Over 150 years later, Guwahati’s British-era DC Bungalow is now a heritage centre

Oct 03, 2021 10:47 PM IST

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the centre located on the banks of the Brahmaputra which was once a site for a famous battle between the Ahom and Mughal forces.

Nearly 150 years after it was constructed to serve as the residence of the British deputy commissioner of Kamrup, the iconic DC Bungalow of Guwahati, was on Sunday opened to the public as a heritage centre.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu at the Mahabahu Brahmaputra River Heritage Centre in Guwahati after inaugurating it on Sunday. (PHOTO CREDIT: DIPR)
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu at the Mahabahu Brahmaputra River Heritage Centre in Guwahati after inaugurating it on Sunday. (PHOTO CREDIT: DIPR)

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who is in Assam as part of a three-day tour to the northeast, inaugurated the Mahabahu Brahmaputra River Heritage Centre in the presence of Governor Jagdish Mukhi and Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The Vice President called for a national campaign to rejuvenate the country’s rivers and suggested that “we save our rivers with a sense of immediacy”.

“In the past, our villages and cities used to be dotted with several water bodies. In the quest for modernization, man, driven by greed, has destroyed natural ecosystems and at several places, the water bodies have virtually disappeared or have been encroached upon,” he said.

In a detailed Facebook post later, Naidu praised the effort to covert the bungalow into a heritage property and commented on its beauty.

“This is where the great warrior Lachit Barphukan made a decisive attack on the Mughals and forced them to return….Transforming this bungalow into Brahmaputra River Heritage Centre is a mark of respect for this vast river that nourished the civilisation here for centuries,” he wrote.

Located atop Barphukanar Tilla, a small hillock named after the most famous Ahom general Lachit Barphukan, it is the site from where the Ahom forces planned and launched attacks on the Mughal army during the Battle of Saraighat in 1671, which the latter lost.

“After the British annexed Assam in 1826 (after the Treaty of Yandaboo), the post of DC was created for Guwahati in 1839. But the city had no appropriate house at that time to accommodate Captain James Matthie, the first DC,” said a state government release.

“Several sites were surveyed before Barphukanar Tilla on the banks of the Brahmaputra, where cannons used in the Battle of Saraighat lay scattered, was chosen. Post-independence, it continued to be the DC’s bungalow until 2011,” the release added.

Though the exact date of when the bungalow was completed is not known, it is believed to be sometime in the 1850s.

A project to convert it into a heritage museum was later taken up under the Brahmaputra Riverfront Development plan. The heritage centre has on display the heritage of boats, an amphitheatre, an exhibition space, a cafeteria etc.

The other attractions include a collection of traditional fishing equipment, photographs and artifacts related to the history of Guwahati and river transport. The bungalow has installations depicting the textile designs, ethnic motifs and indigenous musical instruments.

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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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