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Subhasis K. Chandra

Rare rock cut carvings from a long lost civilization at North Tripura's Unakoti hill. Photo:PIB features

Treading the pathways of undulating terrain, bisecting deep forests and glancing at deep gorges and narrow rivers, and natural springs at times, all the while meeting strange varieties of flora and fauna and of course, the forests. It never fails to amaze the urban tourist, seeking to escape the daily grind of cities.

Such is nature’s treasure trove at Unakoti, enhanced by the added colour, smell and taste of history, archaeology and religion, that beckons tourists. This is a hill range of moderate height situated in a cool and calm ambience of lush green in North Tripura, engraved with rare rock cut carvings of Hindu pantheon from a long lost civilization.

Unakoti pantheons are rock-carved and in stone images. Central to these rock cut carvings are Shiva and Ganesha.

Located about 170 km from Agartala, the state capital, the Unakoti hill presents huge carvings, which appear to have been chiseled out of a sprawling rock-wall, the carved images spread here and there, at different heights. Mythological tales say there was an assembly of gods and goddesses, with the lord of all, Shiva leaving for Benaras at a point of time.

The colossal Shiva head, some 30 feet in height, carved in a vertical rock is known as ‘Unakotiswara Kal Bhairava’. Its head is embroidered in tresses forming a headdress of 10 feet. 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.

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’.

Unakoti is believed to have had the influence of the Shiva cult originating from the Pala-era of the mediaeval 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 further, holding that those images were carved out in different spell of time.

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

Subhasis K. Chandra is Media & Communication Officer in PIB, Agartala

Source: PIB


#1 Bishal 2015-12-30 23:58
:-) well written...gud to C a nice post mentioning the past historical glory of my home town...

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