British-era bungalow becomes Brahmaputra heritage center

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu calls for a national campaign to rejuvenate Indian rivers and the inclusion of water conservation courses in school curricula.

A British era bungalow on a hill that was the 17th century military office of Ahom rulers has been converted into a heritage center depicting life along the Brahmaputra River.

On October 3, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the Mahabahu Brahmaputra River Heritage Center on the Barphukanar Tila of Guwahati, which means Barphukan Mound. A Scottish-style wooden bungalow that has existed since 1850 has been refurbished and transformed into a heritage center.

Barpukhan was a post equivalent to the Governor General created by King Ahom Pratap Simha or Susengpha (1603-1641). The mound near the Brahmaputra, mentioned in ancient scriptures as the Mandrachal, was from where General Ahom Lachit Barpukhan launched the Battle of Saraighat in March 1671 to inflict the most crushing defeat on the Mughals.

Saraighat is considered “the greatest naval battle ever fought in a river”.

Captain Archibald Bogle, appointed deputy commissioner and collector of the Kamrup district in the 1850s, had the bungalow built. After independence, it continued to be the deputy commissioner’s bungalow until 2011.

“Standing as a great tribute to the majestic river and capturing its importance to the region, the Brahmaputra River Heritage Center has been installed in a bungalow nearly 150 years old after an elaborate restoration,” said Mr. Naidu.

He called for a national campaign to rejuvenate Indian rivers and the inclusion of water conservation courses in school curricula.

Appreciating the Brahmaputra heritage center, the vice president said other cultural places should also create green and healthy spaces for people.

The center presents the history of the Battle of Saraighat, the heritage of Assamese warships, an amphitheater, an exhibition space, a cafeteria and two observation decks. Other attractions include a collection of traditional fishing equipment, photographs and artefacts related to Guwahati and river transport history, installations depicting textile patterns, ethnic motifs, and musical instruments indigenous to the communities inhabiting the banks of the Brahmaputra.

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About Walter Bartholomew

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