Usually, when you want to plan a trip online, Tripura is not one of the places that get recommended to you. If you are thinking of planning a trip to the North-East, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram are probably the first states that pop into your head. Tripura can be considered to be an underdog when it comes to places tourists want to visit, but I can assure you, the Unakoti hill here, can not be missed.

Image by Leeloa

The Unakoti hill is the place with huge rock reliefs celebrating Shiva. It is considered a place of worship. Even if you are not religious, this place is a great deal to offer. It is said to have been built in the 7th-9th century. The marvel of these murals and carvings cannot be put into words but some travel websites sure try to. The rock carvings lie in a bed of untamed greenery with waterfalls running amok.

Image by RS123456789

To reach the place, you can take a train ride to Dharmanagar railway station. A 30-minute car ride (an absolutely stunning one) will take you to the hills. Dharmanagar railway station is accessible from the capital of the state, the city of Agartala. Ideal for a day-trip, the effort of hopping on multiple modes of transit will definitely pay off once you enjoy the striking panorama from the top.

Unakoti means one less than a crore. There are numerous myths that explain the origin of this name. One of them states that there was once a sculptor and potter named Kallu Kumar. An ardent devotee of Goddess Parvati, he wanted to accompany Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati at their home in the Kailash Parvat. Parvati's persuasion to take Kallu along was relentless and to test Kallu’s devotion, Shiva asked him to create 10 million (one crore) sculptures of Shiva in just one night. Kallu, determined to be with his favorite gods, worked all night and was able to accomplish images just one less than a crore, till dawn. He couldn’t accompany Shiva and Parvati and the majestic sculptures stayed behind, on the hills!

Another variation of this story is that Kallu Kumar was given the task of carving the deities in a dream, but instead of carving images of all the gods, he carved one last image of himself, making it one short of a crore - a lesson, the locals say, on why not to give in to ahankara, or pride.

Something as beautiful with so many myths surrounding it sure add it to the magnetic charm of the place, enticing the lovers of the mystic and the old more than usual.

Even though the sculptures have degraded over time, the sheer immensity and vastness of the murals is a wonder in itself. To add to the prettiness of this place, there’s a yearly festival known as Ashokastami Mela which is held in the month of April. Devotees and pilgrims flock to the hills to be a part of the festivities and visiting Unakoti Hill, around this time would be a different experience altogether. Another smaller festival takes place in January. It is the perfect place to visit if you want to explore the different faiths or even for just a quick family vacation.

As they say, ‘once a year, go to the place you’ve never been before’ and Unakoti Hill is the perfect pick for that one offbeat vacation you want to take in 2018!