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Rock-cut carvings: Unakoti tales of lost civilization

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Agartala: Treading the pathways of undulating terrain, bisecting deep forests and having a glance of peeped in gorges and narrow rivers and spring at times, and all the while meeting strange variety of flora and fauna and off course, forests’ children always amazing the urban tourists seeking to escape from their daily grind life.

Unakoti

Such a nature’s reserve Unakoti, which is admixed with added colour, smell and taste in terms of history, archaeology and religious trait, beckons tourists.  This is a moderate height hill range engraved with rock cut carvings of the Hindu pantheon of the lost civilization, situated in a cool and calm ambience of lush green in North Tripura.

About 170 km far off from the capital of the State, the Unakoti hill presents rock cut images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Huge carvings in a sprawling rock-wall appear to have chiseled out, and images carved out that spread here and there and at different heights. Mythological tales sound interesting and state that there was an Assembly of Gods and Goddesses, with the Lord of Gods, Shiva leaving for Benaras at a point of time and the place is named as Unakoti.

Unakoti pantheons are of two types: namely rock-carved and stone images. Central to these rock cut carvings are the Shiva and Ganesha carvings. The colossal image of Shiva head, of 30 ft height, carved in a vertical rock is known as ‘Unakotiswara Kal Bhairava’. Its head is embroidered in tresses forming a headdress of 10 feet high. Nearby, there is a rock cut image of goddess Durga standing on a lion, while on the other there is an image of goddess Ganga sitting on a Capricorn. There are also images of Nandi Bull lying half buried in the ground.U1

Just a few meters down the Shiva carving three magnificent images of Lord Ganesha are found. A rare carving of the four-armed seated Ganesha and on its side two standing figures of Sarabhuja Ganesha with three tusks and the Asthabhuja Ganesha with four tusks are also found. Moreover, a three-eyed figure, believed to be that of Surya or Lord Vishnu is found.

Other images found are chaturmukha Shivlinga, Nandi, Narasimha, Shri Ram, Ravana, Hanuman, and several unidentified deities. Hearsay is that digging anytime anywhere in the surrounding area, known also as Devasthal along the Unakoti-Belkum hill, one can find out an image of Shiva or the like carved out of rocks.

At the bottom of Unakoti, a beautiful spring descending the hill terraces fills up a cavern, called “Sita Kunda”, having a dip into which is regarded as sacred. Every year, a big fair popularly known as ‘Ashokastami Mela’ is held during April when thousands of devotees visit the place to offer their prayers and have a dip in the ‘Sita Kunda’.

Asserting on the importance of its development as an ideal tourist spot, the Union Ministry of Tourism sanctioned Rs. 1.13 crore in 2009-10 under Unakoti destination development project for the creation of tourist information centre, cafeteria, public amenities, view platform, landscaping etc within the radius of 5 sq.km of the site. According to the project officials of the Tripura tourism department the project, which has been handed over to the ASI, is likely to start commissioning new amenities very soon.

Unakoti is believed to have had the influence of the Shiva cult originating from the Pala-era of the medieval period of Indian history. At the same time, the influences of several other cults like Tantric, Shakti, and Hatha yogis are also found to be present around this archaeological wonder. According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Unakoti dates back to the 8th or 9th century AD. Yet, many others differ with the opinion, conceding that it dates back longer, further holding that those images were carved out in a different spell of time.  U6

As the history and tales of Unakoti still hover in obscurity it demands integrated research by ASI and the like institutions to uncover the mystery and a chapter of hidden past of Indian civilization.

(Subhasis Chanda, PIB)

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Why security was beefed up along Tripura border?

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Government decided to beef up security in Tripura. Wikimedia commons
Government decided to beef up security in Tripura. Wikimedia commons

Security along Tripura’s inter-state borders with Assam and Mizoram and international boundaries with Bangladesh has been tightened in view of publication of a part draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and ensuing assembly polls, officials said here on Monday.

“We have deployed additional security forces along Tripura’s inter-state borders with Assam and Mizoram. Border Security Force (BSF) also further strengthened their vigil along the India-Bangladesh borders with Tripura,” a top police officer said.

He said that to thwart any adverse eventuality, all the borders were guarded round-the-clock specially in the odd hours after the publication of part draft NRC in Assam on Sunday mid-night.

“The Election Commission also earlier asked the BSF and the state government to seal the international and inter-state borders in view of the ensuing assembly elections in February,” the officer said, refusing to be named.

According to the officer, surveillance in Tripura’s two check posts along southern Assam was also enhanced through various means.

He said that the Union Home Ministry also asked all the Northeastern states and airport authorities in the region to intensify the security in view of Republic Day celebrations.

Tripura has 856 km international borders with Bangladesh and 109 km and 53 km inter-state borders with Mizoram and and Assam, respectively.

Except for some 20 km, most of the 856-km long borders with Bangladesh are fenced.

According to an official of the state’s Elections Department, the Election Commission would likely announce the assembly polls in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland next week and the elections in these states were likely to be held in third week of February.

Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland all have 60-seat assemblies. (IANS)

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