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By SWAPNANEEL BHATTACHARJEE | JULY 22, 2018
Decades of glory, gradual deterioration and a dark, doomed destiny – this is the tale of a royal abode, which had witnessed many splendid seasons in its heydays. Sadly, not anymore.
The historical Khaspur, capital of the 19th century Kachari kingdom (also known as Dimasa kingdom), which used to be a special attraction in southern Assam's Barak Valley, continues to languish in a state of helplessness over the years, apparently because of the government's apathy in resurrecting its exuberant days.
Located in Cachar district's Udharbond constituency, around 25km from Silchar, the tumbledown castles in Khaspur present a faint glimpse of the rich heritage, seemingly on the verge of fading into oblivion.
Historically, in 1706, the Kachari king – Tamradhaja (whose capital was in Maibong on the bank of the river Mahur, now in Dima Hasao district of Assam) fled to Khaspur after being invaded and defeated by Rudra Singha, who was considered one of the most powerful Ahom kings.
The Kachari rulers thereafter settled in Cachar with their court located in Khaspur. The kingdom was originally named as Hidimba kingdom in memory of the demoness "Hidimba", wife of Pandava Bhima, who was believed to have resided in the region.
The last Kachari king, Raja Gobind Chandra was assassinated by seditious people in 1830 soon after which the kingdom, in absence of natural heirs, was captured by the British. It is now under maintenance of the Archaeological Survey of India and the state government.
Suradarpa Narayan, one of the Kachari kings, had constructed palaces and temples in different parts of Khaspur some of which can be found in ruined state. The prominent attractions in the ruins are Singh Darwaza, Snan Mandir, Baradwari and Temple of Ranachandi.
The ruins of the historical palace along with adjacent Rani Chandrabha Hasnu Park, named after a Kachari queen, are full of weeds with rampant foliage all around.
The Chandrabha Hasnu Park (named after a Kachari queen), which is a part of the palace attractions, has been lying dilapidated and is engulfed by unwanted flora.
Speaking to TNT – The Northeast Today, Babulal Bauri (62), a resident of Khaspur, said around 10-12 people, mostly couples, visit the place daily. The number of visitors increases on holidays and Sundays, he said.
He shared that due to lack of maintenance the condition of the historical place has substantially deteriorated over the years and that the number of visitors has decreased than the past. "The place could be an amusement spot for tourists. But no step has been taken for its development over the years," he said.
Another resident, Nilkanta Das (56) said the place becomes a haven for alcoholics after sundown. Young boys are often seen carousing on the fort premises at nights, he said.
"The area of the palace is huge and is not monitored by anyone as such, which also makes it a suitable place for other enjoyments," he said.
Arup Mazumder, a photographer and documentary film-maker from Silchar, said the place, if developed properly could have been used for shooting films, short-films and such other creative stuff. The government would have earned good revenues in the process, he said.
"Pre-wedding videos and commercial music videos have been in the trend over the past couple of years. This place can be very much suitable, but it needs a major facelift," he said.
Sunayana Bhattacharjee, a student of Assam University and a frequent visitor of Khaspur, said the place is a good hangout option, but it needs to be developed to attract a good number of visitors on a regular basis. Amenities for amusement and food-joints should be set up, she said.
Former Congress minister and former Udharbond legislator Ajit Singh said the place (Kachari Kingdom) is having the elements to emerge as a tourism hotspot and the government should take viable initiatives in this regard, he said.
He said efforts were made for overall development of the place during the Congress rule (when he was the minister), however, the process stalled after the BJP came to power. Promises were made by few political leaders of the saffron brigade a number of times about the development of the place, but nothing happened in reality, he alleged.
"It is really sad to see the place perishing in history. Despite being at the Centre and State for four years, the BJP government did not bother to take any step to develop it," he rued.
He said he would soon speak to Assam tourism minister Chandan Brahma and urge him for a special package for all-round development of the place.
Udharbond legislator Mihir Kanti Shome told TNT – The Northeast Today that he had recently spoken to union tourism minister Alphons Kannanthanam about Khaspur and sought the Centre's help to develop the place to attract tourists.
A proposal has been sent to the Centre for the overall development of Khaspur and the detailed project report is being prepared. The estimated expenditure of the mega project is Rs. 100 crore, he said.
"Khaspur is one of the famous historic places of this valley. It is having the elements to become a special attraction for tourists," he said. He hoped the necessary formalities would be completed and funds would be released by the government soon.
PICTURE CREDIT: Dev Kamal Dutta
(Dev Kamal Dutta is a freelance photographer based in Silchar)
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