One of the little known holiday destinations of the North Eastern region of India, the state of Tripura is a big bundle full of hidden surprises. Tripura offers a plethora of spectacular attractions in its cavalcade of massive historic palaces, rock cut carvings, stone sculptures, Hindu and Buddhists pilgrimage sites, wildlife sanctuaries and varied tribal people.
Tripura is the third smallest state of India and it spreads over an area of 10,492 sq. Kms. A landlocked hilly state, Tripura is surrounded by Bangladesh on the north, west and south and the Cachar district of Assam and Aizwal district of Mizoram to the east. For administrative purposes, Tripura has been divided into 4 districts, 17 subdivisions and 40 development blocks. Tripura also has an autonomous district council called the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council which has its headquarters at Khumulwng.
An erstwhile princely state, Tripura now abounds with the splendor of its natural setting and dazzling heritage. In addition to these, its imposing peaks, major rivers such as Khowai, Manu and Gomti and verdant expanses and rich forestlands have always been a great attraction for tourists visiting India.
So, plan your next tour to India very soon, take a flight to Agartala to experience a vacation of a lifetime.
History of Tripura
Tripura has a long history that goes back to the epic Mahabharata, the religious scripture Puranas and pillar inscriptions of emperor Ashoka. The history of Tripura has been divided into four periods namely Mythological Period, Ancient Period, Historical Period and Modern Period.
Mythological Period: Origin of Tripura is mentioned in the myths written in ‘Rajmala’, the Chronicle of the Kings of Tripura, which includes both Hindu mythologies and Tripuri folklores. Ancient Period: The period beginning from the 7th century is called the ancient period. During this period, Tripura was ruled from Kailashahar in north Tripura.
Historical Period: The period between 14th and 15th centuries is considered the Historical period. This was the most glorious period for the Kingdom of Tripura which then included the entire eastern region of Bengal from the river Brahmaputra in the north and west, the Bay of Bengal in the south and Burma (Myanmar) to east. The Kings of Tripura adopted the title ‘Manikya’ and shifted their capital to Udaipur (earlier Rangamati) in the 14th century.
Modern Period: The modern period begins following the domination of the Tripura Kingdom by the Mughals. It continued further with the defeat of Mughals by the British. In the 18th century, King Krishna Manikya shifted the capital to Old Agartala (Aguli) and in the 19th century it was shifted to present Agartala. From 19th century A.D, the modern era begun for Tripura as Maharaja Bir Chandra Manikya Bahadur Debbarma modelled his kingdom on the British India pattern and brought in numerous reforms.
Till 1947, Tripura was ruled by the successors of Maharaja Bir Chandra Manikya Bahadur Debbarma, the last King of Tripura kingdom was Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur. In 1949, the kingdom was merged with India, Tripura became a centrally administered Union Territory in 1963 and got the status of a state on 1st January, 1972.
Tripura – Tourist Destinations
Government of Tripura has recommended two tourist circuits that include Agartala – Sipahijala – Neermahal – Udaipur – Matabari – Pilak – Mahamuni and Agartala – Dumboor Lake – Unakoti – Jampui Hills. Though Tripura has a small geographical area but it offers numerous attractions for the tourists. The state capital Agartala houses tourist attractions namely – Ujjayanta Palace, State Museum, Tribal Museum, Sukanta Academy, Laxminarayan Temple, Fourteen Goddess Temple, Jagannath Temple, Gedu Mian Mosque, Malanch Niwas, Portuguese Church etc.
Other towns of Tripura include Udaipur, Belonia, Badharghat, Jogendranagar, Dharmanagar, Indranagar, Khowal, Kailashahar, Pratapgarh and Teliamura. In addition to Agartala, these towns also boast of several natural and man-made wonders which will surely mesmerize you.
People & Culture of Tripura
Geographically, Tripura is the smallest state in the northeast but it is the second most populous state in the region after Assam. As per 2001 census, Tripura has a population of 3,191,168. Bengalis and Manipuris represent around 70% of the state population and the native tribes represent 30% of the total population. Tripura’s tribal population consists of varied tribes and ethnic groups with different languages and cultures. Tripuara is home to 19 distinct tribal communities that include Tripuri, Chakma, Jamatia, Koloi, Kuki, Halam, Garo, Lushai, Murasing, Mogh, Munda, Noatia, Oraon, Reang, Santhal and Unhoi. Of these tribes, the Tripuris from around 16% of the state’s population and found all over the state.
Most of the tribal communities such as the Tripuris, Reangs, Jamatia, Noatias and Halams follow the Hinduism. The Noatias and the Halam follow the Shakti Cult, but people belonging to the Kalai and Rupini sections of the former follow Vaishanavism. They follow the form of worship practiced by the Hindus, but they are basically animistic and believe in the existence of God in all elements of nature.
Loosely referred to as a ‘laboratory of exotic cultural synthesis’, Tripura represents a fine blend of several cultures and traditions. Of course, the cultural heritage of one community varies from other community, but together they give birth to a unique cultural genre. Music, dance, fine arts and handicrafts constitute the components of rich cultural heritage of Tripura. Each community has its own dance forms that include Hozagiri, Garia, Jhum, Maimita, Masak Sumani, Lebang boomani, Bizu, Cheraw, Hai-Hak, Wangala, Sangraiaka, Chimithang, Padisha, Gajan, Dhamail, Sari, Basanta Rash and Pung Chalam. Music is an essential part of the tribal community and each community has its own traditional musical instruments. Some of the important musical instruments are Sarinda, Chongpreng, Sumui (flute), Khamb (drum), Bamboo flute, Lebang, etc.
Palaces and Monuments of Tripura
Tripura has been the seat of power for several Maharajas who erected a number of magnificent palaces across the state. Today, those Maharajas are no more but the beautiful palaces provide a glimpse of the royal past. Noted palaces of the state include the Ujjayanta Palace, Kunjaban Palace, Malancha Niwas and Neermahal.
In addition to picturesque palaces, Tripura is also home to a number of massive monuments that include rock-cut carvings. You can see impressive rock-cut carvings and stone images of places such as Unakoti, Pilak and Debatamura. Most of the rock-cut carvings are huge in size and they are carved on vertical walls exposed in the open sky.
Temples of Tripura
Majority of the tribes in Tripura follow Hinduism, besides a significant number of people are Buddhists. Over the years the Hindus and Buddhists have built several temples across the state. Some of the most popular temples include Mata Tripureshwari Temple (Udaipur), Fourteen Goddess Temple (Old Agartala), Bhuvaneshwari Temple (Udaipur) and Benuban Vihar (Agartala). A number of temple festivals are organized close to the temples of Tripura. Of the temple festivals, the Kharchi festival (July) organized near the Fourteen Goddess Temple attracts thousands of pilgrims and devotees every year.
Tripura – Cuisine
The Tripuri people (the original inhabitants of Tripura) have their own indigenous cuisine and their eating habits differ from the rest of India. Traditionally, most of the Tripuri’s are non-vegetarian and there is modern vaishnavite minorities which are vegetarian. Rice is called Mai by the Tripuri people, different varieties of rice used by them are Guriya, Maisa and Mami. Traditional cuisine of Tripura is called as Mui Borok. Chakhwi, Mwkhwi and Muitru are three favorite food items of Tripuri people. Tripuri like a variety of non-vegetarian dishes prepared from chicken, mutton, pork, beef, turtle, fish, crabs, prawns, frogs, etc.
Fairs and Festivals of Tripura
Fairs and Festivals forms an important part of the Tripuri’s people life. Every year thousands of tourists and pilgrims visit Tripura to participate in the charming fairs and festivals. Most of the fairs and festivals are celebrated by both tribal and non-tribal communities, while some are specific to a particular community. Amongst the fair and festivals of the state, most important includes the Pous Sankranti (January), Ashokastami Fair (March/April), Garia and Gajan Festival (April), Rabindra/ Nazrul Jayanti (May), Kharchi Puja (July), Boat Race (August), Manasa Mangal (August), Durga Puja (September/October), Deepawali (October/November), Orange & Tourism Festival (November) and Rasha Festival (November).
Wildlife of Tripura
Situated in the bio-geographic zone of North- East Hills, Tripura possesses an extremely rich bio-diversity and offers excellent opportunities for eco-friendly tourism. Geographically, Tripura is a hilly territory, with altitudes varying from 50 ft to 3,080 ft above sea level, it houses a rich variety of plant and animal species. About two-third area of Tripura is under forest cover where you will find various species of trees, orchids, wildlife and avian species. Tripura is home to around 380 tree species, 320 shrubs, 580 herbs, 165 climbers, 16 climbing shrubs, 45 epiphytes and 35 ferns. Most of the local flora and faunal species are components of Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese regions.
You can spot a large number of animal species in the wildlife sanctuaries namely - Sipahijala Wildlife Sanctuary and Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary. Just 30 kms away from Agartala, Sipahijala Wildlife Sanctuary spreads over an area of 18.53 sq. kms. A bird watchers’ delight, Sipahijala Sanctuary houses a vast colony of residential and migratory birds. Situated around 100 kms from Agartala, Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary is home to Hoolock Gibbon, Golden Langur, Capped Langoor and variety of residential and migratory birds.
Lakes of Tripura
An enchanting land, Tripura is bestowed with several natural and man-made lakes. Udaipur popularly known as the ‘City of temples and lakes’ is home to huge lakes namely Amarsagar, Kalyansagar, Sukhsagar, Jagannath Dighi and Mahadev Dighi. In addition to these, there are many other picturesque lakes in Tripura that include Rudrasagar Lake (55 kms from Agartala), Dumboor Lake (120 kms from Agartala) and Kamalasagar Lake (30 kms from Agartala).
Tripura boasts of a pleasant climate, summers are moderately heat while winters are cold. During summer temperature ranges from 24oC to 35oC, in winter temperature varies between 13oC and 27oC. The monsoon brings torrential rains in the state from June to August.
Best Time to Visit
Best time to visit Tripura is September to March.
How to Reach
By Air: Agartala airport is the main airport of the state which is served by Indian Airlines flights from Guwahati (40 mnts), Silchar (35 mnts) and Kolkata (50 mnts). The airport is located at a distance of 12 kms from the city center. Taxis and auto-rickshaws are available from the airport to the city.
Helicopter Services: Helicopter service connecting Agartala to Kailshahar and Dharmangar is available.
By Railways: Manughat/ Kumarghat is the major railhead in Tripura, 120 kms away from Agartala. You can reach Kumarghat from Guwahati via Lumding in Assam. Trains like Brahmaputra Mail, Kamprup Express, Cachar Express and Barak Valley Express run to the Lumding railway station. Passenger trains from Lumding to Kumarghat take around 10 hrs. While the journey between Guwahati to Lumding takes 5 hrs.
Roadways: National Highway connects important places of Tripura with each other and neighboring states. NH No 44 originates from Agartala and goes northeast across Tripura into Assam, enters Meghalaya and joins NH No 40 near Shillong. Agartala is 597 kms away from Guwahati and 499 kms from Shillong. Frequent buses are available from Guwahati to Agartala.
Shopping at Tripura
It’s obvious, whenever you visit a new destination you always want to take along some souvenirs and gifts for your near and dear ones. Tripura is one such destination from where you can’t return empty hand. Though Tripura has a number of destinations which offer excellent opportunities for shopping, but shopping in Agartala is a wonderful experience for any avid shopper. Tripura is known for a rich tradition of handicrafts and unique artifacts made from cane, bamboo, clay and palm leaves.
Tripura Handicrafts and Handlooms Development Corporation to buy some of Tripura’s popular cane and bamboo craft. Tantumita is another government run shopping outlet which is famous for traditional handlooms and also offers authentic artifacts at reasonable prices. Apart from these, check out several private shops in the main market area of Agartala. Watch out for decorating lamp shades, table mats, floor mats, room dividers, wall panels and furniture in the market.