Final battle at Saraighat

Sep 20, 2021 - 01:12
Sep 20, 2021 - 01:16

Meanwhile, Mughal reinforcements in the shape of war-vessels and imperial officers (Omraos) reached Ram Singh, along with the Mughal admiral, Munnawar Khan and the Mughal Viceroy Shaista Khan, sent the message that Ram Singh was sent to fight the Assamese, not make friends with them.

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Ram Singh now made preparations for his final and direct assault on Guwahati and began moving along the northbank. Near Sualkuchi he was joined by ships with artillery and archers under five sardars.

The Mughals had large boats, some carrying as many as sixteen cannons. The Mughal ambassador, Paditrai, had reported a breach in the embankment at Andharubali a few days earlier, and Ram Singh wanted to exploit this opening.

The Ahom soldiers were demoralised after their losses at Allaboi. Their commander-in-chief, Lachit Borphukan and their admiral were both seriously ill, and the Nara Raja, the son of the Miri Sandikoi, was in command. An encounter both on land and water ensued near Ashwakranta.

The Ahom land forces, under Laluk Borgohain Phukan, worsted the Mughals, but the Mughal boats compelled the Ahom boats to retreat to Barhila, north of Saraighat. The land forces, fearing an encirclement, too retreated. The battle reached a crucial phase, when the Mughals were beginning to get close to Andharubali.

The Borphukan, as well as the Nara Raja sent messages to inspire the soldiers. It looked as if there was a break in command and some boats began falling back to Kajali and Samdhara. Lachit Barphukan was observing this from his sickbed in the gatehouse of the Itakhuli fort.

Lachit Barphukan's Statue at Jorhat At this crucial moment in the battle, when the Mughals were about to land at Andharubali, the Borphukan sent orders via katakis to all the land and naval forces to attack. He also ordered seven war-boats for himself and had Nadai of Kharangi carry him to a boat.

He shouted "The King has put all the people in my hands to fight the Bongal. Shall I go back to my wife and children?" and pushed a few men into the water. With the other six war-boats the Borphukan headed toward the naval battle.. The entry of the Borphukan transformed the Ahom soldiers.

His small flotilla soon swelled with Ahom warships from all sides that smashed into the Mughal warships at Amrajuli on the north bank, opposite Kamakhya hills. The triangle in the river, between Itakhuli, Kamakhya and Aswakranta was filled with men and boats.

The Ahoms spanned the river over an improvised bridge of boats and resorted to a combined front and rear attack. The Mughal admiral Munnawar Khan, smoking a hookah was killed by a gunshot from the back, throwing the Mughals out of gear.

They suffered the loss of three top-ranking amirs and another 4,000 dead. The day of this decisive battle is not known for certain, only that it happened in the middle of March 1671.

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