Monday, June 21, 2010

Tripura At A Glance

Tripura – a land underlined by verdant expanses and cultural fascinations is the second smallest state in the country located in the northeastern fringe of India. Rocked by a distinctive line of historical hot spots, monolithic carvings, Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries and wildlife parks, Tripura teems with attractions galore. Surrounded on the north, west and south by Bangladesh, the state shares a common boundary with the neighboring states of Assam and Mizoram on the east.

Though about 70% of Tripura population comprises of Bengalis, the state shows an eclectic mix of culture and customs owing to different tribal communities such as Tripuris, Reangs, Jamatia, Noatias, and Halams that have been peacefully coexisting here since ages. A microcosm of India with Agartala as its capital, Tripura has also been long associated with poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore, which extols its rich cultural scenario to renewed heights.

History

The earliest history of Tripura finds mention in ancient epics like the Mahabharata and the Ashokan pillar inscriptions of the 3rd century BC. As per early history, the Tripuri Kings ruled the land from the Kailashahar region in North Tripura during the 7th century. The 14th century was a watershed in Tripura history with the shifting of its capital from Kailashahar to Udaipur and the adoption of the title “Manikya” by the Tripuri kings. This Manikyas of Indo-Mongolian origin held their sway in Tripura for around 3000 years.

In the early 17th century AD, Tripura came under the administration of the Mughal regime, with the Manikya rulers retaining some of their powers. With the advent of colonialism in India, some portions of Tripura came under the British rule. Since Manikya Maharajas had good relations with the British, they enjoyed enough liberty of administration even while the land was under colonial hegemony.

On 9th September, 1947, monarchical rule in Tripura collapsed after the death of the last Manikya Maharaja, Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya. Tripura officially became part of India on Oct. 15, 1949. It subsequently became a Union Territory on 1st November 1956 and remained so until Jan 21, 1972, when it finally got its statehood.

Geography & Climate

Enclosing a total area of 10,491.69 sq km, Tripura is predominantly a hilly region where lofty hills and tiny hummocks blend well with the river valleys. The altitude of the state varies from 50 to 3080 ft above sea level. North Tripura has four valleys forked by hills with heights of about 1,000 m, whereas the South Tripura district has three hill ranges with considerable altitudes. Deotamura is the principal hill range of South Tripura District that stretches across a distance of 85 km. The two other hill ranges are the South Baramura and a part of the Atharamura hill range. About 54.5% of land in the state is forested, whereas only 24.3% area is available for agricultural use.

Typical of mountainous regions, the climate of Tripura is normally pleasant. The state records a low average temperature of 10 degree Celsius in the winter season (December- February). During the summer season (March-May), the maximum average temperature soars to 35 degree Celsius. Monsoon (May-September) is the longest season with frequent showers. The average annual rainfall is recorded at 2100 mm, with Kamalpur receiving the maximum amount of rainfall of 2855 mm while Sonamura receiving the lowest average of 1811 mm.

Demographics

Inspite of being the smallest state in the region, Tripura is the second most populous state in North-East India, after Assam with a total population of 3,199,203 (2001 Census). The population density of the state is 305 people per square kilometer with inhabitants residing over 4 districts, 40 blocks and 870 villages. Principal languages of the state are Bengali and Kokborak.

Culture & Heritage

a) Fairs & Festivals- Apart from the regular Hindu festivals observed throughout India, numerous festivals that are unique to the state are celebrated with great fervor and gaiety round the year. With 19 tribes dominating its cultural scene, Tripura has a huge variety of tribal festivals such as The Garia, Ker Ganga, Gajan festivals, etc. The Ashokastami Festival Unakoti in the month of April, Kharchi Festival in July, Manasa Mangal in August, Pous Sankranti Mela in January, Rasha Festival in November, the Boat Race at Melaghar in August, the Orange and Tourism festival in the Jampui Hill range in November are some other important festivals celebrated here.

b) Dances- Dances in Tripura reverberate the cultural heritage of its people. Garia dances celebrated in the middle of April where people pray to the God 'Garia' for a good harvest is the most popular folk dance of Tripura. Dances of the Reang community; 'Bizu' dances by the Chakmas denoting the culmination of the Bengali calendar year; 'Basanta Raas' of the Hindu Manipuris in Tripura, 'Hai Hak' dances of the Halams, and the Cheraw dance associated with the confinement of Lusai woman are a few other notable folk dances of different tribal communities in Tripura.

c) Art & Craft- Artisans in Tripura use simple items such as bamboo, cane, palm leaves and yarn to shape an exquisite variety of handicrafts, including bamboo screens, furniture, panels and partitions, lamp stands, tablemats, sitalpati, baskets, etc. Ornaments made of bamboo and cane etched with intricate designs are peculiar to the place and earn recognition worldwide. Exquisite silk sarees with rich pageantry of colors also reflect the unique handicraft of Tripura.

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