The erstwhile undivided Darrang district was an old administrative
unit of Assam. The district of Sonitpur was initially bifurcated from Darrang.
Later the new Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) of Udalguri was
curved out with major part of Darrnag and some part of Sonitpur.The name
of the district appears to have originated from the term Darrang Raja, a
branch of Koch Kings. Dharmanarayan was known as the founder of the
dynasty of Darrang Rajas. The present Mangaldoi area was at that time
known as Darrang Desh, even after annexation of Assam by the British in
1826. It is also believed that, the word Darrang might have been used by the
aboriginals of this district, who were of the Tibetan stock. This name may
have been borrowed from the Daflas or the Bhutias, whose main duar or
pass for coming to the plains from Himalayan ranges lay along the course of
Barang river. They called it Duar-ganga, which after corruption to Duaranga
may assume the present form of Darranga or Darrang. However, Lt. Mathic,
in his report on Darrang district (1835), has observed that Darrang means
land of flood and is derived from Dur and Rung possibly Ahom words.
This district, which once formed a part of the ancient Kamrupa was
ruled by three dynasties viz., the Varmans, the Salastambhas and the Pals.
Pushyavarman, who was the first important ruler of Varman dynasty, is
quoted to be flourished in the middle of the fourth century A.D. and this
dynasty ruled over Kamrupa for about three hundred years. Of this dynasty,
Bhaskar Varman (594-650 A.D.) was the greatest monarch even among the
most remarkable rulers of ancient India.
The dynasty of Salastambha family is believed to have commenced
after the end of Bhaskar Varman’s rule. This family was called as Bhaumas
of Haruppesvara, which is identified with Tezpur.
The kingdom of Kamrupa, after the death of the last king of
Salastambha dynasty towards the end of the 10th century, passed into the
hands of Brahmapala, the founder of the Pala family and this line of Pala
Kings ruled for about one hundred fifty years. The last king of this dynasty
was Jaya Pala, who expired in 1138 A.D. Darkness descends on the history
of Kamrupa after the fall of the Pala dynasty and next successors.
According to records, the Ahom king Suhungmung alias Dihingiya
Raja (1497-1539 A.D.), occupied the territories on the north bank of the
Brahmaputra in 1505 A.D. when Bar-Bhuyan was ruling there in small
principalities. They defeated the Chutiyas in 1523 A.D. The Ahom territory
was soon exposed to the Koch and the Muslim invasions. The Muslims
invaded the Ahom territory thrice and many decisive battles were fought in
Darrang. Soon after this, Biswa Sinha, the first Koch king conquered
Darrang and rose to power in about 1515 A.D., where the Bara-Bhuyan still
had some semi-independent principalities in several parts of this district.
After Biswa Sinha’s death in 1540 A.D, his eldest son Malladev, who
assumed the name of Naranarayan, took the throne and his brother Chilarai
was appointed as the commander-in-chief. The reign of Naranarayan
represents the Zenith of Koch power. They invaded the Ahom territory in
1546 A.D. and rulers of Manipur, Jaintia, Tipperah, Shylet, Khynim and
Dimarua, were all brought under subjugation, besides the Ahom king who
was also subdued by the Koches. Thereafter, Suklenmung (1539-1552 A.D.)
regained the lost territory in Darrang from Koch in a great victory.
Naranarayan captured this territory again in 1563 A.D. The entire territory
north of the Brahmaputra remained in the hands of Koches. The Ahom king
Sukhampa (1552-1603 A.D.), the successor of Suklenmung made vigorous
attempts to recover their lost territories. After his death in 1603 A.D, Pratap
Sinha ascended the Ahom throne.
After Naranarayan’s death in 1584 A.D., quarrel began between his
son Laxminarayan and Chilarai’s son Raghudev. Raghudev was succeeded
by his son Parikshit, who soon became involved in hostilities. Laxminarayan
sought the help of Nawab of Dacca to subdue Parikshit and Parikshit
approached Ahom king Pratap Sinha for help but no avail. In 1619 AD., the
Mughals defeated Parikshit and his kingdom was annexed to Mughal
Empire. Parikshit’s brother Balinarayan sought shelter under Pratap Sinha.
In 1616 A.D. Pratap Sinha inflicted a crushing defeat on the invading
Muslims on the banks of Bharali and appointed Balinarayan as the
protectorate king and the tributary Raja of Darrang in 1616 A.D. with a title
The history of Darrang after Balinarayan, centers mainly round the
Ahom kings, who began to strengthen their hold on the Darrang Rajas. The
struggle between Muslims and Ahoms for capturing each other’s territory
started after 1617 A.D. But in 1637 A.D., the Muslims, who were advancing
towards Kajali, defeated Ahoms. In the counter offensive, the war ended with
a treaty between Muslims and Ahoms, specifying each other’s boundaries.
Dharmanarayan succeeded by his son Mahendranarayan, and after
his death in 1643, Chandranarayan succeeded him. Chandranarayan
shifted his capital to Mangaldoi and successfully resisted the onslaughts of
Bhutias. After his death in 1660 A.D., Suryanarayan became the Raja of
Darrang under Ahom king Jayadhwaj Sinha, successor of Pratap Sinha.
Mir Jumla, the Governor of Bengal made an attack on Assam on 4th
January 1662 and captured Gauhati. Jayadhwaj Sinha died in November
1663 and he was succeeded by Chakradhvaj Sinha (1663-1669 A.D.). In
1667 A.D., he recaptured Gauhati and extended their territory to the Manas
river and regained Darrang. On hearing this, Aurangzeb sent a big army
against Ahom, which reached Rangamahi in February 1669 A.D. and
advanced up to Tezpur. But Ahoms gained a decisive victory over Moghals in
1671 A.D. during the reign of Udayadithya, the successor of Chakradvaja
Sinha. Mughals retreated to Rangamati. Udayadithya was succeeded by
Gadadhar Sinha (1681-1695). The zenith of Ahom power was reached
during the reign of Rudra Sinha (1695-1714 ), who succeeded Gadadhar
Sinha. But his son Siva Sinha (1714-1744 A.D.) was a weak prince.
Indranarayan was the king of Darrang during this period and Ahoms greatly
curtailed his powers. Most of the area placed under the direct
administration of Ahoms.
During the period of Kamaleswar Sinha (1795-1810), who succeeded
the Ahom throne in 1795, there was a series of insurrections in several
parts. The Daflas and Moamarias rose in rebellion. Burmese invaded Ahom
and intruded upon British territory, which led to British intervention. Soon
after a war between British and Burmese, the treaty of Yandaboo took place
on February 24, 1826, which led to the eventual annexation of Assam to the
East India Company and Darrang became part of it. This was tagged with
Lower Assam and administered from Gauhati till 1833, when it was
separated and erected into a district known as Darrang with head quarter at
Mangaldoi. In 1835, the headquarter of the District was shifted to Tezpur. In
1983, when a new District of Sonitpur was created comprising the area of
Tezpur Sub-Division, Tezpur became the District headquarter of Sonitpur
district and Mangaldoi became the headquarter of Darrang district.