Tourist places in Sivasagar – A complete Travellers’ Guide to a Historical City of Assam

Shiva Dole
Background: A heritage place Sivasagar (previously spelled Sibsagar) in Assam is famous for the monuments of Ahom Kingdom built in unique architectural structure. Once it was the capital of the Ahom rulers who dominated Assam for more than 600 years and at that time this capital place was known as Rangpur.
Although the major historical remains are in and around the Sivasagar town, there are many such historical relics scattered in the entire Sivasagar district. Literally Sivasagar means the sea that belongs to Lord Shiva.

Sivasagar is such a place famous for men made seas, means 'sagar', which are generally some giant tanks, such as, Sivasagar, Joysagar, Gaurisagar, Rudrasagar. There are many water bodies (called pukhuri in Assamese) little smaller than 'sagar' scattered in various places in Sivasagar district. Some of the pukhuris are - mitha pukhuri, tenga pukhuri, raj mao pukhuri, borbaruah pukhuri, bogi dole pukhuri, lakshimi pukhuri, no-pukhuri, purana pukhuri, xo-dhuwa pukhuri, xikan pukhuri, dhuba pukhuri at Atanpur, etc.
(A similar article of the author was published  in www.merinews.com)
 
The Sivasagar district covers about 162921 sq km of geographical area. On the other hand, Sivasagar district is one the leading industrial area in Assam where some major establishments of heavy industries like Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited at Nazira, Gas Authority of India Limited at Lakwa, Oil India Limited at Moran, Lakwa Thermal Power Station at Maibela and Tea Gardens covering big measurable area in different locations are present which are contributing towards development of the nation. Again, some good educational institutions are available in and around Sivasagar town. Moreover, the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology - Assam Centre at Sivasagar is all set to start its academic session very soon.

Language Spoken: Upper Assam. Generally people speak Assamese, but majority of them are well versed in Hindi, Bengali and English. Again, some community-wise language are being practiced like Mising (Miri) community people speak Mising language, Tea Tribes speak its own language and a cluster of Man-Tai speaking people live in the Sivasagar district.

At present Sivasagar town is one of the multi-cultural cities in Upper Assam. Generally people speak Assamese, but majority of them are well versed in Hindi, Bengali and English. Again, some community-wise language are being practiced like Mising (Miri) community people speak Mising language, Tea Tribes speak its own language and a cluster of Man-Tai speaking people live in the Sivasagar district.

How to reach Sivasagar? The nearest Airport Rowriah in Jorhat district is about 68 km to Sivasagar town. Jet/JetLite Flights via Guwahati / Kolkata to Jorhat are available. Again, Airport at Mohanbari in Dibrugarh district is more or less than 100 km to Sivasagar town and Flights of Indian Airlines, IndiGo and JetLite to Dibruagarh are available from Kolkata/Delhi/Mumbai etc. Very convenient road transportation is available from these two airports to Sivasagar.

The distance of district headquarter - Sivasagar from the state capital – Dispur, Guwahati is more or less than 360 km. The surface transport facility along NH-37 from Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT), Betkuchi, Guwahati is available in the morning and at night daily. The well maintained and comfortable Red Buses of Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) and Under ASTC Buses are available to Sivasagar town from ISBT. The ASTC Bus Ticket can be obtained at ASTC Counters/Office adjacent to Guwahati Railway Station from where shuttle buses are available to ISBT all the time.

Sivasagar is easily accessible by Train also. The nearest Railway Station - Simaluguri is just about 20 km of driving distance to Sivasagar town. Bus/ Taxi services are available from the railways station to Sivasagar or vice versa. Most frequent train service is available from Guwahati to other parts of Assam or rest of the country. Frequent Bus service is available from ASTC Bus Stand (through ISBT) adjacent to Guwahati Railway Station to others places of Assam.

Historical and Religious places in Sivasagar district

Sivasagar Tank - the Borpukhuri: This large tank is located at the heart of Sivasagar Town which was built by Queen Ambika, wife of King Shiva Singha, in the year 1734 and named it after her husband. Originally it was 64 feet in depth and the built on an area of around 130 acres. Most beautiful landscape the Sivasagar Tank is also known as 'Borpukhuri' which is an important habitat of the migratory birds during winter season. The three grand temples such as Shiva Dole, Bishnu Dole and Devi Dole stands on the bank of this large tank.

Shiva Dole: The tallest Shiva temple (180 feet tall and 195 feet in diameter) of divine religious value in the world that built by Queen Ambika, wife of King Shiva Singha, in the year 1734, Shiva Dole (Dole means Temple) is located in the heart of Sivasagar town on the bank of the Sivasagar Tank (Borpukhuri). Maha Shiv-Ratri is the most celebrated occasion of this temple and countless devotees throng when it falls during February-March. Another attraction is the Kirton in the month of Shawan.

The temple is caped with seven feet high large Golden Dome, called Kolosi, on the topmost part of the dole. Many national and international tourists visit this temple every year.

Vishnu Dole: Located at very adjacent to Shiva Dole and Devi Dole and standing tall for last three centuries, Vishnu Dole is the temple of Hindu God Lord Vishnu which is 60 feet in height and 120 feet in diameter.

Devi Dole: Just adjacent to Shiva Dole and Vishnu Dole, the Devi Dole is the temple of Hindu Goddess Durga - the Goddess of Power. It is 60 feet in height and 120 feet in diameter and standing for last three centuries. The Durga puja is the most important celebration of this temple.

Rong Ghar: It is located at 3 km away from the centre of Sivasagar town and nearer to Talatal Ghar – Royal Palace of Ahom Kings. This is a unique kind of amphitheatre built by Ahom King Pramatta Singha (AD 1744-1750) for enjoying special events like birds fight, buffalo fight and Bihu dance during festival time by royal families.

This is a double-storied royal pavilion with unique architectural features of construction. Some locally available building materials like Bora Chaul (a special variety of rice, sticky in nature) and eggs were used for construction of this remarkable monument what is happened to be a unique structure built by the Ahom Kings for the specific purpose not only in India but in entire Asia at that time.

Tolatol Ghar: This is just 3 km away from Sivasagar town and pretty nearer to Rang Ghar. This is stated that Tolatol Ghar is the largest of all the monuments build by Ahom Kings on the bank of river Dikhow.

Historians narrates that Rudra Singha (1696-1714 AD) founded the city of Rangpur in 1698 AD and constructed a palace of wood and other locally available materials. However, the present edifice of Totatol Ghar of brick masonry was built by his successor Rajeswar Singha (1751-1769 AD).

Totatol Ghar had three storeys underground and four storeys above ground. This monument of must visit for the tourists carries much historical and archaeological values to the researchers.

Joysagar Tank: Just at the 5 km distance from Sivasagar town and adjacent to Joy Dole, the Joysagar tank of blue water is the largest of all the tanks built by Ahom Kings in Assam. It is considered as the largest men made pond comprising an area of 318 acres including four banks in India and its water level stays at 14 feet higher than ground level. Joysagar tank was dug by Ahom king Rudra Singha (1696-1714 AD) to commemorate his mother Sati Joymoti, wife of Gadapani, later King Gadadhar Singha (1681-1695 AD).

Joy Dole: On the eastern extremity of the northern bank of the Joysagar tank Joy Dole (Lat. 26°58' N Long. 94° 41' E) was built during the reign of Ahom King Rudra Singha (1696-1714 AD) and dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

Gourisagar Tank and Dole: At a distance about 20 km from Sivasagar town on the way to Jorhat on NH-37 which coordinates Lat. 26-55-07 N and Long.94-02-50 E, the Gaurisagar tank stretching 150 acres dug by Queen Phuleswari, the first wife of Shiva Singha, in 1723 AD.

Three temples are situated on the northern bank of the tank. The temples are Shiva Dole, Vishnu Dole and Devi Dole. The Devi dole is decorated with numerous terracotta images on its wall which carries the brilliance of the artists of that time of Assam.

Rudrasagar Tank and Temple: Rudrasagar tank is situated at a distance around 8 km from Sivasagar town. It was built by the King Lakshmi Singha in 1773 AD.

Kareng Ghar: It is situated at Gargaon at a distance around 15 km from Sivasagar town and nearer (around 4 km) from Nazira town. This remain of Royal Palace of Ahom Kings at Gargaon was the Capital of their Kingdom. Sources refer that Suklengmung, the 15th Ahom King established the Capital at Gargoan and constructed a palace with wood and other impermanent material in the year 1540 AD. Later, King Pramatta Singha constructed a brick wall and masonry gateway in the capital complex. The present multistoried edifice was built by King Rajeswar Singha in 1752 AD.

The monument is four-storied building and arranged in gradually receding tiers. The palace was well secured by digging canals around it and then building fort like walls on the canals bank with soil, which is called Garh. The place was named as Gargaon after the huge Garh. There were four main gates to the palace called as Singhduar (Lion's Gate). There believed to be a secret underground tunnel from Kareng Ghar to Tolatol Ghar at Rangpur which is many kilometers away from this palace across the Dikhow river.

Charaideo: With picturesque natural beauties of hills and forest in the surrounding, Charaideo is located at a distance around 30 km from Sivasagar town off the Sivasagar-Simaluguri road. Charaideo was the first capital of the Ahoms founded by Sukapha (AD 1228-56) who migrated from Mong-Mao or Mong Mao Ling, a south-west province of China.

This locality is famous for the Maidams. The hillock-like Maidams are the burial tombs of Ahom Kings and Queens. The 42 tombs (Maidams) of Ahom kings and queens at Charaideo are like the Pyramids of Egypt, though miniature in size, and are objects of wonder revealing the excellent architecture and skill of the sculptors and masons of Assam of the medieval time. The Ahoms preferred to place the departed family members at Charaideo where the first King Sukapha was laid to rest. It is stated that wives, attendants, pet animals and huge quantity of valuables were buried with the departed kings.

Countless tourist thong to this location whole the year and during December to February Charaideo turns to be most favourite place as holiday visit for many.

Tai Museum: As store of facts of Ahom dynasty ruled for more than 600 years in the Brahmaputra valle in Assam, the Tai Museum was established in the heart of the Sivasagar town on the bank of the Sivasagar tank. It was started in the year 1972 and now it is under the control of Government of Assam. The museum building is a prototype of famous Rong Ghar and it holds some ancient manuscripts, dresses and wooden, metal, cane and bamboo items and some rare objects of the Ahom Kingdom.
Namdang Sila Saku (Stone Bridge): This monolith rock bridge is located at around 12 km from Sivasagar town. The bridge, a cut out from a single solid rock over the River Namdang was constructed in 1703 by workmen brought from Bengal during the reign of King Rudra Singha. Today, the NH-37 passes still over this bridge.

Ajanpir Dargah: Ajanpir Dargah is located at Saraguri Chapori on the river Dikhow at a distance around 22 km away from the Sivasagar town. This very sacred place for all region in after the name of Ajan Pir, a great social reformer. Ajan Pir was the first Muslim saint to compose "Zikir" (a completely unique genre of religious songs) in Assamese Language (160 nos. approx.). On the day of the "URUS" thousand of devotees gather here to pay homage to the memories of the great Muslim reformer.


Natural Beauties and Recreational Parks in Sivasagar district

Bor Xil (Shil): This is a very popular picnic spot around Sivasagar and thousands of people gather during season. This favourite location is situated on the foothills of Nagaland and the legendary Dikhow River flows though the place.

Dilih Ghat: A beautiful location on the foothills of green and calm ambience of Mother Nature, about one and half hours driving distance along Sivasagar-Sonari-Sapekhati road to Namrup. A deep and swallow river flowing from the high and hilly range is giving a unique attraction. Again, the road side green tea gardens heading Dilih Ghat give spellbinding feelings to visitors. This is very popular picnic spot during season.

Disang Mukh and Disang Festival: Disang Mukh is the river mouth of the tributary river Disang for Mighty Brahmaputra. This beautiful and popular tourist spot is very close to Sivasagar town and it is inhabitant of many community people but mostly dominated by Mising community people, one of the colorful communities of Assam. It becomes quite exotic experience of picnic at 'Disang Sapori' surrounded by flowing water of Disang river crossing by joined boats of two to three small boats during season, i.e., December to February. It is amazing that in the Disang Sapori there is a small growing village - Zila Basti with a primary school.

Disang festival becomes one of the major events in Sivasagar district organized once in every two years interval. In this rendezvous festival celebrated primarily in the first week of January with various traditional fun games and sports on the sand of river bed of Disang River occurs big gathering from different parts. On the other hand, products of the local Self Help Groups and indigenous agriculture products of local individual growers exhibit and sold through this grand festival. This festival now turns to be the vivid exhibition of unique traditional culture and autonomy of Mising community people in Sivasagar.

Dikhow Mukh: This place with the scenic beauty of the Mighty Brahmaputra and inhabitation of colourful culture and tradition of Mising community people of Assam is situated at a distance of around 25 km from Sivasagar town. A very popular picnic spot, Dikhow Mukh means mouth of river Dikhow. This river flows from hills of Nagaland. This location was a Dockyard of Ahom Kingdom which had connections with Rupahi Channel and rivulet Sonai.

Bird Watch Towers: There are bird watch towers on the banks of both Sivasagar and Joysagar tank which are equipped with sophisticated telescopes and other instruments to observe the migrating birds to these tanks during winter season mostly.

Tea Gardens: Moreover, beautiful tea gardens planted by individual tea growers and private / public companies in the different places in Sivasagar district are also the most attractive spots of tourist.

Wildlife: Panidihing Bird Sanctuary

This beautiful bird sanctuary is reachable via Dimow town which is half an hour drive from Sivasagar town along NH-37 towards the east. Many migratory birds from different parts of the globe can be seen generally during winter season.

Children Park: The children parks in and around Sivasagar town are - (1) Ananda Ram Baruah Park on the bank of Sivasagar tank (Borpukhuri), (2)Hem Chandra Bezbaruah Park near Dikhow Bridge, (3)Rong Ghar Park in front of Rong Ghar, (4)Lachit Park, Mukti Nath Chariali.

Entertainment / Cinema Hall: 1) Lakshmi Cinema, a digital cinema hall at Central Market, Sivasagar town, 2) Bhaskarjyoti Entertainment, a digital cinema hall at Gaurisagar.

Accommodation - Where to Stay? Affordable and excellent Hotels and Lodges for food and accommodation are available in and around Sivasagar town. Some of them are as below:

1)Tourist Lodge, Borpukhuri Par, Sivasagar, Phone: +91-3772-222394
2)Hotel Brahmaputra, Laximi Nagar, Sivasagar, Phone: +91-3772-222200
3)Hotel Siddhartha, BG Rd, Sivasagar, Phone: +91-3772-224281
4)Hotel Atlanta, Dole much chariali, Sivasagar, Phone: +91-3772-223218
5)Hotel Ranghar, Dole Mukh Chariali, Sivasagar, Phone: +91-3772-222304
6)Hotel Priya, Near ASTC Tiniali, Sivasagar town
7)Annapurna Lodge & Restaurant, Habiram Bora Path, Sivasagar town
8)Deep Lodge, Opp ASTC, Sivasagar town
9)Hotel Brindaban, Near Railway Station, Sivasagar town
10)Hotel Talatal, Boarding Road, Sivasagar town
11)Hotel Raj Palace, Station Chariali, Sivasagar town
12)Hotel Sky Chef, A.T. Road, Sivasagar town
13)Hotel Nandanban, NH-37, Jhanji, Sivasagar
14)Hotel Kareng, Dole Mukh Chariali, Sivasagar town
15)Circuit House, Borpukhuri Par, Sivasagar town
16)Hotel North East, Main Road, Nazira town
17) Hotel Villa, Bapuji Path, Nazira town

Emergency Phone Numbers:

Police Station, Sivasagar, Phone: +91+3772-222923 or Call 100
Fire Service, Sivasagar, Phone: +91-3772-222999 / 225855 (ONGC)
Civil Hospital, Sivasagar, Phone: +91-3772-222305 or Call 108 for Ambulance
Medical helpline over phone 24X7 Call Sarathi 104

Moreover, for traveller’s knowledge, it is to mention here that most of the nationalized banks of India have their operating branch in Sivasagar district, so travellers will not face any difficulties in withdrawal and exchanging currencies.

Again, as Sivasagar district is the largest producer of crude oil and natural gas by the Maharatna Company ONGC where the world famous "Galeki" and "Rudra Sagar" oilfield is situated nearby the Sivasagar town, interested traveler can also witness how crude oil and natural gas is extracted from the very core of the Mother Earth.
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