A mountain, and on the sides of it carved out stone images, a spring descending in the channel, a place of archeological wonder Unakoti in Tripura is unparalleled. Quietly nestled in the lush greenery of hills, verdant valleys and transparent waterscape, Unakoti serves as the land of myths and attracts tourists from all countries across the globe. Situated in the land of Shiva- Tripura, Unakoti is home to both stone images and rock carved sculptures. One wonders who these people were and at what spell of time did they chisel out such wonderful idols from the rocks.
Stone carvings :
This destination of natural beauty is considered to be built nearly 1100 to 1300 (in 7th to 9th century) years back, dating from now. One can find beautiful images of Hindu divinities like God Shiva, Ganesha and many others on the hill side, which surely needs a special mention. The central Shiva head and gigantic Ganesha figures are the rock cut carvings that throw light upon the skills of the sculptors back then. The formation of Unakoti has always been coupled with two dominant myths.
Myths about Unakoti :
Down the annals of history the formation and glory of Unakoti have acted as powerful inducements to tourists or people keen to travel to unknown lands. There are several myths bounding the formation of these carved out stone images. Many people believe that Lord Shiva, along with a crore other gods and goddesses marched down their way to Kashi (modern day Varanasi) but a result to fatigue, they decided to take a night halt at Unakoti. Lord Shiva strictly informed everyone that they should all wake by the time of dawn so that they can again process with their journey ahead. But the next morning Shiva saw everyone was asleep and nobody paid heed to what he had asked them to do the previous night. In anger, he cursed all of them to never wake up again and that their bodies turn into stones. So according to this myth, what we see today at Unakoti are the bodies-turned-stones of one less than a crore gods and goddesses, which also serves as the reason for giving Unakoti its name, which literally means, “one less than a crore!”
According to another myth, there was once a sculptor and potter named Kallu Kumhar who wanted to accompany Lord Shiva and Parvati on their abode to Kailash Parvat. He was a true devotee of Parvati (lord Shiva’s wife) and on her persuasion to lord Shiva, he agreed but only on one condition that Kallu would sculpt a crore (10 million) images of him before dawn. With the passing of time, Kallu put all his soul into completing the task given to him, but fell short of a crore sculptures of Lord Shiva. Making this an excuse, Lord Shiva along with Parvati started their journey to Kailash Parvat leaving Kallu Kumhar behind.
Ashokastami Festival :
Every year, the month of March-April sees a fleet of thousands of pilgrims making their way to Unakoti to take a holy dip in the waters of Astami Kunda and offer their prayers to all the gods and goddesses that have been sculpted there. The devotees take a dip in the sacred waters as they believe that taking a dip here will wash away all their sins and purify their soul. It is held each and every year with magnificence and extravaganza.
Unrecorded in the history, a mystery surrounds Unakoti and that definitely fascinates visitors.