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Unakoti: A Magic Number

One less than a Koti (crore or 10 million), this is the Unakoti, a most famous Shaiva pilgrimage destination in the district Unakoti of the North-East Tripura. It is a historical spot and the evidence of the cultural heritage on ancient Tripura dating back about seventh to ninth century AD. Numerous rock carving sculpture and stone idols of Hindu Gods and Goddess exposed in the open atmosphere are main attractions at Unakoti, which was created after cutting on the Raghunandan hills, nowadays it is known as the Unakoti Hills or Belkom Tila.

Unakoti: A Story of Magic Number and Myth

According to legend, once Lord Shiva along with one crore (ten million) Gods and Goddesses including himself had been travelled from Kailash to Kashi. On the way, they reached Raghunandan Hill at night. So they decided to take rest and shelter on this hill. Lord Shiva alerts all Gods and Goddess to arise before sunrise of the next day morning and proceed for the journey to Kashi. Unfortunately, none of them except Lord Shiva himself could get up early in the morning. The ungrateful angry Shiva left alone on the way to Kashi and cursing all slept Gods & Goddess to become stone and stay there forever. As a result, we have one less than a crore stone sculptures on the Hill, and it is called Unakoti.

According to another legend, the local sculptor Kalu Kamar had a dream, if he can create ten million sculptures of Gods and Goddesses in one night, this place will be considered with equal status of Kashidham. Efficient sculptor Kalu Kamar had worked tirelessly throughout the night to complete the task. It was just one short of a crore image of deities and the sculptor wished to create the last one for his own sculpture, rather than another god, where the artist and creation of the artist will get same importance in future. But the artist's self-conceit might not have been loved by the absolute creator. Therefore, the idol of the last deity left behind, and similarly Unakoti had no achieve its status as Kashidham — the locals say, on why not to give in to ahankara, or pride.

According to another belief, a local sculptor & potter named Kalu Kamar was a devotee of Goddess Parvati who wishes to accompany Shiva and Parvati to their abode on Kailash. After acknowledging by Parvati, Lord Shiva agreed with a condition, if Kalu Kamar would sculpt a Koti images of Shiva idols in one night, then he will fulfill Kalu Kamars' wish. Kalu Kamar had worked tirelessly to complete the task, but unfortunately, he sculpted one less than a Koti idols before sunrise. So, Kalu Kamar leaves behind and the place named Unakoti, a Shaiva pilgrimage destination in Tripura.

Attraction of Unakoti

Although apart from the legendary stories which raise curiosity; history and authenticated information of Unakoti verify that the construction of these sculptures and idols might be created between eight and nine century or before, which was originally known as the Shaiva pilgrimage destination. So there have a number of Shiva idols. The Raghunandan Hills sides and stone had been carved and give the form of different Hindu Gods and Goddess idols which are located at a beautifully landscaped forest area with green vegetation all around. The statue of Unakotiswar Shiva is 30 feet tall including a 10 feet crown on the head of Lord Shiva. One side of the crown has a sculpture of Goddess Durga standing on a lion and Goddess Ganga is on the other side. In addition to this huge statue of Unakotiswar, there have many sculptures of others Gods and Goddess like Kalbhairava, Chandrashekhar Shiva, Kamdev with arrows & bow, Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwar all-together), Nrisingha, Radha-Krishna, Hanuman, Saraswati, Uma-Maheshwar, Shani, Nandi, etc. Some other important sculptures at Unakoti are a gigantic Ganesh and a quadrature Vishnu idol. Large statues engraved on the stone are really astonishing. To see these idols spread over a large part of the hill, you have to walk around the road of hilly terrain. Guidance of a recognized guide may be helpful for a short tour at Unakoti.

A large fair is held on the occasion of Ashokashtami festival in March-April in Unakoti every year. Thousands of pilgrims come from far and near to worship here. Other smaller festival takes place in January. Not only at the festive time, but tourist has gathered at Unakoti throughout the year from different parts of the country.

How to Reach Unakoti?

Unakoti is situated about 178 km northeast from Agartala, the capital city of Tripura. The nearest airport is also situated at Agartala and flight is the best bet to reach at Tripura from the other parts of India (except northeast India). From Agartala, you may hire a car for traveling at Unakoti. On the way, you may also visit at Chhabimura, Dumburu and Jampui Hill. It may cost around INR indian rupee2,000 to INR indian rupee2,500 for a small car (Indicia, Wagoner or Ecco) and around INR indian rupee3,000 to INR indian rupee3,500 for a big car (Tata Sumo or Bolero) for full day booking.

Public transports are also available to reach Unakoti. From Agartala, you may travel by bus or train to reach Kumarghat of Kailashahar. It is about 8 km driving distance from Unakoti and also serves as the district headquarters. Thereafter it is another half an hour journey. Silchar of Assam is located about 148 km northeast from Unakoti. It is another access point for Unakoti.

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