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Tripura

CAPITAL AGARTALA
AREA IN Sq. km 10,000
PRINCIPAL LANGUAGE BENGALI, KOKBARAK, MANIPURI

It is located in the northeastern part of the subcontinent. It is bordered on the north, west, and south by Bangladesh, on the east by the state of Mizoram, and on the northeast by the state of Assam. Covering an area of only 10,486 square kilometres, it is India's third smallest state, after Goa and Sikkim.

Tripura is mainly a hilly territory with altitudes varying from 50 to 3080 ft above sea level, though the major population of the state lives in the plains. It has a moderate temperature and highly humid atmosphere.

Tripura sends three members to the Parliament: one to the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and two to the Lok Sabha (lower house). The state has three administrative districts. Agartala is the capital of this picturesque hilly state.

History

Historical evidence of Tripura first appears in the 14th-century Rajamala, the chronicle of the Manikya dynasty. Under this dynasty, Tripura suzerainty was extended over much of Bengal, Assam, and Myanmar in a series of remarkable military conquests. It was not until the beginning of the 17th century that the Mughal Empire extended its sovereignty over much of Tripura

It was an independent administrative unit under the Maharaja even during the British rule in India though this independence was qualified, being subject to the recognition of the British, as the paramount power, of each successive ruler. In 1905 Tripura was attached to the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam and was known as Hill Tippera.

The last ruling maharaja of Tripura, Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya, ascended the throne in 1923 and, before his death in 1947, settled that Tripura should accede to the newly independent country of India. Tripura officially became part of India on Oct. 15, 1949, and was made a union territory on Sept. 1, 1956. It became a constituent state of the Indian Union on Jan. 21, 1972.

Society and Culture

Today, Tripura is largely a Bengali community, inspite of the 19 Scheduled Tribes that form more than 40 percent of the state's population. More than half speak Bengali; Bengali and Tripuri are the state's official languages. The other important language is Manipuri. Hinduism is the religion of most of the people. There are also small minorities of Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians The tribals, with a rich and varied culture, belong mainly to the Reang, Chakma, Halam and Usai communities. Music and dance are an integral part of their lives. Garia dances held for the prosperity of the people; dances of the Reang community; 'Bizu' dances by the Chakmas denoting the end of the Bengali calendar year; 'Hai Hak' dances of the Halams and the Cheraw dance associated with the confinement of Lusai woman, are examples. 'Basanta Raas' is the charming dance of the Hindu Manipuris, in Tripura.

Handlooms and handicrafts of Tripura reflect the inherent quality of workmanship, and uniqueness of the people. Simple materials such as bamboo, cane, palm leaves and ordinary yarn are used to create a fascinating variety of handiwork. Intricately designed handlooms and silk, cane and bamboo works are the main industries. Furniture, toys, objects of daily utility such as lamp shades, baskets, calendars, ivory work and Tripuran tribal jewellery, make shopping here a fantastic experience.

The main festivals of Tripura are the Durga Puja (at the time of Dussehra), Karchi Puja, Diwali, Dol Jatra (Holi), Pous Sankranti, Ashokashtmi and Buddha Jayanti, Id, Christmas and New Year. The Garia, Ker Ganga and Gajan festivals are important tribal festivities. During Ashokashtmi there are special celebrations at Unnakoti. The Fourteen Goddess Temple in Old Agartala attracts a lot of visitors for its Karchi Puja, and so does Tirthamukh on the occasion of the Pous Sankranti Mela. Other festivals are the Rabindra/Nazrul Festival in May, the Boat Race at Melaghar in August, the Orange and Tourism festival in the Jampui Hill range in November.

Long and intimate association of Poet Rabindranath Tagore with Tripura has added luster to the rich cultural heritage of the state. The state has produced the famous musicians Sachin Dev Barman and Rahul Dev Barman.

Economy and Infrastructure

Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy; shifting cultivation is gradually being replaced by modern farming methods. Important cash crops are tea, jute, cotton, and fruit. Wheat, rice, potatoes, and sugarcane are also grown. Almost half the land area is still covered by forest.

Manufacturing is largely on a small scale and includes many cottage industries, such as weaving, carpentry, basketry, and pottery making. The state government is active in fostering the growth of small-scale industries. Industrial units also exist for the production of tea, sugar, canned fruit, agricultural implements, bricks, and footwear; larger establishments include a spinning mill, a jute mill, a steel mill, a plywood factory, and a pharmaceuticals plant.

Energy is provided by diesel-powered thermal plants at Agartala, Ambasa, Khowai, Dharmanagar, Kailashahar, Udaipur, and Bagafa and by the Gumti Hydroelectric Project. Extensive resources of natural gas have recently been discovered in the state.

Tripura's hilly topography renders communications difficult. Moreover, with
Bangladesh bordering the state on three sides, Tripura is virtually isolated from India; land routes consist only of the Agartala-Karimganj (Assam) road and a metre-gauge railway link from Dharmanagar to Kalkali Ghat, Assam. Most rivers carry boat traffic, but this is generally for local transport. Agartala is linked by air to Calcutta (in West Bengal) and various towns in Assam. Intrastate air service also exists.

The Government of India has recently taken a number of initiatives to develop infrastructural facilities in Tripura and other North-eastern states. A broad-gauge Railway line is being extended upto the state capital, Agartala. Roads and Airport facilities are also being developed. Telecommunication facilities are being upgraded. The power tariff is also very low in Tripura, being less than Rs. 1.00 per unit, as against about Rs. 3.00 per unit in other parts on the country. Moreover, natural gas available in the state can also be used as fuel (as substitute for electric power), which provides an alternative to the industrial units coming up in the state.

Tourist Centres

Tripura has a lot to offer to the tourists. Agartala, the picturesque capital, with its beautiful palaces, gardens, hills, temples and lakes, scenic Tirthamulkh with its lakes; waterfalls and reservoir are all worth visiting. Pilak Pather and Lungthung are virtual treasure troves for those, historically inclined. Jampol hills, Rudrasagar and Neer Mahal-the lake cities, Sepahijala-the wildlife sanctuary, and the temples in and around Udaipur, are the other major places of interest in this tiny state.