Tripura: Storehouse of Natural Beauty!

Jampui Hills in Tripura
Jampui Hills

Tripura, the third smallest state in the country, is coyly located on the North-eastern most part of India, cuddled as it were on the north, south and west by Bangladesh. A little bit of its border in the East and Northeast, however, is left to Mizoram and Assam.

Decades ago, Tripura used to be referred to as inaccessible, geographically isolated and remote. Not anymore. Today it has the second busiest airport in the region, with only Guwahati ahead of it; its capital city Agartala is, population-wise, the second biggest city in the region, and well connected by road, rail, air, and lately by waterways too, thereby ridding itself of the stigma of being a land-locked state.

Reang girl from Tripura
Reang girl

Its undulating hills sensuously clad in lush greenery conceal an ancient culture, one that is characterized by a heady mixture of gods, legends, myths, fables and folklores on the one hand, and on the other, a long line of actual flesh and blood kings, wars, struggles and earthy engagement of an entire people with nature and destiny.

The very location of Tripura ‘on the other side of Bangladesh’ can sound unnerving to someone not familiar with the geography of these areas. Flanked by Bangladesh on three sides, this enchanting landmass of 10,491.69 square kms is home to 3,671,032 residents (2011) who constitute 0.3% of the country’s population.

Glorious past

The State of Tripura was one of the ancient princely States of India. According to the royal chronicles called Rajmala, Tripura was continuously ruled by as many as 184 Tripuri kings with sovereign and independent status prior to its merger with the Indian Union in 1949. At the time of the death of the last ruling King, Bir Bikram Kishore Deb Barman in 1947, his successor Kirit Bikram Kishore Deb Barman was hardly 12 years old, and therefore a Council of Regency was formed to run the administration under the presidency of Queen Kanchan Prava Devi, mother of Kirit Bikram Kishore Deb Barman.

Among those who ruled Tripura, the Manikya dynasty is the most prominent. Since the early 15th century, it was the Manikya dynasty that ruled the Twipra Kingdom and later the princely Tripura State. At its height the dynasty controlled a large swathe of the north-east of the Indian subcontinent. After coming under British influence, in 1761 they transitioned from feudal monarchs into rulers of a princely State. The Manikyas maintained their control of the region until 1949, the year of merger with India.Kirit Pradyot Manikya Deb Barma Bahadur is the current head of Tripura Royal Family and is the 186th King Titular. He is the son of Kiri Bikram Kishore Manikya.

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P. J. Joseph
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P. J. Joseph

Joseph Pulinthanath, a Salesian priest, has been working in Tripura for a number of years and is actively involved in the promotion of the indigenous culture and languages of its peoples.