Pannalal Roy*

    Tripura is a marvel for sight-seers, travellers, pilgrims and even for seclusion-seekers. With magnificent royal palaces, temples , numerous archeological ruins along with hillocks, forests and springs, this tiny State is a charming treat for all visitors. It is, therefore, quite natural that Tripura has already attained a place of pride in the whole North-East. As hills are abundant in the State, so also are the superb ancient sculptures on the rocks.

    Attractive spots are strewn all over Tripura. While Unakoti, a holy shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, is in the north, the south preserves the deities of the Brahminical and Buddhist faiths. The West has sheltered the rarest species of Spectacled Monkey at Sipahijala and has the Neermahal Palace in the Rudrasagar Lake. Agartala, the capital, boasts of Ujjyanta Palace and other archaeological attractions. Besides, the rock sculpture on the Devtamura Hills in south and the abode of everlasting spring of Jampui Hills adjacent to Mizoram on the North-East, are also worth-visiting.

    Unakoti, the wonderful site of ancient stone sculptures, can easily be reached. From Agartala, one has to take a bus to Kailasahar, the headquarters of North district, to be there. Unakoti is only 10 km away from Kailasahar. Numerous rock-cut images of gods and goddesses stand there majestically.

    Gigantic murals can also be found on hillsides there. According to the Department of Archaeology, the statue of Lord Shiva dates back to the 8th or 9th century A.D. Some others are of the opinion that Unakoti is the sacred shrine of the Shaiva cult of the Pal era or it might have been created even before that period. Although regarded as a centre of Shaiva cult, some say that it is a holy place of ‘Tantrik Buddhism’. Some are of the opinion that the name ‘Unakoti’ denotes ‘one less from one crore’.

    A fountain, a sacred pond for holy dip named Sitakund, and a soothing green forest resounding with buzzing insects –are all there. Naturally, tourists and pilgrims from far and near assemble there in large numbers every year.The Jampui Hills of North Tripura may also be visited easily from Agartala via Kanchanpur or from the rail-head town of Dharmanagar. It is on the Mizoram border.

    A rare species of beautiful tree, named Sundi, is seen on the hill slopes. Innumerable orange plantations are also there on all sides. The orange of Jampui is quite popular even outside Tripura. The weather of this region is very pleasant.It is neither very cold nor very hot. It is indeed like spring all through the year. The charming natural beauty extends a warm welcome to all newcomers, visitors and travellers. The pre-winter months of the year make Jampui Hills all the more charming. The lush green orange trees bend with ripe fruits in this season and the whole area gets filled with the sweet fragrance of juicy oranges.

    Like all these attractions in North Tripura, South District also has its own charm. History and legend have enhanced the attraction of many notable spots of South Tripura. The vast expanse of Dumbur Lake and statues of many gods and goddesses at Devtamura are enchanting to visitors and tourists alike. It is not known when these images were carved out on stone inside the calm and lonely forest on the banks of the Gomoti. They are believed to be a remarkable specimen of the revival of Brahminism in the 15th/16th century when the influence of Buddhism declined.

    ‘Pilak’, the marvel of South Tripura is only 110 km away from Agartala via Jolaibari. Images of Lord Buddha, Lord Shiva, Surjya and other deities along with the ruins of ancient temples – all have been excavated from there. After being taken over by the Archaeological Department, excavations are still going on. It has been proved that the images of Pilak belong to the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries A.D.

    At Udaipur, the district headquarters of South Tripura, one will find many ancient temples, ruins of palaces, big ponds and other archaeological objects. The famous temple of Mother Tripurasundari is situated at Udaipur. It was built by Maharaja Dhanya Manikya, the then ruler of Tripura, 500 years ago.

    Neermahal, a picturesque palace on a vast lake, is also a popular tourist destination. Situated at Melaghar in West Tripura district, this magnificent palace is at the centre of a lake named Rudrasagar, popularly called Rudijala. The former Maharaja of Tripura built it as his summer resort. Sipahijala is also a must for all travellers. Its zoo shelters various birds and animals in natural surroundings.

    The Ujjayanta palace at Agartala is also fascinating. A heritage festival on the occasion of its centenary was held recently. Besides its beautiful twin lakes, the architectural magnificence of the royal palace on a vast stretch of land, makes one spell-bound. Agartala also boasts of its Kunjaban Palace, numerous temples and museums.

    Tripura with an area of 10,491.69, has to accommodate a total population of 31,91,168. The density of population is 304 per Except Assam, Tripura is the most thickly populated amongst all other states of North-Eastern India. The density of its population is also the highest although its area is much smaller than many. The length of this state is 183.5 km. while the breadth is only 112.7 km. The major part of Tripura’s land surface is dotted by hills and forests. Consequently, plain land is very scanty in this State. Its border with Mizoram is 109 km. long while with Assam, it is 53 km. But the international frontier with Bangladesh is as long as 839 km! North Tripura, Dhalai, West Tripura and South Tripura are the four districts of Tripura.

    A noble synthesis of religious cults and cultures is clearly visible in Unakoti, Pilak and other places. On auspicious occasions like the Diwali fair at Tripureswari Temple, Kharchi Puja and Unakoti Mela, people of diverse cults and races come together. They all live together happily. As a result of synthesis of different ways of life, a harmonious culture has developed in Tripura. Folk rituals like Ganjan and Garia, Hozagiri and Dhamail have all unified the people of Tripura.

* Agartala-based Journalist