Middle Kingdoms of India, Part 59


Kamakhya Temple, Kamarupa

Jul 17, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of India's great history, religious movements and temple architecture.


Among the four successive dynasties that ruled in the narrowly defined region known as Kamarupa, there were various non-dynastic kings among the more established rulers of the Mlechchha and Pala dynasties.

Mlechchha Dynasty (c. 655–900 A.D.)

'After Varman Empire King Bhaskaravarman's death, without an heir, his kingdom in Kamarupa passed into the hands of Salasthambha (655–670), an erstwhile local governor and a member of an aboriginal group called Mlechchha (or Mech), after a period of civil and political strife. This dynasty also drew its lineage from the Naraka dynasty, though it had no dynastic relationship with the previous Varman dynasty.

The capital of this dynasty was Haruppeshvara, now identified with modern Dah Parbatiya near Tezpur (Assam). The kingdom took on feudal characteristics, with political power shared between the king and second and third tier rulers called mahasamanta and samant, who enjoyed considerable autonomy. The last ruler in this line was Tyāga Singha (890–900 A.D.).

Pala Dynasty (c. 900–1100 A.D.)

After the death of Tyāgasimha without an heir, a member of the Bhauma family, Brahmapala (900–920 A.D.) was elected as king by the ruling chieftains, just as Gopala of the Pala dynasty of Bengal was elected. The original capital of this dynasty was Hadapeshvara, which was shifted to Durjaya built by Ratnapala, near modern Guwahati. The greatest of the Pala kings, Dharmapala had his capital at Kamarupanagara, now identified with North Guwahati.

The last Pala king was Jayapala (1075–1100 A.D.). Around this time, Kamarupa was attacked and the western portion was conquered by the Pala king Ramapala.

Non-dynastic Independent Kings

The Gaur king could not hold Kamarupa for long, and Timgyadeva (1110–1126) ruled Kamarupa independently for some time. A minister of the Gaur king Kumarapala (the son of Ramapala) began an expedition against Timgyadeva and installed himself as a ruler at Hamshkonchi in the Kamrup region. Though he maintained friendly relationships with Kumarapala, he called styled himself after the Kamarupa kings issuing grants under the elephant seal[30] of erstwhile Kamarupa kings and assuming the title of Maharajadhiraja.

The period saw a waning of the Kamarupa kingdom, and in 1205 the Afghan Muhammad-i-Bakhtiyar passed through Kamarupa against Tibet, which ended in a disaster. Mughisuddin Yuzbak of the Mameluk rulers of Bengal attacked and defeated an unknown ruler of Kamarupa in 1257. But Yuzbak could not hold on to the capital as he was weakened by the monsoon rains that led to his defeat and death by the local population.

End of Kamarupa kingdom

The Kamarupa kingdom came to an end in the middle of the 13th Century when a ruler of Kamarupanagara (Guwahati), named Sandhya, moved his capital to Kamatapur (North Bengal) and established the Kamata kingdom. At that time, western Kamarupa was being ruled by the chiefs of the Bodo people, Koch and Mech tribes. In central Assam the Kachari kingdom was growing, and further east, the Sutiya kingdom. The Ahoms, who would establish a strong and independent kingdom later, began building their state structures in the region between the Kachari and the Sutiya kingdoms.


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