Tripura acceded to the Indian Union in 1949. This ancient land of mysterious past is located in the North Eastern region of India between 22" 56' and 24" 32' north latitude and 90"09' and 92"20' east longitude. Except for Mizoram and Assam on its east, Tripura is bounded on three sides by the international boundary of Bangladesh. 60 per cent of the total area is covered with hills and forests. So this tiny state with an area of 10,000 sq. kms. has the envious quality of being pollution free, with an eco-friendly environment and pleasant weather. Tripura is home to 19 local tribes, besides Bengalis, Manipuris and some other communities.
In fact, Tripura represents a composite culture with several ethnic groups residing in the state. Though the cultural heritage of one community differs from the other, the intermingling of the different peoples has given birth to a unique cultural genre. Tripura can be termed as a `laboratory' of exotic cultural synthesis.
Considering the proximity of Tripura with Bangladesh, it is more convenient for foreign nationals to enter Tripura via Bangladesh with an appropriate visa. Those foreign nationals coming from Dacca or other cities of Bangladesh may come to Agartala via Akhaura border check-post. Similarly, foreign tourists coming to Tripura by other routes may go back to Bangaldesh via this route. If tourists coming via this route intimate the State's Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism Department in advance, either in writing or over the phone, necessary arrangements in this regard can be made. The journey time by road between Decca and Agartala is approximately 3 hours.
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Agartala, the state capital, is connected by road with Guwahati via Shillong by National Highway No.44. It takes about 24 hrs. by road from Guwahati to reach Agartala. There are flight connections as well, with Calcutta and Guwahati.
Ujjayanta Palace is a modern building of the royal house of Tripura and is located in the heart of Agartala, sprawling over a half sq. km. This two-storied mansion has a mixed architecture with three high domes (the centre one being 86' high). The magnificent tiled floor, curved wooden ceiling and beautifully crafted doors are particularly notable. The palace was built by Radha Kishore Manikya in 1901. Its well laid out gardens have two large tanks on either side and the fountains are laid out in the patterns of the Mughal gardens. The palace is floodlit at night.
Kunjaban Palace, situated 1 km. ahead on a hillock, was constructed in 1917 and named as Pushbanta Palace by the then ruler, Maharaja Birendra Kishore Manikya. It is said that the Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore stayed in the eastern apartment of this palace. The southern side is now open to public and is known as Rabindra Kanan, while the rest of the palace is now the official residence of the Governor of the State.
Neermahal, a summer resort, built in 1930 by the late Maharaj Birbikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur is about 55 kms. away from Agartala. It is build in the middle of a lake called Rudrasagar with a total area of about 5.35 sq.kms. A perfect blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture, it is the only Lake Palace in Eastern India.
Half of the palace is an open garden used as an open-air theatre and the other half on the western side is called the Andar Mahal, used by royalty. It has 15 rooms and is approached by boat from the Rajghat and then by two sets of steps, one for the Maharaja and one for the Maharani. Flood lighting is been used to illuminate the palace. The state Govt. has plans to add a Sound and Light show and introduce water sports to add to the facilities of the tourist resort on the banks of the Rudrasagar.
The Rock-Cuts and stone carvings of Tripura are huge and have been carved on open vertical walls at Unakoti, Debtamura and Pilak. Unakoti is about 178 kms. from Agartala, and 8 kms from Kailashahar. The name Unakoti, means one less than a crore. It is a Shiva pilgrimage site dating back to the 8th or 9th Century. The Central Shiva carving known as the Unakotiswara kal Bhairava is about 30 feet high, its head dress is 10 feet in height. Every year, a big festival known as Ashokastami Mela is held in the month of April.
Debtamura, 75 kms. from Agartala, is situated on the banks of the river Gomati, between Udaipur and Amarpur. The rocks on the banks of the river also called Chabimura are carved with images of Shiva, Vishnu, Kartik, Mahisasur, Mardini Durga and other deities. The images date back to the 15th and 16th Century.
Pilak, 100 kms away from Agartala towards the southern end of Tripura, is also said to be of the 8th and 9th century, where, within an area of about 10 sq. kms. carvings were found mostly in stone and in terracotta plaques. Colossal stone images of Avalokiteswara and Narasimha have also been found here. Excavations are continuing at these sites.
Mata Tripureshwari Temple at Udaipur located about 58 kms. from Agartala and 3 kms. from Udaipur, is considered one among the 51 pithasthans of India according to Hindu mythology.
It is also known as Kurma Pith because of the shape of the temple resembling the tortoise. The idol of Maa Kali is made of reddish black stone and is in the Soroshi form. A smaller version of the idol known as Chotto Maa which was usually carried by kings during their hunting trips or war, is also seen here.
The Fourteen Goddess Temple is situated about 14 kms. from Agartala at a place which is known as the old Agartala because the capital was temporarily shifted to this place while Maharaja Krishna Manikya was at war for a long time with Shamser Gazi. The famous Karachi Festival is celebrated during the month of July every year and visited by thousands of pilgrims.
Bhuveneshwari Temple, on the right banks of the Gomati River, was built by Maharaja Govinda Manikya during 1660-75. It finds reference in Rabindra Nath Tagore's poetry and drama namely Bisharjan and Rajarshi. Other temples to visit in Agartala are the Buddha Temple, Jagannath Temple, Laxminarayan Temple, Uma Maheshwari Temple and the Durga Temple.
Also in Udaipur one could visit the Mahadev Temple.
Sepahijala Wild Life Sanctuary, is about 25 kms. from Agartala covering an area of about 18.53 sq. kms. It houses about 150 species of birds and the unique spectacled monkey. Inside the sanctuary a forest Dak Bungalow called Abasarika offers accommodation and there is also a botanical garden, zoo, lake and boating facilities nearby.
The Trishna Wild Life Sanctuary is located about 100 kms. away from Agartala. Bison is the main attraction of this sanctuary apart from some resident and migratory birds.
Dumboor is a famous spot, located 110 kms. away from Agartala in the midst of picturesque hills. The lake has an area of 41 sq. kms. with 48 islands within. Tirthamukh is the name given to a hydel project at the mouth of the river Gomati where the Pous Sankranti Mela takes place in January every year.
This lake is formed by a confluence of the rivers Raima and Sarma and it has a reservoir of natural and cultured fish. This is also another reason for the large number of migratory birds which flock here during winters.
The Rudrasagar Lake, about 55 kms. from Agartala near Melaghar, is about 5.3 sq. kms. in area and has the privilege of having the only Lake Palace of the North-East in it, the Neermahal. A boat race is organised every year around July or August, but boating otherwise is available to tourists throughout the year.
Lake Kamalasagar, 27 kms. from Agartala, was excavated by Maharaja Dhanya Manikya in the 15th century. A temple of Goddess Kali stands on the banks of the lake and is said to have been built during the 16th century.
Udaipur is the city of lakes and one could come across any one of the following at close proximity, namely Amarsagar, Kalyansagar, Jagannath Dighi, Mahadev Dighi and Sukhsagar.
200 kms. from Agartala, bordering Mizoram, are Jampui Hills- an important tourist attraction. The hill range comprises 10 villages inhabited by tribes of Lushai and Reang. The highest peak of the range is about 3,000 ft above sea level and is lush green.
The climate is so good that Jampui is known as the land with a permanent spring. Each new season has its own growth of either fruits or orchids and the colour of the hills change with the colour of the season.
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.