Unakoti : abode of one less than a crore of Gods and Goddesses, a delectable 'Saivite' sculptural site

Basudha Modak

A ten year old girl was struggling to catch up with her army man father walking between dense foliage through hand cut rock steps .She was afraid to be turned into stone as folklore said she must reach the summit before sunrise.

The gentle stream to keep her company was the only path she knew she had to follow,as there were no railings or  arrows to show her the way then.

Her eyes suddenly fell on a huge rock sculpture of Ganesha and even more than thirty  years hence,she has never come across such a fine collection of sculptures  in her life.

The huge  Shaivaite sculptures of all the Gods and Goddesses she discovered  that day reinstated her belief for ever of how strong her culture and people were then,and now.

Unakoti,or less than a crore,is one of the best kept secrets of Tripura,and is predominantly Bas-Relief sculptures of shallow depth made in a single rock or stone.
Our culture is predominantly nature oriented and absolutely unique to my state...But the intricacy and details of all the carvings are second to none .

One of the folklore says that Lord Shiva and all other Gods and Goddesses,all of a crore , were travelling to Kashi.Seeing this beautiful place they rested for the night .Early morning,they were still sleeping when Shiva  wanted to start his travel .So they were cursed to stone and only Lord Shiva continued on his journey .

The tribals believed a sculptor named Kallu Kumar, a great devotee of Parvati,wanted to go to Kailash.Lord Shiva accepted under the condition that he finish a crore of the sculptures in a night. Sadly at daybreak ,he could only  finish  less than a crore,so Lord Shiva left him ,and returned to Kailash .
Nature seems to have overflowed it's bounty in this serene and beautiful place .

The images found at Unakoti are of two types: namely rock-carved figures and stone images. Among the rock-cut carvings, the central Shiva head and gigantic Ganesha figures deserve special mention. The central Shiva head known as Unakotiswara Kal Bhairava is about 30 feet high including an embroidered head-dress which itself is 10 feet high.

 On each side of the head-dress of the central Shiva, there are two full-size female figures - one of Durga standing on a lion and another female figure on the other side. In addition, three enormous images of Nandi Bull are found half-buried in the ground. There are various other stones as well as rock-cut images at Unakoti.

The site made  between the 4th to the 9th centuries   suffered definite  neglect causing degradation and loss of considerable scale to the rock art. Since its adoption by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) as a heritage site, the situation has slightly improved, though a lot of work including substantial excavation remains to be undertaken.

 The government of India has approached  UNESCO to declare it as a World Heritage Site.The Centre has recently granted Rs 12 crore to the state for developing the area, 178  km from the state capital, as a major tourist destination.

Nowadays,Helicopter services are available from both Agartala,the capital,and Kailasahar.Just 20km away is Kumarghat with its beautiful railway station and train services ,making sure you visit and return back to the capital in a day.
..If you have not visited this beautiful place, it doesn't matter where else you have ever gone .Life isn't still complete .
Every year,a big fair on Ashokastami is held in the month of April,so get your tickets and visit this lovely place ,that speaks of our heritage,long ignored,but never forgotten

Info source:
 YouTube videos of the hidden secrets of India

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