Assam?s Charaideo Moidams

Assam’s Charaideo Moidams

News: Recently, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that the central government has decided to put forth the name of Assam’s Charaideo moidams burial sites for addition to UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. 

Background:
• The Charaideo moidams are royal burial sites of the Ahom dynasty, which ruled over much of Assam and the North East from 1228 to 1826 AD. 
• Located around 30 km from Sivasagar town in eastern Assam, even today, the tumuli in Charaideo are considered sacrosanct by many locals. 

What are Moidams?
• A moidam is a tumulus – a mound of earth raised over a grave – of Ahom royalty and aristocracy. 
• A typical moidam at Charaideo contains one or more chambers in a vault. On top of these is a hemispherical earthen mound, rising high above the ground, covered in grass. On top of this mound, there is a pavilion, known as the chow chali. A low octagonal wall surrounds the mound with one entrance. 
• Ahom kings and queens were buried inside these moidams. Unlike Hindus who cremate their dead, the predominant funerary method of the Ahoms, originating from the Tai people, was the burial. The height of a moidam is typically indicative of the power and stature of the person buried inside. 

Why was Charaideo important?
• The word Charaideo has been derived from three Tai Ahom words, Che-Rai-Doi. “Che” means city or town, “Rai” means “to shine” and “Doi” means hill. In short, Charaideo means, “a shining town situated on a hilltop.” 
• While the Ahoms shifted capitals multiple times over their 600-year history, Charaideo is considered to be their first capital city established in 1253 AD by king Sukaphaa. 

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