The Capital of the Mighty Ahom Kingdom, Sivasagar, ex. Rongpur is a town in Upper Assam located 360 km from the city of Guwahati. The term Sivasagar is derived from Sibsagar meaning “Ocean of Lord Shiva”. Sivasagar town is the district headquarters of the Sivasagar district and today is famous for its Oil and Tea industries.
The Ahom Kings ruled Assam for more than 600 years and Sivasagar earlier known as Rongpur was the capital of the Ahom Kingdom. Because of this,one can still see the influence of this Kingdom at Sivasagar in the form of various Historic Monuments. The Ahom Kings were a patron of Architecture and it was under their regime that various Temples, Monuments and Neo-Vaishnavite Satras were constructed not only in Sivasagar but across the State of Assam. Their love for Architecture can be clearly seen especially at the Rang Ghar and Talatal Ghar in Sivasagar.
Places of Interest in Sivasagar ~
1| Rang Ghar Sivasagar
Rang Ghar (meaning the House of Entertainment) is one of the Oldest surviving Amphitheaters of Asia and was built by the Ahom King Swargadeo Rudra Singha with bamboo and wood and later reconstructed by Swargadeo Prathama Singha in 1750 Ad. The Rang Ghar at Sivasagar is a double storied monument with a roof shaped like an inverted boat. This Amphitheater was mostly used by the Ahom Kings and their families for watching various indigenous games like Bird fights, Buffalo fights, Elephant fights, Wrestling, etc. particularly during the Rongali Bihu Festival. What makes the Rang Ghar unique is its construction using special thin baked bricks and instead of cement, a unique paste of rice and eggs was used as mortar.
2| Kareng Ghar Sivasagar
Of all the Ahom ruins, the Kareng Ghar is an example of the grandest of Ahom architectures. Also known as the Gorgaon Palace, the Palace’s structures were made of wood and stones. The Kareng Ghar was the Royal house of the Ahom Kingdom and was constructed by Ahom King Swargadeo Rajeshwar Singha in 1752 AD.
3| Talatal Ghar Sivasagar
The Talatal Ghar is a palace located in Rangpur, 4 km from the city of Sivasagar, in Upper Assam. It has two secret tunnels and many floors below ground level which were used by the Ahom kings and soldiers as exit routes during the wars.
The Talatal Ghar is not a usual kind of a monument. It speaks of Architectural Expertise of the people of Assam several hundred years ago. The Talatal and the Kareng Ghar together constitutes the Rongpur palace. One end of the Talatal Ghar was situated below the Kareng Ghar which helped the kings and the army to escape during the war times. After Swargadeo Rudra Singha’s death, the Talatal Ghar, went through many architectural alterations to its structure, which resulted in its irregular shape.
4| Charaideo Maidam Sivasagar
The Charaideo Maidams or the graveyard of the Ahom Kings is a sacred place for the Ahom people of Assam. It is located 32 km east of Sivasagar on an area of around 12 sq. km. Protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, this place is home to over 150 tombs of Ahom Kings and Queens. The unique structures of the tombs here are comparable to the Pyramids of Egypt and an object of wonder speaking of the majestic architecture and skill of the sculptors of Assam hundreds of years ago. The Charaideo Maidams has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since a few years now.
5| Sivadol Sivasagar
The Sivadol is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the most visited Temple shrines of Upper Assam. The Sivadol was built by Kunwori Ambika, wife of Ahom King Swargadeo Siba Singha in 1734 AD. The Temple Dome is made out of gold and the Temple has a height of 104 ft.
6| Joysagar Tank Sivasagar
Located around 5 km from Sivasagar town, the Joysagar Tank is the largest man made tank in the World covering a total area of 3 km.
7| Namdang Stone Bridge Sivasagar
Constructed by the Ahom King Swargadeo Rudra Singha in 1703 AD, the Namdang Stone Bridge was cut out of a single piece of Rock. The bridge stands functional til today with a busy National Highway running across it. The Bridge runs over the Namdang River, a tributary of the Dikhow River.
How to reach Sivasagar from Kaziranga National Park –
By Road – Sivasagar is located at a distance of around 170 kilometers from Kaziranga National Park. It takes around 4 hours by road to reach Sivasagar from Kaziranga. Private Bus operators ply from Guwahati to Sivasagar and can be boarded from Kaziranga National Park. We operate our Taxi Service to Sivasagar from Kaziranga National Park. Our well maintained fleet makes your journey from Kaziranga National Park to Sivasagar a comfortable one.
By Air – Sivasagar is well connected to the Jorhat Airport by road. You can choose to fly to Jorhat from the Guwahati Airport. We operate taxi service from Jorhat Airport to Sivasagar.
By Train – Sivasagar has a railway Station and the many trains arrive and depart from the Sivasagar Railway Station from Guwahati.
Sample Itinerary for Kaziranga National Park to Sivasagar:
Day 1 ~ Kaziranga National Park – Kaziranga Orchid Park ~ Majuli Island
Early morning go for a Jeep Safari into the Kaziranga National Park from the Bagodi/Kohora Safari Range at the National Park. Later in the day visit the Kaziranga Orchid and Biodiversity Park at Kaziranga National Park. The Kaziranga Orchid and Biodiversity Park is the Largest Orchid Park in India. Later depart to Majuli Island. Night halt at a comfortable Resort/Homestay at Majuli Island.
Night Stay: Resort/Homestay at Majuli Island
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 2 ~ Majuli Island
Today we visit the Satras (Assamese Monasteries) and learn about the Neo Vaishnavite culture that is practiced by the monks. Explore the mysteries of the Largest River Island in the World also learn about the lost art of Mask making. Spend time spotting rare birds and fishing. Spend the later part of the day at Majuli with the local people learning about their traditional arts & crafts. Spend time Bird-watching and at leisure. Evening, spend time savoring the locally brewed ‘Apong’ and other servings prepared by the locally by the Bonfire.
Night Stay: Resort/Homestay at Majuli Island
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 3 ~ Majuli Island – Jorhat
After Breakfast depart to Jorhat. Visit the ‘Dhekiakhowa Bornamghar – home to the oldest burning oil lamp in the world’ and the Lachit Maidam. Lachit Borphukan was the bravest General of the Ahom Army. The best cadre from NDA gets awarded with the Lachit Borphukan title honor. In the evening visit the Silk Showroom at Jorhat to buy a memoir of the Grandeur of the Silks of Assam. Night halt at Jorhat.
Night Stay: Hotel MD’s Continental at Jorhat
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 4 ~ Sivasagar and Depart from Dibrugarh Airport
After breakfast depart to Sivasagar – the land of the Mighty Ahom Kings. Admire the Engineering marvels of the ‘Talatal Ghar’ and the ‘Rang Ghar’ at Sivasagar. We will drop you at the Dibrugarh Airport for your onward destination. Trip Ends. Bid Adieu!
Meals Included: Breakfast
To Plan your visit to Sivasagar along with Kaziranga National Park and Majuli Island please fill the form below ~
Exploring Sivasagar and its nearby areas ~
They say that ‘Distance makes the hearts go fonder’ and I did not have much thought on the above phrase until I had left Assam and settled in Bangalore for my higher studies and job. During my younger years in Assam I had always complained about the State and how backward it was technologically and development wise due to lack of entrepreneurial skills among the people here which I thought was one of the reasons of the state being backwards compared to other states in India. So I went forward to Karnataka and pursued my life over there. Then across the years I kept reading about my state in various books, newspapers, social media and the vast natural bounties of Assam has to offer along with a rich cultural and historic past as well. From the Neo vaishnavite movement, the Satras and Namghar of Assam along with the heritage of the feared Ahom kingdom of Sivasagar who single handedly refused the Mughals to conquer Assam.
From some of the most beautiful National parks in India which are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites boasting of populations of some of the highly endangered animals and bird species in the World, the rich culture of the people of Assam, the culinary delights I could always realize a homecoming calling in my mind after knowing about this. But for a middle class Indian family boy quitting a cushy corporate job and returning back to his hometown without a definite plan is never always an option that the family accepts. So I had to wait for the right time to choose and then return back to Assam from Bangalore. In the meanwhile during my vacations from work I used to travel to Assam and visit the places I never visited during my earlier days here from Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park and places around my hometown then at Margherita, Digboi, etc.
The one fine day with God’s grace I got an opportunity to return to Assam as I got a job that posted me at Guwahati in Assam. I started my life here working with a renowned organization. But as the days passed I realized that my home calling was not to work in a day job. God had something else planned in his mind and that’s the reason he got me this opportunity to come back to Assam. During the course of my job I had travel assignments that was when I got a chance to explore much more beautiful destinations in across Assam and other North Eastern States as well. During my week offs I used to travel to places around Guwahati and discover places of interest which were not touched by tourists as yet. Then one day I quit my job and started my own Tour and Travel company called Jungleideas that would help travellers from across the World visit and explore varied places of interest. After visiting many beautiful places with my friends and brother the thought of visiting Sivasagar always was at the back of my mind. I belong the descendants of the Ahom dynasty and although I remember my visits to Sivasagar during my childhood I never got an opportunity of visiting the place after I read and realized how brave my ancestors were who had the might and courage of defeating the entire Mughal empire. Visiting their architectural constructions of the Rang Ghar, Talatal Ghar and Kareng Ghar at Sivasagar was also on my mind as well.
My brother and I decided to explore Sivasagar in the month of March 2016 and also continue our visit further to Jorhat and Majuli Island after Sivasagar. Wwe headed on our drive to Sivasagar. We headed on our drive to Sibsagar from Guwahati at 7.30 AM in the morning. We crossed Sonapur, Jagiroad, Nagaon, Amoni, Kaliabor, Kaziranga National Park, Bokakhat, Jorhat, Jhanji to finally arrive at Sivasagar by 2 PM. The roads are good upto Jorhat and after that our drive got a little slower and so by the time we reached Sivasagar it was around 2 PM. We made a quick stop at a nearby dhaba before entering Sivasagar for lunch. After lunch we took the straight road that goes to Sivasagr town while the left is the bypass from Sivasagar town. We continued to drive to at first arrive at the Talatal Ghar at Sivasagar one of the grandest construction of the Ahom kingdom this is a fortress where the army of the Ahom kingdom stayed and had a network of several mazes that connected the tunnels underneath to various exits at the nearby river fronts. On top the architecture looks marvellous and speaks greatly about the engineering expertise the Ahom people had several hundred years ago.
The tunnels in the maze of the Talatal Ghar at Sivasagar have now been sealed due to various incidents of people losing their way inside and lot of efforts were needed to bring them out from this maze. The entrance to these tunnels can still be seen however. We explored the Talatal Ghar at Sivasagar for about an hour. At the entrance of teh Talatal Ghar at Sivasagar there are 3 ancient canons of warfare used for the Ahom army. After exploring the Talatal Ghar we headed to drive to the Rang Ghar which is closeby the Talatal Ghar around 3 minutes drive away. The Rang Ghar at Sivasagar is an open air amphitheatre and is the oldest amphitheatre in Asia. It was used during the era of the Ahom Kings as open grounds where various sports and cultural activities were held. Common traditional sports organized here were cock fights, bull fights, wrestling and even the grand performance of the bihu dance. The interesting fact about the Rang Ghar at Sivasagar is its construction. The mortar used in the construction of the Rang Ghar was made using sticky rice paste and yolk of duck eggs. It was a mortar so strong than cement that this building has even survived the great 1897 earthquake of Assam as well. We explored the Rang Ghar at Sivasagar for a little more time and by the time it was already getting dark so we decided to visit the other locations tomorrow and check into our hotel at the Sivasagar. We had our relatives staying in the area nearby Sivasagar but we chose to say at a Hotel so that we don’t trouble them as they would spend a lot of time and effort to show their hospitality and we didn’t want to trouble them. We reached Hotel Piccolo at Sivasagar and made our reservations for the night here. In the evening we went out to the market nearby and came back after dinner.
The next morning we got up at 7 AM and after our breakfast we headed out to explore the Siva Doul temple and the Joysagar lake at Sivasagar. After our breakfast we reached the Siva Doul temple which is located in the heart of Sivasagar town. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built by the Queen of Ahom King Swargadeo Siba Singha in 1734. The Siva Doul temple is located adjacent to the Borpukhuri tank – a huge man made lake (interesting fact is that in this lake the water level always remains the same irrespective of the winter or monsoon months). The Siva Doul temple at Sivasagar is surrounded by two other temples viz. the Vishnu Doul (dedicated to Lord Vishnu) and Devi Doul (dedicated to Goddess Durga). This temple has a unique Ahom style architecture. Standing tall at a height of 104 feet, this is said to be the tallest Siva temple tower in India. The top of the temple dome has a pot like structure which is made of Gold. Many thieves have tried to steal this pot but to no avail as it is believed that the temple has certain powers that doesn’t allow anyone to get their hands on this and anyone doing so is to bring bad fortune onto himself. We explored the Siva Doul temple and its nearby areas and then continued to visit the Joysagar lake.
The Joysagar lake in Sivasagar is one of the largest man made lake in India and was dug during the reign of Ahom King swargadeo Rudra Singha in the year 1697. This lake holds an important significance in the history of Assam and is now a very popular tourist attraction in Sivasagar. We came to know that this lake becomes a very good spot for bird watching especially during the months of November-January when migratory birds from across the World come here. But as we visited in the month of March we were a little late as most of the migratory bird species had left Assam by then. We were however able to sight various resident bird species as well.
Next up we proceeded to visit the Kareng Ghar at Garhgaon near Sivasagar. We reached the Kareng Ghar at 11 AM and were immediately stunned with the grand architecture of this palace that was constructed several hundred years ago. The stunning color of this building is what gives Kareng Ghar a grand look. We paid our entry fees and proceeded to explore the Kareng Ghar near Sivasagar. A per the notes provide here, the Kareng Ghar at Garhgaon that is located around 15 km from the main town of Sivasagar is one of the grandest examples of the Ahom architecture that spreads across temples, forts, monuments, tanks, etc and was commissioned to be built under the reign of the great Ahom king Sukhrungphaa during the period of the late 1690s. The palace here was necessary because Rongpur due to its strategic location served as the capital of the Ahom kingdom with its military station based out of here. The unique feature of the Kareng Ghar palace or the Garhgaon palace is the unique bright red colored bricks and the indigenous mortar used to bind these bricks made from sticky rice and duck eggs.
The old architecture of the Kareng Ghar at Sivasagar was quite unique but the palace was destroyed during the 1750s and had to be rebuilt by the Ahom king Suremphaa during 1752 AD. Once we entered the premises of the Kareng Ghar a sense of pride filled us being the descendants of the Ahoms and to get an insight into their engineering marvels almost around 300 years ago. We admired the beautiful garden area of the Kareng Ghar at Sivasagar along with the entrance of the palace where we can see a long corridor that stretches from east to west. Once you walk inside the Kareng Ghar you can feel the huge space inside and hear the echo of your voice.
The palace was also constructed using lots of woodwork as well. While the upper storey of the Kareng Ghar palace housed the rooms of the Kings and Queens, the ground floor mostly served as the servant quarters, stables for horses and store rooms for war equipment. The majority of the area of the palace is under ruins which although doesn’t make a hindrance to walk about the palace as these are still intact stairs that lead you to the top storey. There is a huge prayer room on top as well as an isolated space that was used bu the Ahom queen during here time of confinement here. We spent about an hour admiring the grand architecture of the Kareng Ghar at Sivasagar and then continued on our drive to visit the Charaideo Maidam near Sivasagar.
The Charaideo Maidam at Charaideo is located about 30 km from Sivasagar but takes about an hours drive to reach from the Kareng Ghar as the road conditions were not quite good during the time of our visit. This place was a must visit on our trip to Sivasagar so the road conditions did not deter us from taking our drive to this place. Across the years of reading history in our schools and learning about the mysteries of the Pyramids of Egypt I always had a plan of visiting Egypt once to sight these wonders of a creation of the Kings of Egypt. But due to the struggles of life and as well as financial constraints I could never make it to Egypt but upon learning about the Charaideo Maidams luck had favored me and my opportunity to witness a similar phenomenon like the Pyramids of Egypt was about to be fulfilled today as I would be visiting the Charaideo Maidams – the Royal burial grounds of the Ahom Kingdom which can be referred to as the Pyramids of India. The Charaideo Maidams near Sivasagar contain the sacred burials grounds of the Ahom kings and queens and is also the resting place of the Ancestral Gods and Goddesses. We reached Charaideo in sometime and a sense of excitement filled my heart once I was here and it was like a long unfulfilled dream was about to come true today.
We went inside the entrance gate and immediately we could spot the long line of burials of the Ahom kings and queens here. The Charaideo Maidams have over 150 burials of the great Ahom kings and queens but now around 30 number of Maidams are now preserved and protected by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). The human encroachment and misdeeds have led to the destruction of the other Maidams here. When the Ahom king or queen died the ceremony used to have long rituals and later they would be buried in a tomb like structure here at the Charaideo Maidam. These tomb have a striking architecture resembling those of the Pyramids of Egypt and spoke highly of the architecture and masons of the Ahom kingdom during those days. We took our time exploring the Charaideo Maidam near Sivasagar admiring the beautiful architecture of the tombs that had the burials of the Ahom Kings. It was really sad to see that there were no other tourists around apart from the two of us here at the Charaideo Maidam. It is really sad to see that the people of Assam have long forgotten the great rulers who founded this State. While the people speak highly of the State speaking of the glory of the State’s past no one literally comes here to admire the rich past and history in truth. The place had fallen into ruins and it now time that the people instead of planning holidays abroad come to explore the rice heritage of their state. Instead of buying air tickets to fly to Egypt to witness the pyramids it would be a wise decision to come to the Charaideo Maidam and take efforts to promote this place to the World.
While walking around the Charaideo Maidam we made friends with the caretaker here who spoke of his years of dedicated service protecting the premises of the Charaideo Maidam and how intruders used to come and try to damage the tombs here. The caretaker also told us of a certain story about the Charaideo Maidams which we found hard to believe to be true. He told us that once the Ahom King died all his beloved people and precious belongings would also be buried along with him like his pets, servants, wives and gold items as well. While we though the story had no truth in it then we also realized as to why would people try to vandalize the tombs otherwise. It was obvious that there was some great prize to be unearthed here that would lead them to take such grave actions. Pondering over this we left the Charaideo Maidam on a mysterious note to continue on our drive back to Sivasagar and further to Jorhat where we would spend the night at our Uncle’s place before we continued further to visit Majuli Island – the Largest River Island in the World.
The next day we started on our journey to the Largest river island in the World at Majuli near Jorhat. The Ahom kings of Sivasagar had patronized the teachings of the holy Saint reformer of Assam Srimanta Shankardeva and this patronizing led to the spread of the cult of Neo Vaishnavism across Assam that spread the message that all human beings are equal irrespective of caste and creed at a time when the entire country was reeling under the influence of the caste system. The Ahom kings patronized this new form of dharma and this led to the creation of many ‘Satras’ across Assam especially in Majuli Island where Srimanta Shankardeva spread his discourses in the form of plays depicting the life of Lord Krishna in his teachings. This is what makes Majuli Island special along with a village environment as Majuli is home to the Mishing community of Assam as well.
Our journey to Sivasagar wouldn’t have been complete without a stop at Majuli Island and so we started on our day trip to Majuli Island. My cousin (Uncle’s son) also joined us and his driver drove us to the Neemati Ghat near Jorhat from where we were scheduled to catch our ferry to Majuli Island. My Uncle was in good terms with one of the prominent business person in Majuli and he had requested him to arrange for our transport and travel assistance in Majuli Island. We boarded the 8.30 AM ferry at Neemati Ghat to cross over the river Brahmaputra to reach the Kamalabari Ghat in Majuli Island. The ferry took us about an hour’s time and we reached Kamalabari Ghat at 9.30 AM. We were greeted by one of the persons from Majuli who guided us to our vehicle that would take us around the largest river island. We started our visit at first by visiting the Sri Sri Auniati Satra in Majuli.
One of the most prominent Neo Vaishnavite Satras of Majuli and Assam, the Sri Sri Auniati Satra was established in the year 1653 AD by Ahom king Sutamla. We were led to the Namghar premises of the Auniati Satra where we could see the various monks offering their prayers and singing hymns in the praise of the Lord. We lit our incense sticks and oil lamps here. We went further inside the Namghar premises to sight the elaborate prayer room here. The Bhakats took us in and they blessed us with flowers here. Later we explored the premises of the Auniati Satra in Majuli. We also explored the museum here at the Auniati Satra that had on display various relics from the times of the Ahom Kingdom of Sivasagar like robes of kings, swords used by kings and generals of Ahom army, chess boards made of ivory used by Ahom kings, ivory chairs and many more artifacts. After this we bid goodbye to the Auniati Satra to drive to the other end of Majuli at the Samaguri Satra which is renowned for the traditional art of mask making.
Everybody in the island seemed to know the person showing us around and welcomed all of us very warmly. At the Samaguri Satra in Majuli we were greeted by the Satradhikar of this Satra Dr. Hemchandra Goswami who has preserved this traditional art method and now showcases this art of mask making to the entire World. He demonstrated to us how the traditional mask is made using bamboo to create a structure and then covering the structure with a special cloth and coating it with a special mud and later painting the structure with organic colors to create the final mask. These masks are used to demonstrate various mythological characters in traditional plays that are conducted across the Namghars and Satras in Majuli Island to demonstrate the life of Lord Krishna. We also visited the display room at the Samaguri Satra that had various traditional masks on display. One of the person here demonstrated the use of these masks to us and it was interesting to see how a traditional act would be so powerful in conveying a message to the people. After the Samaguri Satra we headed to the Uttar Kamalabari Satra in Majuli Island.
The Uttar Kamalabari Satra is renowned for the practice of the ‘Sattriya Nritya’ which is among the 8 classical dance forms of India. Once we entered the Satra we could identify the true foundation of a Satra where the ‘Namghar – prayer room’ is located in the center of the Satra premises, the huts where the monks reside surround the boundaries of the Satra and there are a few ponds withing the Satra premises as well. As we walked across the Satra we could spot a room where young boys were learning and practicing the art of the Satrriya Nritya. Upon request we were allowed to enter the hall to witness the practice. Generally this is not allowed to other visitors as it causes distraction to the group during their practice. We admired the ‘Sattriya Nritya’ practice and then continued to visit inside the house of one of the senior bhakats here. He informed us that a majority of the senior monks of the Uttar Kamalabari Satra were travelling across France as they had a performance of the Sattriya Nritya dance there. Later he offered us ‘Jalpan’ that had ‘Chira’ and curd with jaggery. It was very nice to taste assamese traditional food here and we enjoyed it.
Later we went on to visit our Uncle’s house who had arranged for this visit. Here we had our lunch and then we were dropped off at the Kamalabari Ghat where we boarded our ferry to continue to Neemati Ghat and further to Jorhat. It was a really amazing experience visiting Majuli and we shall remember this visit for the rest of our lives. We stayed at Jorhat for the night and the next day we started on our drive back to Guwahati.
To Plan your visit to Sivasagar along with Kaziranga National Park and Majuli Island please fill the form below ~