Charaideo Maidam – Nominated for UNESCO World Heritage Site

Charaideo Maidam is a burial site of the Ahom Dynasty located in Assam. The Central Government has decided to nominate it for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Charaideo Maidam has been selected among 52 sites across the country. This place can be traced back to the origin of the royal kingdom, Ahoms that ruled Assam during the medieval period. 

Charaideo was the first capital of the Ahom Kingdom, which was founded by Chaolung Sukhapa in 1229 CE. Maidam was considered to be a royal burial ground of Kings and Queens, and also served as a place for the Ancestral Gods of the Ahom Kingdom. Charaideo Maidam was popularly called the ‘Pyramids of Assam’ and is a tourist attraction. 

Charaideo Maidam – History of Ahoms and Assam 

The Charaideo Maidam is a burial tradition that belonged to the Ahom kingdom. The Ahoms ruled over Assam for more than 600 years until the arrival of the British. It was occupied by the British in 1826. The place Charaideo is located to the east of the historical town of Sivasagar. 

Charaideo Maidam is one of the most historical sites and the architectural expertise of the artsmen can be seen in the way it is built. It appears like a hemispherical mound of earth that is raised over a grave which is an underground vault. There are one or more domed chambers in the vault with floral carvings. On top of the mound, there is a pavilion structure known as ‘Chow Chali’ and the whole area is surrounded by an octagonal wall with only one entrance. 

The burial method used by the Ahoms was not like the Hindus who cremate the dead, but it was a tradition originated from the Tai people. The height of the ‘Maidam’ would be indicative of the power and stature of the person buried as it symbolizes the Ahom dynasty and aristocracy. After the 18th century, Ahoms also adopted the Hindu tradition and only buried the cremated bones and ashes in the Maidams. 

 There are over 150 maidams but only around 30 are protected and conserved by the Archeological Survey of India and the State Archeological Department of Assam. The remaining ones are unprotected and also the protected ones need repair. There are several such maidams located in Southeast Asia but the ancient relics of Charaideo Maidam is considered to be the most sacred land of the Tai-Ahoms. 

There is no preservation scheme which is adopted formally by the State government to preserve these monuments which are leading to the slow extinction of the maidams. The Charaideo Maidam is located on a hillock and has a lot of illegal settlers that cause further damage to it. 

Charaideo Maidam which is nominated for the UNESCO Heritage Site and if it gets selected will add to the list of two other Heritage Sites in Assam – Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park. 

The Government of India should take initiative in protecting and conserving our history and prestige by preserving these monuments. Charaideo Maidam is an ancient relic that adds to the crowning glory of the Ahom Dynasty. It should be a joint initiative of the State and the Central Governments to take up preservation policies by providing financial assistance to the states with monuments of history. India has a diverse culture with a vast history, it is our duty and responsibility to honor and protect each one of it.

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