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Sivsagar: A Grand Display Of Ahom Architecture And Culture

This medieval city surrounded by a rainforest in Assam served as the capital of the mighty Ahom kings for almost a century

Rang Ghar served as a sports pavillion
Rang Ghar served as a sports pavillion Shutterstock.com

The erstwhile seat of the mighty Ahom dynasty (1228-182), the ruins of Sivasagar offer a glimpse into its grand past. The town takes its name from the Sivasagar Tank/lake, a large man-made water body which is also the town’s main attraction. In present-day Sivasagar, a visitor can explore the town’s well-preserved palaces, temples and amphitheatre. Here are some of the most popular attractions in Sivasagar for those keen on exploring Ahom heritage.

Rang Ghar

Also meaning ‘House of Entertainment’, Rang Ghar is situated near the Rangpur Palace, also known as Talatal Ghar. During the times of Ahom kings, this two-storied structure used to be a sports pavillion from where kings and nobles would enjoy a game of buffalo or cock fight apart from the annual bihu festivities. What makes this structure even more interesting is its architecture. The roof of Rang Ghar is shaped like an inverted boat, typical of Ahom architecture. Interestingly, the Ahoms used a mix made of rice, egg, pulses and fish as binding agents in their buildings.

Talatal Ghar

Talatal Ghar or the Rangpur Palace is one of the largest and finest Ahom structures. It used to be a seven-storied building in its heyday but now only ground, first and the remains of second and third floor are open to visitors. The underground floors remain closed to visitors. According to various legends, the Talatal Ghar has two secret tunnels and three underground floors that served as secret exit routes during wars.

Sivadol temple complex
Sivadol temple complex Shutterstock.com

Sivadol

One of the three most prominent temples in Sivasagar, Sivadol (also Shivadol) stands tall on the bank of Sivasagar tank. The temple is 104 feet tall and has an 8-foot golden dome for a crown. It is the most important place for the devotees of Shiva to congregate during Shivratri.

Joysagar Tank

Joysagar tank ranks among the most popular tourist attractions in Sivasagar, mainly because of its size and religious importance. The tank complex also has many important temples like Joydol, Baidyanath Shiva Dol, Devi Ghar, Sri Surya Mandir, Ganesh Mandir and Nati-Gosai dol, that hold an place important in  religion, history as well as archaeology.

Kareng Ghar

Kareng Ghar or the Garhgaon Palace is located 15km away from Sivasagar and is another fine example of Ahom architecture. Constructed of wood and stones, the present-day Kareng Ghar is a rebuilt by Rajeshwar Singha. The palace used to have plenty of rooms of which only few remain today. During its glory days, the palace used to be surrounded by large water-filled moats and fortified boundaries whose faint evidence can still be seen.

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