Among the lesser visited places in the Northeast, Tripura probably ranks the highest. Not many people know that there are beautiful rock cut carvings and stone images at Unakoti, Debtamura and Pilak. In fact, they’re so gorgeous that they’re often compared to the Angkor Wat Temple of Cambodia and are called to be India’s Machu Picchu.
The hills of Unakoti especially, have these huge carvings on the outer walls that lend an almost tribal feel to the surrounds. Unakoti, which means less than a crore in Bengali, is actually a pilgrimage centre dating back to 7th – 9th century. The marvellous rock carvings, murals with their primitive beauty, waterfalls are not to be missed.
According to Hindu mythology, when Lord Shiva was going to Kashi along with one crore gods and goddesses he made a night halt at this location. He asked them all to wake up before sun rise and proceed for Kashi. As it turned out, no one except Shiva woke up on time, inviting his wrath upon them. As a result they were all cursed and turned into stone. These carvings in Unakoti are located in a landscaped forest with lush green vegetation all around.
Now, there are two kinds of these found at Unakoti: namely rock-carved figures and stone images. Among the rock cut carvings, the central Shiva head and mammoth Ganesha figures deserve special mention. The central Shiva head is known as ‘Unakotiswara Kal Bhairava’ and is about 30 feet high including an embroidered head-dress which alone is 10 feet high. It is flanked on each side by two full size female figures – one of Durga standing on a lion and the other of Ganga. Additionally, three enormous images of Nandi Bull are also found half buried into the ground. There are various other stone as well as rock cut images at Unakoti, that must be explored while you’re there.
Every year a popular fair known as the ‘Ashokastami Mela’ is held in the month of April that attracts travellers in large numbers. Located about 178 km from Agartala, you can take helicopter services from Agartala and Kailashahar to reach Unakoti.