HISTORY OF UDALGURI
UDALGURI is a town and a town area committee and a District in the Indian state of Assam. Earlier, it was a civil sub-division under the erstwhile Darrang district prior to the formation of BTC. But after signing of the Tripartite Peace Agreement on 10th February, 2003 through a Memorandum of Settlement between the Bodo Liberation Tigers, Government of India and the Government of Assam, the Bodoland Territorial Council came into being after amending the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. As a part of the settlement an Autonomous Council called BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District) was created and Udalguri is now one of Four Districts under BTAD. It was notified as a district, vide Govt Notification No. GAG (B)-137/2002/Pt/117 dated 30-10-2003 and was formally inaugurated as a district on 14-06-2004.
UDALGURI a name itself originated from flora origin. ODAL, a tree, +suffix GOOR>GURI means roots, surrounding etc., i.e., a place surrounding the Udal tree. Some want to say that the name came to be known with a place centred round a 'ODAL tree', while the others are in opinion that the name of the place became Udalguri because there was a hermitage of a sage named Uddalak Muni. But, perhaps it is more appropriate to believe that after the Bodo words 'ORDLA' + 'GUNDRI' the name became ORDLAGUNDRI > ORDLAGUNDI > ODALGURI > UDALGURI. Bodo people still pronounce the name as Odalguri. In bodo language 'ORDLA' means wide and spacious and 'GUNDRI' means powdered object.
Till the middle of the nineteenth century at Udalguri and in the entire district Darrang, there was a large number of Bodo people. According to Upendrachandra Guha in his book " Kacharer Itibritta" (p-53) the total Bodo-kachari population during the purana and middle age, in Darrang was 6,39,000. In 1562 A.D. whech Koch King Narnarayan invaded the kingdom of Ahom king Sukhamfa or Khura Raja, with a group of 60,000 soldiers, Sukladhwaj as its commander-in-chief, he encamped at a place called Tamtumoni in the present Mangaldai su-division where twelve groups of the tribal people submitted to him. In the same sub-division near Bhairabkunda, Naranarayan ordered for the building of a temple of goddess Durga (at Nolkhamara) and a hill fort. The goddess was installed in the temple and a Dachari was make its priest. He further instr4ucted the Meches and the koches living to the north of the Gosain Kamal Ali to follow their tribal customs. Such acts of Naranarayan were definitely guided by diplomatic motives to search the supports of all the tribes of the reign. (History of Koch kingdom 1515-1615 A.D. Nath, p-55). According to the census report Govt. of Bengal in 1881 the total no of Bodo-Kachari tribal people in Darrang was 69,000 out of which 36,468 were under thana Chatgari and thana Kalaigaon of Mangaldai sub-division. It should be mentioned that in 1835 the total population of Darrang was 89,519 (Asom Buronji, gait, translated by Senehi Begum, p-260).
In olden days when rivers like Golondi, Khaorong, Doisam, Dhanasiri, etc. were full of water, during the monsoon these rivers overflowed to submerge entire Udalguri area leaving full of sands when they became dry. Witnessring that scene, probably the Bodo people named the place as Odalguri or Udalguri a very vast place full of sands. In the middle of the seventeenth century, a Muslim historian Sihaduddin Taliska, came with Morzomla in Assam, wrote how heavy rainfall was there in those days in Assam. He wrote, there was heavy rainfall even during the winter months. So, from his writing we can very easily assume that how dangerous shapes the rivers look during the rainy seasons. From history we come to know that in the middle of the sixteenth century the torrential river Dhonsiri was flowing very near to Udalguri. The east-west boundaries at Sadhaka, a Chutia king, installed by the Ahom King Suhungmung or Dihingia Raja (1497-1539 A.D.) in portion of Darrang, were in the east Rowta and on the west river Dhonsiri.
From the writings of some scholars, we come to know that from very ancient time, there was route from Udalguri,, Bhairabkunda through the hills Bhutal upto Tibet, China and Afghanistan, Rajmohon Nath in his book- ' The Background of Assamese Culture'(p-14) had mentioned that this route was still in use. Sir Edward Gait has also mentioned this route to be the shortest route from Udalguri to Tibet. (Asom Burnohi, Gait: Assamese p-29_.
Through this route, things like Endi cloths, Muga silk, gold, rice, iron, buffalo horns, animal skins, lac were exported from Assam and on the other hand, things like elephant tusk, suphur, kostori, different colours, silver, rock salt, blankets were imported to Assam. The gate of this route at Bhairabkunda was known as Karipara Duar. jThe Kariapara Duar was under the occupation of Satraja a Bhutia chief. The hills under his control were under that state of Tawang, and Tawang was under Lash. Regarding the Assamese merchats who make export and import of various good, Dr. Surja Kumar Bhuyan in his book 'Anglo Assamese Relation 1771-1826' (p-55) writes-"The Assamese carried a considerable commerce with neighboring hill tribes and with Tibet and China. The trade with Tibet amount to Rs.200,00 a year. The exports from Assam were lac, muga silk, endi cloth, dry fish and exports from Bhutan consisted of woolen cloths, gold dust, rock salt, cow tail, musk, Chinese silk. The Assamese used to receive from Tibet smoking pipes of Chinese manufacture, woolens and rock salt. A caravan consisting of nearly 20 men used to meet the Assamese merchants at a place near Chauna, at a distance of two months journey from Lash. The Assamese used to receive from Lasha merchants or Khumpa Bhutias as they were called, silver and gold to value of upwards of 70,000 rupees."
This route was not only very important from the economic point of view but also from the view point of cultural exchange. Buddhist sromons, Nath, Yogi and Tantriks of various times also used this route very frequently. It is not improbable that in 1205/6 A.D., when Mohomad Bin Bokhtiar came through Kamrup to invade China, Tibet and Turkistan he was sure to use this route. Crossing through Kamrup after several days journey, he reached a wide and open place near below the hills inhabited by the tribal people where there was also a big rampart. He met his defeat from them and had to retreat.
We may assume Raonagar as this place rampart, which is situated at a distance of 13 K.m. to the south of the Bhutan hills and 9 k.m. to the west of Udalguri. The ruins of the rampart covering more than 600 bighas of land and ten big and small tanks inside it, are still to be seen to the south of Jkra village. It is to be mentioned that the mention of this rampart is also make in the Padma Purana written by Narayan Deva, a poet laureate of first Dorongi Koch king Balinarayana or Dharamayarayana (1615-1637 A.D.)
In long past, Udalguri meant the consistent of villages like Puronithana, Angragaon and Niz-Udalguri. The present Udalguri town is now situated on the land formed by the deposition of sands by the rivers like Golondi, Khaorong, Daisam, etc. Most probably in long before there was no habitation in the present area of Udalguri. If there was, most of the people left their place for the havoc created by the epidemic diseases like small pox, cholera etc. and also for the frequently occurred heavy flood.
The rivers like Golondi, Khaorong, Doisam etc. had frequently changed their course forming deep and wide swamps. It is known, there was a very great Swamp near present Kathalguri and Nalbari village extending upto Puroni Goraibari village. Now where the Upendranath Brahma guest house is built, from there upto Barpetia pati and Golondihabi village, there was another big swamp known as 'Halflong', because one Nepali people coming from Halflong used to reside on the bank of that beel. Now where Ramkrishna Mission M.E. School is situated from there extending upto present Sapkhaiti village and kangali bosti here was another great and deep march. The marsh was full of poisonous snakes and was known as Sapkhaitibher- marshyland where snakes bite. Present Golma was a spacious place fully covered by the sands of Golondi and Khaorong rivers. Later on when long grasses like 'Kahua, ulu and birina' started growing it became good grazing ground for the Nepali grazers. Both Bolondi and Khaorong rivers were unitedly flowing encircling this grazing ground and why the place became known as Golma the meaning of the word in Nepali language is 'a circular place.'
Exactly from where the outsiders started migrating to Udalguri is not known. It is known that more than hundred years before Maoinashi Chhetry and Chandrabir Chhetry the grandfather of Mr. Chandramohon Chhetry came to Udalguri. Both of them were the first Nepali people who migrated to Udalguri. Most of the Nepali people who came to Udalguri were grazers who tended openly their herd of cows and buffalo in the vast grazing ground full with thick long grasses. Amongst the some well known grazers of that time, Gokul Dangel lived near present town office, Naropati Dahal lived at the place where there is state Bank, Kripashu Bhandari lived at the place where at present the residence of late Utsale Das is there, Halflong Mohahjan lived at the place where ABSU
guest house is there and Jemi Kriki lived in the present Borpetia pati. it is known in 1901 a marwari named Sogonlal Serawgi with his nephew Surajmal Khubchand came at Thana Udalguri village and opened a grocery shop.
During the years 1982-33 the railway was constructed extending from Tangla through Udalguri upto Rangapara. The passenger trains started running form the year 1935. Previously Udalguri Rail station was behind the present Diamond English school. But, probably during the years 1933-34 when Kathalguri and Nalbari villages were washed away by the heavy flood of Golondi river then after the rail station was shifted to its present place. From that time most of the sesidents of Kathalguri and Nalbari villages left for good to other new places like Bolondihabi, Sapkhaiti, Kapurpura, Badagaon etc. The police station established at Puronithana was shifted to a rented house to the north near Udalguri rail station in 1913. Some of the Bihari coolies who came during the construction of railway had settled at Udalguri for ever. It is know, one of them Babulal was lessee of ganja and opium and his shop was to the south near rail station.
Form the first half of the twenty century other Bodos from the west districts like undivided Goalpara and Kamrup started migrated to Udalguri and in after parts of northern Darrang. Amongst them Sombaru Basumatari and Buja Moshahari in 1930, Daso Boro and Dayarani Brahma in 1935, Asina Basumatari in 1936, Magho Basumatari in 1939 along with others came to Udalguri and they went towards the south, because in the north original Dorongi Bodo residential were there.
The migration of some Assamese people form Nalbari, Barpeta began just after the passenger train started running through Udalguri. It is known, one named Ramchandra Petal had opened his grocery shop in 1935 at Thana Udalguri village. During this period most of the places just near to the south of rail station were occupied by the Bihari, Muslims, so people coming from Barpeta at first used to reside at the place nearly a kilometer away towards the south where they started to build their Namghar during the year 1935-36. The prime business of these newly migrated Assamese people was paddy collection from the village with the help of bullock for exportation the villages with help of bullock cart for exportation to after places.
Since 1947, some Bengali Hindu refugees coming from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) started to settle around the railway station. Amongst them persons like Dr. Profulla Bose, Dr. Ramcharan De played a great role in the field of medical treatment when at that time there was not a single local doctor gradually a neat portion of place around the railway station and to say entire Sapkhaiti Bher area came under the hold of Bengali peo0ple who became business tycoons of Udalguri.
The Independent movement of 1942 had a great influence over Udalguri also. On the 8th October a group of 100 congressmen came to Udalguri to arrange a meeting where the congress leaders of Darrang explained about the purpose of the independent movement. They even went upto Badagoan village where they got obstruction from Monia Mahajan and Bhutial Gaonburha by the instigation of Pobitra Das, the then SDO of Mangaldai.
The Block Development Office (community project office) was established in 1952, and the primary health centre was established in 1954. Prior to the establishment of Udalguri Town L.P. School on the 1st October 1950 and Udalguri M.E. School in the year 1953 it may be said that there was educational atmosphere at Udalguri proper. On the other hand prior to that in far off L.P. Schools were established at Bengbari in 1865 and Dowamokha village in 1893. The Middle English School was established at Borigaon village in 1925 and later it was shifted to Harishinga in 1930. It is known that in March 1868 there were 15 schools in Darrang in connection with Church Mission societies of Tezpur. Amongst these one L.P. School was there at Udalguri. It is not known why that school could not last long. Most probably the place of that L.P. School was there where the present Udalguri Mission L.P. School in running. Around Udalguri after the establishment of L.P. School there were Golma L.P. in 1948, Nalbari Govt. J.B. in 1943n and Gema Bogoribari in 1948, Bahinigaon M.V. School in 1949, Gomagaon M.E. in 1951 and Udalguri High School was in 1956 in the same compound of the M.E. School and later they were amalgamated in 1961.
Previously the only source of entertainment for the people of Udalguri area was 'Yatragan' specially during the puja seasons, people irrespective of sex and age from various villages through together to witness Yatragan for the whole night in the open field under temporary pendal covered by banana leaves. Of course, from time to time some enthusiastic people of Udalguri made theatrical performance hiring female artists from outside the name Bina Das may be mentioned as one of the such female artist. So far it is known , for the first time in 1950 persons like Haragobinda Das, Hemchandra Talukdar and others staged a drama named Sech Pataka' written by Uma Sarma.
Bhairabkunda being the gate way of the route leading to Tibet and China, Udalguri became strategically a very important place from the period of the Chinese aggression of 1962. Thousands of Bhutia refugees from Arunachal Pradesh came down from the hills by the same south through the Kariapara Duar. All market sheds of Udalguri weekly market, even the paddy fields near by were filled up by those refugees. Thousands of plains people fled away on foot from the east by rail road crossing Udalguri daily Paddy fields Gomagaon became full of army bunkers. Trains running towards Rangapara crossing Udalguri were heavily loaded with armaments, tanks and machine guns. People in large groups from villages came daily at Udalguri to witness army personnel, their weapons and refugees. Without having fear in mind for the attack from the Chinese the village people turned Udalguri into a place as if a big fair. The construction of the defense road started from Tamulpur to Bhairabkunda. To speak the truth Udalguri became well-known to the other parts of India from the time of last Chinese aggression.