Assam’s Charaideo Moidams may receive a UNESCO World Heritage tag soon

This late medieval mound burial tradition of the Tai Ahom community offers a deep appreciation for the Ahom dynasty’s enduring legacy.
Charaideo Moidams is often referred to as the ‘Pyramids of Assam.’
Charaideo Moidams is often referred to as the ‘Pyramids of Assam.’Photo | Express

Tucked away in the lush landscapes of Assam lies the enchanting heritage of Charaideo Moidams, often referred to as the ‘Pyramids of Assam.’ These regal burial mounds, reminiscent of ancient sepulchres, stand as silent sentinels to the illustrious Ahom dynasty, which ruled the region for over six centuries. The moidams, located in the Charaideo district, serve as a window into the region’s opulent history and rich cultural tapestry.

The tradition of constructing moidams dates back to the 13th century as these burial mounds are the final resting places of Ahom royalty and nobility, established to honour their legacy. Each moidam is a grand, earthen mound, architecturally akin to the ancient burial practices of the Tai people across Asia. The mounds vary in size, from modest elevations to imposing hillocks over twenty metres high, depending on the status and resources of the individual buried. A typical moidam features a vault or chamber, a hemispherical earthen mound covered with a brick structure for annual offerings and an octagonal boundary wall with a western arched gateway. Smaller moidams may lack some of these elements.

Out of the 386 moidams discovered, 90 at Charaideo are exceptionally well-preserved. Charaideo, the first capital of the Ahoms, became the principal necropolis for the dynasty. Situated 28 kilometres east of Sivasagar, it houses the tomb of the first Ahom king, Chaolung Siu-Ka-Pha, who was interred with full Tai-Ahom rites. Over the centuries, Charaideo evolved into a sacred site for the Ahom royalty — where kings, queens, princes and princesses were laid to rest. Today, efforts are underway to secure UNESCO World Heritage status for the Charaideo Moidams, a testament to their historical and cultural significance. Such recognition would not only preserve this remarkable heritage but also shine a global spotlight on Assam’s rich history. There is currently no World Heritage Site in Northeast India dedicated to cultural heritage, making the nomination of the Charaideo Moidams particularly significant.

Nearest Airport: Dibrugarh (86 kms). Nearest Railhead: Simalugri (13 kms). Charaideo Moidam site is well connected by road from Sivasagar (28 km), and Nazira (18 kms).

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