Tripura Sundari Temple , which gives the state its name, and Ujjayanta Palace , which was the seat of the Manikya Kings till 1949, ( and later served as the Vidhan Sabha till 2011) are not the only places of interest in Tripura.
Devi Tripureshwari Temple was constructed in 1501 by Dhanya Manikya , Maharaja of Tripura, in the ancient city of Udaipur. The ‘matabari’ is situated on a small hillock which is said to be in the shape of a tortoise, hence it is also called as ‘kurma pith’.
It is one of the 51 shakti peeths, legend says that the right leg of sati fell there. Accompanying consort, Shiva, is worshipped as Tripuresh. The temple is constructed in Bengali Ek-ratna style, and its main shrine is cubical with a three-tiered roof with a finial. There are two idols- Bado Maa and Chhoto Maa. A vast lake ,opposite the shrine, is called Kalyan Sagar, and is full of large-sized tortoises and fishes.
The temple is located about 60 km from Agartala.
The temple of Kamala Sagar Kali or Kasbeshwar is the first stop on this route, about 30 km from Agartala, in the Sepahijala district.
Located on a hillock on the India-Bangladesh border , opposite the Kamala Sagar Lake , the temple was constructed by Dhanya Manikya in the 15th century.
Neer mahal is situated in Melaghar, 53 kilometers away from the Agartala . The palace is situated in the middle of Rudrasagar Lake , and assimilates Hindu and Muslim architectural styles.
King Beer Bikram Kishor Manikya Debbarma gave the contract to Martin & Burns in 1930 and it was finished by 1938.
It is the largest water palace in India, larger than Jalmhal of Udaipur.There are 24 rooms in it.
The High Court has ruled that Neer Mahal is now state’s property, having relinquished by the royals in 1974. The Lake as well as the water palace was not transferred to the Indian Union in 1949. The matter has been appealed in the Supreme Court.
The Bhubaneshwari Temple is also located in Udaipur, on the banks of Gomti river. It has been immortalised in Tagore’s plays, Bisorjon and Rajarshi. Constructed in the 17th century, the temple is constructed on a 3 feet high porch. The roof features the typical four-chaala style with stupas on the entrance and core chambers. The stupa on core chamber is adorned with floral motifs. The nearby Robindro Bari is now quite dilapidated.
The Gunavati Group of Vishnu temples are situated in Radhakishorepur, Gomti district. They were built in 1590 by Queen Gunavati. These square temples are made of bricks, have curved roofs (chalas), and topped by finials.
The whole state is covered by rubber plantations all over. This was autumn season, and leaves had turned red before being shed.
From Udaipur, we drove for 38 km to Chobimura or Chakwrakma,located in the district Gomati, which is the site of rock carvings on steep hillsides ,on either side of River Gomati. One hires boats to explore this area,which gives the feel of Amazon river basin.
The most famous carving is of Maa Durga or Chakrak Ma which is about 10 m high and has ten hands and is carved in the walls of Devtamura Hills. This and other divine carvings were made in 15-16th century.
Ujjayanta Palace remains closed on all government holidays. As such , I could unfortunately not cover the famous monument-cum-museum on this trip, since it was closed on Saturday and Sunday . But Neer Mahal and Chabimura, more or less ,compensated for this disappointment. Ujjayanta , Unakoti rock-cut temples and Rajbari Wild Bison National Park i shall explore during my next visit to the Tripura Sundari Temple.