National highway No-31 over Beki and Manas provide panoramic view of natural beauty. A visit to Baghbar hills also provide a scenic overview of the mighty Brahmaputra. But infrastructural facilities has to be developed to attract tourists.