Sivasagar,previously spelled Sibsagar, ("the ocean of Siva Singha"), is a city in the Sivasagar District of Assam, about 360 kilometres (224 mi) northeast of Guwahati. It is the headquarters of the Sivasagar district. This city is surrounded by the Dehing rainforest, where the mighty Dihing (Brahmaputra) & Lohit rivers meet.
It is well known for its Ahom palaces and monuments. Sivasagar today is also an important centre for the tea and oil industries
Sivasagar, formerly known as Rangpur, was the capital of the Ahom Kingdom from 1699 to 1788. The Ahoms ruled Assam for six centuries, until their kingdom fell to the Burmese in 1819 and their ruling class was all but wiped out.
The province was liberated by the British in 1825 but, owing to the state of anarchy which prevailed, it was completely annexed in 1826. For administrative purposes it was divided into three sub-divisions.
It is said that the original name of Sivasagar was - 'Kalansupar' after the name of 'Kalansu Gohain' who resided in a village that originally existed in the place where currently the Sivasagar tank is located.
This town's main feature is the water body from which it takes its name. This is a 257-acre (1.04 km2) tank, also known as the Borpukhuri, which is at a higher elevation than the rest of the town, with three temples ("Dol"s in Assamese) on its banks. Of these temples, the most prominent is the Sivadol, standing tall at 104 feet (32 m), drawing large crowds on Shiv Ratri. The other temples are the Vishnudol and Devidol. The temples were built by Kuwori Ambika, wife of Swargadeo Siba Singha, in 1734.
It was in the middle ages that king Rudra Singha (1690 AD - 1714 AD), the 30th Ahom ruler got the fourth capital town constructed at Meteka and christened it as Che-mon. The construction of the new capital ‘Chemon’ or Rangpur was started in 1699 AD and after completion it was inaugurated in 1707 A.D. However, the existing capital at Garhgoan continued to function as the centre of administration whereas the new capital town at Rangpur was initially used as an army cantonment, centre of amusement, secretariat and court of law.
The new capital town of Rangpur was bounded on the east by Banhgarh (Bamboo rampant), the rivers Dikhow and Namdang on the west, whereas these two rivers again bounded the city on the north and the south respectively. Two main entrances to the capital town were the Singhaduar at Banhgarh on the east and the Namdang stone bridge on the west, and these two entrances were connected by the Bor Ali.
The Raj Kareng or royal palace in the new capital complex stands magnificently near Joysagar tank. To its south stands the Fakua-Doul (Pa-Kua) with eight symbols and octagonal in shape, in keeping with Taoist cosmology, built by king Rudra Singha in 1703-04 A.D. for religious purposes, while the Ranghar known to be the first sports pavilion in Asia and built in its present shape by king Pramatta Singha in 1746 A.D., still proudly stands on the west. This Ranghar besides being used for enjoyment of indigenous traditional sports activities by the royal people and lords also served the king to hold conferences with foreign ambassador and dignitaries. Out of the five capital towns of the Ahom rule, as many as four - Charaideo, Saragua, Garhgaon and Rangpur, now lie within Sivasagar district, leaving out only Jorhat, the last capital, in the adjacent district by the same name.
The capital town of Rangpur was to the south of Dikhow River. The part on the northern bank was known earlier as Shivpur, later Sibsagar and now Sivasagar. Thus in the past Sivasagar and Rangpur were two different areas separated by Dikhow river, which in those days used to flow through the middle part of the present Sivasagar town – a stretch of the mori Dikhow or the dead river still exists by the side of the Sankardeva Samaj Namghar and Seuji Sangeet Vidyalya. Earlier the Sivasagar town was bounded by Cherekapar on the east, Kathpar on the west, Joyrapar in the north and Dhuliapar on the south. Nomenclature of river Dikhow owes its origin to the Bodo-Kachari group of Tibeto-Burman languages: Di meaning water or river and ‘khow’ high steep and thus Dikhow implies a river with high steep. This river in earlier times was also known as ‘klong’ or ‘klongso’ and the northern bank of Dikhow came to be known as Klongsopar or Kolongsopar, and, a little later still, as Doikolong. Till the fag end of the Ahom rule the name Shivpur persisted. Only after the treaty of Yandaboo in 1826 A.D. when the East India Company and for that matter, the British government came to hold power, Shivpur along with Rangpur came to be known as Sibsagar. As per historical records, Sir Newville in 1818 A.D. shifted the administrative headquarters from Rangpur to Jorhat where from thirty years later it was reverted to Rangpur by Mr. Scott and then moved to the bank of the Sibsagar tank by captain Broody in the same year. During British rule, the Sibsagar district comprised three sub-divisions: Sibsagar, Jorhat and Golaghat. In 1912 A.D. the district headquarter was again shifted to Jorhat leaving Sibsagar only as a sub-divisional headquarter. It remained so till 1983 when on 1 July of that year the Sibsagar and Golaghat sub-divisions of undivided Sibsagar district were declared as new districts by the Government of Assam. The newly constituted Sibsagar district has three sub-divisions, viz. Sibsagar, Nazira and Charaideo. The city of Sivasagar is the largest city in amazonas region in upper assam and it lies around the largest and most biodiverse Dehing rainforest and also listed among world's wildest cities (BBC documentary,2000).
Sivasagar is well connected by road with the rest of the state. State-run buses connect it to Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Jorhat and other places from the Assam State Transport Corporation's (ASTC) bus station in Sivasagar. Private buses are also available. Taxis are also available for hire. AC and Non AC Luxury buses to Guwahati, Itanagar, North Lakhimpur, Tezpur are available daily.
Auto-rickshaws and other modes of transport are available in and around the town. Cheaper modes of transport, like Tata Magic and Tempos, are available through Nazira, Mechagarh, and Joysagar to Sivasagar. A Proposed SivasAgar-Majuli bridge on river Bramahputra and an Express highway would connect Sivasgar with the World's largest river island, Majuli soon.
The closest airport is Jorhat Airport located at Jorhat, 75 km from Sivasagar. The airport is connected via regular flights to cities like Guwahati, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Delhi. Sivasagar is also connected to Dibrugarh and Shillong. Another option for getting here is via Dibrugarh Airport, located at a distance of 95 km from the city. There are frequent flight services to both Jorhat and Dibrugarh. Taxis to Sivasagar are available from either airport.
The New Tinsukia - Bengaluru Weekly Express connects the Sibsagar Town railway station. Dibrugarh-Agartala Express connects Sivasagar town directly with Barak Valley and the state of Tripura and runs twice in a week. Kamakhya-Dibrugarh intercity Express connects Sivasagar to the State capital daily. Rangiya Dibrugarh Express thrice a week also connects Sivasagar to Lower Assam . The nearest railway station on the Tinsukia-Guwahati sector of the North East Frontier Railways is located at Simaluguri, 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from Sivasagar. Buses ply regularly from Simaluguri towards Sivasagar. It is approximately a half-hour bus ride from Simaluguri town. Simaluguri JN is well connected with many cities across the country.
Joysagar, said to be the biggest man-made lake in the country, is spread over 318 acres (1.29 km2) of water on the edge of the town in an area called Rangpur, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) away from the present town of Sivasagar. This lake was built by Swargadeo Rudra Singha in honour of his mother, Joymoti.
The Ahom queen Bor Kuwori Phuleshwari Devi built this tank, which is spread over 150 acres (0.61 km2).
Swargadeo Lakshmi Singha built this tank, and dedicated it to his father Swargadeo Rudra Singha, in 1773. A Shiva Temple was also built on the bank of this beautifully constructed tank. It is 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) away from the town of Sivasagar.
It was built in 1734 by Kuwori Ambika, wife of the Swargadeo Siba Singha. Dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, this is the most sacred of the three temples. Rising to a height of 104 feet (32 m), it encircles an area of 195 feet (59 m). It is thronged by devotees during the festival of Shivratri.
This was also built by Kuwori Ambika. It is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. According to the Hindu calendar, the month of "Bhada" is considered auspicious and sees a greater number of visitors to the Dol, although it remains open throughout the year.
This is dedicated to the Hindu Goddess of Power, Durga. Durga Puja, the most important festival marked at the temple, is celebrated twice a year: in the months of Chaitra (April–May) and Ashwin (September–October).
This temple is situated on the southern part of the west bank of Joysagar Tank. It is a beautiful monument with terracotta tiles on its wall.The Ghanashyam Dol complex comprises three independent structures surrounded by a common boundary wall. The original brick boundary wall is partly intact. Besides the main cell, it has a rectangular hall probably used as a Kitchen House (Bhog Ghar) exactly in front of its opening side, i.e. to its south and an entrance gate house to its northern corner.
Main article: Rang Ghar
Of Sivasagar's famous Ahom ruins, the Rang Ghar is a double-storied, oval shaped, amphitheater with a roof shaped like an inverted boat. It was constructed by Swargadeo Pramatta Singha. The Rang Ghar is said to be amongst the largest of amphitheaters.
Inside View of Talatall Ghar
View of one of the wings of the Kareng Ghar
Main article: Talatal Ghar
The Talatal Ghar is a palace which was initially built as an army base. It houses two secret tunnels, and three floors below ground level which were used as exit routes during the Ahom wars (and which give the structure its name).
The Talatal Ghar constitutes the below-ground structure of the Rangpur Palace, whose four floors above-ground make up the Kareng Ghar.
In all, the Rangpur Palace is a seven-storied building. Bakhar Bengena: it is a rare breed of tree is situated at Bokota Mouza, and the place name is known as a Bakhar Bengena.
Sivasagar Tai Museum
A new addition is the Tai Ahom Museum on the banks of the Sivasagar. It stores artefacts from the Ahom kingdoms and their rulers, including vestments, swords, manuscripts, goblets, and household utensils.
Pani Dihing Wildlife Sanctuary
A rich wetland eco-system of 33.93 square kilometres (13.10 sq mi) on the southern bank of the river Brahmaputra, in Sivasagar district. A paradise of migratory and resident birds, over 165 species of birds have been identified and recorded here. Among these is a high concentration of geese and other migratory birds. Common species include bar-headed goose, grey leg goose, spot billed duck, mallard, gadwall, wigeon, gargany, shoveller, red-crested pochard, common pochard, ferruginous duck, adjutant stork, lesser adjutant stork, open-bill stork, and the white-necked stork. Aquatic fauna: Several varieties of fish have been identified here, along with various species of frogs, snakes, and other amphibians and reptiles.
Consider a 6×8 km unpopulated treeless wetland adjacent to the Brahmaputra dotted with half a dozen fresh water lakes, puddles crisscrossed with many water tracts. Even in the hardest hit winter these wetlands are never dry thanks to the presence of a natural feeding channel flowing into the area. This land has high permanent human settlement and regular summer monsoon flood inundates the area every year. All the trees chopped off cleaned by the surrounding villagers 40–50 years ago.
Panidihing (67005/ N and 94035/ E) existing at the angle between the south bank of Brahmaputra and the mouth of its tributary Disang, In the core of this wetland a 3393 hectare bird sanctuary has been set up by the Forest Department of Assam in 1999 and announced open to public in 2001.
In fact the story of establishing a bird sanctuary here goes back to 1984 when Dr. Anwaruddin Choudhery published a report in ‘Forktail’ — a semi-scientific journal popular among bird lovers and ornithologists from all over the globe and published from the UK, where he suggested protection of this wonderful site. The Sivasagar Office of the Forest Department sent a preliminary report on the site to the Chief Conservator of Forest in 1985 suggesting the feasibility f some detail investigations.Prior to these developments, the status of Panidihing was a reserve forest known for its rich source of Cane, bamboo & trees like Sissu, Simalu and Azar. Deforestation and poaching are fast reducing the flora and fauna of this sanctuary in the recent years.
The ancient capital of the Ahoms is Gargaon, about 13 km east from Sivasagar, home to the Kareng Ghar, a seven-storied palace built by 18th-century architects. Charideo, situated nearby, is another old capital which was built by Sukaphaa, the founder of the Ahom dynasty. There are Maidams, or vaults for kings and other members of the royal families here. Travellers cross the Namdang stone bridge, carved out of a single boulder hundreds of years ago, over which the busy national highway (NH 37) still runs today.