Sivasagar, earlier called Rangpur was the capital of the Ahom dynasty and hence this town bears testimony to the magnificence and grandeur of the Ahom rule. The remnants and for most parts even monuments built by the Ahom kings still stand tall in this small heritage town in Upper Assam. Sivasagar meaning ‘ocean of Shiva’ got its name after Sivasagar tank, or the Borpukhuri excavated by Swargadeo Shiva Singha.
Sivasagar, located at a distance of 362.6 kms from Guwahati, the State capital is an important centre for tea, oil and tourism industries. The ONGC runs its operations in Geleky, Rudrasagar and Lakwa in Sivasagar district with their offices in Sivasagar and Nazira town. Sivasagar therefore is a major industrial town in Assam inspite of its size.
There’s a lot to see and experience in Sivasagar. From temples to monuments to local village tour, you can experience everything in just a matter of 2-3 days. Travel agencies offer itinerary suitable to your choices, but you can curate one too with a little help to explore on your own.
Places to visit:
1. RANGHAR: Ranghar during the Ahom rule served as a pavilion for watching outdoor sports and other activities. The King with his Queen and other higher officials sat in all grandeur to enjoy buffalo fights, or other sports and recreational events.
Ranghar comes to life during the Rongali Bihu celebration marking the Assamese new year when keeping with the tradition sports and cultural programmes are organised at the premises.
2. TAI-AHOM MUSEUM: The Tai-Ahom Museum located on the west bank of Sivasagar Tank houses the various antique collections of the Ahom dynasty. Books, Ornaments, Garments, Weaponry and other decorative items are displayed here. The museum also promotes research on Tai language and literature.
3. TALATAL GHAR: Talatal ghar has two underground tunnels which were used during wars as secret passages by Ahom soldiers. There were three floors under the ground level and three above. This initially was built as an army base. The underground three floors, however, have been sealed off for security reasons and only parts remain of the upper floors too. But Talatal Ghar is a great example of Ahom architecture.
4. SIVASAGAR PUKHURI: Also known as Borpukhuri, Sivasagar tank was dug by the Ahoms in the 18th century. It is 64 feet deep built in an area of 130 acres and is a major landmark of the town.
5. KARENG GHAR: Kareng ghar or the Garhgaon Palace was the royal palace of the Ahom kings. Situated in Garhgaon, a distance of around 15 kms from Sivasagar town, this palace is a four storeyed building constructed in gradually receding tiers. The top floor had a dome like roof with a chamber, and there’s believed to be a secret underground tunnel from Garhgaon palace to Talatal ghar which has now been sealed off.
6. SHIVDOL: Shivdol is a popular Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located on the banks of Borpukhuri or Sivasagar tank. There are footfalls around the year but Shivdol comes to life during Mahashivratri when pilgrims from far and wide visit to offer prayers.
7. JOY DOL: Joydol is also known as the Kesavanarayan temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Built by the Ahom king Swargadeo Rudra Singha, the temple is located on the northern bank of Joysagar tank in Joysagar, a distance of 5 kms from Sivasagar town. This tank was excavated in the memory of his mother Joymoti and hence the name Joydol.
8. AJAN PIR DARGAH: Built in the memory of the Muslim reformer Ajan Fakir, this Dargah is located in Saraguri Chapori region, about 22 kms from Sivasagar town. He was a preacher, a saint from Baghdad who came to settle here and played a vital role in unifying the people of the Brahmaputra valley. He reformed, reinforced and stabilized Islam in Assam. Zikr and Zari are two forms of devotional songs popularized by him. Urus is a special day celebrated here in this dargah.
9. CHARAIDEO MAIDAM: Che-rai-doi, a Tai word which means ‘shining city on the hills’, was the first capital of the Ahom kingdom. Charaideo which is 30 kms from Sivasagar town is now known for its collection of maidams or burial mounds of the Ahom royalty. The Ahoms don’t burn the dead bodies but keep it in a box and bury. This burial mound is called maidam.
Dichang mukh and Dikhow mukh are two riverine off the river Brahmaputra which can be opted for local village tours.
How to reach:
- 1. Dibrugarh Mohanbari airport: Dibrugarh Mohanbari Airport is one of the nearest airports, a distance of 83.8 kms. From there you can directly hire a cab to Sivasagar. You can also opt boarding a bus from the main town of Dibrugarh which can be quite a hassle for first timers.
- 2. Jorhat Airport: A distance of 62.1 kms from Sivasagar town, you can hire a cab directly from Jorhat airport. However there are not many flight and airline options to Jorhat.
- 3. Sivasagar Railway station: Dibrugarh bound Rajdhani Express from New Delhi has a stop at Sivasagar Railway station. Jan Shatabdi Express from Guwahati to Dibrugarh also makes a halt here. These two trains are quite comfortable to travel in.
- 4. Dibrugarh Railway station: Train connectivity from other major railway stations of the country are available to Dibrugarh only.
Where to stay:
- 1. Hotel Brahmaputra: Located in B.G. Road, Sivasagar Hotel Brahmaputra offers comfortable lodging in a town where there are not many lodging options. The hotel offers complimentary breakfast and parking facilities too.
- 2. Hotel Shiva Palace: Located in the heart of the town, Hotel Shiva Palace is a budget friendly decent place to stay. Their in-house restaurant Sky Chef is very popular among the locals. There’s a gym right behind the hotel which is a good option for fitness enthusiasts.
- 3. Hotel Piccolo: Another budget hotel located in Boarding Road, Sivasagar is Hotel Piccolo. They have a bar and an in-house restaurant which offers multi-cuisine food.
Where to eat:
Apart from the restaurants mentioned above there are a few food joints which are quite popular among the locals.
- Zoonskaya: This is a resort located besides NH 37 just before entering the town. This is the first of its kind in Sivasagar and has been able to attract a lot of people recently because of its attractive interiors. The poolside set up is what attracts most of them.
- Rasraj Bakery: This is a popular hangout for panipuri lovers over many years. And don’t forget to taste their crunchy kata biscuit, a popular local variety of biscuit.
- MFC : This is the local version of the popular restaurant chain KFC which offers fried chicken and other dishes.
- Neelkantha Dhaba: The most popular roadside dhaba in Upper Assam, Neelkantha serves the best of Duck and pork meat. Located on the outskirts, a few kilometres from Sivasagar town this dhaba remains packed throughout, but the wait is definitely worthwhile. Enjoy a wholesome ethnic Assamese thali here during your stay in Sivasagar.