Have You Been To Chabimura?

Have You Been To Chabimura?
A boat navigating through the mighty Gomti Photo Credit: Sushant Pandey

With ancient rock sculptures surrounded by dense forests and the mighty Gomati river, this place is a hidden gem

Sushant Pandey
July 30 , 2020
03 Min Read

It was the second leg of my journey in Northeast India, and it was not going as I had planned. First, the ongoing agitations over the Citizenship Amendment Bill had forced the government to suspend the internet in the region. Later, local transport associations had called for a two-day strike, crippling all mode of public transport.

Amid all the chaos, I missed my scooter which I had been using while exploring the region. My trip to these parts was divided into two parts, one where I had used a two-wheeler to get around, and the second where I had relied on public transport. Now I was in Tripura, in my second leg, dependent on railways and other means of public transportation to explore this tiny little state located in India's eastern border.


Train Ride through the hills of Assam

The first place I planned to explore was Amarpur, a small town in Gomati district of Tripura. Amarpur is known for Damboor, the largest lake in the state, yet I was more inclined towards visiting Chabimura, a lesser-known place.

At Chabimura, the Gomati river descends from the Lushai Hills and enters into the plains. The turbulent flow subsides, and the river flows calmly, making it an ideal place for boating.

Chabimura is also known for its ancient sculptures carved along the banks of the river. Dating back to the 14th and 15th century, these are dedicated to prominent Hindu deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Karthikeya, and goddess Durga.

First batch of drawings in Chabimura

Once I reached Chabimura, I booked a seat on a boat, and marked the beginning of my journey. 

As the boat made its way upstream, I noticed the first batch of art on the river bank. Carved out on a single rock, they resembled prehistoric paintings found in the Mesopotamian or Indus Valley civilisation sites. The murals derive their inspiration from Hindu mythology as well as from local deities. Overrun by wild grass and algae, the carvings were grouped in three rows. My boat made its through the pale greenish water, passing dense jungles surrounded by hills. The boat ride lasts for about thirty minutes, and the Mahishasurmardini statue of goddess Durga marks the halfway point. 

Mahishasurmardini Statue seen from boat

The Mahishasurmardini statue is the largest statue in Chabimura. It measures 12 meters in height and depicts the killing of Mahishasur, a demon king mentioned in Hindu mythology. The sculpture of Mahishasurmardini was astonishing in this setting. It portrayed Durga in her fearsome incarnation with ten hands, each carrying a weapon while Mahisasur lies on the ground at her feet. 

At Chabimura, the hills form a 90-degree angle with the flowing water, and rock-cutting sure doesn't look like an easy task, at least not 500 years ago. Despite all the challenges, these tribal artisans were able to create an exquisite piece of art which still stands.

After about thirty minutes, the boatman signaled to me to return, and with a final glance and a few more photos, I headed back to the boat. 

A closer view of drawing of Chabimura

The dense jungle, the river, and the paintings blend to form a memorable destination that is unknown to the majority of Indians.

The rock carving at Chabimura is one of the most exquiste examples of monolithic carving in northeastern India. My initial idea about Chabimura had been that it was a regular boating site which are found around India. This perception changed with my first encounter of the sculptures.

Sunsets arrive early in northeast India, and by the time I returned, it was already dark. With no further plans, I headed back to my hotel with a feeling of accomplishment. Chabimura with its rock sculptures surrounded by dense forests and the mighty Gomati river had marked an everlasting impression on my mind.

This article is a submission by one of our readers, and part of our new series #OTReadersWrite. 

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