Published Date: 15th April, 2016
Chandubi is one of the nine important beels or lakes in Assam. The lake, located along the border between Assam and Meghalaya in Kamrup rural district and at a distance of around 45 kms from the LGB international airport. Barjhar, Guwahati, is an exquisite handiwork of nature. Chandubi is an embodiment of peace and tranquility nestled at the foot of surrounding green hills. The lake comes into prominence owing to its environs, myriad flora and fauna, birds, algae, fishes, turtles and of course the migratory winged friends.
Myths and Legends: The river Kulsi watered by rills originating in the Himalayan foothills and known variously as Kakhri, Kakreng and Siri in its course downhill merges with Drone and Ghaga near present day Ukiam in the Assam Meghalaya border. Legend has it that the new river, strong in current and volume, flowed through what is now Chandubi and entered the Kangkri Sea in the plains. In due course earth movement gave rise to the river bed near the villages Khubdiya and Jupangbari and created a natural dam. The place is now known as Dagarbura Jan. now the stranded and swollen water or river Siri spread to the hollows in the surrounding areas. The river, naturally, changed its course resulting in a beautiful horse shoe or river lake. The horse shoe lake was and still is called Dubi, Dobha or Beel in local parlance. Now the river in its new incamation as Kulsi meanders trough the plains, crosses Champak Nagar and at last meets the old man Brahmaputra miles beyond. It is believed that the lake bed and the adjacent valley subsided a bit during the devastating earthquake of 1897. It is assumed that the entire Loharghat area starting from Khubdiya, Jupangbari in the south to Aliha, Ghagrachuk, Batabari, Dhanipara, Khamar, Beberipara in the west to Ganakpara, Maravitha-Velera, Aujapara, Bagapani, Pathelipara in the north was once Kangkri Sea covering thousands of hectres of surface land. Kangkri Sea features prominently in the myth of Chanda Sadagar of Champak Nagar, his son Lakhindar and daughter-in-law Sati Beula and the vitriolic, pedantic Bishari or Bengkhaiti Kani. So, the once upon a time existence of Kangkri Sea can not be dismissed forthwith. Some people in the know are the view that Kangkri Sea was very much alive and ticking during the reign of King Bhagadatta of Pragjyotishpur. The epic Mahabharat tells us that Bhagadatta fought alongside the Kauravas (Durydhan the eldest of the Kauravs happened to be his son-in-law) in the great battle of Kurukhetra and was killed by the Pandavs. Thus, they argue, Kangkri belonged to the age of the epic. Excavation only will reveal the truth.
It is also controversial as to who or how Chandubi got christened. Some Pundits are of the view that there were many tribal kings or powerful chieftains who ruled over tracts along Assam’s frontier with Meghalaya in Kamrup district of Assam as was the case elsewhere all over the subcontinent. There was, for instance, Boge king in the princely state of Bogai, some women ruled Rani Kingdom, in Barduar was the Barduar king etc. likewise there was Sonari Raja at Rajapara. This Sonari Raja was, in fact, as subordinate of the Khasi king and paid tribute to the latter. The Khasis worshipped their five deities in five different places around the Dubi or lake. The five deities were called, ‘San Ublei’ in Khasi. San stands for five and Ublei means god or deity in Khasi. The gods they worshipped were various forms of Kingdom or Shiva. Present-day Kolong was, perhaps, the place where ceremony of worship took place. Thus the Dubi where the five gods that is ‘San Ublei’ were worshipped came to be known as ‘San Ublei Dubi’ or the lake of five gods. Latter on, it became only Chandubi among the Rabha Kacharis in the plains with Ublei left out. (Courtesy of Sri Nalini Rabha, Rajapara)
The second formulation as regards the name Chandubi pivots around the story of mythical merchant Chanda Sadagar. According to it Chanda Sadagar used to anchor his boats in this Dubi wherever the came up the Kulsi River to trade with the hill tribes. As he more too often used the Dubi as his boatyard the lake became synonymous with the name Chanda Sadagar and came to be called ‘Chanadar Dubi’ (lake belonging to Chanda) then Chanda Dubi and finally simply Chandubi.
The third theory is no less fascinating and goes to show the ingenuity of those who espouse it. It claims that during the British Raj some British Sahib visited the earthquake-born lake and was delighted to be the Sun setting over the Dubi and pronounced it the lake where the Sun set. Now, you juxtapose the English ‘Sun’ with Assames ‘Dub’ and what do you get! Chandub-Chandubi, that is, the place where the sun sets. Thus, Chandubi is a portmenteau phenomenon. (The innocent Assamese word ‘Dub’ literally means to sink, to submerge or to go lower in position).
The first formulation, however, is still holding grounds against perpetual assaults that try to usurp its good Name. Grey heads acquiesce in that is was Khasi ‘San Ublei Dubi’ that metamorphosed into Chandubi. Yeah! This one is closer home, one would say.
It is a fact that Chandubi came into existence as a result of the devastating earthquake that occurred on June 12th, 1897. The magnitude of the earthquake was 8.7 on the Richter scale. It is further agreed that the horse shoe lake was in place much before 1897 but the quake sunk the lakebed and gave its present shape and depth.
Location: Chandubi is situated between 910 24˝ E and 250 52˝ N latitude. The lake which resembles an amoeba in shape has a length of about 7 Kms and average width is 1 Km with the outer reaches taking various shapes and sizes. Chandubi covers an area of about 2000 hectres (branches included) between 70 to 150 mtrs above sea level and has an average depth of about 3 mtrs, half its former depth.
Border: Chandubi is blessed with serene sylvan surroundings with ancient hills standing sentinels over it. Botahi Pahar, Joramukhuriya, Jupangbari, Khubdiya, Barduar Reserve Forest lie to the north whereas Rajapara, Sagolsari Pahar, Baroigaon are to the south. There is Muduki to the east and the west flank is guarded by Santibeel, Saparakata, Kulsi river and Barduar Reserve Forest.
Chandubi witnesses varying temperature corresponding with the changing seasons. Its summer temperature ranges from 27.50 and 330 to 18.40 and 220 Celsius. The winter temperature fluctuates between the highest 220 and 150 to 120 and sometimes as low 70 Celsius. The area receives as rainfall of 200 cm per annuam.
The lake and can also bost of some stream tributaries like Jupangbari Nijora, Bargarong Nijora and Joromkhuria Nijora in the north that come down the Sagolsari Pahar and those in the south like Kolia Nijora, Nilibari Nijora and Nopring. The latter to merge with Soraikhurung ‘river’ before making Chandubi their home. All these streams have there origin in the Mayong hill lying south to Chandubi. Gutipara Nijora is a seasonal stream that originates in Muduki in the east and is active during the rainy season only.
How to get Chandubi: Chandubi lies about 65 kms away from Guwahti. Visitors from outside Assam after touchdown at LGB international airport are asked to head west along the NH 37 on their preferred conveyance– Bus, Tata sumo, Taxi are there for the taking. After covering a mere 10 kms they will reach the small township of Mirza and from there let the road lead you south down to Chandubi. The distance between the two places is only 35 kms. One will be tempted to fall in love with nature once he reaches Loharghat standing midway en route to Chandubi. Thereupon will come into view the lush green tea bushes of Barduar tea estate and you will be suddenly awaken to the reality that you have been transported, for once, to your carefree bodyhood days, the nostalgia driven by the all clean and refreshing air caressing your body and mind. The pitched raod is flanked by tea greenery up to Muduki where you turn right to reach Chandubi. Now, in this stretch up to Rajapara stand the majestic teaks, sals, azars in silent dignity to welcome you. The kaleidoscopic scenario is likely to throw off the feeling of inertia as you enter the world of nature leaving behind the one of machines.
What you will look out for at Chandubi: First have a relaxed view of the splendid lake– its myriad trees, climbing plants, the hills, the birds etc. Then you can opt for a boat trip to criss-cross the waterscape. Boats are manned by able-bodied young men from the neighbourhood. You can go on fishing as well if you count that among your prioreities. Wild elephants can accost you some times, more than fifty in a herd if you are fortunate enough. Photograph the flocks of Herons, Wood-ducks so as to make the ephemeral permanent.
Other Tourist destinations about Chandubi:
1. Kundilmukh: Kundilmukh is to the east of Chandubi, about 10 kms away. The special feature of Kundilmukh is that the river Batha suddenly and completely goes underground for some 150 mtrs and then re-emerges to the surface. The word Kundil is derived from Dhundul which means a hollow made into the ground or a mound or dam. Kundilmukh takes on an eerie shape during the rainy season as there develops a huge whirpool where the water disappears into the ground and take decomposed woods, bamboos etc. along.
2. Bornijora Waterfall: As the name suggests Barnijora is a big stream or rivulet originating in the Khasi hills. No wheel-bound conveyance will do here. One will have to negotiate ups and downs through the woods on a narrow track for one and half hours if the starting point is Kundilmukh. The on his/her way to the fail that branches off diagonally to the south-east off Kundilmukh. The water of the rivulet takes a plunge for about 30 mtrs to the ground below making the air full of silvery drops and moisture. It goes without saying that Bornijora is recommended for those who love go trekking.
3. Jhalkat waterfall: This fall is on the course of the Soraikhurung River, another gift of the Khasi hills. Its height is about 20 mtrs. It is in Meghalaya near the village Rajaghumai lying to the south of Chandubi (8 kms). Trekking again! Now the distance to cover is 3 kms from Rajapara. Ditto the tracks. Once you arrive at Jhalkata the fall is bound to welcome you with watery warmth.
4. Hatigarh: Famous for Hatigarh or traps laid to capture elephants alive! According to sources Phandis (persons who capture and train elephants) used these traps about 100 t0 150 years back. One can view Tong or Tongighar and ascend it for fun on his way to Hatigarh (Tong is a small hut or platform raised several feet above the ground and built into a tree or trees. Tongs are used by peasants to guard their paddy against wild elephants, monkeys etc. Elephants are warded off by fire, sharp weapons and beating of drums). The place is the closest to Chandubi with a distance of only 6 kms.
5. Ramchandra Ashram: Just off the Mirza-Chandubi road, 23 kms from Mirza. The ashram is amidst tea greenery of Barduar tea estate and at the foot of Jamaguri hill, hence the alias Jamaguri ashram. Nagababa Birendrapuri from Jabbalpur in Madhyapradesh established the ashram way back 1956. He meditated inside a stone cave in this wild and forlorn place and got enlightenment, people say. There are several statues of gods and animals cast in stone. Popular belief holds it that wishes are granted if one prays to the gods.
6. Kulsi: A well kown tourist spot on the bank of Kulsi River. The road to Kulsi leads westward from Satpur on the Mirza-Chandubi road. There is a 7 kms stretch of road between Satpur and Kusli. Kusli has historical relevance as far as organized forestation and conservation is concerned. Kulsi is the 2nd place in whole Asia to have teak plantations. British ACF official Ailmer had planted teaks here as early as 1872. There still exists a British era Inspection Banglow on a hillock amidst teak woods. Ideal place for a picnic as Kulsi offers enough seclusion, bowers and crystal clear water.
7. Tiyamari: En route to Kulsi from Satpur one can visit this ancient Saktipeeth. Earliest records of the peeth date back to the middle ages. Autumnal Durga puja celebrated here in a mixed Hindu and tribal traditional way.
Chandubi Festival: Chandubi Fest was launched in 2010–11 that begins on 1st January every year and ends on the 5th. The following items are on board during the Chandubi Fest.
1. Folk Culture (Dances, Dresses, Ornaments, Songs etc.) 2. Rituals and Traditions as practiced by ethnic populace of the area. 3. Ethnic culinary delicacies. 4. Ideal Home of the Rabhas. 5. Elephant safari. 6. Rowing. 7. Boating. 8. Tongighar ascension.
Come away from the drudgery of city life and embrace the tribal life of olden days to discover life anew. Preservation of tradition and environment is the motto of the Festival.
We will be grateful if you would mind the following restrictions while at Chandubi:
1. Plastic in any from is banned at Chandubi.
2. No source of louder sound (Loudspeaker, Stereo, Sound system etc.) is allowed.
3. Take the mineral water bottles along when you go home. Breach of any of the above mentioned restrictions will amount to a fine of rupees 500.00.
And last but not the least, have a good journey! Enjoy yourselves guys! God be with you!
Title Picture: Eastern Photo Service
Source: Chandubi Festival Organizing Committee.