Around 369 kms away from Guwahati is Sivasagar. This was the seat of Ahom power for more than six hundred years till the British take-over.
In the early 13th Century, a band of hardy hill men wandered into eastern extremity of the Brahmaputra, after crossing the Patkai Hills, led by chance rather than a pre-conceived purpose and quite oblivious of the fact that they were destined to bring the whole valley under their rule. These were the progenitors of the Ahoms.
While some say that the Ahoms migrated from a place called Mong Mit in the Northern Shan States of Burma, another record says that they migrated from Mong Mao Lung, the south-west Yunnan province of China. When the Ahom army with their first king, Siu-ka-pha crossed the Patkai Hills in 1228 A.D and saw the beautiful valley of Asom, they knew for sure that this was the Golden Land for them. Chaulung Siukapha called this place Chung-mung-dung-kham or ‘The Fields of Golden Crops’.
They established their first capital at Charaidew of Sivasagar in 1253A.D. Thereafter, the capital shifted to several other places in Sivasagar; Charagua, Gargaon, Salaguri and finally Rongpur.
Ahom architecture over the centuries has resulted in some of most defining edifices. The Talatal Ghar at Sivasagar is a seven storied building with four floors of basement and three floors above ground. And amazing simplistic palace for the Ahom Kings.
Ranghar remains Asia’s largest amphitheatre and was the cultural playground of Ahom Swargadeos or Kings which was constructed in 1746 during the reign of King Pramatta Singha. The royal king and his officers would sit in the auditorium and watch indigenous games like wrestling, birds’ fight, buffalo fights and more. There is a beautiful park near the ancient royal auditorium, which enhances the picturesque setting.
14 kilometres eastward from Sivasagar town is the majestic seven storied Karenghar. In 1540, the Ahom King Suklengmung or Gargoyan Raja shifted the capital of the state to Gargaon and it emerged as the principal capital of the Ahom Kingdom. It was first constructed by King Rudra Singha in 1699. The successors thereof made several alterations and additions to this palace.
The original structure was made of bricks and stones. The present palace made of bricks and indigenous cement was constructed by King Rajeshwar Singha in 1752. The palace is of seven stories; four above and three below the ground. The structure was partially destroyed during the East India Company when they carried away valuable material to build their offices and building.
The Sivasagar tank was artificially built on 125 acres of excavated earth with the Siva Dol on its banks. Joysagar tank is at the fringe of the Sivasagar Town. King Rudra Singha dug up the Joysagar Tank and constructed a temple complex at Jerenga and later named it as Joysagar. The Joysagar Tank is the biggest man-made tank comprising an area of 318 acres of land including its four tanks.
The Ahoms kings had kept changing their capitals from time to time and Charaideo, about 30 kms away from Sivasagar, was the first capital of the Ahom Kingdom established by King Siu-Ka-Pha. This is also the sacred burial ground of the Ahom kings and queens. The maidams or burial places are small hillocks and reveal the superb skill of sculptors and the fine form of architecture. These are hemispherical mounds usually enclosed by an octagonal wall into which the Ahoms preferred to place the bodies of the departed family members.
Very similar to the Egyptian Pyramids, this is also the place where the first Ahom King, Siu-Ka-pha has been laid to rest, along with his attendants, pets and valuables. This practice was later banned by King Rudra Singha. Charaideo, also believed to be the ancient place of the Ahom Gods, however now only bears a few remnants of the Deosal and Langkuri, some of the ancient Ahom Temples.
Sivasagar is dotted with temples and monuments of alluring architectural wonders. And then one can also discover in the nooks and crannies structures which have borne the brunt of time but is still standing tall. One such structure is the Namdang Bridge, between Gaurisagar and Joysagar and over the Namdang River. Carved out of a single piece of solid rock, this bridge was constructed during the reign of King Rudra Singha in 1 703A.D and is 60 meters in length, 6.5 meters in breadth with several images engraved on it. Thousand of vehicles roll over it every day, without causing any damage to it so far. An amazing architectural ingenuity!