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Yatras & Travels

Tripura Yatra
By Sanjeev Nayyar, June 2015 [[email protected]]

Chapter :

Tripura was the last state of visit in my 2014 North-East Yatra. I first spent eleven days at Imphal for the Sangai Festival, four days in Kohima for the Hornbill Festival, three days in Meghalaya sightseeing, a day in Mizoram and five days in Tripura.

I left Aizwal at about 1 pm to reach Silchar by about 7 in the evening. Inquired with auto person where was the best place to stay. He said go to Kamadhenu Hotel because the bus to Unakoti leaves from outside the hotel. Hotel charges Rs 700/ odd for a single room. Had a quick shower, followed by dinner at hotel (they give thali for Rs 100) and went to sleep.

In the morning there are three buses for Dharmanagar (Unakoti is 20 minutes from there) the first is at 5.30 am and the last at 9.30. Took the 5.30 one, reached Dharmanagar by 8.30ish. The minute the bus entered Tripura the entire travelling experience changed. Good roads, forests on either side and clean.

At the Dharmanagar bus stand are a number of private taxis which would take you to Unakoti, cost Rs 400-600/ depending on how you negotiate. I paid Rs 500/. Very scenic drive to Unakoti, tea gardens on either side of the road.

1. Unakoti - the entire area is a forest. 'The marvellous rock carvings, murals with their primitive beauty, waterfalls are not to be missed. Unakoti means one less than a crore and it is said that these many rock cut carvings are available here. As per Hindu tradition, when Lord Shiva was going to Kashi along with one crore gods and goddesses he made a night halt at this location. He asked all the gods and goddesses to wake up before sun rise and proceed for Kashi.

It is said that in the morning, except Shiva himself, no one else could get up so Lord Shiva set out for Kashi himself cursing the others to become stone images. As a result we have one less than a crore stone images and carvings at Unakoti. These carvings are located at a beautifully landscaped forest. The images found at Unakoti are rock-carved figures and stone images.

Central Shiva head and gigantic Ganesha figures deserve special mention. The central Shiva head known as ‘Unakotiswara Kal Bhairava’ is about 30 feet high including an embroidered head-dress which itself is 10 feet high. On each side of the head-dress of the central Shiva, there are two full size female figures - one of Durga standing on a lion and another female figure on the other side. In addition three enormous images of Nandi Bull are found half buried in the ground. There are various other stone as well as rock cut images at Unakoti.'

Garden in Unakoti very well maintained and clean. Loved the place. If you like to observe closely keep three hours or even one hour is enough.

To see pics of Unakoti Click here

Some locals suggested that I drive to Jampui Hills i.e. about three hours drive. Another local said that if you have seen the hills of Meghalaya Jampui is similar so skipped. The highest peak of Tripura ‘Betlingchhip’ falls in this hill range which is 3,600 feet high and from where tourist can see the panoramic view of Mizoram, Chittagong hill tracts and various other hill ranges. 

I finished by 12.30 ish. The taxi driver told me there is a 1 pm bus to Agartala so rushed. Was told there is a train to Agartala at about 11 am but is very slow.

2. Agartala - lovely drive from Dharmanagar to Agartala, through villages and forests. All homes very clean and people busy in day to day routine. Students in the bus I spoke to were keen to study and progress. Reached Agartala at 8 pm. Usually takes 6 hours but this drive took longer. It was freezing.

Took a auto to the Ramakrishna Mission School where I was to stay. It is on the outskirts of the city and about a one hour drive. School area very green so was even cooler. Mission was expecting me the next day. Secretary Maharaj was surprised but welcomed me. I left luggage and had dinner, was famished since not eaten meals since morning.

There is lots to see in Agartala and around. 

I took a day tour to see -

1. Tripura Sundari Mandir pics
2. Old Temples of Tripura. This covers a monastery, ruins of small temples but includes a huge Surya image and Bhubhneshari and Gunavati temples in Udaipur. To see pics Click here
3. Rubber Plantations pics
4. Mahamuni Pagoda about 130 kms from Agartala. To see pics   Click here

Also visit Neermahal Water Palace/Rudrasagar Lake close to Udaipur. Was told palace was under repairs hence did not visit. All the above places are on the same route, Tripura Sundari being the first and Mahamuni the last. Pilak i.e. where old temples are situated in 100 kms from Agartala. We left at 6.30 am and returned by 7 pm. If the Pagoda does not interest you go to Pilak atleast, is worth a visit.

In Agartala town see -

1. Ujjayanta Palace (houses the State Government Museum very good). The Museum covers culture of every state of north-east and south-east Asian countries as well. If going on Saturday do check if it is open. It is floodlit at night but not worth a look. To see pics Click here
2. Benuvan Bihar Buddhist Temple – metal idols of Buddha.
3. Laxmi Narayan Temple.
4. Visit Tribal Museum very good. To see pics Click here

I spent four days in Agartala. One morning covered all the main temples and Ujjayanta Palace, they are all very close by. You can get names of temples when you see pics of Ujjayanta Palace. Very close to the palace is the main shopping market. Get lots of cane products, very good and local textiles too. People are very nice and shopping quite a delight.

Next day went to Tribal Museum and thereafter visited a All Women Handloom Co-operative ie about 30 kms from Agartala. Government supports such handlooms and helps provide livelihood / additional income to local women. There are 80 ladies who work there of whom 30 are regular and get paid Rs 120-180/ per day depends on speed. Since it is a co-operative society all women are shareholders. Make very good shawls, bought for wifey who loved it. Traditional handloom is called Tantumita. To see pictures of the unit and products sold Click here

Also spent a day visiting the super Ramakrishna Mission School. Wish I had studied in such a school. There is lots of demand for RKM Schools in Tripura and Manipur. Wish RKM Belur Math opens more schools. To see pics of school Click here

Fourth day was excursion referred to above.

Did not visit Deotamura i.e. famous for its panels of rock carvings on the steep mountain wall on the bank of Gomati. There are huge carved images of Shiva, Vishnu, Kartika, Mahisasur Mardini Durga and other gods and goddesses. This is also called Chabimura - 75 kms from Agartala.

Keep 5 days for Tripura. One and a half days for Unakoti/Jampui Hills and 3 days for Agartala and around. If you want to do at a relaxed pace keep a week.

Had a great time in Tripura. Lovely people, safe, lots to see.

It is quite easy to reach. You can fly to Kolkata and then to Agartala. There is also a bus from Kolkata to Agartala via Dhaka.

Also read
1. AFSPA: Why Tripura and J&K are different?
2. Tripura Tourism site is informative
3. Kangla Fort Imphal
4. Loktak Lake Manipur
5. Tribes of Nagaland
6. Tawang Monastery
7. Mayudia in Arunachal

Chapter :

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