Archaeologists have found a training ground for guerilla fighters from the Tai Ahom era in east Assam — perhaps the only such historical site in India.
The site (of which 27 bighas remain) found near Sivasagar — once the seat of the Ahom royals 400 km east of Guwahati — would have resembled the Indian Army-run counter insurgency and jungle warfare training school, which is located at Vairangte in Mizoram.
“The site comprises a series of small earthen mounds that were probably used for guerilla training or to stage a mock war," said HN Dutta, director, Directorate of Assam Archaeology, who led the effort. Dutta refrained from assigning an exact date to the site's construction saying more work, including excavation, was required to get such details.
For long, locals have believed in the existence of an underground network of tunnels below the site, which is in urgent need of preservation because of encroachments and rainwater seepage.
The Ahoms, a warrior race of Tai lineage, originated from the Yunnan plateau in southwest China, first made their appearance in northeastern Assam in the 13th century and ruled Assam till 1826.
Known to have ruled Assam for about 600 years, they halted several bids by the Mughals to capture the east.
In these battles, the Ahoms carved out a legendary name for their guerilla warfare prowess — locally called 'daga judho' — a dependable tactic where smaller numbers face a numerically larger army. These fighters practiced 'Lai Lung Tham', a form of martial art widely used before it fell into disuse.
"Though the Ahoms did not have a huge standing army, there were groups of expert warriors who also operated as the kings' bodyguards. In all probability, these warriors practiced their skills on the site," said Prof Sangeeta Gogoi, a leading authority on Ahoms.