In an effort to pacify the recurrent clashes in Assam, the Ahom Kingdom and the Mughal Empire achieved a significant breakthrough in February 1639 through the Ghilajarigmaj Treaty. Referred to as the ‘Treaty of Asurar Ali,’ this landmark agreement marked a crucial moment. Leading the negotiations for the Ahom Kingdom was Momai Tamuli Barbaruh, who engaged with Allah Yar Khan, the Mughal representative.
Central to the treaty’s terms was the establishment of a definitive border separating the domains of the Ahom Kingdom and the Mughal territories. This demarcation was realized through the recognition of geographical landmarks. The northern boundary was defined by the Barnadi, while the southern boundary was marked by Aurar Ali, situated near the present-day Guwahati.
The Treaty of Asurar Ali held profound significance as it effectively brought an end to the ongoing conflicts and hostilities between the Mughals and the Ahoms. This diplomatic milestone not only delineated territorial boundaries but also ushered in a period of relative stability, culminating in a lasting period of peace between these two historically significant entities.
The Treaty of Asurar Ali (February 1639): Mughal Faujdar Allah Yar Khan and Ahom Commander-in-Chief Momai Tamuli Borbarua
In the early days of February 1639, a significant historical event unfolded as the Treaty of Asurar Ali was solemnly signed. The treaty marked a watershed moment between two formidable powers: the Mughal faujdar, Allah Yar Khan, and the distinguished Ahom commander-in-chief, Momai Tamuli Borbarua. This pivotal agreement transpired during the reign of the esteemed Ahom King Susenghphaa, who was also known by the honorific names of Pratap Sinha Singha or Burha Raja.
The Treaty of Asurar Ali held deep implications, effectively halting the Mughal endeavors that had persisted since 1615 to penetrate into the heart of the Ahom kingdom. The treaty followed a decisive Ahom victory at Quimunisila in November 1638, further underscoring the historical significance of this diplomatic pact.
Central to the treaty was the demarcation of boundaries between the mighty Mughal Empire and the resilient Ahom Kingdom. According to the terms, the boundary was delineated along the Bamadi River on the northern bank (utarkul) of the Brahmaputra River, while the southern bank (dakhinkul) was marked by the Asurar Ali. This geographic feature is believed to correspond to the Rajgarh Road in Guwahati, an area that retained its significance through the years.
The Garh, a notable high point, remained a notable landmark until the 1960s. As a result of this treaty, the western reaches of Assam, extending from Gauhati, transitioned into Mughal hands.
A key facet of the treaty was the formal acknowledgment of Mughal supremacy by the Ahom king in Kamrup. In exchange, the Mughal fauzdar pledged non-interference in the internal affairs of the Ahom kingdom.
Furthermore, provisions were established to facilitate trade and commerce between the two regions. This diplomatic conduit was managed on the Ahom side by envoys Kanu Sharma and Sanatan, while the Mughal interests were represented by Sheikh Meda.
Integral to the realization of this treaty was the visionary leadership of Momai Tamuli Borbarua. His strategic acumen and unwavering courage proved instrumental in the negotiation of this crucial agreement with Allah Yar Khan.
The treaty not only designated the Baradi river as the boundary but also set the foundational framework for Ahom-Mughal relations for generations to come. Notably, a Mughal emissary once conveyed to his superior: “O Saheb, what can be said of Assam? The king is akin to the formidable Mahadeva, and Momai-Tamuli assumes the role of Mahadeva’s foremost lieutenant, much like Nandi. As long as these two figures steer the course of affairs in Assam, the prospect of venturing into that realm appears nigh impossible.” Such was the influence and stature of Momai Tamuli Borbarua, a figure of immense significance in shaping the fate of the region during this critical juncture.
Treaty of Ghilajharighat
On the 23rd of January in the year 1663, history bore witness to a momentous event as the Treaty of Ghilajharighat was inked. This significant accord marked the culmination of a two-year campaign waged by the Mughals, orchestrated under the leadership of the Bengal viceroy, Mir Jumla, and it bore testament to the intricate dynamics between the Ahom and Mughal powers.
In 1661, Aurangzeb, the newly ascended Mughal monarch, issued a directive for the annexation of the Ahom Kingdom. This strategic move had been a longstanding aspiration of the Mughal empire, aiming to secure a foothold in the Assam region and extend their influence further eastward within India. Previous Mughal rulers had attempted and failed to establish control over Assam, but Aurangzeb was determined to achieve what his predecessors had not.
Following a well-coordinated campaign, Aurangzeb’s forces managed to temporarily seize certain portions of Assam after the signing of the Treaty of Ghilajharighat. This marked a significant achievement for the Mughals, as they made inroads into the region that had long eluded their grasp.
However, the Ahoms swiftly reclaimed these territories within a mere span of three years. The treaty, while representing a moment of Mughal success, ultimately set the stage for the resurgence of Ahom power.
The grand ambitions of the Mughals in this endeavor ultimately met their fate in the flowing waters of the Brahmaputra, notably at the pivotal Battle of Saraighat. It was on this battleground that the Mughal dreams were finally extinguished, as the Ahom forces staunchly defended their realm and repelled the Mughal advances.
The Battle of Saraighat serves as a testament to the resilience and determination of the Ahom dynasty, marking a definitive end to the Mughal pursuit of dominion over Assam and the eastern reaches of India.
Mughal Engagement with Assam Under the Reign of Jahangir
The Mughal Empire’s engagement with Assam commenced during the reign of Jahangir. In 1613, Islam Khan, the Mughal subedar of Bengal, undertook a campaign to conquer and incorporate Kamrup, also known as Koch Hajo, situated in the western region of Assam. This campaign resulted in the subjugation of Kamrup under Mughal control, as its ruler, Parikshit Narayan of the Koch dynasty, was displaced.
However, the Mughals faced persistent challenges in fully establishing their dominance in Kamrup. The annexation triggered a sequence of confrontations between the Mughal forces and the Ahom Kings of Assam. The Mughal hold over Kamrup remained tenuous, as the Ahoms, led by their ruler Pratap Singha, continuously sought to expel the Mughals from the region.
This rivalry between the Ahoms and Mughals over control of Kamrup persisted over several decades, marked by intermittent clashes, until the conclusion of the 17th century. In 1661, Aurangzeb dispatched Mir Jumla, the Mughal governor of Bengal, to occupy Assam. Following the capture of Kamrup, Mir Jumla’s forces managed to defeat the Ahom forces and seize the Ahom capital of Gargaon.
The Mughal-Assam relationship during the Jahangir era initiated a series of events that led to the Mughal annexation of Kamrup, triggering ongoing struggles with the Ahom Kingdom for control. The contest for supremacy over Kamrup between the Mughals and Ahoms persisted until the late 17th century when Aurangzeb’s directive resulted in the Mughal occupation of Assam, culminating in the defeat of the Ahoms and the capture of their capital by Mir Jumla.
The conditions of the treaty of Ghilajharighat were as follows:
1. Jayadhwaj Singha was to send a daughter, six-year-old Romoni (Nangsen) Gabhoru, to the Imperial harem. Later, she was married as Rahmat Banu Begum to Muhammad Azam Shah, the son of Aurangzeb in 1668.
2. Twenty thousand folasof gold, six times this quantity of silver and forty elephants to be made over at once.
3. Three hundred thousand folasof silver and ninety elephants to be supplied within twelve months.
4. Six sons of the chief nobles to be made over as hostages pending compliance with the last mentioned condition.
5. Twenty elephants to be supplied annually.
6. The country west of the Bhareli river on the north bank of the Brahmaputra and of the Kalang river on the south to be ceded to the Emperor of Delhi.
7. All prisoners and the family of the Baduli Phukan to be given up. Baduli Phukan, who was the Neog Phukan and commander-in-chief of the Ahom forces had defected to the Mughal side in September, 1662 along with many followers.
Mir Jumla returned to Bengal and appointed Rashid Khan as the faujdar of Gauhati.
The Ahom Kingdom, however, regarded the treaty of Ghilajharighat as deeply demeaning and refused to fully accept its terms. In a subsequent development, King Chakradhwaj Singha, who had recently ascended the throne in 1667, orchestrated the recapture of Gauhati. This endeavor was led by the capable commander Lachit Barphukan. For further details, explore the account of the Recapture of Gauhati.