Legacy Under Siege: The Historical and Cultural Significance of Momai Kota Garh and the Epic Battles of Alaboi and Saraighat

Legacy Under Siege: The Historical and Cultural Significance of Momai Kota Garh and the Epic Battles of Alaboi and Saraighat

Relevance: GS I & GS V

Context: The historical Momai Kota Garh, reputedly constructed overnight by Assamese soldiers led by legendary Ahom General Lachit Barphukon, faces the threat of encroachment. This fort played a crucial role in halting the advance of the formidable Mughal forces, and its significance in the Battle of Saraighat is celebrated in both history and folklore.

Momai Kota Garh:

This historical site is predominantly situated along the southern banks of the Brahmaputra River (presently visible in Garhchuk area of Guwahati), extending from Deepor Beel to the river's edge near the western boundary of Gauhati University. The area encompassing Momai Kota Garh is visible along the GU bypass section of the national highway, marking its significant presence in the region.


Historians note that the southern bank fortifications were part of a larger defensive structure spanning both the northern and southern banks of the Brahmaputra. This was constructed to fend off the Mughal army, led by Raja Ram Singh. In the 1671 Battle of Saraighat, fought on the Brahmaputra's waters, the Ahom commander Lachit Borphukan decisively defeated the Mughals, halting their expansion in this part of present-day India.

Raja Ram Singh, despite his defeat, acknowledged the strength and strategy of Lachit Borphukan and the Assamese forces. He said: “I have not refrained from fighting; but it has proved useless. As there are no fields, fighting by spears, shields and gun is an impossible affair. The Assamese have erected an impenetrable wall of defence on both the banks. There is the possibility of one naval fight only.”

The name "Momai Kota Garh" is believed to have originated from a significant event during the battle. Lachit Borphukan, demonstrating his commitment to duty, is said to have executed his maternal uncle for hesitating in building the rampart, emphasizing the seriousness with which the Ahoms approached the defense against the Mughal forces.

The land where the remaining section of the rampart stands is owned by Gauhati University. However, there appears to be little concern from both the university authorities and the government regarding the continuous encroachment on this site. Over time, the rampart has faced extensive encroachment and deterioration, leaving only a small part of it intact today.

The Battle of Alaboi:

  • After the Ahoms, led by Lachit Borphukan, reclaimed Guwahati from the Mughals in September-October 1667, Aurangzeb appointed Ram Singh of Amber on December 19, 1667, to lead an invasion into Assam.

  • Ram Singh commenced his expedition on December 27, 1667, passing through Kuntaghat and arriving at Sualkuchi in April 1669.

  • The Assamese forces, commanded by General Lachit Borphukan, robustly opposed Ram Singh's plans, leading to several skirmishes.

  • On August 5, 1669, a significant battle took place at Alaboi near today's Dadara, Village-Pacharia in Kamrup District, where the Assamese soldiers, fiercely defending their homeland, inflicted substantial losses on the Mughal Army.

  • In this fierce confrontation, 10,000 Assamese soldiers laid down their lives for their country. Their valiant sacrifice proved pivotal in halting the Mughal progression.

  • Battle of Alaboi inspired the Assamese soldiers, who two years later in 1671 in the Battle of Saraighat delivered a crushing and humiliating defeat on the Mughals.

Battle of Saraighat:

  • The Battle of Saraighat was fought in 1671 between the Mughal Empire and the Ahom Kingdom. It was a part of the Ahom-Mughal conflicts and is one of the most well-known battles in Assamese history.

  • The battle took place at Saraighat, near Guwahati, Assam, on the banks of the Brahmaputra River.

  • The Ahom army was led by Lachit Borphukan, a commander known for his strategic acumen, while the Mughal forces were led by Raja Ram Singh I of Amber.

  • Predominantly a naval conflict, the Battle of Saraighat is renowned for its strategic use of the river Brahmaputra. The Ahoms had smaller, more maneuverable boats compared to the larger Mughal vessels.

  • The Ahoms used innovative tactics like an improvised bridge of boats across the Brahmaputra and executed combined front and rear attacks.

  • A pivotal moment was the entry of Lachit Borphukan into the battle, which significantly boosted the morale and fighting spirit of the Ahom forces.

  • The Ahoms emerged victorious, dealing a crushing defeat to the Mughal forces. This victory was crucial in stopping the Mughal expansion into Northeast India.

  • The Battle of Saraighat is celebrated in Assamese history as a symbol of valiant resistance against larger, more powerful invaders and is a testament to the strategic military capabilities of the Ahom Kingdom.

  • Lachit Borphukan's leadership and heroism are highly revered in Assam. He is remembered for his dedication, courage, and the famous incident where he reprimanded his uncle for showing laxity in building defenses.

  • The battle has a lasting legacy in Assam, influencing local culture, folklore, and historical narratives. It serves as a symbol of Assamese resistance and pride.

Advait IAS