Tripura: A land of many Splendors

Bhudeb Chakrabarti

Unakoti – One less than a crore

Unakoti, the word means ‘one less than a crore’. This is the name of a place located deep inside a coolly shaded forest, about 180 kilometres northeast of Agartala. An archaeological wonder known for the largest Bas-relief sculpture in India, Unakoti is supposed to have the carvings and statues of Gods and Goddesses numbering one less than 1 crore. Gigantic carvings of Shiva, Ganesha and other gods and goddesses of Hindu mythology, some of them about 30 feet high, dating back from the 7th to 9th, can be seen on its hill slopes.

This is one of the places that I often had to pass by during my stay in Tripura, a picturesque State of North East India, bounded by Bangladesh on all sides with corridors to the North Eastern States of Asom and Mizoram.

Kal_Bhairava,Unakoti

Kal_Bhairava,Unakoti

Image source: Shared by Atadu (CC By SA 4.0)

I lived in Tripura for a few years and had the opportunity to see and learn about the vibrant life and rich culture of its people, comprising Bengalis, Manipuris and 19 other tribes including Tripuris, Reangs, Garos, Mogs, Lushai and Chakma.

Agartala, the capital city on small hills (tillas) and plains on the bank of Howrah river, is well connected by air and is now linked by rail.

 

People 

Tripuris, who account for more than half of Tripura tribes, speak a language called ‘Kokborok’ and practise ‘jhoom’ or ’shifting‘ cultivation.

Tripuri

Tripuri children preparing for a dance performance

Image Source

Reangs come next to Tripuris. Their folk dance ‘Hojagiri’ is unique in itself in which the young Reang girls perform an intricate dance balanced on earthen pitchers.

Garos are among the few matrilineal tribes in the world. Chakmas and Mogs are the Buddhist tribes, while Lushais are Christians.

 

Palaces, Temples and Shrines

The gleaming white Ujjayanta Palace with a serene lakefront was built by Maharaja Radhakishore Manikya in the new capital in 1901.

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To the southwest of Agartala, at a distance of about 50 kilometres, is the spectacular Lake Palace ‘Neermahal’ on the Rudrasagar Lake. The place constructed in 1930 belonged to Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya.

Numerous temples and holy shrines of Shaiv and Vaishna sect are found in this tiny state, as are the Buddhist and Bahai shrines.

Chaturdash Debata Mandir’(Temple of Fourteen Gods) in Old Agartala is thronged by devotees during ‘Kharchi Puja’ in the month of July.  Kamalasagar Kali Temple on the Bangladesh border to the southwest of Agartala is a scenic spot. Kamalasagar Lake in front of the temple built in 15th century enhances its beauty further.

Tripura Sundari Temple

Tripura Sundari Temple

The principal attraction of Tripua is the Tripura Sundari Temple at Udaipur, a town of lakes and erstwhile capital of Tripura Maharajas, built by in 1501. It is one of the 51 seats of power worship for the Hindu religion. The typical Bengali hut type temple with a pond in front on a hill has a special ambience of its own. Deepavali Festival is observed in Tripura Sundari Temple. The Bhubaneswari temple on the bank of Gomati is nearby.

Hundred kilometres to the south of Agartala is Pilak, which houses 8th-9thcenturies Buddhist archaeological remains.

 

Landscape of Tripura

The green hills and forests, the meandering rivers and lush plains make the scenic landscape of Tripura. A journey on NH 44 Tripura –Asom Road through four hill ranges provides a breath taking view of green hills, dense forests of rich flora and fauna, verdant valleys and rivers.

Sepahijala near Agartala and Trishna in South Tripura are the two Wildlife Sanctuaries in Tripura.

Dumboor Lake 120 kilometres south of Agartala spread over an area of 41 square kilometres has excellent greenery. There are a large number of islets in the lake with migratory birds visiting the place. At Tirthamukh near Dumboor, the origin of Gomati, ‘Uttaryayn Sankranti’ is observed on 14th January when both tribal and non –tribal people come to take a holy dip.

Jampui Hill. Tripura

View from Jampui Hill

Image Source

Jampui Hill, at the eastern end of Tripura on the border of Mizoram and situated at an altitude of 3000 feet is one of the places in the world with eternal spring. The highest peak of Tripura Bethlingchhip 3200 feet above sea level is in Jampui Hill. Vanghmun is the main town. One gets a a clear view of Mizoram from Phuldangsai village. Jampui Hill is the only place in Tripura where oranges are grown. An Orange Festival is held in November in Jampui Hill.

The biodiversity, natural beauty, pleasant climate and traditions and culture of Tripura make it a land of many splendours yet to be explored fully

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References:

1.India’s North East –paradise unexplored –a TT Connect Feature (An initiative of Ministry of DoNER)

2.Many Splendoured Tripura ( Booklet of Govt. of Tripura, Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism, Agartala)

 

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This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti, Dy IG (Retd) CRPF. He has commanded several Operational and Administrative functions in the force and has imparted training to gazetted officers of CRPF and other central & state police forces.

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Readers Comments (23)

  1. Your post made me seriously think of my long dream of visiting the North East. Need to plan soon. You made me crave for the place.

    Reply
  2. Tripura is a beautiful state. Have heard a lot about it, My dida used to stay there before she got married. This is a beautifully written informative post…the landscape is truly a beauty! Would love to visit it someday. Thanks for this virtual trip, Sir… 🙂

    Reply
    • bhudeb chakrabarti November 6, 2015 @ 9:21 am

      Tripura is a picturesque place. Rabindranath Tagore who visited Tripura said, “The woodlands of Tripura have sent out invitation to their floral feast through their courier of the south wind and I have come here as a friend .Many thanks for your kind words.

      Reply
  3. Wonderful write up on a beautiful place. We went upto Shillong in Meghalaya but could not cosot Tripura, remains a dream. Hope fully some day we will especially after your blog. Tripura was a model Princely State prior to 1947. The Rulers were true thinkers and great leaders. They had a Constitution working in the State based on which many of our present day Articles have been based. The Palace is just so awesome. Thanks again Somali for highlighting a lesser known but such a beautiful part of our country:)

    Reply
    • bhudeb chakrabarti November 6, 2015 @ 9:31 am

      Many thanks for your valuable information about the rich contribution of the Rulers of the Princely State of Tripura before it acceded to the Indian Union in 1949.Grateful for your kind words.

      Reply
  4. Such culturally rich places with historical legacy and art form. Written so well and filled with knowledge:)

    Reply
  5. Tripura is an amazing state though we lived in difficult times with a live insurgency movement. Agartala was pretty safe nonetheless and was virtually pristine with no air pollution. The hill ranges had its own charm nonetheless dangerous with several potential ambush spots. Luckily for me I left for NIT post 12TH and the author went to deal with better people in Firozpur Sector Punjab in 1987

    Reply
    • bhudeb chakrabarti November 6, 2015 @ 3:14 pm

      I had two more tenures in Tripura between 1992 and 1995 .At present Tripura is peaceful and is one of the best States in North East India. Thank you for your reminiscences of Tripura.

      Reply
  6. Beautiful informative post on Tripura

    Reply
  7. A beautiful finding for me. I toured around these areas including Tripura several times and your post makes up for what I missed. Thanks Somali.

    Reply
  8. Glad I stumbled upon your blog while looking for new reading materials. Inspiring work.

    Reply
  9. So much to explore.Thanks a lot for sharing.

    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

    Reply

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