Battle of Saraighat 1671 - [Ahom-Mughal] War

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 8, 2022, 8:54

The Battle of Saraighat was a naval battle fought in 1671 on the Brahmaputra River at Saraighat, now in Guwahati, Assam, between the Mughal Empire (headed by the Kachwaha king, Raja Ram Singh I) and the Ahom Kingdom (led by Lachit Borphukan).

Despite being weaker, the Ahom Army destroyed the Mughal Army during the Battle of Saraighat using great terrain manipulation, deft diplomatic manoeuvring to buy time, guerilla warfare, psychological warfare, military intelligence, and exploiting the Mughal army's main weakness its navy.

History of Battle of Saraighat

Prior to the Battle of Saraighat, the first fight between the Mughals and the Ahoms occurred in 1615, followed by a succession of battles that resulted in varying fortunes for the 2 parties till the Treaty of Asurar Ali in 1639, which established the Barnadi River (north) and Asurar Ali (south) as the Ahom-Mughal border.

Following Aurangazeb's ascension to the Mughal throne on July 31, 1658, he charged Mir Jhumla II with the invasion of Assam in 1660. In 1661, he marched into the Ahoms' territory and began to beat them in a series of engagements that concluded in the Ahoms' occupation.

Events of the Battle of Saraighat

Chakradwaj Singha began rebuilding the Ahom army, forging alliances with the other nations in the region, and building new forts in strategic locations throughout the kingdom in preparation for another fight with the Mughals. Lachit Borphukan would be the man he chose to serve his new army.

The Mughals tried to persuade the king to embrace vassalage under their empire, but they were turned down. When Emperor Aurangazeb learned of Guwahati's defeat, he dispatched a strong force of 30,000 soldiers and 18,000 cavalries led by Raja Ram Singh to take the city.

After exhausting all diplomatic options, Ram Singh launched a huge naval attack on the Ahom army at Saraighat. Munnawar Khan, his admiral, spearheaded the attack. The Ahoms were in severe need of help since they had yet to recoup from their loss at Alaboi and Lachit and had become seriously ill.

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Battle of Saraighat - Overview

The Ahom army began to flee as the Mughals gained technological and numerical superiority in the Battle of Saraighat. Lachit requested to be transferred on a boat despite his illness in order to rally his dwindling warriors. He moved forward against the Mughal army, declaring that he would rather die while executing his duty than flee. The Ahom men that joined the battle were inspired by seeing their captain charge toward the enemy.

In close-quarter encounters, the Ahom troops' small boats were decisive, as the larger Mughal boats couldn't manoeuvre swiftly enough because of their cannons to engage them. Munnawar Khan was killed in the ensuing melee between the two parties.

The Mughals were compelled to flee because of the loss of other senior officers. This forced Ram Singh's land forces to retire. The Mughals were chased all the way to the Manas River when Lachit called a halt to consolidate his conquests. The Battle of Saraighat came to an end when Ram Singh left for Rangamati.

Lachit Borphukan died of natural causes the year after the Battle of Saraighat in 1672. When Lachit's successor Laluk Sola abandoned Guwahati in 1679, it was seized by the Mughals. When the Ahom Army, led by Dihingia Alun Borbarua, defeated the Mughals at the battle of Itakhuli in 1682, it fell back into the hands of the Ahom Kingdom.

The Battle of Saraighat effectively ended the Mughal presence in Assam, and the Mughals would no longer wage war against the Ahom Kingdom.

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FAQs on Battle of Saraighat

Q.1. Who was victorious at the Battle of Saraighat?

The Ahom Kingdom won the Battle of Saraighat.

Q.2. What strategy did the Ahoms use to win the Battle of Saraighat?

The Ahom army destroyed the Mughal army using great terrain manipulation, deft diplomatic manoeuvring to gain time, guerrilla tactics, psychological warfare, military intelligence, and exploiting the Mughal army's navy during the Battle of Saraighat.

Q.3. What was the significance of the Battle of Saraighat?

The Battle of Saraighat marked the end of the Mughals' last significant attempt to expand their empire into Assam.

Q.4. What year did the Battle of Saraighat take place?

The Battle of Saraighat took place in March of 1671.