ONE of the most important and attractive tourist destinations situated in the state of Tripura, ‘Unakoti’ is a born bearer of exemplary work of art and culture of ancient times. Ornamented with natural beauties, this pilgrim of Hindu religion is considered to have been built in 7th and 9th centuries AD. That means almost 1,100 to 1,300 years ago.
There is an interesting story with Unakoti. According to Hindu mythology, once God Shiva was going to Kashi (presently Varanasi) along with other gods and goddesses. On the way, He thought of taking rest for night and took shelter on the hill. Before sleeping, He instructed all others to leave bed and get ready early before sun rise to start for Varanasi. But the next morning God Shiva found that his other companions did not carry out his order and were sleeping. This made Him angry. He cursed them to convert to stone images and stay there for ages and left the place alone. Since then, gods and goddesses numbering one less than a crore have been remaining there and the place named as Unakoti.
One can find beautiful images of Hindu deities like God Shiva, Ganesha and many others on the hill side. Archeological survey of India has been given charge of protecting these valuable works of our ancestors. Government has declared it as an important tourist spot and is working for it’s development keeping in mind the changing tastes of the tourists.
Two types of images are found at Unakoti, namely stone images and rock curved figures. The central Shiva head and gigantic Ganesha figures are of rock cut carvings. People worship this central Shiva as Unakotiswara Kal Bhairava which is about 30 ft high. On one side of Shiva, there is full sized figure of Durga. The image on the other side is not known. Besides, there were countless number of rock cut images.
For Hindus, Unakoti is one of the sacred pilgrimage spot. They believe, if one prays honestly to God there, his wish will be fulfilled.
From old literatures it’s known that Unakoti is situated at Chhambul in Kirat Pradesh. Present day rare tribe Kukis once lived in Kirat Pradesh.
Wide description regarding Unakoti is available in Rajmala, the book having chronological history of royal Manikya dynasty of Tripura kingdom. The importance of Unakoti, the mythological stories related with it are there in the book.
According to it, several kings visited Unakoti on several occasions. Maharaj Kumar, the son of King Bimar, prayed there long ago. 400 years before that, king Bijoy Manikya too visited the spot.
Rajmala provides that great Hindu saints Kapil and Manu did tapasya at Unakoti. Later King Trilochan built a temple for the worship of God Shiva remains of which still exists. If it’s taken into account then the existence of Unakoti at least as a pilgrimage for Hindus has much older history.
In 16th century AD Kalapahar, the army general of Nawab of Bengal, caused huge destruction to the site. He destroyed Bhubaneswar Shiva and Tungeswar Shiva stationed nearby. Later gradual change in nature too had adverse impact on spectacular art work of human race.
Pilgrims from different corners of the country gather at Unakoti during Ashokastani Mela(Fair) held in April every year.
Unakoti is situated in Kailasahar sub-division in north Tripura district. 10 kilo-meters away from Kailasahar and 20 kilo-meters away from Dharmanagar. Distance between Agartala(the capital of Tripura) and Unakoti is around 186 kilo meter.
Tourists can reach this land of heritage directly from Agartala through tours conducted by Tripura Tourism Development Corporation and some private operators. Otherwise, one has to go to either Kailasahar or Dharmanar. From both places, several means of road communication are available for reaching Unakoti. Staying facilities at cheap rates are also available in private hotels and government tourist lodges in nearby towns.
(The writer is a journalist and available at [email protected])