This tiny state is a treasure-trove of art and heritage
This tiny state, hanging like a lush green emerald has a rich history and a plethora of cultural treasures that are often overlooked. North Tripura is home to the amazing rock-cut sanctuary of Unakoti. Located close to the town of Dharmanagar near Kailashahar, Unakoti is a memorial to a forgotten tribal king which had been the site of continuous artistic production from the 9th to the 12th centuries CE. These days considered a sacred site of Shiva worship, winding down a small hill beside a rushing stream, there are rows and rows of rock-cut galleries of gigantic faces identified with Shibrai, the ür-Shiva of ancient Tripura. You’ll also find spectacular carvings of hunters, dancing women, three gigantic Ganeshas and much more.
South of Agartala, the old capital of Udaipur carries the memory of the long reign of the Manikya kings of Tripura. Scores of beautiful medieval temples built in the Bengali char chala style speak of the glorious artistic heritage of the state. Punctuated by giant old lakes built by successive Manikya kings, the main temples here are the Gunabati Guchcha, the Tripurasundari Temple and the Bhuvaneshwari Temple. There’s also a medieval dargah of the celebrated Sufi Pir of Bengal, Shah Badar.
A 30km drive inland from Udaipur, near the village of Chabimura near the town of Amarpur, are the mysterious rock-cut murals of Devtamura. To see these spectacular murals, located on a cliff wall overlooking the Gomati, you’ll have to get a boat from the Jamatiya village of Chabimura for a quick visit.
South from Udaipur near the town of Jolaibari is a great excavation site called Shyamsundar Tila. An ancient Buddhist temple and a large monastery has been excavated here. Lovely terracotta plates, priceless bronze images of the Buddha and the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara can be seen here. IN some of the villages near Shyamsundar Tila, you will find statues of tantric Buddhist deities being worshipped as Hindu deities. Another large stupa and monastery has been excavated in the nearby town of Boxanagar near the Bangladesh border. These two sites were a part of the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Samatata which had its capital in Mainamati, just across the border in Bangladesh.
Finally, there’s the pleasure palace of Neermahal built by the last kings of the Manikya family on Rudrasagar lake. Built in the early years of the 20th century, this beautiful marble palace is located 22km west of Udaipur, near the town of Melaghar.