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Jorhat


Jorhat is a city in the state of Assam in India. It was the last capital of the Ahom Kingdom and home to many historical monuments of Assamese culture. In the north of the district, the Brahmaputra River forms the second largest riverine island of the world, Majuli, which spreads over 924.6 square kilometres with a population of about 150,000. The island, threatened with constant erosion by the mighty and unstable Brahmaputra River, had been the principal place of pilgrimage of Vaishnavites since the age of the Ahom rulers. Several Sattras (monasteries) resembling those of medieval times are headed by Satradhikars teaching Vaishnavism, which was introduced by Srimanta Sankardeva (1449–1568). Each Sattra has an unknown wealth of Vaishnavite scriptures and extensive revenue-free lands cultivated by the Bhakats (celebated monks) of the Sattras. The cultural diversities which prevailed in Jorhat nearly a century ago has inspired the people to participate in cultural activities through the decades and as a result Jorhat has been able to produce many creative writers, musician, actors, historians and journalists, terming Jorhat “The Cultural Capital of Assam”.

The city today has evolved to be one of the major commercial and business hubs of the state with growing numbers of shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, residential apartments and educational institutions. The city also serves as the base for the famous places such as the Kaziranga National Park and the World’s largest river island Majuli. Centrally located within the state, the city depicts a vibrant Assamese township and culture, making it one of the most preferred places for local people to conglomerate.

Jorhat (“jor” means join and “hat” means market) means two hats or mandis- “Macharhat” and “Chowkihat” which existed on the two different banks of the river Bhogdoi. During the 18th Century, Jorhat was the last capital of the Ahom Kingdom, as a planned town under royal patronage. It is often spelt as “Jorehaut” during the British reign. In the year 1794, the Ahom King Gaurinath Singha shifted the capital from Sibsagar, erstwhile Rangpur to Jorhat. Many tanks were built around the capital city by the Ahom royalty such as Rajmao Pukhuri or Borpukhuri, Buragohain Pukhuri, Bolia Gohain Pukhuri, Kotoki Pukhuri and Mitha Pukhuri. This town was a flourishing and commercial metropolis but completely destroyed by a series of Burmese invasions of Assam between 1817 and the arrival of the British force in the year 1824 under the stewardship of David Scott and Captain Richard.

The British Rule, though not free from rebellions and revolutions, contributed to the reemergence of this historical town. From the very first decade of the British rule, revolutionaries like Gomdhar Konwar, Jeuram Medhi, and Piyali Phukan emerged. The British system of administration came into vogue in the year 1839 with an established Police Thana. During the great Sepoy Mutiny, Maniram Dewan and Piyali Barua were hanged in public at this very place in 1858.

In 1885, a narrow gauge railway, Jorhat Provincial Railway, became operational. In time, this contributed to the rapid growth of the tea industry.

Although, the Civil Sub-division under Sibsagar district at Jorhat was formed in 1869, it was declared the administrative headquarters of the undivided Sibsagar district in 1911. The undivided Sibsagar District comprised the present Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat district and parts of Karbi Anglong district. Major A. Playfair served as the first Deputy Commissioner. Presently, Jorhat is being modernized with many new commercial and non-commercial establishments. The old families of this ever prosperous city have transformed the city into a bustling and a well organised entity.

During the Second World War, Jorhat was one of the main supply depots in support of allied forces fighting in China. ‘Flying the Hump’ of the Eastern Himalayas out of Jorhat with C-37 cargo planes and P-51 fighter support (Flying Tigers) was a regular occurrence.