Published On: Sat, Mar 4th, 2023

Assam’s pyramid-like ‘moidams’ meet UNESCO technical requirements

Assam’s Charaideo “Maidams”, the Ahom equivalent of the ancient Egyptian pyramids.

Assam’s Charaideo “Maidams”, the Ahom equivalent of the ancient Egyptian pyramids.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Assam’s pyramid-like structures known as moidams or maidams have met all the technical requirements of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

Charaideo in eastern Assam has more than 90 moidams, the mound-burial system of the Ahoms who ruled large swathes of the present-day State and beyond for some 600 years until the advent of the British in the 1820s.

“With great pride, happy to share a landmark achievement in our endeavour to get World Heritage Site status for Charaideo Maidams. The maidams have met all technical requirements of the UNESCO Secretariat. My gratitude once again to Hon PM Shri @narendramodi ji for the nomination,” Mr. Sarma tweeted on March 3 night.

He attached a letter from Lazare Eloundou Assamo, the director of the World Heritage Centre’s cultural sector to Vishal V. Sharma, the permanent delegate of India to UNESCO.

“The nomination of Moidams – the Mound-Burial System of the Ahom Dynasty met all of the technical requirements outlined in the Operational Guidelines concerning completeness check of nominations to the World Heritage List. It is important to recall that the technical completeness of a nomination does not imply that the site concerned is of Outstanding Universal Value and would necessarily be inscribed on the World Heritage List,” Mr. Assamo’s letter said.

On January 21, Mr. Sarma said the Prime Minister chose the Charaideo Moidams from among 52 tentative sites across the country for nomination as a World Heritage Site.

This followed the Assam government’s letter to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) with a dossier on the site for onward submission to UNESCO for their evaluation for the 2023 cycle.

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“Moidams (or Maidams) represent the late medieval (13th-19th century CE) mound-burial tradition of the Tai Ahoms in Assam, which lasted almost 600 years. Out of 386 Moidams explored so far, 90 royal burials at Charaideo are the best preserved, representative, and most complete examples of this tradition,” the letter stated.

The letter to the ASI pointed out that the Charaideo Moidams enshrine the mortal remains of Ahom royalty along with the objects they cherished. But after the 18th century, the Ahom rulers adopted the Hindu method of cremation, later entombing the cremated bones and ashes in a Moidam at Charaideo.

The Moidams are highly venerated, it said.

The nomination of the Charaideo Moidams coincided with the 400 th birth anniversary of Lachit Borphukan, the most celebrated Ahom general who thwarted the attempts of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s army to capture Assam.

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