Guwahati Knowledge Guide
Guwahati's myths and history go back several thousands of years. Although the exact date of the city's beginning is unknown, references in the epics, Puranas, and other traditional histories of India, lead many to assume that it is one of the ancient cities of Asia. Epigraphic sources place the capitals of many ancient kingdoms in Guwahati. It was the capital of the kings Narakasura and Bhagadatta according to the Mahabharata. Located within Guwahati is the ancient Shakti temple of Goddess Kamakhya in Nilachal hill (an important seat of Tantric and Vajrayana Buddhism), the ancient and unique astrological temple Navagraha in Chitrachal Hill, and archaeological remains in Basistha and other archaeological locations of mythological importance. The Ambari excavations trace the city to the Hindu kingdoms of Shunga-Kushana period of Indian history, between the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD. During earlier periods of the city's history it was known as Pragjyotishpura, and was the capital of Assam under the Kamarupa kingdom. Descriptions by Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) reveal that during the reign of the Varman king Bhaskaravarman (7th century AD), the city stretched for about 30 li (15 km or 9.3 mi). Archaeological evidence by excavations in Ambari, and excavated brick walls and houses discovered during construction of the present Cotton College's auditorium suggest the city was of economic and strategic importance until the 9th–11th century AD.
The city was the seat of the Borphukan, the civil-military authority of the Lower Assam region appointed by the Ahom kings. The Borphukan's residence was in the present Fancy Bazar area, and his council-hall, called Dopdar, was about 300 yards (270 m) to the west of the Bharalu stream. The Majindar Baruah, the personal secretary of the Borphukan, had his residence in the present-day deputy commissioner's residence.
The Mughals invaded Assam seventeen times, but were defeated by the numerically inferior yet formidable Ahoms in the Battle of Itakhuli and the Battle of Saraighat. During the Battle of Saraighat, fought in Saraighat in 1671, the Mughals were overrun due to the strong leadership and hard work of Lachit Borphukan. The great embankment called ‘Momai-Kata Gorh’, named after an incident in which Lachit had to slay (Kata) his own maternal uncle (Momai) for being lazy in building the embankment (Gorh) that runs along the outskirts of the city, stands as a proof of the hard work and war-readiness on the part of the Ahoms. There was an ancient boatyard in Dighalipukhuri, probably used by the Ahoms in medieval times. Medieval constructions include temples, ramparts, etc. in the city.The city was under Burmese rule from 1817 to 1826. Following the First Anglo-Burmese War, the city became a part of the British Empire. It played an active role during the independence struggle of India and was the birthplace of activists such as Tarun Ram Phukan.