The capital of Tripura, Agartala borders Bangladesh, on the banks of the Haora river. In fact, you will land barely a hundred metres from the international border! But it isn’t just its geography that is interesting—Agartala also has a history worth reckoning with. Some records state that the city has been habituated since 1900 BC, and even today, has vestiges of its glorious history through palaces, temples and shrines. The long list of things to do in Agartala includes sampling this rich history, and also its local food, some of which has a distinct Bengali influence. Agartala weather is monsoon-like most of the year. Heavy rains during June and July make travelling around the city almost impossible, but any other time through the year makes for a good time to visit. Agartala airport is a domestic one and is situated around 12 km from the main city.
Agartala Tourism offers a host of sightseeing opportunities to tourist. The city’s proximity to wildlife, and its rich heritage make Agartala a great city for those that want to explore a different part of the country, one that’s not overrun with selfie-stick wielding tourists.
The two palaces you must visit are the Ujjayanta Palace, and the Neermahal Palace. The former is named by Rabindranath Tagore, who spent a few years in the city, and was built between 1899 and 1901 by the king, Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya. A museum today, its tiled floors and landscaped gardens point to an aesthetic that is refined and thankfully well-preserved. An hour’s drive from the city, the elegant Neermahal Palace stands in the centre of Rudrasagar lake. A short boat ride will take you to this edifice that blends Hindu and Muslim architectural styles.
Once back in the city, plan a visit to the Tripura Government Museum, home to an array of tribal sculptures, coins and paintings from all over the region. Housed in a former palace, the artefacts on display will have you in awe. You can access the Agartala map to track locations better. Close by is the Heritage Park, which includes miniature replicas of the state’s architectural buildings, nestled in manicured gardens, set amidst undulating hills.
For those that are religious, a temple trail will take you around the city and its surroundings and you can see the Tripurasundari Temple (locally known as Mata Bari), which stands where Hindu goddess Sati’s right foot is said to have touched the ground during her dance for Lord Shiva. (Tip: the shrine is about 50km from the city, so it will take up most part of your day.) Also worth visiting is the Kamalesari Temple, which is close to the Bangladesh border, and Jagannath Temple.
There are a lot of bazaars and markets around the city, from which you can buy items to take home. For women, jewellery is also available at stores like Roop Mahal in Jagat Bazaar. The market, incidentally, is great for those looking to buy garments—both traditional and western wear. When it comes to handicrafts, bamboo and cane furniture is available at the state-run emporiums, though transporting them home might be an issue.
Rent a car and pack yourself a snack: there’s a bunch of very interesting getaways from Agartala. Topping your list should be Unakoti, for its rock sculptures, which are about 150km away. Take a day trip, as there aren’t too many options when it comes to places to stay around the area. The carvings showcase Shiva’s life, and are monumental in scale.
On your way back from the Tripurasundari Temple, you can stop by at the Sepahijala Wild Life Sanctuary, which is home to clouded leopards, cheetahs, monkeys and more. Within the sanctuary, there is a zoo, for those that want to be guaranteed of an animal sighting, and especially if you have kids—it is a great way to spend an afternoon or morning. There’s also Kalyan Sagar Lake to get your Instagram selfie at, or the Rudra Sagar Lake, which surrounds the aforementioned Neermahal Palace.
|Airport Road, Agartala, Tripura 799009||IXA|