The Centre has decided to nominate Assam’s Charaideo Maidams — the Ahom equivalent of the ancient Egyptian pyramids — for the UNESCO World Heritage Site status this year.
About Charaideo Maidams
A moidam is a tumulus – mound of earth raised over a grave – of Ahom royalty and aristocracy.
Charaideo, more than 400 km east of Guwahati, was the first capital of the Ahom dynasty founded by Chao Lung Siu-Ka-Pha in 1253.
While Charaideo exclusively contains moidams of Ahom royals, other moidams of aristocrats and chiefs can be found scattered across Eastern Assam, in the region between the towns of Jorhat and Dibrugarh.
A typical moidam at Charaideo contains one or more chambers in a vault.
On top of these is a hemispherical earthen mound, rising high above the ground, covered in grass.
On top of this mound, there is a pavilion, known as the chow chali.
A low octagonal wall surrounds the mound with one entrance.
Ahom kings and queens were buried inside these moidams.
Unlike Hindus who cremate their dead, the predominant funerary method of the Ahoms, originating from the Tai people, was burial.
The height of a moidam is typically indicative of the power and stature of the person buried inside.
Inside the chambers of the moidam, the dead king would be buried along with items he needed for “afterlife” as well as servants, horses, livestock and even their wives.
It is the similarity of the Ahom burial rites with that of the ancient Egyptians that give Charaideo moidams the moniker of “Pyramids of Assam.”
The word Charaideo has been derived from three Tai Ahom words, Che-Rai-Doi.
“Che” means city or town, “Rai” means “to shine” and “Doi” means hill.
While the Ahoms shifted capitals multiple times over their 600-year history, Charaideo is considered to be their first capital city established in 1253 AD by king Sukaphaa.
Throughout Ahom rule, it remained a symbolic and ritual centre of power, due to its salience in the dynasty’s founding.
After Sukaphaa was laid to rest in Charaideo in 1856, subsequent royals also chose it as their own resting place.