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Agartala: Storehouse of rich cultural diversity

September 22
02:23 2010

The capital town of the eastern state of Tripura, Agartala, is a mini storehouse of rich cultural diversity. This is due to the city’s physical proximity with the Indo-Bangladesh border, which is just two km away. Agartala moved to its present location in 1850, under the regime of King Maharaja Radha Krishna Kishore Manikya Bahadur. It is known for its twin modern palaces – Ujjayanta and Kunjaban.

Agartala is located in the western part of Tripura, astride the Haroa River. It is 1680 km from Calcutta and 599 km from Guwahati. National Highway No. 44 connects Agartala to Guwahati via Shillong. It takes about 24 hours by road from Guwahati to reach Agartala. The journey time by road between Dhaka and Agartala is approximately three hours.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Agartala is between October and April. Towards the extremes of this period, one might experience a few showers, but they are quite refreshing. The town is known for its cultural and historical worth, and one can easily notice bright bamboo and cloth umbrellas over ponds. Such parasols are part of the tribal customs of grandsons commemorating the deaths of their grandfathers on their anniversaries.
Agartala was once part of a Hindu kingdom, until the state was taken over by the Mughals in 1733. The British took over the reins of governance in 1808 and Tripura was a princely state until 1956, when it became a Union Territory. When Tripura gained statehood in 1972, Agartala became the state capital.

Tourist attractions: The major interest of the town is the Ujjayanta Palace, which was built in the Indo-Saracenic style in 1901 by Maharaja Radhakishore Manikya. It is a two-storeyed mansion, with 28 hectares of parkland, and now houses the office of the State Legislative Assembly. In the grounds, there are two temples – Umanneshwar and Jagganath – both of which are ochre in color.

Another important attraction is the Kunjaban Palace built in 1917 by Maharaja Birendra Kishore Manikya. It is located about 1 km away from the Ujjayanta Palace on a hillock. The Palace is the official residence of the Governor of Tripura. The southern part of the Palace is open to public and has been named as Rabindra Kanan.

Situated about 55 km from Agartala is Neermahal, Tripura’s major tourist attraction. It is a summer resort built in the middle of a lake named Rudrasagar, with a total area of about 5.35 sq. km. It is the only lake palace in Eastern India and has been built in a mixture of Hindu and Mughal styles.

Places around:

Near this capital city, there are few places known for the rock cuts and carvings. These include Debtamura, Unakoti and Pilak.

Debtamura is situated 75 km away from Agartala, on the banks of the river Gomati, between Udaipur and Amarpur. It is famous for its panels of rock carvings on the steep mountain wall on the banks of Gomati. There are huge images carved of Shiva, Vishnu, Kartika, Mahisasur Mardini Durga and other gods and goddesses. This is also called Chabimura. These images date back to 15th-16th centuries.

Debtamura means God’s peak. The beautiful images of deities are carved with a lot of dexterity on the rocky faces of Debtamura which is as steep as 90 degrees. The hill ranges are covered with thick jungles and one can reach this abode of gods only after trekking through these jungles.

Unakoti is located at a distance of about 178 km from Agartala and is a pilgrimage site for Shiva worship. It dates back to the 8th and 9th century. It is surrounded by waterfalls on all sides. In the center is a 30-feet-high statue of Lord Shiva who is called Unakotishwara Kal Bhairava. The main attraction is the Ashokasthami festival held here every year in the month of April.

Pilak is located about 100 km from Agartala and is famous for its carvings in stone and terracotta plaques. These belong to the 8th and 9th century and are spread within an area of 10 sq. km. Mammoth stone images of Narasimha and Avlokiteshwara are seen here.

An important pilgrimage point for the Hindus is the Mata Tripureshwari Temple, which is among the 51 pitha stalas according to Hindu mythology. It is situated at a distance of 58 km from Agaratala. It houses the statue of Goddess Kali. Since it is in the form of a tortoise, it is also called the Kurma Pith.

About 14 km from Agartala is located the Chaturdas Devta Bari Temple. The famous tribal festival of Karachi is a major attraction of this temple and is held in the month of July annually.

Maa Bhubaneshwari Temple was built on the right banks of the Gomti River by Maharaja Govinda Manikya in the 17th century. The Buddha Vihar on Airport Road is in the North of the city and houses the Burmese statues of Lord Buddha. Other important temples of Agartala are Lakshmi Narayan temple, Jagannath temple, Uma Maheshwari temple and Durga temple.

Jampui Hills are located at a distance of about 200 km from Agartala and is famous as the land of the permanent spring. It is at a range of about 300 ft above sea level. The place is known for its natural splendor and serene atmosphere.

Located 55 km south is the city of lakes, Udaipur, which is known for its Mahadev temple and Tripura Sundari temple. Also nearby Agartala are the Sepajhila wildlife sanctuary and Krishna wildlife sanctuary. Dumboor, a locale of abundant natural beauty, is 100 km from Agartala and is famous for its lake and Sankranti Mela held in January. In the vicinity, one can find the temple of Lake Kamlasagar.

Fairs & festivals: The Durga Puja season is generally the busiest time of the year and one can then experience the richness of Indian cultural extravaganza. Agartala is also known for its tribal festivals like Karachi, and Garia Puja.

How to reach

Air – The airport is 12 km to the north and leads on to Agartala via the Ujjyanta Palace. Agartala is well connected with Guwahati, Silchar, Udaipur, Melaghar and Unakoti.

Rail – The nearest railhead is at Kumarghat.



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