Lachit first came to prominence when he recovered Guwahati from the Mughals in 1667 and was presented with the Hengdang, a gold-plated sword. However, he is famously remembered for the 1671 Battle of Saraighat, in which the Mughal army faced one of its worst defeats.
In the battle, a much smaller Ahom army managed to defeat the mighty Mughals using a combination of tactical brilliance, guerilla warfare and intelligence gathering. Saraighat, in a way, was the last attempt by the Mughals to extend their empire to Assam.
The battle was a culmination of many smaller battles and skirmishes between the Ahoms and Mughals.
In 1670, the Mughals under Ram Singh’s army comprising of 21 Rajput chiefs, 15,000 archers, 4,000 troopers, 500 imperial gunners, 30,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry marched towards the warzone. On the other hand, Lachit only had a few thousand soldiers.
It is said in order to defeat the strongest, you need to attack them at the weakest and that’s exactly what the Assamese hero did.
The Mughals got bogged down in mud and got isolated from each other due to the flowing streams of Brahmaputra. And that became the game changer for the Ahoms.
They were at an advantage as they were more used to the terrain and accustomed to the climate.
On the day of the Saraighat battle, Lachit was terribly unwell. Yet, he displayed tremendous valour, extraordinary bravery and exemplary leadership.
He went on a boat along with seven other boats to fight the Mughals.
Such an action by an ailing yet forceful Lachit motivated his troops. They fought the battle with a fierce zeal and intense courage. Finally, the Mughal army suffered comprehensive defeat in the hands of Lachit’s troops.
Before the battle, Lachit had ordered the construction of an earthen wall for fortification within one night and kept his maternal uncle as the supervisor. However, it was not progressing satisfactorily.
When he didn’t get any proper explanation, he beheaded his uncle on the spot exhibiting patriotism towards his motherland outweighting personal relations.
Owing to his unparalleled heroism, Lachit has been a hero and an inspiration for generations of Assamese. People of all hues in Assam invoke his name to fight back and win from the verge of defeat.
During the dark days of Aurangzeb’s tyranny, bravehearts like Lachit showed us how our civilisation survived all sorts of onslaught.
In his honour, the National Defence Academy has been conferring the best passing out cadet with the Lachit Borphukan gold medal since 1999.
Unfortunately, this iconic personality has been lesser known due to his lack of presence in history books.