Tiny Tripura is tucked away in a corner of the northeast, and surrounded by Bangladesh on three
Tiny Tripura is tucked away in a corner of the northeast, and surrounded by Bangladesh on threesides. It’s an area of lush green mountains and valleys.
Neermahal on Rudrasagar Lake
The romantic Neermahal or ‘water palace’ lies in the middle of Rudrasagar lake, 55km south of Agartala. It was built in 1930 as a summer residence for Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya. The palace, which has a clear Mughal influence, is somewhat decrepit on the inside, but the exterior and the gardens have been restored, and the sight of the domes and pavilions reflected in the lake is very impressive. Curiously enough, the rooms in the palace can only be approached by boats. The palace is open daily from 9am to 6 pm. You can rent boats to cross the lake to the palace from just opposite the Sagarmahal Tourist Lodge (Rs 400; 0381-264418), which has large rooms and great views of the lake.
Temples of Udaipur
The former capital of Tripura, Udaipur retains an air of antiquity. It is today an important market town surrounded by paddy fields and low forested hills. On the southwest banks of the Jagannath Dighi tank, stand the ruins of the Jagannath temple. Tripura Sundari, the most important temple in the area, stands 5km outside Udaipur, on a small hillock in front of a lake. Built in the typical Bengal hut style with a square sanctum and large meeting hall in front, this is considered to be one of the 51 shakti peethas. The Bhubaneshwari temple—apparently the oldest in the state and the Chabimura rock—images of Shiva, Vishnu etc carved into a hillside are also in Udaipur. The only accommodation available in Udaipur is the Pantha Niwas Tourist Lodge.
Trekking in the Jampui Hills
Tripura’s ‘orange basket’ is so entrancing that it’s called the land of the eternal spring. A cluster of 10 villages near the Tripura-Mizoram border, the Jampui Hills offer panoramic views of the Chittagong hills, the Kanchanpur-Dasda valley and the sundry hill ranges of Tripura and Mizoram. Climb up to the watchtower on Betlingchip (3,200ft) and see for yourself. The hills are ideal for trekking and long walks. Stay at the Eden Tourist Lodge (0381-225930), or be a paying guest at a tribal home. Winter is the ideal time to visit (the Orange Festival is held in November).
Agartala, the capital of Tripura, is a rather laid-back administrative town. The Ujjayanta Palace, by far the major attraction, is an Indo-Saracenic building set in Mughal-style gardens on a lakefront. The mansion was built at the turn of the 20th century; it sprawls over an area of over 800 acres, and the tallest of its three domes is 86ft high. It has tiled floors, curved wooden ceilings and crafted doors. Tripura’s state assembly has the pleasure of meeting in this lovely building. There aren’t very many interesting places to stay—the Welcome Palace (0381-2384940) being the fanciest in Agartala.