MIZORAM AND TRIPURA

MIZORAM

Located in the southern part of the Northeast India, Mizoram is sandwiched between Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nagaland, Assan and Tripura. It consists of masses of hill ranges between 1,000 and 1,800 meters high that run north and south with occasional plateaus. Most of the land is covered by thick jungle. Few rivers are navigable for very far. The rainy season extends from April to September, A cold, dry period lasts from October to March. Website: www.mizoram.nic.in

Mizoram — the land of the Mizos or the Highlanders — is a Union Territory rather than a state. It covers 21,081 square kilometers (8,139 square miles), is home to about 1.1 million people and has a population density of 52 people per square kilometer. About 48 percent of the population live in rural areas. Aizawl is the capital and largest city, with about 300,000 people.

Eighty-seven percent the population of Mizoram are Christians. Ninety-two are literate, a remarkable number for a traditionally tribal area, and the second highest in India after Kerala. The state is named after the Mizo lingusitic-ethnic group. They make up 80 percent of the population. Other tribal groups include the Chin, Lakher, Pawi, Chakma and Riang.

Languages of Mizoram in 2011: Mizo (73.16 percent); Chakma (8.46 percent); Mara (3.82 percent); Kokborok (2.97 percent); Pawi (2.61 percent); Paite (2.02 percent); Hmar (1.64 percent); Bengali (1.37 percent); Hindi (0.97 percent); Other (2.98 percent). Religion in Mizoram (2011): Christianity (87.16 percent); Buddhism (8.51 percent); Hinduism (2.75 percent); Islam (1.35 percent); Other or not religious (0.23 percent)

Mizoram is regarded as one of the the hilliest parts of Northeastern India. It is very beautiful and has lush forest with many unusual plants and thick bamboo groves. Numerous waterfalls crash down narrow gorges and make their way to large meandering streams and rivers in deep valleys, dotted with picturesque villages of houses built on stilts. Mizoram is known for its dramatic seas of morning fog and mist that turns hills and peaks into islands in the clouds.

Mizoram has a moderate and pleasant climate throughout the year, and is an idyllic place to soak up nature and a rich variety of flora and fauna and enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities. Tourist destination include Tamdil, a natural lake; Vantawng, the highest and most beautiful waterfall in Mizoram; the Paikhai picnic spot; the Dampa wildlife sanctuary; and Phawngpui, the blue mountain. Aizawl, the capital and also the political and cultural center of Mizoram, is one of the least-visited cities in India.

Northeastern India

Northeastern India looks like a wing that was connected to India as a kind of afterthought. It is linked to India proper by a narrow strip of land between Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Bangladesh. Northeastern India is made up of the seven states of 1) Assam, 2) Meghalaya, 3) Tripura, 4) Arunachal Pradesh, 5) Mizoram, 6) Manipur, and 7) Nagaland. Assam is a large tea-growing state. Arunchal Pradesh, the northeastern-most state of India, is also claimed by China and requires a permit to visit. Meghlaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura are small ethnic states set up for the main ethnic groups that live in each one. They were set up largely to protect indigenous minorities living in them who are mainly Christians.Some of the states were off limits to foreigners in part to protect the culture and way of life of the tribal groups that live there. Some have experienced separatists violence,

Northeast India is one of the country's most scenic region. The snowcapped Himalayas provide a magnificent backdrop in the northern part of the region for pine forest, flower-covered meadows and lush tea plants that thrive in the regions misty weather. A multitude of ethnic groups occupy the southern and eastern regions, where there are dense rain forest with rare plants and animals. The main attractions are hill stations, national parks, Himalayan peaks and ethnic minorities. Some areas receive quite a bit of rain, especially in the monsoon season. In the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland, upward of 90 percent of the population is tribal. However, in the remaining northeast states of Assam, Manipur, Sikkim, and Tripura, tribal peoples form between 20 and 30 percent of the population.

Certain tensions exist between these states and a relatively distant central government and between the tribal peoples, who are natives of these states, and migrant peoples from other parts of India. These tensions have led the natives of these states to seek a greater participation in their own governance, control of their states' economies, and their role in society. Emerging from these desires for greater self-governance are new regional political parties and continued insurgent movements. In addition to the more frequently analyzed regional movements in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, and states such as Assam and Nagaland in the northeast, there are other regional movements, such as those in the Tripura and Miso tribal areas. [Source: Library of Congress]

There are more than 30 different separatist insurgent groups in Assam and northeast India. They include the United Liberation Front of Assam, the Manipur People’s Army, the National Liberation Front of Tripura and Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland Some of them have been fighting since independence in 1947 and have a history of fighting that goes back before that.

For a long time many areas of Assam and Northeast India were off limits to tourists, and some areas still are, because of the insurgent groups and tensions with China and to a lesser degree Bangladesh. There is periodic fighting between Assamese and Bengalis, and the Indian army and the Nagas, a tribal group that has never been completely tamed. You need a special permit to some areas. In recent years an effort has been made to open up the area. Restrictions on traveling are slowly being lifted. In 1995, the restricted area permits were lifted for Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura. In 2010, they were lifted in Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur. Arunachal Pradesh still requires a permit.

Mizo

The Mizo are a group that lives mainly in the small northeastern states of Mizoram. Manipur and Tripura. Also known as the Lushai and Zomi, they are a colorful tribe with a code of ethics that requires them to be hospitable, kind, unselfish and courageous. They are closely related to the Chin and look more like Chinese than South Asians. Their name means “people of the high land.” The Mizo claim to be one of the lost tribes of Israel. They have a tradition of songs with stories that are similar to those found in the Bible. [Source: Encyclopedia of World Cultures: South Asia, edited by Paul Hockings, C.K. Hall & Company, 1992]

The Mizo have traditionally been slash-and-burn agriculturists who hunted birds with catapults. Their main cash crop is ginger. Their language belong to the Kuki-Chin Subgroup of the Kuki-Naga Group of the Tibeto-Burman family of languages. These language are all tonal and monosyllabic and had no written form until missionaries gave them the Roman alphabets in the 1800s. The Mizo and Chin share a similar history. The Mizos have been in rebellion against Indian rule since 1966. They are allied with the Nagas and the Razakars, a non-Bengali Muslim group from Bangladesh.

Nearly all the Mizos in northeastern India converted to Christianity due to the pioneering efforts of an obscure Welsh mission. Most are Protestants and belong to the Welsh Presbyterian, United Pentecostal, Salvation Army or Seventh-Day Adventist sects. Mizo villages are usually set up around churches. Pre-marital sex is common even though it is discouraged. The bride-price process is complicated and often includes the ritual sharing of a killed animal. Mizo women produce lovely textiles with geometric designs. They like Western-style music and use guitars and big Mizo drums and traditional bamboo dances to accompany church hymns. The Cheraw is a colorful and distinctive dance performed in Mizram and also known as the bamboo dance. Similar to bamboo dances in the Philippines, it features dancers doing quick steps in and out of moving staves of bamboo.

Lakher and Hmar Tribes

The Lakher are a Kuki tribe that lives n the Lushai Hills of Mizoram. Also known as the Magha, Mara, Shendu and Arakanese, they live in mountainous, forested areas and are related to the Chin, Mizos and Naga. There are around 20,000 of them. Many are Christians. The Lakher were headhunters and continue to hunt wild animals. They have traditionally eaten rats, elephants, bears and snakes but eschew tigers and leopards. Dogs are eaten by men but not women. Gayals are used in festival sacrifices and marriage settlements and to pay off debts.[Source: Encyclopedia of World Cultures: South Asia, edited by Paul Hockings, C.K. Hall & Company, 1992]

Most marriage are monogamous although some concubinage is practiced. Premarital sex is common. Courting often begins with a young man and woman working together in the fields and the male spending the night in the female house. If a young woman is interested in a young man she places her bed near his. Similar arrangements are made after young people sing and do a knee dance together at festivals.

Tattooing is practiced and people drink nicotine-water created by smoking through a water pipe. Music is produced with gong, flutes, violins and zithers and special songs are performed over the carcasses of dead animals. Sickness is believed to be caused when a soul leaves a body and has difficulty returning because of spirits known as leurahripas. Sacrifices are performed to appease the spirits and help the soul become reunited with the body. Death occurs when the soul is not united with body.

The Hmar is an ethnic group that lives in in northeast India, western Burma and eastern Bangladesh. A 2001 census counted about 43,000 of them in Manipur and 18,000 in Mizoram. The members of Hmar tribe,, especially women, are great weavers who work on tiny heirlooms. The homespun yarn is dyed in different colors and woven into exquisite clothes that are generally made for the family. The Hmar tribe traces its origin to Sinlung, whose exact location is still unknown. Many poems, tales and songs about this place have been composed and handed down from generation to generation. The tribe is known for its rich culture and vibrant folk dances. Its conventional folk dances and songs feature battles, adventures and history. A type of drum, khuong, is used to complement the dance beats. Other musical instruments that are used include darmang (flat brass gong), perkhuong (guitar made of bamboo), hna mut (leaf instrument) and theilia (bamboo flute). The clothing that the dancers wear is also quite colorful. The men put on a special headgear made of feathers and wear a shawl called hmar puon. Meanwhile, the girls accessorise with ornaments like rings, bangles and seeded necklace.

Aizawl

Aizawl (470 kilometers from Guwahati) is the capital and largest city in Mizoram, with about 300,000 people. The political and cultural center of Mizoram, it is charming hill station and one of the least-visited cities in India. The district museum has many fine exhibits of Mizo culture. There is also a weaving center as well as some interesting markets, a handicrafts center and a zoo. The name 'Aizawl' literally means “field of wild cardamom,” and it is said that it originated when Thanruma and Lalsavunga, Mizo chiefs in the 19th century, set up the villages in and around the present site of Raj Bhavan.

Aizawl is a mellow, unhurried place. Perched on almost vertical ridges, Aizawl is dotted with quaint churches, neat neighbourhoods and patches of green and emerald blue lakes. The Durtlang peaks, surrounding the city, make a picturesque backdrop for the whitewater Tlawng and Tuirial rivers that stream through the city. The oval-shaped Palak Dil Lake is the centerpiece of the city. It is the largest natural lake in the state. The colorful and vibrant tribal culture of the regions comes alive during festivals and market days. Among the outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in the area are rafting on River Tlawng, fishing, cave tourism, to paragliding in Durtlang cliffs and mountaineering,

District Museum offers a close look of the ethnic culture and traditions of Mizoram. It has a number of exhibits of jewelry, utensils, native art, paintings and armour. The museum was opened in 2006, and was set up with an aim to preserve the archaeological riches of the region. The major attractions of the museum are stone works, paintings and sculptures. One will be left awestruck by the metal carvings and unique stone artefacts that grace the museum. Other interesting features include blue pottery, leather craft, ivory, brass work, arms, armour, utensils and stuffed animals.

Getting There: By Air: Lengpui, around 45 kilometers away, is the nearest airport from Aizawl. By Road: The city is accessible by good roads from Shillong and Guwahati. By Train: Silchar in Assam, around 180 kilometers away, is the nearest railhead. Highly recommended is Guwahati as is it connected with all major Indian cities.

Activities in Mizoram and the Aizawl Area

Fishing can be enjoyed at streams, lakes and and rivers in Mizoram. Some of the best fishing places are Tamdil Lake in Aizawl and the Chhimtuipui River in Saiha. While Tamdil is known for its diverse species of fish and prawns, Chhimtuipui river is known for its salmon, local trout and catfish. The Palak Dil Lake situated in Mizoram's southern region is also an amazing place for fishing. Some of the fish species that you can find in the Palak Dil Lake are trout, mahseer and crabs. Other major fishing spots include the Rungdil and Rendil lakes in Aizawl and Tlawang river in Kolasib.

Trekking is a popular activity in Mizoram. A large number of tourists come to Mizoram to trek. Phawngpui peak and National Park, Lunglei town and Champhai are among the best options for trekkers. Close to Aizawl you can find virgin forests and places with unspoiled vistas and scenic views. Phawngpui National Park, covers an area of about 50 square kilometers. Here one can find a variety or orchid and rhododendron trees. A popular short trek to the beautiful villages of Reiek and Ailwang winds on a hillside road and path through verdant forests and past a series of waterfalls.

Mountaineering is done at 21 stunning mountain peaks with the Blue Mountain being the most famous among trekkers and mountaineers. The cliffs of Phawngpui, Thalazaung Khamm, Mount Mawma and Mount Kahrie are popular amon rock climbers. The best season to engage in mountaineering and other adventure activities in Mizoram is during the months of September and October. Tourists need special permits from the Indian Mountaineering Federation if they wish to climb peaks higher than 2,000 meters.

Cave Tourism attracts a number of visitors to Mizoram. Well-known caves in Mizoram include Lamsial and Pukzing caves in Aizawl district and Kungawrhi Puk Cave and Milu Puk in Lunglei. The Pukzing Cave is the biggest in Mizoram and also one of the most visited. All these caves have a legend, myth or folktale attached to them. Kungawrhi Puk Cave is particularly popular and is located about 30 kilometers from Aizawl in Ailawng near Reiek. Many believe it to be the longest cave in Mizoram, about 162 meters long. Thrill seekers find the darkness, peculiar acoustics and stalagmite formations particularly fascinating.

Near Aizawl

Hmuifang (20 kilometers south of Aizawl) is a quaint hill station situated at a height of 1,619 meters, surrounded by verdant mountains, covered by virgin forests with rare wildlife and a rich variety flora and birds. One can also spot rare orchids here. The picturesque surroundings includes patches of grasslands and beautiful cliffs and great places for camping and picnics. Tourists can also participate in various festivals here such was Anthurium Festival, which is a three-day-long event held in September, and Thalfavang Kut, which is held in November. The villages of Sumsuih, Lamchhip, Huifang and Chamring are good places to check out traditional Mizo culture.

Reiek (five kilometers west of Aizawl) is a typical Mizo village set up by state tourism department. It comprises traditional huts used by various sub-tribes, a bachelor dormitory and the house of the Mizo Chieftain with an aim to give visitors an insight into the lives of the Mizo people. The traditional huts give visitors a peek into the glorious past of the Mizo rulers. In addition to these, a few modern houses used by the people today, have also been constructed to show how the Mizo people have changed the way they live, with the changing times. The area around the village is home to a wide variety of hill birds and splendid views of the surrounding valleys and hills.

Tam Dil Lake (110 kilometers from state capital Aizawl) literally means “the lake of mustard,.” Located near the Saitual village, this man-made lake is a pleasant place to relax or go boating or fishing. Its beauty and surroundings have made it one of the most visited sites in the state. The region around the lake is home to a wide variety of animals, trees and plants. A pisciculture center has also been developed by the state fisheries department nearby, for giving aid to fishermen.

Champhai (192 kilometers kilometers east-southeast of Mizoram near the Myanmar border) is an off-the-beaten-path tourist destination set around heart-shaped Rih Dil Lake, with the Myanmar hills in the background. Attractions include orchids, butterflies, colorful tribal traditions, ruins, ancient relics, memorials and monuments. Champhai is very green and has a delightful salubrious climate and is known as the Rice Bowl of Mizoram. Rih Dil Lake is unusual in that it has no external inflow or outflow of water, yet it is constantly clear. This has inspired many folk tales around it. Permission to visit this lake is easily obtainable from the Deputy Commissioner`s Office at Champhai. The lake is about a kilometer in length and about 70 meters wide.

Lianchhiari Lunglentlang (64 kilometers south of Champhai on the way to Khawbung) is a legendary cliff that protrudes dramatically from a rugged mountain. The idyllic views from the cliff along with the lush scenic beauty of the surroundings have given rise to several romantic folklore. The most popular among them is the story of Lianchhiari and Chawngfianga. According to legend Lianchhiari was a beautiful girl, who was the daughter of Vanhnuaithanga, the great tribal chief of Dungtlang. She fell in love with Chawngfianga, who was a common man. Their romance soon became the talk of the town and according to custom, the boy's parents sent a go-between (a person appointed to mediate between the groom and the bride's families) to the girl's house. However, the go-between was jealous of Chawngfianga and thwarted the plans of marriage. After this, Chawngfianga and his family were forced to leave the village and migrate to the nearby Chhingzawl village. Lianchhiari was heartbroken after hearing the news and used to sit on the precarious ledge of the cliff to see the village where her beloved had gone and yearn for him. This natural wonder lies at a distance of about

Lunglei (175 kilometers from Aizawl) is the second-largest city in Mizoram. A nature lover's delight, it is situated in an area of unspoiled lush greenery, dotted with clusters of traditional villages lying amidst pine meadows. There are many winding trails for trekkers and hikers through beautiful surroundings. For birdwatchers, there are many rare species. Ditto for wildlife. The name 'Lunglei' means “a bridge of rock.” Locals say the name is inspired by a rock that resembles a bridge that was once found in a riverine near Nghasih, a tributary of River Tlawng. Near Mualcheng, around 50 kilometers from Lunglei, amystery surrounds an engraved image of Lord Buddha that was unearthed in the area. Getting There: By Air: The nearest airport is at Aizawl. By Road: The city is well-connected with major Indian cities through a good network of roads. By Train: Manu and Sk Para, Skap in Tripura, both around 145 kilometers away, are the nearest railway stations.

Cherhlum (150 kilometers from Aizawl) is a small village that is located in the Lunglei district of Mizoram that is best known for the monolith of Ui Lung that is noted for its intricate carvings. It is said the monolith was erected by a Chinzah chieftain and his people around 1800 as they longed for their fellow clansmen who had died in severe famine. A landmark in the history of the state, Ui Lung monolith has fine carvings of humans figures with various weapons like spears, animal heads and gongs. One may also visit Chhura leh Naa Vawk, a monolith with carvings portraying Mizo historical stories.

Wildlife Places in Mizoram

Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary (200 kilometers east of Aizawl, near the Myanmar border) contains Mizoram’s second highest peaks in Mizoram, which is 2,141 meters high and has lush alpine forest. Sprawled across an area of 60 square kilometers, the sanctuary is a birdwatcher's haven. Among the interesting birds found here are Mrs Hume's pheasant, great Indian hornbill, wreathed hornbill, pied hornbill, Khaleeej pheasant and white cheeked partridge. Mammals includes tiger, leopard, Himalayan black bear, sambar, barking deer, ghoral, serow, ferret badgers, large Indian civet, giant squirrel, Hoolock gibbon, slow lorries, leaf monkey, common langur and rhesus macaque. The best time to visit is from October to April.

Khawnglung Wildlife Sanctuary (160 kilometers from Aizawl) is home to animals like wild boars, sambar deer, hoolock, gibbons, leopards, serow and barking deer. Covered with cliffs and green hills, the sanctuary is spread over an area of about 35 square kilometers and is perched at an elevation of 1,300 meters above sea level. The best time to visit is between October and March but touch base with Mizoram's Department of Environment and Forests before heading Make sure to dress in earthy hues as vibrant and colorful clothes tend to distract the animals.

Dampa Tiger Reserve (130 kilometers from Aizawl) covers an area of 500 square kilometers. The largest wildlife sanctuary in Mizoram, it is home to elephants, gaur, binturong, dhole, bear, tiger and many primates as well as hornbills, jungle fowls, pheasants and wood pigeons. There are also numerous species amphibians and reptiles, including 16 species of lizards. The best time to visit is between October and April. Before getting to the sanctuary, visitors need to get in contact with Mizoram's Department of Environment and Forest. The reserve is located on the state's northwestern border and shares an 80 kilometers international border with the neighbouring nation of Bangladesh.

Phawngpui (Blue Mountain) (150 kilometers south of Aizawl, near the Myanmar border) is the highest peak in Mizoram,at 2157 meters high and is inside a national park that bears its name. The mountain overlooks the hills of neighbouring Myanmar and the mighty River Chhimtuipui, Covering an area of about 50 square kilometers, park has some trekking trails and is home to rare avian species like Blyth’s tragopan, Hume’s pheasant, dark-rumped swift along with mammals like the Asiatic black bear, slow loris, stump-tailed macaque, tiger, goral, capped langur and leopard. The orchids and rhododendrons spread around the valleys make for an enchanting sight when in bloom.

TRIPURA

Tripura is a small state in northeastern India almost completely surrounded by Bangladesh. The smallest of India's eastern hill states, it is home to 3.7 million people, most of them Bengalis not the native tribal groups that have traditionally lived there. Tripura was created from a former princely state and is famous for its palaces, nature spots, ethnic minorities, wildlife., archaeological monuments, water bodies, temples, mosques, Buddhist stupas, forests, and life, traditional crafts. Like the other states in the Northeast it receives a lot of rain but unlike the smaller Northeastern states it doesn;t have so many Christians.

Tripura state covers 10,491.65 square kilometers (4,050.85 square miles) and has a population density of 350 people per square kilometer. About 74 percent of the population live in rural areas.Agartala is the capital and largest city, with about 400,000 people. Languages of Tripura (2001): Bengali (63.43 percent); Tripuri (25.88 percent); Chakma (2.29 percent); Hindi (2.12 percent); Mogh (0.97 percent); Odiya (0.71 percent); Manipuri (0.65 percent); Halam (0.63 percent); Bishnupriya (0.60 percent); Garo (0.57 percent); Ao (0.52 percent); Others (1.63 percent). Religion in Tripura (2011): Hinduism (83.40 percent); Islam (8.60 percent); Christianity (4.35 percent); Buddhism (3.41 percent); Sikhism (0.02 percent); Jainism (0.02 percent); Other or no religion (0.2 percent);

Tripura is mentioned in ancient mythology and a history of over 2,500 years and 186 kings. According to the 'Rajmala’, Tripura’s celebrated court chronicle, an ancient king named 'Tripur' ruled over these territorial domains, which explains the current name. Five mountain ranges—Boromura, Atharamura, Longtharai, Shakhan and Jampui Hills—run north to south, with intervening valleys.

Getting There: Tripura is very isolated. Only one major highway, National Highway 8, connects it with the rest of India. By Air: Agartala airport is 12 kilometers away from the city and is well connected by air with Kolkata, Guwahati, Delhi and Chennai. By Train: Agartala is connected to major junctions like Guwahati, NJP, Sealdah and Anand Vihar in New Delhi through express trains. The main junction of the state is the one at Badharghat in Agartala.

Tripuri People

The Tripuri (also known as Tipra , Twiprasa, Tripuri , Tiprasa, Twipra) are the original inhabitants of the Tripura Kingdom in North-East India and Bangladesh. It is said Tripuri were ruled by the kingdom’s Manikya dynasty for more than 2000 years until it joined India in 1949. [Source: Wikipedia]

The Tripura kingdoms once extended as far south as Chittagong, Bangladesh as far west as Comilla and Noakhali (known during the British period as 'plains Tipperah')and as far north as Sylhet (all in present Bangladesh). In the year 1512 the Tipperas were at the height of their power when they defeated the Mughals. The ruling dynasty ruled Tripura until the 18th century, when Tippera Plain became a colony of Britain. The indigenous Tripuri tribes such as the Reang, Jamatia, Kaipeng, Noatia, Koloi and Halam, migrated to Tripura in successive waves and lived in isolated areas. They sometimes subjugated one another and each community had its own organization structure with village level governorship and a chief of the whole tribe.

The Tripuri people mainly speak dialects of Kokborok, the language which comprises the standard dialects of Debbarma, Tripura, Murasing, Jamatia, Noatia, Reang(Bru), Koloi, Uchoi, and Rupini spoken across the state. Most Tripura are Hindus. The Tripuris have traditionally lived on the slopes of hills in villages comprised of of five to fifty families. Their houseshave traditionally been built of bamboo and raised two meters of so off the group for protetcion from wild animals. Nowadays many Tripuri live in the plains in house that plains people live in.

Agartala

Agartala (550 kilometers, 15 hours from Guwahati) is the capital and largest city of Tripura, with about 400,000 people. The second-largest city in Northeast India after Guwahati, it has been described as "a beautiful, pleasant town, but there is little to do." It receives 400 centimeters (157.5 inches) of rain a year and is smothered in lush vegetation and known for its handicrafts and music. The main sights are Ujjayanta Palace, the Temples of Lord Jagannath, the Tripura Government Museum and Purbasha handicraft area.

Situated on the banks River Haorah (Howrah), Agartala has a handful of historical, cultural and natural sites. Once the power center of the Manikya kings and queens, Agartala is known for spectacular palaces like the Ujjayanta Palace, stunning lakes and several beautiful temples. Outside the city are pristine forests, beautiful valleys and roaring waterfalls. The name Agartala is made up of two words 'Agar' and 'tala'. 'Agar' refers to a kind of oily valuable perfume of agaru tree and the suffix 'tala' means a storehouse. Located close to Bangladesh, the city is also known for the patriotic flag-lowering ceremony organised at the Akhaura border.

Ujjayanta Palace (in the heart of the city) is a famous royal house that was named by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, a regular visitor to Tripura. It boasts beautiful tiled-floors, lovely doors and curved wooden ceilings that make you marvel at the skill of the architects of that time. The palace houses public halls, a throne room, a Durbar hall, library, a reception hall and a Chinese room. Ujjayanta Palace is now a state museum, popularly known for its display of lifestyle, arts and cultural artefacts, and utility crafts of communities residing in Northeast India. The three-storeyed mansion has a mixed architecture and is surrounded by serene Mughal gardens. This palace provides a unique experience and allows visitors to witness the royal history amidst tranquil gardens. The palace was built by Tripura king, Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya of the Manikya dynasty, between 1899 and 1901. It was purchased from the royal family by the Tripura government in 1972-73.

Jagannath Temple (next to Ujjayanta Palace) is a famous pilgrimage site in Agartala, Dedicated to Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balabhadra and his sister Goddess Subhadra, the temple attracts thousands of visitors from across the country. It is said that the idol of Lord Jagannath or Neel Mahadev at Puri has been donated from this shrine. The architecture of the temple that is an amalgamation of Hindu and Arabic styles is also noteworthy. The structure is decorated with bright orange structured shikharas (spires) and the pillars are crowned by square and pyramidal cones. Another attraction is the lovely decorations from the life of Lord Krishna and many statues of Hindu gods and goddesses scattered across the temple. The temple offers accommodation facilities in its complex for devotees who come from outside Agartala. The Jagannath Temple was built by Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya of the Manikya dynasty in the 19th century.

Benuban Vihar is one of the most prominent Buddhist attractions of Tripura. It is known for housing metal idols of Lord Buddha and Bodhisattva, which were created in Burma long ago. The origin of the temple is, however, unknown. The highlight of the vihar is the festival of Buddha Purnima that is celebrated with a lot of energy and vigour. In addition to that, the place is surrounded by a thick grove of trees that offer a sense of serenity to visitors, making a visit to the temple all the more rejuvenating. The structure of the temple has a typical Tripuri style architecture and its red-colored sanctum is dedicated to Lord Buddha. Benuban Vihar is located in the Kunjaban area.

Near Agartala

Near Agartala you can visit Sepahijal and Rowa Wildlife Sanctuaries, Rudrasagar and Neermahal Lake Palace, Kunjaban Palace, Kalyan Sagar, Kamala Sagar (a 16th century temple on a hill), Matabari Temple, Bhuvaneswari Temple, Dumboor Lake, and Pilka (a treasure trove of Buddhist sculpture dating back to the 18th and 19th century).

Kamlasagar Kali Temple (27 kilometers from Agartala) is situated on a hillock overseeing a wide pool of water called Kamala Sagar. Also known as Kasba Kali Bari, it houses the idol of Mahishasurmardini (Goddess Kali) made of sandstone. A lingam (phallic symbol honoring Shiva) stands at the feet of Goddess Dasabhuja Durga. Thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the country and neighbouring countries like Bangladesh visit this temple during various festivals. Kamalasagar Lake, alongside the temple enhances the beauty of the place. The temple was built by Maharaja Dhanya Manikya of the Manikya dynasty in the 15th century and was finally completed in the 17th century by local rulers. .

Tripura Sundari Temple (55 kilometers from Agartala) was constructed by Maharaja Dhanya Manikya Dev in 1501, and is regarded as one of the 51 shaktipeethas (devotional shrines where the severed body parts of Goddess Sati fell) of Hindu pilgrims in India. The religious significance of this place is quite strong as it is believed that Goddess Sati's right foot fell here during Lord Shiva's dance of cosmic destruction. The temple consists of a square type sanctum of the typical Bengali-hut style construction with a conical dome. It stands gloriously on a hillock possessing two identical images of the same deity inside the temple. The idol of Goddess Kali is worshipped at the temple of Tripura Sundari in the form of Soroshi. Every year a famous Diwali mela near the temple attracts more than two lakh pilgrims.

Bhuvaneswari Temple (55 kilometers from Agartala) is a popular spiritual site in Agartala that finds mention in Rabindranath Tagore's novel, Rajarshi, and drama, Bishorjon. Located on the bank of River Gomati, it is dedicated to Goddess Bhuvaneswari. Perched upon a three-foot elevated porch, the structure of the temple includes a four chaala roof, stupas on the entrance and a core chamber. The highlight of the architecture is flower-patterned motifs that adorn the pillars and the stupas. Today, the temple is under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). While approaching the temple, one will come across the ruins of the palace of Maharaja Govinda Manikya of the Manikya dynasty, who is believed to have built it in the 17th century.

Pamchmarhi is a hill station. In the Mahabharata, the victorious Pandava family hatched a pan to defeat the evil Kaurava clan here.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: India tourism website ( incredibleindia.org), India’s Ministry of Tourism and other government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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