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 Amphitheatres 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 Amphitheatre 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
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,