Tribal Races and Dooars covering Alipur Duar

Gautam Kumar Das

Alipur Duar district is like a landscape painter and that’s why the district is a perfect place of tourism. Actually the scenic beauty Dooars covers the major portion of the district Alipur Duar. The name of the places/villages of Alipur Duar is not only ancient, but have deep influences of the languages used by the local in situ tribal races. Alipur Duar, once the eastern part of the Jalpaiguri district was the abode of Koch, Mech and Tharu tribal races at a time. ‘Guri’, ‘Bari’ and ‘Dabri’ syllables of the names of the places in this part were pronounced and used by the ‘Tharu’ community. The tribal race, Dhimal have had too influences on the origin of the village names like Mallikhat, Mallikpara etc no inhabitants lives of late having the title of Mallik. Dhimal, the tribal community, once carried such Mallik title, presently having no existence of Tharu, Dhimal etc in this area, is perhaps due to mingle with the local denizen or migration towards hilly region towards north, although tribes engaged in the tea industry, visible in this area. The present tribal races like Santal, Malpahari, Kheria, Munda, Oraon, Chik, Baraik, Magar, Ho, Khasi, Korhoy etc accompanied by the son of the soil likw Mech, Rava, Garo, Toto, Dukpa, Boro, Hazong, Kachhari etc. Rai, Limbu, Mongor, Tamang used to share their livelihood including and social and cultural affairs with the Koch, Mech and Rajbangshi community. Name of the several villages of Dooars have been originated from their food habit, profession, cultivation and the vegetations surrounding them. Most of the names of the places have their origin from the regional landscape, nature and geomorphology. A few names are distorted from the original ones as usual. Naturally modified those names are changed. Places named after the rulers are comparatively modern and never flush with ardour, passion or diversity.

Once Bhutias reigned Dooars. After the end of the era of the Bhot-rules, Tandu, Jalda etc tribal races meandered towards Bhutan, though the place names like Jaldapara exist still in their names. Some places are named after the languages used by the Boro community. The meaning of the word ‘ti’ used by the Boro people is water. Numerous places are named using ‘ti’ syllable at the end of the word like Jayanti, Murti, Titi, Juranti, Kranti etc are mentionable.

Alipur Duar is named after Cornell Hedayet Ali who fixed the place as a habitation. Hedayet Ali won the second battle against Bhutan on behalf of the British East India Company rulers. The Englishrulers gave away the Alipur Duar area as a token prize to him as a lease-holder, holding of land for a term at a rent. The present Alipur Duar town is that land held by lease of Cornell Hedayet Ali. Alipur Duar district comprises with the six blocks namely Falakata, Madarihat, Kalchini, Kumargram, Alipur Duar 1 & 2 having 321 villages.

The area of Alipur Duar and the occurrence of Dooars are almost parallel. So, therefore, in the description of the district Alipur Duar, the natural beauty Dooars must be included. The northern part of the North Bengal area covers the Dooars which is admixture with the hills, vegetations and wild beasts. Dooars, by name, is modern, but ancient by its civilization and languages used in this region. There once lived several tribes who created the history reigning over the region. They added their languages and most names of the places were originated from the words used by the tribal races. In a word, names of the places came from habits and habitat of the tribal races.

Dooars came of the word ‘door’, which is pronounced in Bengali as ‘Duar’. There are eighteen doors i.e. usual natural entrance or pass from the plain to the hilly Bhutan. It is described in the book of the ‘The Bhotan and the Story of the Dooar War’ by Surgeon Rennie M D and quoted by Mr. Eden – “There is a narrow slip of land varying in breadth from ten to twenty miles which runs along the lower range of the Bootan hills from the Darjeeling district in the frontier of upper Assam…Entering into this track from hill are eighteen passes; each pass is under the authority of a Jungpen, or, as we call them, Soubahs, and under administration of each Jungpen is a certain division of territory which bears the name of the pass to which it is attached, and thus whole locality came to be known as the Athara Dooar or Eighteen Passes or Dooars.”

The Surveyor General Mr. Sandar depicted the picturesque Dooars – “The chief characteristics of the Duars is the numerous rivers and hills-streams which intersects in every direction, and the large tracts of sal forest, heavy grass and reed jungle mixed with wild cardamom, that lie on the north, principally between Toorsa and Sankos rivers.”

Dec 17, 2018

Gautam Kumar Das [email protected]

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