He was not the king of crown only, he was a king of humanity too. He loved the people and the people loved him. He was the last ruler of royal Tripura, Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur.
The 184th ruler of Tripura, Bir Bikram is remembered widely by the people of all communities, religions and languages because of his humanitarian treatment to the people, even after 62 years of his death. Born in 1908, highly beloved Maharaja has on August 19 stepped into the centenary year.
Intellectuals recall him for ambitious educational project commonly incomparable with anything of his time. His dreamy project ?Vidyapattan? was a composite project of university, medical, engineering, general, music, fishery, agriculture colleges, besides sports and vocational institutes within a single complex. He allotted vast land for the purpose but could complete only a general degree college namely MBB College collegetill in Agartala. Modern architects still feel amazed when having a glance at Neer Mahal( a palace within a lake) at Melaghar constructed during his regime.
Bir Bikram was a man with foresight vision. He tried to acquaint the people in the administration with the latest developments in world, particularly in the field of science and technology. His endeavour to establish cordial relations with other Indian native states as well as Nepal and neighbouring countries gives him an image of modern leader who was later made president of the council of rulers of the eastern states, almost similar to present north-eastern council.
King'srule is known worldwide as a single man'sautocracy over the whole nation. But the king of a small state like Tripura democratised and decentralised the administration along the most modern lines. Holding of election through secret ballot as early as 1945 was his great achievement after framing a constitution with provisions for adult franchise, bicameral legislature, neutral judiciary, Panchayat Raj and municipality. Thinking of the livelihood of the tribals, he adopted policy of land reservation which, on the one hand protected the interests of the tribals by arranging permanent settlement, and on the other, provided them scope to shift from jhum cultivation to permanent plough cultivation in the fields.
As an architect, he personally planned and supervised all the buildings, markets, roads, palaces, the airport and parks. His unique ability to blend European and Indian designs is visible in the landmarks he created even today, such as the Neer Mahal, MBB College, various gates, newer parts of the Raj Andar, Malanchanivas, court etc. Unfortunately, this visionary leading king of his time had an early death that put a barrier before the implementation of some projects, such as Sreepur Palace.
This enlightened Maharaja passed away on May17, 1947 at the age of 39, proclaiming his heir apparent, Kirit Bikram, as the next ruler of Tripura, who ruled from 1947 to 1949, under the regency of his mother, until the ancient kingdoms merger with India.
(The writer is a journalist and can be contacted at [email protected])