Tripura, a former Princely State, is one of the Seven Sisters’ State of North-East of India. Tripura in Sanskrit, meaning "Three Cities" is linked to the deity Tripura Sundari, of the Tripura Sundari Temple, one of the 51 Shakti Peethas (Pilgrimage centres of Shaktism) and to the legendary Tyrant king Tripur, who was the 39th descendant of Druhyu and belonged to the lineage of Yayati, a king of the Lunar Dynasty. A Kokborok etymology from ‘Tui’ (water) and ‘Pra’ (near) has been suggested for the name “Tripura” which reflects the vicinity to the Bay of Bengal.
The state covers 10,491 Sq. Kilometre and is bordered by Bangladesh in to the north, south and west and Assam and Mizoram to the east. It is situated between North Latitude from 22°56'N to 24°32'N, and East Longitude 91°09'E to 92°20'E. The four main seasons are winter, pre-monsoon or summer, monsoon, and post-monsoon. During the monsoon season, the south west monsoon brings heavy rains causing frequent floods. The average annual rainfall is 2100 mm. During summer, the temperature ranges between 24 and 42 °C and in winter it falls 06 to 27 °C.
The 39,00,000 people resides in the state and constitutes 0.3% of the country’s population. Majority of the population is Bengalese (69%) and 31% are indigenous community people of 19 major tribes and sub-tribes. The largest such group is Tripuris. The other major groups are the Reang, Jamatia, Chakma, Halam, Mog, Munda, Kuki, Garo. Bengali is the most widely spoken language and Kokborok is a prominent language among the tribes. Several other languages are Hindi, Mog, Odia, Manipuri, Halam, Garo and Chakma. The Hinduism is the major religion in the state. A majority of the tribes in the state are Hindu and practice Hindu religious rites. The other religions in the state are Islam, Christianity and Buddhism etc. The people of all the religion are residing in harmony.
The Rajmala, a chronicle of Tripuri Dynasty was first written in the 15th century, provide a list of 179 kings who ruled the state for several centuries. The dynasty was founded when Ratna Fa (Ratna Manikya) assumed the title ‘Manikya’ in 1280. Pradyut Kishore Manikya Bahadur is presently the 186th king of the ‘Manikya Dynasty’.
Hill Tippera was the independent princely state of the Tripuri Kingdom under the protectorate of the British Empire and the area annexed and ruled directly by British India was known as Tippera District (present Comilla District). The independent Tripuri Kingdom or Hill Tippera joined the newly independent India in 1949 and became a Part C state of India. It became a Union Territory, without a legislature, in November 1956 and an elected ministry was installed in July 1963. The state attained the status of a full-fledged state on 21 January, 1972. Udaipur, in the Gomati district of Tripura, was the capital of the kingdom, until the king Krishna Manikya moved the capital to Old Agartala in the 18th century. It was moved to the new city of Agartala in the 19th century.
Agartala (Agartala) is the capital as well as the largest city of the state, lies on the bank of the Haora River and is located 2 km from the Bangladesh Border. It is named after the ‘Agar’, a kind of oily valuable perfume tree and ‘Tala’, a store house.
Tripura is governed through a parliamentary system of representative democracy. The governor is the constitutional head of the state. There is a cabinet consisting of Cabinet Ministers, headed by the chief Minister. The Legislative Assembly consists of 60 no. of Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA). There are in total 23 numbers of sub-divisions included in 8 numbers of Districts. Tripura also has a unique tribal self-governance body, the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council which is responsible for local governance in 527 villages with high density of the scheduled tribes. For the Jurisdiction, Tripura has its own High Court in Capital Complex along with its lower bench Courts in Agartala and at different districts, division and sub-divisions.
The physiography is characterised by hill ranges, valleys and plains. The five ranges of hills are branches of Barail Hill Ranges. They are Boromura, Atharamura, Longtharai, Shakhan and Jampui Hills. At an altitude of 939 m (3,081 ft), Betling Shib in the Jampui range is the state's highest point. The small isolated hillocks interspersed throughout the state are known as tillas, and the narrow fertile alluvial valleys are called lungas. Most of the rivers originating in the hills of Tripura are not navigable and flow into the rivers of Bangladesh. Among them, the prominent rivers are Khowai, Gomati, Muhuri, Dhalai and Feni.
Tripura hosts three different types of ecosystems: mountain, forest and freshwater. The interspersion of bamboo and cane forests with deciduous and evergreen flora is a peculiarity of Tripura's vegetation. The moist deciduous mixed forest and Sal (Shorea robusta) are predominant forest. The Agar Tree is the ‘State Tree’ of Tripura.
Tripura hosts 90 land mammal species and nearly 300 species of birds. The Sipahijala, Gomati, Rowa and Trishna are wildlife sanctuaries. Gomati is an Important Bird Area. The Phayre's Langur is the State Animal and the Green Imperial Pigeon is the State Bird of Tripura. In winter, thousands of migratory waterfowl throng Gomati river and Rudra Sagar lakes.
The agriculture is the main economic activities of the state. The non-agricultural workforce are manufacturing, public administration and education. Rice is the major crop cultivated in 91 per cent of the cropped area along with various kinds of vegetables. Jackfruit, pineapple and orange are the main horticultural products. Traditionally, most of the indigenous population practised ‘Jhum’ method (a type of slash-and-burn) of cultivation. Rubber and tea are the important cash crops of the state. Tripura ranks second only to Kerala in the production of natural rubber in the country. Tobacco and varieties of jute are also produced in the state. The state is known for its handicraft, particularly hand-woven cotton fabric, wood carvings, and bamboo products which are in great demand all over the country for its artistic value.
The hilly and land-locked state is dependent mostly on roads for transport. The National Highway 44 (NH-44) is the lifeline of Tripura which connects the state to the rest of India. Agartala Airport, Singerbhil, is the second busiest airport in north east India after Guwahati. Passenger helicopter services are available between the capital and major towns (Kailashahar, Dharmanagar) as well as to more remote areas such as Kanchanpur and Gandacherra. A rail connection was established between the capital Agartala and Lumding junction in Assam. A Broad gauge rail track connecting Agartala to the southernmost town of Sabroom is in progress.
Daily and weekly newspapers in Bengali, English, Kokborok are published in Tripura in printed version as well as e-version. The popular news portal is www.tripurainfo.com. The television is very effective for information and mass education followed by radio. Most of the major Indian telecommunication companies are present in the state. Many web sites are prepared by different disciplines to promote the Art, Culture, Travel and Lifestyle of Tripura.
Tripura has considerable reservoirs of natural gas which are being extracted commercially to produce electricity for the state as well as for the neighbouring states and country Bangladesh. The state owns many power-generating stations under Tripura State Electricity Corporation Limited (TSECL), natural gas-powered thermal power stations at Rokhia and Baramura, and the ONGC Tripura Power Company in Palatana. The ONGC plant is the largest individual power plant in the northeast region. The state also has a Hydroelectric Project in the Dumbur Falls on the source point of Gomati River. At some areas, the dam is created for utilization of water for agricultural purposes on the both bank of Gomati such as Maharani Barrage and canals. The North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) operates the 84 MW Agartala Gas Turbine Power Plant near Agartala.
Though the state lacks major irrigation projects but has medium-sized projects sourced from Gomati, Khowai (at Chakmaghat) and Manu rivers, and minor projects administered by village-level governing bodies that utilise tube wells, water pumps, tanks and lift irrigation. In spite of having excessive iron content in the ground water, Tripura is capable of providing safe drinking water to the population and had received the best State Award for Water & Sanitation under the category of Small States in the “IBN7 Diamond State Award” function for doing commendable work to provide drinking water supply.
Despite of high incidence of open defecation the Government has envisioned to make the state Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 2017 by implementing ‘Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan’ and currently the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ to prevent Open defecation problems of diarrhea and vulnerability to malaria.
Schools in Tripura are run by the state government, TTAADC and private organisations. The schools are affiliated to the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) or the Tripura Board of Secondary Education. There are three universities, of which one is Central University (Tripura University) and one state university and one private university (a branch of the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India). There are 15 general colleges, three engineering colleges (Tripura Institute of Technology, National Institute of Technology, Agartala and NIEILT, Agartala), two medical colleges (Agartala Government Medical College and Tripura Medical College under Directorate of Medical Education and State Medical Council), three nursing and one Paramedical colleges, three polytechnic colleges, one Law College, one Government Music College, one College of Fisheries, Institute of Advance Studies in Education, one Regional College of Physical Education at Panisagar and one Art College. Tripura University also houses the IGNOU Agartala Regional Center.
Healthcare in Tripura features a universal health care system run by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, the Government of Tripura. The health care infrastructure is divided into three tiers – the primary health care network, a secondary care system comprising district and sub-divisional hospitals and tertiary hospitals providing speciality and super speciality care in medical colleges as well as private sectors. Homeopathic and Ayurvedic styles of medicine are also popular in the state. The birth rate, infant mortality rate and total fertility rate is better than the national average. The state is endemic to Malaria, Diarrhea.
“Durga Puja” is the main festival for the Hindus as well. Hindus believe that Mata Tripureshwari, an aspect of Shakti is the patron goddess of Tripura. Durga puja, Kali puja, Ashokastami, Bouddha Jayanti and the worship of the Chaturdasha deities are important festivals in the state. Some festivals represent confluence of the traditions such as Ganga Puja, Kharchi Puja and Ker Puja.
Tourism in the state is growing. Unakoti is the place for sculpture and cave pictures of different Hindu deities, Pilak is the Buddhist religious place and Devtamura are historic sites for tourism, cave sclupture of different Hindu deities on both sides of the hilly bank of Gomati river known as ‘Chabimura’ is important in Tripura tourism. Rudra Sagar, a natural lake, wherein in the middle ‘Neermahal’ or ‘Nilobanto Palace’, a palace of Maharaja of Tripura is a spot of tourism. Dambur lake commonly known as Narikel-Kunja, an island is also worthy to be mentioned. Jampui hills and Thumbari, Kolashibari, Puskaranibari, the foothills of Baramura and Devtamura are the places where spring resides for longer period excepting the winter period. Oranges are produced there in. ‘Orange Festival’ is one of the state festival organised by Government of Tripura in each winter.
Mata Tripura Sundari Temple, Kashba Kali Temple, Chaturdash Devta Temple are the places to worship. Laxmi-Narayan Temple, Uma Maheswar Temple, Jagannath Temple, Mosque of Gadu Miah, Benuban Bihar, Portuguese Church are very well decorated religious places for Hindus, Muslims, Buddhist and Christian in Agartala. The State Museum in the ‘Ujjayanta Palace’ in Agartala has impressive galleries that depict the history and culture of Tripura and the Tripura Dynasty through pictures, videos and other installations. Tribal Museum, Sukanta Academy, M.B.B. College, Malancha Niwas, Rabindra Kanan, Purbasha, Handicrafts Designing Centre etc are the places to visit in Agartala. Other places of interest are Assembly, Sipahijala Wild Life Sanctuary, Trishna Eco Park, Heritage Park, Baramura Eco Park, Khumulwng Park, Badharghat Railway Station etc. To visit the neighbouring Bangladesh, the state has a Visa Office at Kunjaban.
Football and cricket are the most popular sports in the state. The Tripuri community has its own traditional sports, which is called ‘Thwngmung’. Tripura participates as an eastern state team in the Ranji Trophy, the Indian Domestic Cricket competition. The state is a regular participant of the Indian National Games and the North Eastern Games. Sports for joy and entertainment are trekking in the hills and mountains and angling in rivers, numerous tanks and large and small ponds.
To spend the leisurely hour people of the state attends and participates in different cultural and educational programmes, fairs and ‘Melas’ organised by the Government as well as various Non-Governmental organisations of the state throughout the year. People go to watch movies in two of the multiplexes in capital, for shopping in bazaar areas, in different malls and having varieties of cuisines in different hotels and restaurants.
Tripura is the places of virgin territory to explore the nature’s real beauty and its culture among Bengalese and Tripuri. It has its own charm to allow oneself in its charismatic magic. The inaccessibility of the region from the rest of the country made it lucky enough to provide clean unpolluted air and a very rich natural habitat making Tripura the “Paradise unexplored.”