Sibsagar and Hajo
Sibsagar and Hajo are two places in the Seven Sisters worth a visit. Sibsagar was once the capital of the Ahom kingdom and there are a few ruins in the surrounding worth a visit. In town a good place to hang out in the afternoon is the Joysagar Phukurhi, a square pond in the middle of town.
Further there is the Dikhow Bridge, build by the British and a large water body called Borpukhuri. Three temples are near the water body and are several hundred years old.
As said the Joysagar Phukurhi is a nice place to relax in the afternoon. I had a chat with a nice guy who explained to me that in Hinduism, people believe that god is only one. On my remark why there are then about 60.000 gods, he answered: "We have 60.000 gods because god is so big, we humans can not even begin to imagine how big he is.
Therefore we venerate aspects of the one god. In one family it can be that father, mother and 3 children all pray to different gods due to the need of the person. But it doesn't mean all those gods are separate, it's just to make it easier for us simple people to get in touch with god".
Although in years I have met many Indians (Hindus), I have never heard this explanation again, but if this is the way of thinking, it makes perfectly sense to me.
Rang Ghar and Hajo
My interest was for the Rang Ghar, said to be the oldest amphitheater in Asia. Rang Ghar means "Amusement House" in Assamese language. It is a two-storied building, which was the royal sports-pavilion from which the Ahom kings and nobles witnessed games like buffalo fights and other sports.
On the roof of the Rang Ghar is a design of an Ahom royal long boat. The building was constructed during the reign of Swargadeo Pramatta Singha in 1746. It is in Joysagar west of Sibsagar town.
Although Hajo town is nothing much, there's some very nice people around. I got invited to eat something with a family. They told me they hardly see tourists in this part of India. I wasn't too surprised. India is a country with so many beautiful places to visit and Assam, in recent history not always the safest place and not too easy to travel too, was usually ignored.
Hajo however, showed there are some parts in India that deserve more attention. Some family members took me to the nearby monuments. It is a pilgrimage center for Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims. The Hayagriva Madhava Mandir is the most famous temple of Hajo.
Hajo is an ancient pilgrimage center for three religions: It lies on the banks of the Brahmaputra River, 24 km from the city of Guwahati in the Kamrup district of Assam, India.
There are a lot of ancient temples and artifacts found in this area. Some temples, mostly lesser known, were build in the Ahom kingdom (like the Karenghar).
These buildings include also the Ahom Royal Palace (see photo on the right), a 7 storey building (4 above ground, 3 below). Most of the buildings and temples were build in the 18th century.
To me, they were quite amazing, as I had no knowledge before I visited Assam about these buildings.
As there are many buildings in the Sibsagar vicinity, I can recommend to take the bicycle and explore. You'll find many friendly and helping Indians to show you the way.
Getting there and stay
Sibsagar is accessible by rail and road. The railway connects Sibsagar with Guwahati and further to Kolkata.
There are plenty of buses to other destinations in the Seven Sisters but many are not available for tourists as a special permit is necessary, for example Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
Sibsagar is an easy place to find accommodation. I stayed near the Joysagar Phukurhi but there's plenty of other hotels.
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Phuntsholing and the Bhutanese border
Phuntsholing is certainly not worth a visit. However, it is the border town with Bhutan and you can visit a few square km's in Bhutan without a visa. Thus I went there to see what there is to see:
Although Guwahati itself is just a big city, there are some very interesting sights in the area. For example the Kamakhya Temple.
You don't come all the way to Agartala to return and travel all the way back to Guwahati. Instead you will pick up a visa and go into Bangladesh but Agartala itself is quite nice too