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Dimapur district,Nagaland

Dimapur is the largest city in Nagaland, India. In the Middle Ages, it was the capital of the Dimasa Kachari rulers. In the heart of the town there is an old relic of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom which speaks about the once prosperous era. Dimapur is the 115 th most populous city in the country. It is located at 25°54’45?N 93°44’30?E and is bounded by Kohima district on the south and east, Karbi Anglong district of Assam on the west, the Karbi Anglong and stretch of Golaghat District of Assam, in the west and the north. Dimapur, from a Kachari word ‘Dimasa’ after the river which flows through it, is the gateway to Nagaland and its only railhead. The city also has the only functional airport in the state.

History

Situated on the banks of the Dhansiri, (originally known as Dong-siri meaning a ravine of peaceful habitation) Dimapur, often described as the ‘Brick City’ by European scholars and also by the Ahoms, was the ancient capital of a ruling nation, the Dimasa, who were once a powerful and predominant race in the Entire North-East India region particularly the Brahmaputra Valley. There are two accounts of the way in which Dimapur got its name : many writers are of the opinion that the name ’ Dimapur’ was derived from Dimasa Kachari words Di-meaning water, Ma-meaning big and Pur-meaning city or township in the Dimasa dialect; while others contend that Dimapur is a corruption of Hidimbapur, meaning the city of Hidimbi (of Mahabharata fame) – the rakshasi-turned-woman whose marriage to the Pandava prince Bhima led to the birth of Ghatotkacha – believed to be the progenitor of the Kacharis. According to the second theory, the name Hidimbapur is conjectured to have been abbreviated to Dimbapur and subsequently to have lost a consonant to become Dimapur. In some accounts preserved in Dimasa Kachari folklore Dimapur is called Dimabang Halali, possibly an earlier name of the city, later Sanskritised by the Brahmins. In the Ahom Chronicles, Dimapur Is referred to sometimes as ‘Che-din-chi-pen’ (town-earth-burn-make) meaning ‘brick town’ and at others as ‘Che-Dima’ meaning town of the Dimasa.

The seat of capital of Dimapur Kingdom was originally enclosed by a brick wall four feet wide and sixteen feet high, surrounded by an outer ditch sixteen feet in width and twelve feet in depth, except on the southern side where the River Dhansiri formed a natural moat. On the eastern side there was a fine solid gateway with brick masonry of pointed double arches. The gate was secured by heavy double doors, the hinges of which were seated in holes pierced in solid stone blocks. At both ends of the battlement there were turrets of half quadrant shape and in between the archway and the turrets were niches resembling ornamental windows. High up, on either side of the arch, were carvings of sunflowers, which were originally faced with brass so as to present a dazzling spectacle when seen sparkling in the sun from afar. Inside the fortified city, there were seventeen ornamental stone pillars. These funerary monuments were decorated with carvings of foliage, flowers, familiar animals and birds but nowhere with any human images – such as those of gods and goddesses. This suggests that the Dimasa Kacharis were free of Hindu influence at that time. These monoliths are believed to be lineal monuments of the ruling kings of Dimapur. The largest of them was seventeen feet high and twenty four feet in circumference and was said to be the memorial of Makardhwaj, greatest of the rulers of Dimapur (to be equated probably with Khungkradoa Raja, later given a Sanskritized name by the Brahmins) in whose time the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom reached its apogee. It was during this golden age that the conquests of Manipur and Burma took place under the leadership of Seng yah (Veer) Dehmalu Kemprai, the greatest warlord of the Kacharis. Also during this period, heroes like Rangadao (after whom Ranga Pathar, the southern part of Dimapur, was named), Degadao and mystic heroines like Wairingma and Waibangma won renown in war and the pursuit of mystical attainment. Other V-shaped stone monuments, seventeen in number, symbolised the seventeen royal clans of the ‘Dimasa Kachari Aristocracy’ a term coined by Dr. Francis Hamilton, a renowned scholar of the Dimasa Kachari Royal Clan.

Shri SK. Barpujari in his book ‘ History of the Dimasa’ and some writers opined that the Dimasa Kachari Kings to commemorate their Victory over other tribesman, erected monoliths of different shapes indicating the different traditions of the vanquished tribes. This tradition of carving victory memorials is part of the culture of the hill tribes and may have been adopted by the Dimasa Kachari Kings in order to demonstrate the legitimacy of their rule. Dr H. Bareh in the ‘Gazetteer of India’ writes that the oblong V-Shaped stone pillars closely correspond to the similarly V-Shaped post protruding from the roof of the house of wealthy Angamis

The tallest and largest megalith, which lies isolated from others and has a unique Sultanate style, is believed to have been erected by the founder king of Dimapur, who after vanquishing the tribes all around made his triumphal tower to commemorate his victory and this became a tradition setter. In and around this old city, large number of tanks over fifty in number existed, although most of them have since either dried up or have been destroyed by reckless human encroachment without an iota of respect for the history. These tanks were believed to be either dug by the kings for providing water supply to their people or might have resulted due to brick making, as pieces of old bricks could still be found in and around these tanks and, as has been mentioned earlier, Dimapur was known for use of bricks. Most of large tanks are rectangular and have a hardwood seasoned poles planted deep at the centre of the tanks, which have lasted for hundreds of years. Others are of irregular shapes without any such wooden poles. Inference in that, the former ones might have been dug by the kings for water supply and the later were habitation as Digjo Dijua meaning cut off from main river or stream’ and this tradition is still in vogue, and this area covers Dimapur and Dimasa Kachari inhabited areas of Karbi Anglong District of Assam in the Dhansiri valley. The present Dimapur is the commercial capital of Nagaland and is one of the fastest growing townships in the entire North-east region. But irony is, in the name of the modernity and development, this ancient city of Dimapur, whose historical relics finds a place in the World.

During World War II, Dimapur was the centre of action between British India and Imperial Japan. It was the staging post for the Allied offensive. The Japanese could reach Kohima where a siege was laid. Allied reinforcement came through Dimapur by rail and road for the push against the Japanese. An airport at Dimapur was also in use for supplies to the allied forces in Burma. The battle for Kohima about 77 km from Dimapur is considered the turning point for the Japanese retreat from South East Asia.

The Jains were amongst the earliest non-Naga settlors of Nagaland. A few Jain(Sethi) families came to Kohima in the 1880s and settled there. They later moved to Dimapur in 1944 due to Japanese invasion during World War II. Prominent among them were Phulchand Sethi, Jethmal Sethi, Kanhaiyalal Sethi, Ramchandra Sethi, Kishanlal Sethi. Phulchand Sethi and other Sethi brethren set up the SD Jain Temple, SD Jain School, SD Jain Charitable Hospital. They also built the famous Durga Mandir in Old Daily Market.

Tourism

Dimapur is a district of Nagaland which derives its name from the Dimasa Kachari dialect. Literally, Dimapur – dima means great river, and pur means city, altogether it means “city of great river” in Dimasa kachari dialect. It was one of the capitals of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom. There are various tourist attractions in Dimapur, such as ancient villages, waterfalls, ruins of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom, and the Kali Temple.

Niuland subdivision and Chumukedima Village is an ancient area with scenic beauty and waterfalls. The town of Medziphema, Kuhuboto, surrounded by villages like Sakipheto, Alato, Aoyimkum, Darogarjan, and Nihoto are visited by many tourists. The Kachari Ruins are visited for various temples, reservoirs and tanks that belonged to the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom. Noune resort, situated near Niuland, is an ideal place for boating. Niathu resort is the best[citation needed] resort in Dimapur so far.

Apart from these, Diphupar, Nichuguard, Sukhajan, Kuki Dolong, Thilixu and Seithekima Village are visited. Chekiye and Ruzaphema have bazaars, where tourists can purchase beautiful handicrafts.