Sibsagar, sometimes spelled Sivasagar, on the south bank of the Brahmaputra River and headquarters of the district with the same name, is in the North East of Assam around 370 kms east of Guwahati. It was the ancient capital of the Ahoms who ruled Assam for six hundred years before the invasion of the Burmese and the advent of the British. Formerly known as Rangpur, it is a beautiful town with a rich cultural fabric.
Sibsagar’s main feature, and from which it gets its name, is a huge water tank of over 230 acres constructed by Queen Madambika in 1734 which is at a higher elevation than the rest of the town. On its banks are three temples named Shivdol, Vishnudol and Devidol. Shivdol, the most important, is probably the tallest Shiva temple in India.
It is also home to the Rang Ghar, an oval shaped two-story amphitheatre built in 1746 that served as the royal sports pavilion where Ahom kings and nobles watched games and buffalo fights. On the roof is a design of an Ahom royal long boat on top of which is a decorative pair of carved stone crocodiles.
Around 6 km outside Sibsagar is Kareng Ghar (meaning royal palace in Assamese) originally a beautiful four-story structure, built by Swargadeo Rudra Singha between 1696 to 1714. Rajeswar Singha, one of his successors, added three underground stories at a later date and these are known as the Talatal Ghar. It has two secret tunnels connecting to the Dikhow River and the Garhgaon Palace that served as escape routes in case of enemy attack.
Swargadeo Rudra Singa also excavated a 300 acre lake named Joysagar on the edge of the town, said to be the largest in India, in honour of his mother Joymoti.
The new Tai Ahom Museum is also interesting to visit. It displays artefacts from the times of the Sibsagar rulers, like swords, clothes, manuscripts, goblets and platters.
Sibsagar is also a leading tea and oil producing district.