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Guwahati -- A city built with time, nestled with love shaped by Brahmaputra

Assam , 2019-10-29 11:49 AM
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Maharajdhiraja shri surendravarmana kritam bhagavatah valabhadra swminayay idam guham

These beautiful lines can be found in the Nilachal Hills, a few kilometers from Guwahati, from a rock inscription. It reads: "This cave (-temple) of the illustrious Lord Balabhadra was built by Maharajadhiraja Sri Surendra Varman." It is believed that the inscription dates back to the 5th century AD, making it one of the earliest found in North-East India. Interestingly, it refers to a temple dedicated to Balabhadra, a deity of the Vaishnavite pantheon, but the location of the temple— the Nilachal Hill.

Nevertheless, it meant something else for the rest of us— the life of a city, Guwahati, for over 1,500 years of recorded human history. The inscription of Nilachal stone is incontrovertible proof that for at least two millennia Guwahati has been home to a large settlement. The North-East has scarcely featured in the imaginations of the majority of Indian historians, yet in its journey through the ages, it has stood the test of time.

It is not possible to distinguish the earliest account of the city of Guwahati from the mention of the Pragjyotishpura kingdom, which is estimated to date far before the beginning of recorded history. As the legend goes, Kiratas and Mleccha ruled the kingdom of Pragjyotishpura — usually depicted as addicted to meat and wine; their king Ghatak was tall and powerfully built. Nevertheless, a king named Naraka eventually defeated them and established in the area his own twice-born (Dvija, or Aryan) people. (Today, approximately 5 km south of modern Guwahati, is a place surrounded by low-lying hills called Narakasur Gaon.)

Karna, the Mahabharata's great warrior, won the tournament, but the hand of the princess was offered to Duryodhana at his insistence. Today's Dighali Pukhuri is named the water body where this exchange is said to have taken place. In the Mahabharata's epic tale, Bhagadutta fought in the final battle for Duryodhana and the Kauravas and later died an honorable death.

Today, Guwahati is spread over 216 sq., nearly 120 years later. Km with more than 1 million inhabitants. Guwahati is now one of the country's fastest-growing cities and a gateway to the Act East policy of the central government. Urban speed and growth have changed this city's face completely, rendering it an epitome of a modern urban India—restless and energetic. Yet tales that are thousands of years old are deep within the surrounding hills and the Red River.

Updated by: Daisy 2019-10-29 11:49 AM