Agartala, the capital city of Tripura situated on the banks of Hoara River, is a perfect blend of cultural heritage, scenic beauty, and modernity. With its rich history and unique location near the border of Bangladesh, Agartala has a lot to offer to tourists who are looking for an authentic cultural experience. From the majestic palaces and temples to the natural wonders of the surrounding areas, there are plenty of interesting things to do in Agartala that are sure to captivate any visitor.
Brief History of Agartala
Agartala first gained prominence when Maharaja Krishna Manikya moved the capital of the Manikya Dynasty from Rangamati in Udaipur, South Tripura to its present-day location in the 19th Century. The move was necessary due to constant invasions by the Kuki tribe, as well as the Maharaja’s desire to improve communication with British Bengal, the kingdom’s neighbor at the time.
In the 1940s, Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur reorganized and redesigned the city, resulting in the planned roads, market buildings, and municipality that we see today. As a result of his contributions, Agartala is also referred to as the “City of Bir Bikram Manikya Bahadur.” With its status as a former kingdom’s capital and its proximity to Bangladesh, Agartala has welcomed numerous prominent figures over the years. Rabindranath Tagore, for example, visited Agartala frequently and had strong ties with the Tripura kings.
Places to Visit in Agartala
Ujjayanta Palace, situated at the center of Agartala, is a renowned royal residence that was named by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who was a frequent visitor to Tripura. The palace features stunning tiled floors, intricately designed doors, and gracefully curved wooden ceilings that showcase the skill of the architects of that era. It houses various public halls, including a throne room, a Durbar hall, a library, a reception hall, and a Chinese room.
Today, Ujjayanta Palace serves as a state museum, renowned for its collection of artifacts that display the lifestyle, arts, and crafts of communities living in Northeast India. The three-story mansion boasts a mix of architectural styles and is surrounded by serene Mughal-style gardens. This palace offers a unique experience, allowing visitors to witness the region’s royal history amid peaceful gardens. Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya of the Manikya dynasty built the palace between 1899 and 1901, and it was later acquired by the Tripura government from the royal family in 1972-73.
Neermahal, the ‘lake palace’ of Tripura, is a palace located in the Indian state of Tripura. It was built by the last ruling Maharaja of Tripura, Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Debbarma, in the 1930s. The palace is located in the middle of a lake called Rudrasagar and can only be reached by boat. It is also the largest water palace in all of India.
It is a unique blend of traditional Hindu and Islamic architectural styles, and it is considered to be one of the most beautiful palaces in India. The palace was used as a summer palace by the royal family and it is now open to the public as a tourist destination.
Nestled in the north of Agartala, Nehru Park is a unique green space that spans a significant portion of the city. The park, which is maintained by the state government, is home to a diverse range of plants, shrubs, and flowers. In fact, it’s one of the few places where exotic blooms grow alongside more common species.
Nehru Park is now one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. Its tranquil ponds and fountains add to the area’s natural splendor, providing a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of Agartala. Taking an evening stroll through the park is a perfect way to end a day in the city, rejuvenating both the body and mind.
The Kunjaban Palace, also known as the Pushbanta Palace, is a historic royal palace located in Tripura. Erected by Maharaja Birendra Kishore Manikya in 1917, the palace is situated on a hillock just a short distance from the Ujjayanta Palace.
Throughout its history, it has been a patron of the arts and was even the Raj Bhavan of Tripura until 2018. Today, the palace is being transformed into a national-level cultural museum and serves as the official residence of the Governor of Tripura.
Ummaheshwar Temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Kali, is located within the Ujjayanta Palace grounds. Influenced by West Bengali culture, this saffron-colored temple can be accessed through green grassy stretches within the palace yard. The walls of the temple are adorned with small figurines of various gods and goddesses.
According to legend, when Sati’s toes fell on Kolkata, her divine right leg fell at this very spot. Built in 1501, this temple of Kali is known for the steady stream of pilgrims who make endless animal sacrifices, leaving the grounds as bloody as the temple’s vivid-red shikhara. The temple also attracts a large number of people during the big Diwali festival (in October/November) who come to bathe in the fish-filled tank by the temple.
Venuvan Vihar Buddha Shrine
Venuban Buddha Vihar is a well-known Buddhist temple located 2 km away from the center of Agartala. The temple is famous for its unique Buddha idol that is completely made of metal. Legend has it that the idol was created in Myanmar and later transported to its current location.
Buddha Purnima, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha, is celebrated with great enthusiasm at the Venuban Buddha Vihar. The temple is adorned with colorful banners and exudes a festive atmosphere during this occasion. Many people from the city and other places visit the Venuban Buddha Vihar to celebrate the event.
The temple is highly revered by Buddhists and followers of Lord Buddha and is considered to be one of the significant Buddhist temples in India. In addition to its religious importance, the temple is also a popular tourist destination.
Tripura State Tribal Museum
The Tripura State Tribal Museum is situated within the grounds of the Tribal Research and Cultural Institute in Agartala. The museum was established to promote the heritage and culture of the various tribes in the region. Visitors can learn about the 19 different tribes of Tripura, including their language, culture, socio-economic conditions, and daily life.
The museum features displays of tribal dress, ornaments, artifacts, weaving materials, hunting and fishing equipment, and various musical instruments. Additionally, there is a small auditorium where visitors, students, and researchers can watch videos showcasing tribal ethnic culture.
The Heritage Park is situated in the heart of the capital city and boasts a stunning entrance that artfully blends the culture and art of both the tribal and non-tribal sections of Tripura’s history. The garden is beautifully landscaped and maintained by skilled designers.
Covering 12 acres, the park features a 1.1 KM long pathway that connects three sections of the Heritage Park: The Mini Tripura, The Natural Forest, and The Medicinal Plant Table Top. The Mini Tripura section showcases miniature versions of popular Tripura attractions, including the Unakoti sculptures, Neermahal Palace, Ujjayanta Palace, Tripura Sundari Temple, Stone relics of Pilak, Mahamuni, Chandrapur, and more.
The Natural Forest section of the park is home to a variety of natural resources found in the forests of Tripura, including indigenous trees, exotic flowers, and animals that are native to the land. Visitors can enjoy the serene ambiance of the park while admiring the heritage benches, stone statues, monuments, earthen potteries, wood carvings, and other decorative features.
The Jagannath Temple is a renowned religious destination situated in Agartala, Tripura. It was constructed in the 19th century by the Maharaja of Tripura from the Manikya Dynasty and is situated within the premises of the Ujjayanta Palace. The temple is devoted to the Hindu deities Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. Although the temple’s exterior features an Islamic style of architecture, the interiors are adorned with Hindu magnificence.