Agartala- a blend of Nature, History, Royalty and Culture
The state-capital of Tripura, the name of Agartala was derived from two different words. While ‘agar’ is a known term meaning a type of tree that secretes perfumed, oil-like liquid, ‘tala’ on the other hand denotes storage. True to its name, Agartala is famous for spreading the fragrance of music and heritage hand-in-hand, since eons.
The state of Tripura has a rich history that dates back to 1900 BC. The place also has ample of mythological significance in Indian context. Not only that, the music lovers of India and beyond will be eternally grateful to Tripura, for producing two gems in the chronicle of Indian music- Sachin Dev Burman and Rahul Dev Burman ( Pancham).
Not only music, Agartala is known to influence the greatest literary figure of India- Rabindranath Tagore to compose his renowned historical novella ‘Rajarshi’ and musical-drama ‘ Bisorjon’ ( Immersion) - based on the royal family of Tripura . Besides Tagore, the famous Bengali poet-author late Sunil Gangopadhyay had incorporated a large chunk about the history and intriguing family politics of Tripura’s royal family in his illustrious novel ‘Prothom Alo’ (First Light). Being the capital of the state- Agartala was right in the centre of these literary pieces.
It’s the second largest city of North-East India and unlike other cities of North-East; it has a huge resemblance of neighboring country Bangladesh- in terms of language, food, culture, rituals and many more.
Agartala Airport is connected with major metros In India like Kolkata, Guwahati, Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Chennai and Bangalore. Among them, Guawahati and Kolkata have recurring flight services that operate on daily basis between the respective cities and Agartala.
The Airport is located at northwest front of the city and from the outside of it- you will get many taxis, shared cabs and auto-rickshaws to get to the main city of Aagartala. Buses are extremely crowded so if you are a first time traveler- try to avoid it.
It’s also advisable to bargain in case of the vehicle-fares.
The beautiful Agartala Railway Station is modeled after the architecture of great Ujjayanta Palace and connected with two cities in Assam via rail-route. One is Silchar and another is Lumding. From the latter, there is an overnight express that connects it with Agartala.
Outside of the station, there are types of vehicle that can take you to the main centre of the city.
Agartala is connected with cities like Shillong, Silchar and Guwahati- via bus. Even Dhaka- the capital of Bangladesh has also a direct buss-route to Agartala.
Places of tourist attraction
Apart from the natural beauty of its surrounding areas, Agartala is a place of palaces and temples.
Built around the end of 19-th Century, the magnificent Ujjajayanta Prasad (Palace) is the example of the aesthetic sense of Tripura-King Radha Kishore Manikya who used to rule the state more than 100 years ago.
It’s a majestic two-storied building- painted in pearl-white and has three intimidating domes. The palace and its surrounding campus is very well maintained with pools, fountains, manicured lawns etc. There are many historical objects and heritage monuments inside the campus that make this place a must-visit for tourists.
Tripura Sundari Temple
A historical place, TripuraSundari is the goddess of the royal family of Tripura and her mythical existence and associated massive animal-sacrificing rituals-compelled Tagore to author the novella ‘Rajarshi’.
A small temple with a neat and clean surrounding- is the main attraction of Tripurasundari Temple. The puja-offering is simple and without facing the hassles from panda-raj (middle-men) unlike other noted temples in India. There is a chariot-riding service provided by the temple-authority for the sake of tourists and it would be a great experience for kids, especially.
Quite a unique palace that used to be the summer-residence for the royal family, Neermahal palace draws a major tourist-population for its sheer beauty. Located amidst Rudrasagar Lake, it’s an approx two-hour drive from Agartala. There are arranements like boating services and light-show for the entertainment of tourists.
Apart from the above-mentioned places, there are many other attractions in Agartala and surrounding areas like- State Museum, Unakoti, Pilak, Venuban Bidhar Buddha Shrine etc., to name a few.
What to eat
Apart from the local cuisine which is an amalgamation of Bengali and tribal flavor, Indian, Chinese and Continental food rule the gastronomy of Agartala. The prices are relatively cheaper in comparison to other capital cities in India.Agartala is also famous for its street food.
What to shop
The local bamboo and cane artifacts are great items to buy in Agartala. Apart from that, various tropical fruits, pickles and wide range of saree are other objects to go for.
If you are a traveler who like to stay in a luxurious fashion wherever you go, please keep it in mind that Agartala is still devoid of luxury, five-star hotels.Ginger Hotels is possibly the best (and only) 3-star hotel in Agartala- run by TATA group, and it is famous for its serene location and exquisite dining experience.Apart from that, City Centre Hotel is a good option for budget travelers who only want simple, basic facilities, and cleanliness at a reasonable price.
- Take a tour of Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary
- Enjoy the light and sound show at Neermahal palace
- Not advisable to reach out at the northern parts of Tripura as some insurgent groups are still dominant there.
Some useful information for tourists
It’s a quiet city so don’t expect anything flashy in Agartala in terms shopping/eating destinations or night life.· Durgapuja is the biggest festival here, so it’s advisable to visit the city once during the puja, to soak into the festivity.Overall, Agartala is a nice tourist destination for those who love- history, heritage and pure, unadulterated beauty of nature.
Jheelam Dutta Roy lives in Kolkata.Being born in a Bengali household it’s in her genes to like anything in printed words.Reading fictions, watching Hollywood thrillers are her hobbies.She loves writing and is glad to do what she likes best for earning.