The forgotten glories of Sivasagar
Sivasagar is, no doubt, a long drive from Assam’s capital Guwahati. A lengthy 370 kilometres, no less. It’s not much to look at or ‘do’ in, unless you dig oil hubs.
But if you like the whiff of history, you should allow yourself to drift—er, drive—toward Sivasagar. The mighty Ahom kings made it their capital for nearly 100 years, starting 1699. Few eyes have feasted on the remnants from their rule, so the nostalgia of the centuries still hangs in the air. Inhale it as you stumble upon palaces, tanks, temples and monuments that the Ahoms built and Time forgot. .
Here is a glimpse of the forgotten glories of Sivasagar.
This two storeyed structure built in 1746 served as the royal pavilion.The Ahom kings once stood here, watching bull fights at the Rupahi Pathar (playground). It is believed to be one of the oldest and largest amphitheatres in Asia. Fascinating fact: the monument was built using thin bricks and a paste of rice and eggs instead of cement. .
Rangpur Palace (Talatal Ghar and Kareng Ghar)
Located in a place called Gargaon, 15 km from Sivasagar, this seven-storey palace used to be an army base. So, expect to see a lot of secret tunnels and exits. Three of the floors are below the ground; these are called Talatal Ghar. The four floors above are named Kareng Ghar,- together constituting the “Rangpur Palace”. Later, the palace came to serve as the Ahom royal house for many years. Arms and ammunition used during their reign have been found here.
Sitting at the foothills of Nagaland, about 30 km from the town of Sivasagar, Charaideo was once the symbolic centre of the Ahom Kingdom. The hillocks were considered to be the site of ancestral Ahom gods and thus began to serve as the burial ground for the Ahom kings, queens and nobles. Only 30 of the 150 royal vaults are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, so visit the historical site before the ruins conquer it.
An Ahom king built this tank in 45 days flat. Constructed in 1697, Joysagar nudges the edge of Sivasagar. Three temples flank its banks, the most important being the Sivadol dedicated to Lord Shiva. Devotees flock here from all over the country on Shiva Ratri. The other two temples are Vishnudol dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Devidol dedicated to Goddess Durga.
Gaurisagar and Rudrasagar are two other tanks in Sivasagar built by the Ahom kings.
You can also visit the Sivasagar Tai Museum to learn more about the Ahom kingdom.
How to reach Sivasagar ?
The districts of Jorhat and Dibrugarh, 56 km and 80 km from Sivasagar respectively, have airports that connect the state with major cities across the country. You can take an ASTC bus or easily hire a car to Sivasagar from either airport.
Initially published in Travel Secrets Magazine’s official blog.