A few months ago, I was in Agartala on work. Given that I was spending only 24 hours (from Friday noon to Saturday noon) in the city and with some important work that required hundred percent focus, I was not expecting a chance to go around. I was staying at the Circuit House, a sprawling newly constructed sarkari Guest House which offered superb food and hospitality; so there was no reason to step out either other than for my scheduled business. The traveler in me was getting a bit restless, but work always comes before pleasure! Luckily, all the scheduled work was completed late evening on the first day itself freeing up the next morning. The government officials whom I had come to meet suggested that I should also see the city since I had not been there before and had come all the way from
. Although it was a holiday the next day, they deputed a person to take me around. Bangalore
Next morning as I woke up, I found thick fog enveloped outside the window and I could see absolutely nothing beyond. It took a good couple of hours for the fog to clear up. My escort showed up exactly at the scheduled time and I allowed him to work out my itinerary for the morning. He had come equipped with a camera and a USB cable so I could carry the pictures that he was planning to take as we went around. His idea was that I could look around and he could take the pictures, so we could save time - I had never met such a thoughtful and enthusiastic escort before!
On the way I was told how the international border with Bangladesh is only 4-5 kilometers away from Agartala, how 80% of Tripura’s border is shared with Bangladesh (on north, west and south), how the border is just a fence with barbed wire and covers most of the border leaving out certain pockets, how trade and exchange takes place across the border on a daily basis, how the cultures across are more or less identical because of the Bengali identity and so on. We talked about the two famous personalities from Tripura – legendary S.D. Burman and upcoming tennis star Somdev Devvarman. I saw that Agartala had a few signs of having joined the globalization era- a small mall (which I preferred to skip), advertisements of cell-phones and computer courses…however, my Reliance Netconnect did not get any signal and I did not find any surfing centre easily.
|Ujjayanta Palace getting renovated|
We first went to the Durga Bari temple and Laxminarayan Bari temple. These simple, non-ostentatious temples (compared to what I am used to seeing in the South) hold great significance and had many devotees although there was no special occasion. We then went to the
which is where the Tripura Legislative Assembly was housed since Tripura attained statehood in 1972. The gates were closed as it was a holiday but since I was in a sarkari car and with sarkari escort, they opened magically. The long pathway after the entrance went around Mughal styled gardens leading upto a two storey white palace. It was built by Maharaja Radhakishore Manickya more than 100 years ago. I saw that the palace building was covered with scaffoldings and was undergoing some renovation. I was told that the Assembly would move to a new and modern building sometime after summer this year. We then went to Jagannath Bari temple which had several beautifully decorated statutes of Ujjayanta Palace Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra. The entire life of Krishna was depicted through the colourful statues. I also saw statues of Shiva-Parvati tucked at the back, beside a small tank and a dharamshala.
|Shiva at Jagannath Bari temple|
I realized I had seen almost all the must-see places in Agartala within just three hours. It was time for me to head back to the airport. On the way, my escort transferred the pictures he had taken onto my laptop and the ones I have displayed in this post are actually clicked by him. He insisted that I should return to Agartala so that I could visit some more important and beautiful temples located a few hundred kilometers away. In his excitement, he copied some of the pictures of those other temples also on to my laptop from his camera and said, ‘If you see these pictures, you will feel like returning again to Agartala’. I was really touched by this sweet gesture.
As the plane flew from Agartala to Kolkata, it went over
for most of the time. The sky was clear and I could see the blue tinged rivers, green fields and grey houses. I tried to locate the fenced border but could not find any. Bangladesh