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History of Sivasagar

The Birth of Rangpur

Not known why this place was named Meteka(an aquatic fauna) or since how long it has been existing, but can be found it's references quite a many times in the History of Assam. British Historian J.P. Wade who came to Assam in 17th-18th century, mentioned Meteka as a place of large area consisting of many villages. Swargadeo(King) Rudrasingha shifted the capital of Ahom kingdom from Gargaon to this place and named the new capital as 'Rangpur'.

'Dikhow' river was on the North of the town. A garh near 'Namdang' river on the south, Baahgarh on east and Dikhow-Namdang was on the west. Rangpur was not only famous in then Assam, it was also known to the whole India. King Rudrashingha first established the capital of his empire in 'Tengabari' of Meteka area. And then he dug the famous tank of Joysagar. There after he built Talatal Ghar, Ranganath Dol, Phakuwa Dol and Vishnu Dol on the bank of Joysagar respectively. He also built the stone bridge over 'Namdang' river. Later Pramattasingha built the famous 'Ranghar' situated on the west of Talatal Ghar.

The main road of the Rangpur was Borali. It started from Dergaon to Gargaon via Joysagar on the left bank of Brahmaputra. It was a very staright and broad road of that time in Assam. Some other significant roads around 'Rangpur' were 'Metekaali','Duboroniali', 'Borpatra ali' etc.

The royal families and officials used to stay in current days' 'Jerenga Pothaar','Rupohi Pothaar' etc. On the southern bank of Dikhow there were many 'Maidaam' of the Buragohain(Ministers of Ahom Kingdom) and the maaidams of 'Borphukan'(Generals of the kingdom) were on the northern bank.

Though Rudrasingha has established 'Rangpur' in Meteka, the existence of a town in that area was mentioned many times in the history. In fact in the days 'Sulikfa'(lora Roja), he temporarily founded a capital in this area instead of Gargaon. It was named Rajnagar at that time.

Source : Abridged version of an article written by Historian Bhuban Chandra Handique.

The Story of Sivasagar

In ancient times when Ahom kings used to dig any tank or pond, they used to name it with suffix of 'Sagar'(sea). Though the sizes of these tanks were merely of small lakes, these meant more than a sea not only for the kings but also for the people. Such a sagar is Sivasagar or Sibsagar. The speciality of this sagar is that a town, a sub-division and a district is named after this. Interestingly during the Ahom king's days, there was no place called Sivasagar. Only the tank dug by Sivasingha was called Sivasagar. It was known as 'Rangpur' only those days. Its the British who started using the name Sivasagar to represent this place.

The place where the Sivasgar tank exists currently was a very low land originally. There were villages of 'Kalansu' Gohains beside it. And the place was also called 'Kalansupar'.

Historian Benudhar Rajkhowa has mentioned about Sivasgar tank like this in his book - "The embankment is entirely artificial and raised the surface of water to height of 30 to 40 feet above the level of the surrounding ground. The depth of the tank was originally 64 feet."

But we find a different kind of explanation in British Historian Miles' report - "It(Sibsagar) takes the name from Rajan Sibsingha, who excavated it and as tradition says, in one night. its 855 yds long by 690 broad and the water covers an area of 122 British acre or 100 assamese Poora."

Another history says like this - "Borroja(First queen) Phuleswari proudly declared herself as the wife of Lord Shiva and named herself as 'Gauri'. Then she excavated a tank and named it 'Gaurisagar'. But queen Ambika excavated abother tank and named it after her husband Sivasingha as Sivasgar. This way she expressed her faith in her King husband. Within a year she built three temple on the bank of this tank, Siva Dol, Vishnu Dol and Devi Dol by names."

Source : Abridged version of an article written by Historian Bhuban Chandra Handique.

Sibsagar as described in the fifth edition of Encyclopedia Britannica published in 1911

SIBSAGAR ,A TOWN and DISTRICT of British INDIA, in eastern Bengal and Assam . The town is situated on the Dikhu river, about 9 M. from the left bank of Brahmaputra, being picturesquely built round a magnificent tank, covering an area of 114 acres . Pop . (1901) 5712 . In 1907 the transfer of the district headquarters to Jorhat (pop . 2899), on the Disai river, was sanctioned . The DISTRICT OF SIBSAGAR has an area of 4996 sq. m . It consists of a level plain, much overgrown with grass and jungle, and intersected by numerous tributaries of the Brahmaputra . It is divided by the little river Disai into two tracts, which differ in soil and general appearance . The surface of the eastern portion is very flat, the general level being broken only by the long lines of embankments raised by the Ahom kings to serve both as roadways and as a protection against floods . The soil consists of a heavy loam of a whitish colour, which is well adapted for rice cultivation . West of the Disai, though the surface soil is of the same character, the general aspect is diversified by the protrusion of the subsoil, which consists of a stiff clay abounding in iron nodules, and is furrowed by frequent ravines and water-courses, which divide the cultivable fields into innumerable small sunken patches or kolas .

The chief river is the Brahmaputra, which is navigable throughout the year by steamers . The tributaries of the Brahmaputra comprise the Dhaneswari, the Dihing, the Disang and the Dikhu, all flowing in a northerly direction from the Naga Hills . Included within the district is the island of Maguli, formed by the silt brought down by the Subansiri river from the Himalayas and deposited in the wide channel of the Brahmaputra . Coal, iron, petroleum and salt are found . The climate, like that of the rest of the Assam valley, is comparatively mild and temperate, and the annual rainfall averages about 94 in . In 1901 the population was 597,969, showing an increase of 24% in the decade . Sibsagar is the chief centre of tea cultivation in the Brahmaputra valley, which was introduced by the Assam Company in 1852 . It contains a large number of well-managed tea-gardens, which bring both men and money into the province . There are also several timber mills . The Assam-Bengal railway serves the southern part of the district, and a light railway connects this line with Kalikamukh on the Brahmaputra, itself an important highway of communication . On the decline of the Ahom dynasty Sibsagar, with the rest of the Assam valley, fell into the hands of the Burmese . As a result of the first Burmese war (18241826) the valley was annexed to British India, and the country now forming Sibsagar district, together with the southern portion of Lakhimpur, was placed under the rule of Raja Purandhar Singh, on his agreeing to pay a tribute of 5000 .

Owing to the raja's misrule, Sibsagar was reduced to a state of great poverty, and, as he was unable to pay the tribute, the territories were resumed by the government of India, and in 1838 were placed under the direct management of a British officer . See Sibsagar District Gazetteer (Allahabad, 1906) .