Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!

Unakoti: The Untold Story of an Indian Lost Civilization

Tucked away in the northeastern Indian state of Tripura, Unakoti is a mysterious and magical archaeological treasure that tells the story of a vanished civilization. Unakoti, which means “one less than a crore,” is tucked away amid verdant surroundings and rough terrain. It is cloaked in mystery, luring adventurers, historians, and spiritual seekers to discover its mysteries.

Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!
Shiva Statue at Unakoti

Unakoti: The Mystery of Giant Bass Relief Sculptures in Manipur’s Jungles

Giant-sized bass relief sculptures hidden in thick jungles in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur have long been a source of mystery. Who sculpted statues with remarkable size and expressions on their faces, and when, how, and why? Up until now, no one has been able to determine the answers to all of these queries.

Unakoti Enigma: Mystifying Sandstones in the Heart of Tripura’s Wilderness

The Tripura region of North India is only 10,500 square kilometers in size. River streams, valleys, dense jungles, and six mountain ranges—among them the 3,228-foot-tall Jamui and Sakhan Thang—make up just over half of this terrain. For perhaps a millennium, scientists have been perplexed by gray, brown, yellowish brown, and occasionally brown sand stones at a place called Unakoti in the dense wooded area at the extreme northern end of the Sakhan Tang hills.

The Enigmatic Unakoti: Exploring the Mysteries Behind Hindu Sculptures in Tripura

Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!

On these stones there are sculptures of enormous size whose’subjects’ are Hindu gods and goddesses, but the shapes and especially the facial expressions seem quite strange. Although the total number of figures carved in the bas-relief method is 37, this area is known as Unakoti! Koti means 1 crore (10 million) in Sanskrit, and Una means ‘one less’ in the local language of Tripura. Thus, the word Unakoti refers to 99,99,999 sculptures. However, such an extensive number of sculptures are not here—and if there are, they have not been found to this day. Then why did the term unakoti come into vogue for only 37 bas relief figures?

Folklores connected to Unakoti

There is a lot of folklore explaining how this place came into existence.

Folklore # 1

Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!

According to popular folklore, 1 crore gods and goddesses, including Lord Shiva, were going to Varanasi (Banaras), passing through Unakoti. It was evening, so the convoy, which was tired after walking all day, decided to spend the night in Unakoti. Lord Shiva ordered everyone to get ready before sunrise so that the journey could resume on time the next day. But the next day, even though the sun had risen, all the gods and goddesses were asleep.

Seeing the violation of the order given the previous night, Lord Shiva became enraged and cursed all the gods and goddesses to turn into stone. A group of pilgrims, including Lord Shiva, contained 1 crore (koti). Out of which, all except Lord Shiva were imprisoned in a stone. Hence this place is said to be known as Unakoti (1 crore minus Lord Shiva).

Folklore # 2

According to another tradition, Kallu Kumhar, a devotee of Goddess Parvati, lived here. Once seeing Shiva-Parvati going to Kailash, Kallu begged to go along. Lord Shiva, not wanting to hurt Kallu Kumbar’s religious feelings by refusing, tried a nice solution. Kallu Kumhar was given the task of making one crore idols in a night by dawn.

Kallu stayed up all night with the determination to go to Kailas in the company of Shankar-Parvati. One after another, idols started to be carved on the rocks. But when Lord Shiva counted in the morning, 1 idol was less than 1 crore. Lord Shiva denied Kallu Kumhar’s request to accompany them, stating the reason for not completing the task. This place then came to be known as Unakoti.

Folklore # 3

There is also folklore that the gods themselves enshrined their images on stone while departing from the earth at the advent of Kali Yuga. Of course, all such folktales reflect only the religious glorification of Unakoti’s naming. No logic. The logical answer as to why this place got the name Unakoti is still not found.

Unakoti: Where Mythology Meets Majesty in the Heart of Tripura

Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!

On entering the premises of Unakoti, one gets a mixed feeling of mythology, naturalness, and sanctity. Further up the gently sloping path, one can see a huge head carved into the vertical rock face of the mountain, with big eyes and big ears, as seen in the statue of Lord Buddha. Before the sense of awe at a never-before-seen work of design subsides, another equally magnificent visage appears next to it, giving a mild shock of surprise upon closer inspection. E.g. Generally, the statues of Gods and Goddesses show expressions like mild smile, anger, compassion, meditation, etc.

Exploring the Intricacies of Lord Shiva’s Sculptures at Unakoti

On the other hand, here the huge face sculpture of Lord Shiva shows a smile with perfect teeth. The decoration done in the name of jewelry is also strange. The earrings are of extraordinary size, and the crown on the head is sharp like the teeth of a saw. Another sculpture of Lord Shiva has rock carvings and intricately decorated hair. The sculpture looks very attractive due to the brown color of the rocks with vertical lines. The sculptor is believed to have depicted the descent of Ganga to Earth through this artifact.

Unakotiswara Kalabhairava: The Majestic 30-Foot-Tall Masterpiece of Lord Shiva

On the rock a little further is a 30-foot-tall masterpiece of Lord Shiva, in which an unknown artist has depicted Lord Shiva with a curly mustache, wearing a 10-foot-high crown. Nowhere else in India is there such a huge face of Shiva carved in stone. This sculpture is worshiped by locals as ‘Unakotiswara Kalabhairava’.

Divine Sculpture: Lord Shiva with Goddess Durga and Ganga at Unakoti

Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!

Lord Shiva’s head is depicted with Goddess Durga seated on a full-sized lion on one side and Goddess Ganga riding a crocodile on the other. The figures of both animals may look very rough, but they can be identified by the design of their mouths. Here, the artist has also incorporated a small face of Chandra (the moon god). The spring flowing from this is considered to be a symbol of the Ganges flowing from Lord Shiva’s hair. The spring water flows down into a tank known as Sitakund. As the water of the spring is Ganga water, the locals are honored to bathe in it with the hope of getting rid of sins.

Unconventional Ganapati: Exploring Unique Sculptures at Unakoti

There are three Lord Ganesh idols next to each other, right next to the spring. Each must be at least twenty feet tall. You will be surprised to see the strangeness in these sculptures. Normally, almost as a rule, Ganesha is depicted in statues and paintings with a big tummy and a single tooth, while in Unakoti he does not have such a traditional form. In the two sculptures here, Lord Ganapati is shown to be flat-bellied, with two whole teeth and eight arms. In his hands are a damaru and a trishul of peculiar shape, which is actually seen in the hands of Lord Shiva.

Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!

Why is the trident shown in the hands of Lord Ganapati? In the same way, the question of what the artist would like to indicate by the figure of a conch shell in a big ear! The third Lord Ganapati in the row is seated cross-legged. The stomach has been raised to form a big belly, but its shape seems to be a little strange.

During the monsoon, when the rainwater from above falls on the three artifacts, it seems as if the idols are being anointed naturally. On the same rock to the far left, a fifteen-foot-tall statue of Lord Vishnu wearing a garland around his neck is carved. The four-armed bas-relief idol holds a conch, a mace, and a beautifully toothed Sudarshan Chakra. However, his facial features are more feminine than masculine.

Sculptures of Power and Grace: Exploring the Divine Feminine at Unakoti

Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!

Also interesting are the sculptures of two women on the rock a little above the main idol of Lord Shiva, in which some goddess is shown standing with a three-pronged arrow strung on a bow. Their lips are pursed due to aggressive posture. In another statue right next to it, the lips of the goddess are open and teeth are visible. Both sculptures have various ornaments, including a necklace, a bindi on the forehead, earrings in the ears, and a crown with bird feathers on the head. In addition to this, several other female characters are carved on rocks in Unakoti.

As such, two women have different postures carved on a large rock. One woman is leaning from the waist to the left with her left hand on her head and her right hand on her waist, while the other woman is in a prone position as if doing Bharatanatyam. According to scholars, both the poses are dance postures.

Sacred Marvels of Unakoti: Mysteries and Devotion in Stone

The unknown artisans of Unakoti have carved gigantic sculptures on the surface of the high rocks, and some small rocks sticking out of the ground have also been shaped like Nandi, Ganapati’s vehicle Mushaka (the mouse), and Durga’s vehicle Lion. The region also has a large number of circular Shivlingas, of which the Chaturmukhi (four-faced) Shivlinga with faces in all four directions can be called special. Although the two faces of the Shivlinga, carved by an unknown sculptor in the ninth century, are broken for some unknown reason, its religious majesty has not been affected at all. Even today, it is worshiped with full devotion.

Unakoti: Tracing Hindu Heritage and Monarchical Legacy in Tripura

Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!
Hindu_Dieties_on_Unakoti_hills_Tripura_India

From the sculptures of Shivlinga and Lord Shiva found here, it is clear that the residents of Unakoti were Hindus years ago, and Shiva was their deity. According to the book ‘Rajmala’, which records the history of Tripura, a total of 184 kings of the Manikya dynasty ruled the land of Tripura for 1,500 years. These kings are on the banks of the Manu Worshiping Lord Shiva is mentioned in the book ‘Rajmala‘. On October 15, 1949, Tripura was politically united with independent India, ending the monarchical era there.

Unakoti Unearthed: Exploring Earthquake’s Impact and Hidden Secrets

Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!
Imposing Shiva in Unakoti

The land of North India has many geological faults. In the past, the region has often been devastated by devastating earthquakes. Tripura’s Unakoti has also been affected by the earthquake, as a result of which several sculptures were broken. A huge face carved in stone near Lord Shiva’s head can be seen even today, falling down from its original place. According to the researchers, there is also a possibility that some of the works were buried underground due to the earthquake. If excavations are carried out, some sculptures may still be found. Unakoti is an enigmatic place that holds many secrets underground.

The Enigma of Unakoti: Deciphering the Mystery Behind Giant Sculptures

Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!

On the other hand, are the giant sculptures seen on the surface less mysterious? First of all, what was the purpose of the artists of that time in creating such huge works? If the purpose is to display art, then there is no point in creating such works in an inaccessible region in the middle of forests. Unakoti, still densely forested today, must have been extremely inaccessible centuries ago. If the intention of an art exhibition is to be successful, the work should be created in a place where common people can easily reach it.

Unakoti’s Fusion: Exploring the Interplay of Hinduism and Tribal Artistry

It is also worth noting that although the designs here are of Hindu gods and goddesses, there is an aboriginal style in addition to the fringes (eg long ears) of the Buddha sculptures. Inherent from the nose-patterns, thin mouths, manner of displaying teeth, use of flowers in ornaments, saw-like crowns

Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!
Rock-cut_sculptures_of_Unakoti

, knotted dhoti, quivers in quivers, etc, it can be inferred that tribal artists created the sculptures. If this assumption is true, then the second question is who taught the art of bas relief to the then tribals who lived a secluded life in the forest?

The most challenging riddle is the word Unakoti itself. If 99,99,999 (less than 10 million) sculptures were carved here years ago, why are only 37 found today? where are the rest Or do they not exist at all? If not, why is this place named Unakoti?

The question may remain unanswered forever!

Conclusion: Unakoti Beckons

India’s rich creative and cultural tradition is exemplified by Unakoti. It never fails to enthrall everyone who enters its domain with its magical allure and rock-cut wonders. Let us approach Unakoti with caution and regard as we solve its riddles, respecting the memory of a vanished civilization tucked away in Tripura’s lush countryside.

Good to know for a perfect Trip…..

  1. The ideal period to visit Tripura is from October to March. The temperature in April-May is 33–35 degrees Celsius. And starting in June, there is a monsoon for four months.
  2.  The capital, Agartala, is connected by air to Delhi, Kolkata, and Guwahati. Kailashahar, Khowai, and Kamalpur also have airports, but it is suggested to check whether they are operational or not. Eight kilometers from Unakoti, Kailashahar is the main town, from which buses and taxis to Unakoti are available. Helicopter service is available between Agartala and Kailashnagar. Just 50 km from Kailashahar, Kumarghat is the nearest town and has many downhill trains.
  3.  Unakoti Tourist Lodge, Kailashnagar. Phone: 03824-223635; Mobile: 98560 71270).

       Juri Tourist Lodge, Dharmanagar. Phone: 0382-2231921.

Apart from this, there are many investment options. For more information: https://tripuratourism.gov.in/govtaccommodation

  • There is no entry fee at Unakoti. Currently, the Archaeological Department of India maintains the sculptures here. A stepped trail has been constructed for the convenience of tourists. Bas relief is also found at Chhabimura, about 85 km south-west of Agartala. On an almost perpendicular vertical rock to the south of the Gumti (or Gomti) river are carved the panchashakti (five powers) of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha, Lord Kartikeya, and Lord Vishnu. The panel is approximately 9 meters in length and 5 meters in width. Further on, there are sculptures of several gods and goddesses, the main attraction being the 10.7 m high and 7.7 m wide Mahishasurmardini sculpture, perched about 10 m above the water surface.

■ Tourism department website: https://tripuratourism.gov.in/


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1 thought on “Unakoti: The Untold Story of the Lost Civilization in 2024!”

  1. You explained about the place in a very profound manner. Very informative and one more thing that you should provide more knowledge about these types of places which is not so famous but has its historical significance

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