“Every hundred feet the world changes” ~Roberto Bolaño, 2666
It doesn’t take much to inspire me to travel, or at least plan to travel, to a particular place – a conversation over a cup of tea/coffee, a photograph, a book, a movie, travel magazines as well as TV channels, in-flight magazines, a friend, an acquaintance – anything can make me plan to pack my bags & hit the road. 🙂 As a result, my list of must-be-visited places is getting longer, just like my to-be-read book-list. Sigh!
Travelling is an enriching experience- for the body & mind. This is what my Deuta (my father) believes in. As a young man he travelled whenever & wherever he could, with his limited available resources. Even today, at 64, he makes plans to visit a new place at least once a year – far or near does not matter for him. I guess, I got the travel bug from him! As kids when we went to our ancestral home at Mograhaat, Sibsagar (also known as Sivasagar) for Bihu every year, one of the many other things we looked forward to was the site-seeing trip we were taken for after the Bihu jolpan, especially in Magh Bihu (my post about this Bihu here). Deuta’s eldest brother, our Nisadeu, had a (mighty!) white Ambassador those days. It was kind of the family car. Our eldest cousin, Tridip Kaka, would drive the car & Deuta would take responsibility of all of us (a mix group of around 10-12 of us, ages varying from 10 to 16 years) & we would stuff ourselves inside it. The younger ones sat on the laps of the elder ones so that everyone could be accommodated & no one was left behind. Now, when I look back, I wonder how did we manage do that? I guess our excitement managed to take care of the lack of space. 🙂
Sivasagar, formerly known as Rangpur, was the capital of the Ahom Kingdom from 1699 to 1788. The Ahoms ruled Assam, virtually without interruption, for six centuries, until their kingdom fell to the Burmese in 1819. With the Treaty of Yandabo coming into force in 1826, Assam lost its sovereignty as it went under the Brtish rule with a few other north eastern states. This town has remnants of this 600 years rule in the form of monuments, palaces, huge tanks, temples, maidams, etc. The major attractions include – Rang Ghar, Talatal Ghar, Kareng Ghar, Shiva Dol, Joi Dol, Vishnu Dol, Devi Dol, Joysagar pukhuri, Rudrasagar pukhuri, Charaideo maidam, etc.
On our yearly trips to Sivasagar, these were the places Deuta used to take us as it was accessible & convenient for him to take all of us together. Most of the places were only a few minutes’ drive from home. Those days, there was no proper entry gate to most of these places. Deuta used to make all of us stand in a line, height-wise, & then take us to show around the place. He made us stand & read (& even asked to memorise) the details of the monument given in the signboard at the entrance point. We all used to read aloud those details & had great fun. One of the most interesting things that I remember from those memorizing sessions was that those structures were constructed of baked bricks & cemented with a paste of rice & chicken as well as duck eggs, & lime too ! And they are still standing tall after hundreds of years of construction. Some facts about the important places we visited –
Rang Ghar –It (meaning “House of Entertainment”) is situated in Rongpur & a two-storied building which once served as the royal sports-pavilion where Ahom kings and nobles were spectators at games like buffalo fights, mynah fights and other sports particularly during the Rangali Bihu festival (More details here) The Rangpur Palace – It is a seven-storied structure, four above ground (the Kareng Ghar) and the remaining three below ground (the Talatal Ghar). it is one of the grandest examples of Ahom architecture. The Talatal Ghar is a palace which was initially built as an army base. It houses two secret tunnels, and three floors below ground level which were used as exit routes during the Ahom wars (and which give the structure its name).Kareng Ghar (meaning “royal palace”) was built mainly of wood, which was largely destroyed over time. The Royal apartments were on the upper storey. (More details here)
Shiva Dol – The Sivadol (dol means temple in Assamese) is believed to be the tallest Shiva temple in India. Its height is 104 feet (32 m) and the perimeter is 195 ft (59 m) at the base. It is capped by an eight feet high golden-dome. Each year during the Shivaratri, a huge mela (fair) is organised in the temple ground and pilgrims from all over India arrives here to offer puja. (More details here)
Joysagar Pukhuri – A man-made tank excavated by Ahom king Swargadeo Rudra Singha in memory of his mother Joymoti at Rangpur. Historical records reveal that the tank was constructed in 45 days at Rangpur in 1697. It is the largest man-made lake in India and stands on the area of 318 acres half of which is under water.
Charaideo – was the first capital of the Ahom kingdom established by the first Ahom king Chao Lung Siu-Ka-Pha in 1228. It contains sacred burial grounds of Ahom kings and queens and is also the place of ancestral Gods of the Ahoms. The Maidams (tombs) of Ahom kings and queens at Charaideo hillocks are comparable to the Pyramids of Egypt and are objects of wonder revealing the excellent architecture and skill of the sculptors and masons of Assam of the medieval days. (More details here)
Deuta on our way back, used to teach us the chronological order of the Ahom kings. He opined that being Ahom ourselves, we should know & be aware of the rich heritage we are a part of. I remember very well that Sukapha was the first Ahom king; the others I do not remember in the exact order. :P. In the last leg of those trips we visited some of our relatives, gorged on some delicious sewa-dia bhaat (a kind of steamed rice made out of freshly harvested Borasaul or sticky rice) & kumura dia haanhor mangkho (gourd & duck curry) & came back home. On our way back, our hearts were full of happiness, minds full of knowledge & tummies full of the delicious food. We were some happy souls! And so, this was how I developed my love for travelling, for it meant knowledge, happiness & great food too! Thanks Deuta! 🙂
“It is not the destination where you end up but the mishaps and memories you create along the way!” ~ Penelope Riley, Travel Absurdities
I am participating in Write Tribe Festival of Words – 2. This post is under the theme of Day 5 – Travel
Day 1 – Memories
Day 2 – Food
Day 3 – Books
Day4 – Music
Click on the image above to read what others are writing about it.