Assam’s royal burial mounds in race for Unesco heritage site tag | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: India has nominated Charaideo’s royal burial mounds or tumulus called “moidam” of the Ahom dynasty that ruled Assam for six centuries from 1228 to 1826 for consideration as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Also known as the Pyramids of Assam, the moidams in Charaideo have been likened to the royal tombs of ancient China and the Egyptian pyramids.
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday that the dossier on the Charaideo moidams has been picked by PM Narendra Modi as the country’s nomination for the Unesco tag for 2023-2024 from a list of 52 sites proposed by other states.
“The PMO and Union ministry of cultural affairs have informed me of this momentous news and the nomination will be submitted to the Unesco office in Paris tonight,” he said. A Unesco team will do a site inspection in September, he said.
Charaideo was the first capital established by king Sukapha — the kingdom’s founder and also gave Asom or Assam its current name. Though the Ahom changed their capital several times, Charaideo (che=city, rai=prominent, doi=hill) remained a revered place because of the 42 mausoleums of kings and queens spread over several acres at the foot of Patkai hills.
The Tai-Ahoms believed that their kings were gods (swargadeo) on earth and so chose to bury the deceased royals in Charaideo, the sacred core of their kingdom. Like royal tombs across the world, the moidams were filled with personal artefacts, jewels and even servants for use in the afterlife.
The dossier states that “moidams have been seen in different parts of northern Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Northern Burma, Southern China and Northeast India” but the “cluster of moidams in Charaideo distinguishes itself in scale, concentration and being located in the most sacred land of the Tai-Ahoms”.
The moidams were first listed in the tentative list (inventory of properties suitable for inscription on the world heritage list) in 2014, but did not make the cut until Friday.
The dossier states that “Moidams are vaulted chambers (chow-chali), often double storied, entered through an arched passage. Atop the hemispherical mud-mound, layers of bricks and earth are laid, where the base of the mound is reinforced by a polygonal toe-wall and an arched gateway on the west. Eventually, the mound would be covered by a layer of vegetation, reminiscent of a group of hillocks, transforming the area into an undulating landscape.”

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