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You may already know that Agartala is one of the cleanest, greenest and most beautiful cities in India. Her rich royal heritage clubbed with the natural hilly beauty captured the imagination of none other than Rabindranath Tagore. His close ties with Palace and his love for the place can be experienced in many of his celebrated works like Chitrangada and Mukut. And these ties are mutual. Even to this day, as you set foot in this capital city of the Princely state of Tripura, Rabindranath’s influence can be found everywhere. I had my stay booked in the government guest house, Geetanjali. And it is not a coincidence that it is named after the Nobel prize-winning work of Rabindranath. Here are the things to do in your amazing Agartala trip.
Ujjayanta Palace is one of the major attractions of the city. The marvelous white structure occupies 250 acres in the heart of the city. If you are a tourist, this would likely be your first stop in the city. Many generations of Kings and Princes have lived in the palace. It was first built in 1862. However, after getting destructed by an earthquake, it was rebuilt by the noted British company, Martin Burn in the 1890s. The palace was constructed between 1899 and 1901 by the Tripura king, Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya, and stands on the banks of a small lake surrounded by Mughal gardens. It was purchased from the royal family by the Tripura government in 1972-73 for Rs. 2.5 million, and was used to house the state legislative assembly until July 2011. Ujjayanta Palace is now a state museum and it showcases the lifestyle, arts, culture, tradition and utility crafts of communities residing in northeast India.The name Ujjayanta was given by none other than Rabindranath who shared close ties with the King at that time.
The palace is, in fact, the largest water palace in India, the only other water palace being the famous Jal Mahal in Rajasthan. The palace, located an hours distance from the city in the middle of Rudragar Lake, was the summer house of King Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur. You can take a short boat ride to reach the palace. The architecture has both Hindu and Muslim influences. Does it signify the liberal mindset of the now communist state? The answer is not known for sure.
The palace is divided into two parts. The western side of the palace is known as Andar Mahal. It was made for the royal family. The eastern side is an open-air theatre where drama, theatre, dance and other cultural events were organized for the enjoyment of Maharajas and their royal families. The palace has 24 rooms in total.
If you are willing to go beyond the palaces and the royal glamour, a few hours away from the city is Unakoti. The legend says there are 1 less than 1 crore rock carvings or drawings. Although presently you can find only a few carvings. The caverns are dated back to 7th century. There are many stories surrounding the origins of the drawings. As it is a worship ground of Lord Shiva, one popular story goes that Lord Shiva himself is responsible for the carvings!
Tripura Sundari (Tripureshwari) Temple
This temple was built in the 16th century and is one of the Shaktipeeths. It is one of the holiest shrines in India and one of the 51 revered Shaktipeeths. The place is still worshipped every day and tourists from far and wide visit the temple daily. Situated on the banks of the Kalyan Sagar lake this temple is a beautiful tourist destination.
Affordable Stays and Eating Options
The most endearing part about exploring Agartala is that it is astonishingly affordable. You can get beautiful government and private guesthouses under INR 2000 per night. Renting a local car to explore the city is also within budget. We had the privilege of home cooked food as we attended a function there, but there are Bengali style eateries sparred across the city where your taste buds will definitely feel happy. Upon a little advance planning, you can easily cover Agartala within a budget of 10 – 15K if you are traveling from Kolkata.
Have you already explored Agartala? Or will Agartala be your destination in 2018? Let us know. Comment here or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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