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About Assam | History

The political history of Assam is well-known since the first millennium AD when political institutions began to take shape like that of greater northern India. The Brahmaputra valley housed several kingdoms and political territories while the valley’s southern and eastern hills experimented with numerous political cultures. It was only in the early 20th century that British historians like Edward Gait or Assamese historians like Kanaklal Barua began to write about this political past. Since then there has been a clear picture of the political cultures of Assam.

4th – 13th Century AD:

Historians like to attribute 4th century AD as the defining period when Maharajadhiraj Pushya Varman (350-380 AD), who was a contemporary of Samudragupta (350-375 AD), ruled Kamarupa. The territorial expanse of this dynasty is mostly confined to the fertile valley. As the frontier kingdom of Guptas, Kamarupa drew attention and there ensured occasional wars. A couple of centuries later, Bhaskar Varman (594-650 AD), further strengthened his political bargaining power. His powerful contemporary was none other than Harshavardhan (606-648 AD). His rule was also marked by the visit of the illustrious Chinese traveler Hieun Tsang. The period between 7th century AD to 12th century was ruled by two other powerful political dynasties – Salasthamba and Pala respectively. Around this political past of Kamarupa, several communities also experimented with kingdom formations. This will be briefly described a little later.

Beginning in the 13th century, the Islamic rulers from northern India tried to occupy this region with mixed results. While the Islamic rulers suffered setback, these wars helped in reorienting the political boundaries. The 13th century also witnessed the formation of Chutia kingdom in the eastern part of the valley.
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