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Kedar Rai


Kedar Rai zamindar of Vikrampur and one of the renowned Bara-bhuyans of Bengal. Kedar Rai is said to be the descendant of one Nim Rai who came from Karnatak and settled at Ara Phulbaria in Vikrampur probably in the early fifteenth century. Nim Rai was a Kayastha and is believed to have been the first bhuyan, and to have obtained a sanction of the ruling monarch to his retaining the title of 'bhuyan' as a hereditary one for his family. Kedar Rai was the son of Jadav Rai. His capital was at Sripur on the bank of the Kaliganga.

Kedar Rai possessed a large number of war-boats and a well-trained naval force. He employed a few Portuguese adventurers as captains of his war-boats of whom Carvallo figured prominently.

Kedar Rai maintained friendly relations with isa khan Masnad-i-Ala and fought against the Mughals in alliance with him. Ralph Fitch, an Elizabethan envoy to Akbar's court, mentions that when he visited the city of Sripur (1586) the king was in rebellion against Akbar. Kedar Rai allied himself with the Afghan chiefs of the family of Qutlu Lohani who had carved out a state in Orissa. He in cooperation with Khwaja Sulaiman Lohani captured the fort of Bhusana (1593) from its imperial commandant and kept it under his control till at least 1596 when an imperial force under Durjan Singh invaded the fort. A sudden gun burst inside the fort during the siege killed Sulaiman Lohani and wounded Kedar Rai who fled and took shelter with Isa Khan at Sonargaon (June 1596).

In 1602, the imperial general Mansingh sent a detachment against Kedar Rai who was, however, induced to promise loyalty to Emperor Akbar. In 1603, a large fleet of the Maghs of Arakan invaded the Dhaka waters, and launched a severe attack on the Mughal fort at Trimohani. But they were chased by a Mughal force with heavy casualties. Kedar Rai now joined the Maghs with his own fleet and attacked the Mughal outpost of Srinagar. In the encounter that followed near Vikrampur, Kedar Rai was wounded and captured. He was carried to Raja Mansingh when he breathed his last.

The ancestral home of the family of Kedar Rai at Ara Phulbaria can still be located at an elevated landmass known as Kedar Bari. There still exists a dighi excavated by Kedar Rai, and another dighi of the time of his elder brother Chand Rai known as 'Keshava Ma ka Dighi' named after a maiden of Chand Rai. The most outstanding relic of the Sripur Raj is the lofty Rajbari Math, a prominent landmark for miles around on the left bank of the river Padma, situated at a short distance from where the city of Sripur formerly began. [Muazzam Hussain Khan]