The Sivasagar district was once known as Kalansupar, Rangpur and later Sivapur and since 1837 as Sibsagar. Till 13th century this place was inhabited by the Kachari, Borahi Moran and Chutia communities. The father of the Ahom dynasty Sui-Ka-Pha established his capital at Charaideo of the eastwhileSivasagar district in the year 1228 for its convenient geographical location. Since then till 1826, Sivasagar has remained the epic center of the mighty AhomDynasty as well as the state of Assam. However, till 1838 Sivasagar was known as Rongpur. When Mr Brodie shifted the town from Rongpur to the banks of Sibsagar tank or Borpukhuri, it became famous as Sibsagar or Sivasagar. Naturally during the reign of the Ahom kings many beautiful temples and roads were constructed and many ponds were dug as well in and around Sivasagar. Prominent among them are three temples (Douls) namely Shiva Doul, Devi Doul and BishnuDoul situated in the banks of the magnificent Borpukhuri.
The Borpukhuri of Sivasagar was dug by the second wife of SwargadeoShivasingha (1714-1744) Draupadi alias Ambika alias Madambika in 1733. The large tank measuring 98 puras (56,44,800sq.ft) is dedicated to Lord Shiva. With its banks the tank is about 115 puras (66,24,000sq.ft) around the tank lies deep ditches known as Yamuna. The eastern side of Yamuna is kowon as Cherekapar, western side is Kathpar, northern side is Joyrapar and southern side is known as Dhuliapar. This was such known as Shivapur after the tank and the Shiva Doul.
In the bank of the Borpukhuri, the Muktinath Shiva doul is situated which was constructed by Queen Ambika. Being the highest of all temples in Assam, the Shiva doul is of 180 feet tall and 195 feet in diameter with about 10.5 feet high Golden Dome called “Kolosi” on the top. The sculpture on the walls of the doul with different gods and goddesses, birds etc is really eye catching. There is a small pond (kunda) inside the main sanctorum of the temple. An officer named SivapuriaBaruah was appointed by the Ahom royals to look after the affairs of the douls.
There is a myth concerning the building of the doul. According to the myth BorrojaPhuleswari appeared in her sister Ambika’s dream and instructed her to dig a tank and a Shiva temple with Shiva linga for the welfare of her husband and to name the doul in the name of Lord Shiva.
Accordingly, Queen Ambika constructed the tallest Shiva temple and dedicated it to Lord Shiva. In the construction process of this temple, the technology used was similar to the famed ‘Nagar’ temples of north India combined with local artistry. However, the black stones used in the construction of the temple were found in the Assam state only. The stones were cut and curved under the supervision of ShilakutiBaruah and prepared it fit for this structure. Constructed by local Assamese artisans in a disciplined and well planned manner, this temple also epitomizes the inherent interest of the people in architecture. Unlike the North Indian temples where the vertical lines of the cemented dome are of odd numbers, this Shiva Doul has even numbers of cemented dome. This is a distinctive feature of this temple compared to the other north Indian temples.
Every year in Shiva Chaturdashi, in the month of Fagun (Falguni),Maha Shiva Ratri is celebrated with pomp and gaiety by all. Devotees from all over the country take part in this auspicious celebration. Many small business enterprises and fairs throng during this occasion. Beside the Shiva Doul is the BishnuDoul. Though this temple dedicated to Lord Bishnu is smaller in size, the beauty of the wall sculpture based on Puranas and other scriptures captivates the devotees. This temple is of 60 feet tall and 120 feet in diameter. The RathYatra held every year gives the people of Sivasagar a different test.
Towards the west of the Shiva Doul is the Devi Doul. It is same in size as the Bishnudoul. Here also we find different sculpture etched on the walls. Ten-handed Goddess Durga is the prominent theme of the sculptures. Durga Puja and Basanti puja are celebrated in this Devi Doul.
In the bank of the Borpukhuri and Buddhist monastery and the Catholic Church. The mosque in front of the Shiva Doul gives one the message of religious tolerance and religious harmony.
Shiva Ratri Festival is organised with full pomp and gaiety every year to worship Loard Shiva to as well as to promote the rich heritage and culture of Sivasagar. Lakhs of devotees gather at Doul campus to celebrate this worshipping festival of Lord Shiva.
This year, to make this even more attractive Shiva Ratri Festival will be celebrated in a bigger way involving artist from within and outside the country. Already renowned artist from USA and Japan has given their consent to participate in the event and perform Indian classical numbers during the festival. Moreover artists from other parts of the country and artists from different parts of the state will also participate in this event.