Tripura is rarely visited by people and most people in India and beyond are mostly unaware of what the state has to offer. However, it actually has built reasonably good infrastructure in the recent years and it offers an enticing array of attractions, both historical, as well as natural. It is also one of the easier places to cover and being a very small state, one can cover all the major attractions within a week.
Northeast has an stereotypical image in the mind of a lot of people. So, first you need to understand that Tripura is somewhat different from the rest of the Northeast.
- It is a plain state. Apart from Assam, it is the only othe rplain state in the region.
- It is a Bengali-majority state. WHile the original inhabitants are still there, Bengalis are the majority and that language is also teh one you will mostly get to hear on the streets.
- It has a good rail network unlike the hill states of the northeast.
How to Reach Tripura?
Tripura has road, rail, and air connectivity with the rest of the country. It is only the second state in the NE apart from Assam that has a proper rail network, although most of it have been developed only recently.
Tripura by Air
You can directly fly to Tripura to save time. The Agartala Airport is well connected with the rest of the country although most flights are likely to halt in Guwahati or Kolkata before reaching Agartala, if you are coming from other cities.
Tripura by Rail
Does Tripura have train connectivity? Yes it does! There is a Rajdhani Express connecting Delhi to Agartala apart from other smaller distance trains. There is one direct train from Bangalore and one from Sealdah (Kolkata) too. All the trains pass through Guwahati and Badarpur in Assam before entering Tripura. There is even a project going on to connect Tripura directly to Bangladesh through a railway line. It will take some time to complete though.
Tripura by Road
Agartala is connected with overnight buses from Guwahati. The buses leave Assam, pass through Meghalaya, and then enter the Barak Valley of Assam again, finally entering Tripura through its northern corner. All major towns in Tripura are well connected with local buses and shared cars.
Where to Stay in Tripura?
It is surprisingly easy to find accommodation for tourists in Tripura! Practically every tourist attraction in Tripura has a state-owned Tripura Tourism Lodge. Bigger cities and towns such as Agartala, Dharmanagar (Unakoti), and Udaipur have many other hotels but even far-off places such as Jolaibari (Pilak), Mahamuni, and Muhuri have tourist lodges.
What is the best Season for Tripura Travel?
Tripura mostly consists of plains bordering Bangladesh. It is accessible throughout the year but it is better to travel in the winter, between November to February, to have an uninterrupted and comfortable experiences. The summers are hot and humid while even the winters are warm but pleasant. The landscapes may be prettier during the monsoons (July-Sept) but they can also hinder the movements as the rains are always heavy in the northeast and floods are yearly affairs!
What to See and Do in Tripura?
Tripura is primarily about its historical riches. In the ancient times, when the present international borders did not exist, Tripura had direct connections to the neigjboring areas of presnet day Bangaldesh. Apart from these, there are some interesting wildlife sanctuaries here and also the Jampui Hills, bordering Mizroam, is a hill station that you can visit.
Explore the Royal Heritage of Agartala
Agartala is the capital and the only big city in Tripura, well connected to the rest of the country via air, rail, and road networks. Expectedly, it boasts of royal palaces and man-made lakes constructed by its rulers. The most famous one is called Ujjayanta Palace, one of the most majestic palaces in the entire Northeast that now houses a museum. This palace and museum is a good way to start your Tripura trip because it will provide you with enough information about what else you can do out there.
There is another majestic palace in Agartala called Kunjaban Palace, which has now been converted to the Governor’s Residence but the tourists can visit the garden and a Heritage Park has been built nearby, giving a glimpse of life and culture of Tripura. As a royal capital, the city is also dotted with many temples patronized by the kings over the centuries. The best known of them include the Jagannath Temple and Umamaheshwar located within the Ujayanta Palace, and Laxmi Narayan Temple as well as Durgabari Temple near the same palace. There is also a Buddhsit Vihar called Benuban Vihar near Kunjaban that stores many metal relics of Buddha.
Visit the larger than life sculptures of Unakoti
Unakoti is probably the most unique archaeological complexes in India. To say that the gigantic bas reliefs of Unakoti are “unique” is an understatement. It is hard to find an equally magnificent set of sculptures in the entire region and even in the rest of the country. These ruins date back to the first millennium and no one is clear about the exact origins of the site. Various myths associated with the site has been popularized by Rajmala, the official chronicle of the Manikya dynasty of Tripura. It is a primarily Shaivaite site with the faces of related gods and goddesses drawn all over the hills.
According to the stories, originally this site had one less than a 10 million (1 crore/koti) idols. Even now you will find scores of them scattered all over the hills of Unakoti, which is located between two important towns, Dharmanagar, and Kailashahar. Dharmanagar is a historical town with well-paved roads, built around a beautiful lake and dotted with many temples. It is also a major trains station on the Guwahati-Silchar-Agartala route.
Enjoy the orange country of Jampui Hills
The Jampui Hills get covered with various orchids and other colourful wild blossoms during spring and early summer while the orange orchards turn orange during the early winters as expected. Yes, this is practically the only hill station in Tripura, and a great place for small hikes and relaxing stay amid misty forests. The best view point in Jampui Hills is the watchtower at its highest peak, Betlingchhip. It is slightly above 1000 metres in height and a short and pleasant hike. From the top, you can get clear views of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Kanchanpur – Dasda valley, as well as other hill ranges of Tripura as well as Mizoram. The biggest village here is called Vanghmun, which is well connected with Agartala. The best way to enjoy the hills is to visit it during the orange ripening season in November.
Take a boat-ride to Neermahal
Melaghar looks like just another small town with a narrow road through a jam-packed market and some even narrower lanes going in all directions. However, one of those lanes eventually opens up to a vast water body, the Rudrasagar Lake, along with a vague but striking image of a palace on the horizon. If you move closer, you will soon realize that the palace is a real one and not just a mirage.
Neermahal is one of the few water palaces in India and such a majestic constriction is rarely expected by visitors in a remote and frontier province like Tripura. However, this is just another indication of the past glory of the Kingdom, that dates back to several centuries. You can now take a boat ride through the lake to reach the palace and explore it yourself to get a slice of royal grandeur. The lake also attracts many water birds and can be a good place for birdwatchers.
Walk back into the past in Udaipur
Don’t confuse Udaipur with the one in Rajasthan. However, this town in Tripura also has a similarly ancient history, and on top of that, it is also full of lakes! This probably has to do with the fact that this used to be the capital of the Kingdom for several centuries. So, the royals dug these lakes and built many temples with great care. A brief walk around Udaipur is a walk into a time warp. It transforms you to an era of kings, queens, and priests, as you come across ruins after ruins.
There are many other major archaeological sites in the 50 KM radius around Udaipur. The Tripura Sundari Temple is located a few KMs outside the city and it is one of the holiest shrines in the country. If you are willing to drive further, you can reach Pilak, that preserves ruin of a Buddhist Vihara from the first millennium, or Devtamura, that has even more mysterious rock carvings of Chabimura, that has centuries old stories buried underneath.
Which Languages work in Tripura?
The original Tripuris have a language called Kokborok, which is a Sino-Tibetan language. However, the region is now Bengali-dominated and so knowing Bangla can make it very easy for you to move around. Anyway, like in most other parts of India, most people will understand Hindi and you will also find people who will help you with English.
Phone and Data Connectivtiy in Tripura?
Phone and data connectivity is pretty good in Tripura. They worked fine in all the major towns. During my travels, only at Pilak I noticed connecitivity issues with my Airtel SIM.