From palaces to ancient rock carvings and wild life sanctuaries, this compact North-eastern state called Tripura is worth discovering. In Agartala, the state capital, the Ujjayanta Palace occupies pride of place with its high dome, magnificent tile flooring, curved wooden ceiling and beautifully-crafted doors. Built by the Manikya kings between 1897 and 1901, the palace now houses the Tripura State Museum that contains rare images, epigraphs and numismatic evidence chronicling the region’s storied past. Since the palace still serves as the residence of the current royal family, only the museum is open to the public.
Palaces, nature and much more in Tripura!
Neermahal – a summer palace in the middle of the Rudrasagar lake – 53 kms from Agartala is another interesting piece of architecture. For Kali worshippers, the 517-year-old Tripura Sundari temple in Udaipur is an important point of pilgrimage. Considered one of 51 Shakti Peethas (significant shrines in Shaktism, the goddess-focused Hindu tradition), this red-spired temple is packed with pilgrims during Kali Puja (October / November).
But it’s the mysterious rock carvings at Unakoti that’s truly awe-inspiring. There are several folklores about how the thousands of images of Lord Shiva came to be chiselled on these hills in the eighth or ninth century. One popular myth is that Lord Shiva was on his way to Mount Kailash with his heavenly entourage when they decided to spend the night here. He warned his companions that they would have to leave before dawn, but after a night of revelry, Shiva was the only one who woke up on time. Miffed, Shiva cursed them to an eternity on Earth and they now adorn the hills of Unakoti as reliefs.
Once the home of the Manikya Kings, Agartala is today a modern city on a fast track of development. Surrounded by Bangladesh on three sides, its history and culture has been closely entwined with that nation. Many of its inhabitants today are people who fled Bangladesh. Despite occasional conflicts, Agartala is today a largely peaceful city. It is also the cultural heart of Tripura. It’s most striking monument is undoubtedly the Ujjayanta Palace. Inside is the must visit Tripura Government Museum that showcases the region’s rich artistic heritage.
Located in Dhalai district, Ambassa is a hotchpotch of cultures and traditions. It is home to the many tribes of the region — chakmas, tripuri, usais, reang, halams, and darlong. Dotted with temples, Ambassa’s multiplicity is reflected in its festivals with Durga puja celebrated with equal fervour as the tribal festivals of Kharchi Puja and Garia. The region is also well known for its beautiful handicrafts, especially bamboo, cane work and colourful shawls.
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