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.
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.
Tripuris, who account for more than half of Tripura tribes, speak a language called ‘Kokborok’ and practise ‘jhoom’ or ’shifting‘ cultivation.
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.
The gleaming white Ujjayanta Palace with a serene lakefront was built by Maharaja Radhakishore Manikya in the new capital in 1901.
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.
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.
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, 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
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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