|Area||78,438 sq km|
History and Geography: The word ‘Assam’ as interpreted by some scholars is derived from the Sanskrit word Asoma meaning peerless or unparalleled. But the widely accepted opinion of the academic circles today is that the term has come from the original name of Ahoms, who ruled the land for about six hundred years prior to its annexation by the British. The races like Austric, Mongolian, Dravidian and Aryan that came to this land long-long ago have contributed to its composite culture. Thus Assam has a rich legacy of culture and civilization.
Assam was known as Pragjyotisha or the place of eastern astronomy during the epic period and later named as Kamrupa. The earliest epigraphic reference to the kingdom of Kamrupa is found in the Allahabad pillar inscription of king Samudragupta. Kamrupa is mentioned as a Pratyanta or frontier state outside the Gupta empire but with friendly and subordinate relation to it. Hiuen Sang, the Chinese scholar pilgrim who visited Kamrupa in about 743 AD on an invitation of its monarch, Kumar Bhaskar Varman, left a record of the kingdom he called Kamolupa. Kamrupa also figured in the writings of the Arabian historian Alberuni in the eleventh century. Thus, from the epic period down to the twelfth century AD, the eastern frontier kingdom was known as Pragjyotisha and Kamrupa and kings called themselves ‘Lords of Pragjyotisha’.
The advent of the Ahoms across the eastern hills in 1228 AD was the turning point in the Assam history. They ruled Assam nearly for six centuries. The Burmese entered through the eastern borders and overran the territory at a time when court intrigues and dissensions were sapping the vitality of the Ahom royalty. It became a British protectorate in 1826 when the Burmese ceded Assam to the British under the provision of the Treaty of Yandabo.
Assam is the sentinel of north-east India and gateway to the North-Eastern States. The State is close to India’s international borders with Bangladesh and Bhutan. Assam is surrounded by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh on the north, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh on the east and Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram on the south.