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Pyramid-like Ahom burial mounds in Assam to vie for UNESCO World Heritage Site tag

Centre picks Assam’s Charaideo Maidams from 52 sites across the country to be nominated for World Heritage Site status

January 21, 2023 05:15 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:11 am IST - GUWAHATI

Assam’s Charaideo Maidams — the Ahom equivalent of the ancient Egyptian pyramids. Photo: Special Arrangement

Assam’s Charaideo Maidams — the Ahom equivalent of the ancient Egyptian pyramids. Photo: Special Arrangement

The Centre has decided to nominate Assam’s Charaideo Maidams — the Ahom equivalent of the ancient Egyptian pyramids — for the UNESCO World Heritage Centre this year, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on 21 January.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose the maidams, representing the late medieval (13th-19th century CE) mound burial tradition of the Tai Ahom community in Assam, from among 52 sites across the country seeking the World Heritage Site tag.

The Ahom rule lasted for about 600 years until the British annexed Assam in 1826. Charaideo, more than 400 km east of Guwahati, was the first capital of the Ahom dynasty founded by Chao Lung Siu-Ka-Pha in 1253.

“The nomination of the Charaideo Maidams has attained significance at a time when the country is celebrating the 400th birth anniversary of Lachit Barphukan,” Mr. Sarma said.

Photo: Special Arrangement

Photo: Special Arrangement

Lachit Barphukan is a legendary Ahom general whose battle against the Mughals in 1671 made him a BJP icon.

“There is currently no World Heritage Site in the category of cultural heritage in the northeast. The dossier [to push for the case of the Charaideo Maidams] was prepared in technical collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India,” the Chief Minister said.

Photo: Special Arrangement

Photo: Special Arrangement

Out of 386 Maidams or Moidams explored so far, 90 royal burials at Charaideo are the best preserved, representative of and the most complete examples of mound burial tradition of the Ahoms.

The Charaideo Maidams enshrine the mortal remains of the members of the Ahom royalty, who used to be buried with their paraphernalia. After the 18th century, the Ahom rulers adopted the Hindu method of cremation and began entombing the cremated bones and ashes in a Maidam at Charaideo.

Photo: Special Arrangement

Photo: Special Arrangement

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