TRIPURA SUNDARI TEMPLE
Pride of Udaipur as the capital of Tripura
is now merely a thing of the by-gone history. Udaipur lost the glory of being
the capital during the reign of Maharaja Krishna Manikya, 240 years ago. Yet,
the historical significance of Udaipur never touched a low. Udaipur has a
history spanning 1170 years, as the capital, during the reign of the Manikya
dynasty. Though many a memorials of that era had faded away, many are still
alive. Counting from ancient seals, copper plates, stone-inscriptions, ruined
palaces, temples and mosques, deeds and documents, utility articles to large
ponds; many of such evidences are still bearing the testimony of the past. And
amidst all this, still upholding the grace and dignity for 500 years in its own
is the Tripura Sundari Temple. Udaipur might have lost the pride of the capital
city, but neither the glory nor the significance of Tripura Sundari temple has
been shadowed. On the contrary, all the business of the present day Udaipur
revolves around this temple. The temple is one of the memorials which still bear
the testimony of the graceful period under the Maharajas. The significance of
Tripura Sundari temple is bifaceted-both historical as well as religious. A site
already being accounted as a place for pilgrimage is now one of the attractive
tourist spots in Tripura.
Although basically a
religious site, the historical significance of Tripura Sundari temple is greater
in many aspects and than other temples and sites of worship in the state. There
are two reasons behind this. Firstly, Tripura Sundari temple is the only one of
its kind i.e. the most ancient one to be still intact and alive. Here, the image
of the deity is still being worshipped with devotion. A temple that attracts
lakhs of devotees every year due to its indomitable attraction. Secondly, its
construction style and the architectural design has its unique feature.
Moreover, the stone- inscriptions on the walls of the temple accounts to its
Tripura Sundari temple is
supposed to be one amongst the 51 pithas, So, its religious significance is
greater than any other temples in the state. But, this pitha or place of
pilgrimage doesn't host an assemblage of people of a particular religion or a
sect only. In fact, people from all walks of life, irrespective of language,
religion or caste gather around this place of pilgrimage. And this is the
hallmark and the most noteworthy salient feature of Tripura Sundari temple.
In 1501 A. D. (1423 Saka Era)
Maharaja Dhanya Manikya built the Tripura Sundari Temple.
According to the Rajmala1, Maharaja Dhanya Manikya arranged for a vaastupuja
ceremony or the worship of the tutelar deity of a homestead actually with the
desire to build a Vishnu temple at the site of the present day temple. In course
of the beginning of the construction, one night the Raja received a divine
message from Devi Bhagavati in his dreams. He was instructed to fetch the idol
of the Goddess from Chittagong, and to install it at the new temple. Following
the message, the Raja sent his General Rasangamardan to Chattal or Chittagong in
order to bring the idol. But, the idol was not immediately enshrined after it
was brought down from Chittagong by Rasangamardan because, the construction of
the temple (Monastery) was not completed by then, as the Rajmala says- 'Rasangamardan
Narayan was sent to Chattal where, (he) perceived the divine message in (his)
dreams, lies (his) welfare. And was brought in the state with devotional
exuberance and festive flavour. The king walked down eagerly and greeted (her)
with honour. And the monastery came up after some time.' Only after the
construction was over the idol of the Goddess had been installed with complete
sacred scriptural rituals and Maharaja Dhanya Manikya dedicated the temple in
the name of the holy Goddess.
There are certain common talks that prevails regarding the
installation of the devi-idol. It is learnt that Maharaja Dhanya Manikya decided
to bring the Shivalinga or phallic symbol of shiva (Swayambhuinga or
Swayambhunath) from Chandranath, a place of pilgrimage at Chittagong, to his
state when he came to learn about its divine grace and power. Excavation began
at full swing but eventually it was an unsuccessful attempt to dislocate it. One
night the Maharaja perceived a divine message in his dream that the Shivalinga
couldn't be dislodged from its place, instead, the idol of Tripura Sundari could
be translocated, if he wished. But there was a precondition that the idol could
be shifted away anywhere as far as possible by the following night only and by
no means it could be moved after the day break. According to the divine message,
the Maharaja arranged for the transfer of Tripura Sundari idol. Servants loyal
to the King toiled hard all the way to bring the idol but were forced to halt on
the way when the idol became static as soon as day broke out. Maharaja Dhanya
Manikya built a temple just at that place and installed the idol there in. The
place was later named Matabari.
Another hearsay is that, the
present image of diety was actually found submerged under water of Brahmachhara
nearby Matabari, The Maharaja perceived a divine message in his dreams to rescue
the Devi. Thereafter, he built the temple. Matabari is located approximately 3
kms South to Udaipur town. The temple is built on a relatively small hillock
which is convex shaped, almost like a tortoise (thus also referred as Kurmapitha).
The temple was constructed on the top location of the tortoise shaped hillock.
It is popularly known as the Temple of Tripura Sundari, Tripura Sundari or
Matabari among the people of Tripura. In the course of time, the area adjacent
to the Temple too was named as Matabari. Presently, the block also endorses the
There is a big pond 'Kalyansagar' on the
east of the temple. The pond dates back to the period of Maharaja Kalyan Manikya
(1625 -1660 A.D.), i.e. it was dug up at least 124 years after the temple was
founded. Another big pond was said to be there, in the north of the temple
Chandroday Vidyabinod, the expert of stone - inscription had seen the signs and
remains of the pond in 1903 A.D. During the time, it was thickly covered with
bushes and bore a deserted look. It is not yet evaluated, when and who had
actually (lug the pond up. But owing to its proximity to the temple, it is
assumed that the pond was dug after the temple stood up and probably it was
dedicated to the Devi. Highlighting this, Chandroday Vidynbinod in his book 'Shilalipi
Samgraha' quotes, 'It is assumed that Maharaja Dhanya Manikya, founder of the
temple had himself arranged for the excavation of the pond.' In the north and
east of the pond Is the 'Sukhsagar'. Another pond in the west of the temple and
'Sukhsagar Jola' in the further west of it had been mentioned in 'Shilahpi
The temple of Tripura Sundari
or Matabari faces westward. Though the main entrance is in the west, there is a
small entrance also in the north. According to Chandrodaya Vidyabinod
Bhattacharya the latter might have been carved out Construction in the later
years. He observed that generally the pattern of the ancient temples didn't seem
to have more than one entrance, The temple had been measured physically in 1892
A.D. which furnished the data that exterior of the temple was 24'x24' and the
inner compartment 16'x 16'. The temple wall had a width of 8' and it was 75'
tall. The difference in measurement between the outer and inner lies in the fact
that the temple wall was exceedingly thick.
Though the outer morphology
of the temple is tetragonal, the core-chamber or lumen inside is rotund just as
the circular roof inside. Seldom such temples with spherical lumen are visible
in India. There are four buttresses or supports at the four corners of the
temple exteriorly. The horizontal carvings protruding at frequent intervals
encircling along the buttresses enhance their beauty extensively. Intricate
artistry resembling inverted pitcher beautifies the apex of the buttresses.
Horizontal lines symmetrically joined by vertical lines at alternate intervals
produce a texture of rectangles with different magnitudes all along the surface
of the walls. The top of the temple is covered by four slanting roofs or Chaar
chaalas that hold a circular block at the centre. There rests a conical or stupa
like neck on the block and numerous small alcoves or Kulangi serially
surrounding its base render it the look of a blooming lotus. The neck beholds
the Aanilok, a conical or a myrobalan shaped structure. Slender, convex
undulatory curve lines along the Aamlok are distinctly visible from a distance.
Aamlok is ascended by Karanda, a typical structure that resembles a
flower-basket or a bee-hive that also bears the sacred flag on top.
The apical portion of the
temple is considered to be that of a modified form of the typical Buddhist
stupas. A chaala-temple or a temple with slant roofs is a typical example of the
Bengal architecture of the medieval period. Such a modified form of construction
of a Buddhist-stupa on a tetrad roof or Chaar chaala is an unique phenomenon and
seen nowhere in India. While such a pattern on four chaalas had evolved due to
blending of Hindu and Buddhist style of construction, there are certain
accessory structures on the temple unseen in either Hindu or Buddhist
architecture. Hindu temples don't seem to have buttresses which are otherwise
very prominent in Tripura Sundari temple. Regarding 'buttresses', in his book
'Temples of Tripura', Sri Adrish Bandopadhyay denoted them to be heavily
inspired from Muslim towers or Minars. Though a blend of various forms of
construction styles had influenced the Tripura Sundari Temple, yet, one can say
Tripura can boast of this architectural wonder as its own. Obviously, the
architectural design of the temple is referred to as that of a Tripura-style of
The temple had actually come
up on a raised pucca terrace. According to ancient paintings of the temple,
there used to be a roofed Naatmandir or open prayer hall for offering prayer and
other devotional performances near the core-chamber of the temple. It was pulled
down at its worn out stage during the reign of Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya.
The present day hail had been newly built by him in 1903-l904 AD. The
construction of the hall seems to been heavily influenced by Orissa-style of
These are live stone slabs
bearing inscriptions engrafted on the walls of Tripura Sundari temple. Among
them, one is in the north and two each in the east and South. But there is no
such inscriptions in the front side i.e. the west. The editor of 'Rajmala', Sri
Kaliprasanna Sen way back in 1892 A.D. had seen a deep mark on the anterior part
of the front door of the temple. He opined that once there might have been a
stone-inscription engraved or engrafted on that spot that eventually got damaged
years ago. Possibly the scar might have been filled up and restored during the
renovation in the later years. Probably such a task was carried out during the
reign of Radhakishore Manikya. Although Radhakishore Manikya undertook the
renovation work of the temple in 1904 A.D., no stone- inscriptions had been
preserved as a proof, stated the 'Rajmala'.
It is quite obvious that
there ought to be some sort of stone- inscription or other marks depicting the
founder's name somewhere around the temple, and generally, such marks are found
to be in front of temples. The Shilalipi Samgraha, in this respect mentions ' It
is beyond doubt that there were stone-inscriptions. In 1423 Saka Era Maharaja
Dhanya Manikya built the temple and installed the idol of Goddess Tripura
Sundari Kali and orderly placed a stone slab in Tripura Sundari Temple bearing a
Sloka inscribed on it'. In fact the 'Rajmala' bears the description of the Sloka.
Both the stone slabs in the east have inscriptions on the same matter and both
fragments are actually part of a single script. Though the stone-inscription was
in Sanskrit Sioka, Bengali script had been used for that. Most probably, the two
stone-inscriptions were installed in 1681 A.D. in the temple. It is mentioned in
the inscription that Maharaja Dhanya Manikya in 1423 Saka Era (1501 A.D.)
founded this temple and dedicated it to Devi Ambika. Ram Manikya Dev carried out
the renovation work of the temple in 1603 Saka or 1681 A.D. after it had been
struck by natural calamities (as a hearsay goes, it was once struck by a
powerful lightning causing lot of damage).
In the year 1603 Saka or 1681
A.D. Ram Manikya Dev, expired. During the period, Balibhim Narayan used to be
very powerful. He enthroned his nephew Rudra Manikya who was just four at the
time and himself became the Prince. Balibhim used to look after the royal duties
and probably that's why the temple had been renovated under his guidance in 1681
Among the two
stone-inscriptions one was written in Bengali. It mentions the name of Dhanya
Manikya, Ranagan, Ram Manikya and Dharmaraj. It depicts the construction period
as 1423 Saka Era. The last thing written was the year '1603 Saka Era'. This
stone- inscription too was engraved in 1681 A.D. It becomes clear from this
stone-inscription that following the construction of the temple by Dhanya
Manikya, its first renovation had been carried out by Ranagan. Ranagan was
brother-in-law of Udai Manikya (he was married to Udai Manikya's sister) and
also the General. He was popularly known as Ranagan Narayan and he was alive
even after the death of Maharaja Udai Manikya in 1489 Saka Era (1576 A.D.).
Possibly the temple had undergone the face lift operation by Ranagan only after
the death of Udai Manikya.
The second stone-inscription
in the south tells us that Queen Sumitra Jagadishwari had carried out a
renovation work of the temple in 1269 Tripura Era (1857 AD.). Regarding the
pattern of construction of the temple, the 'Shilalipi Samgraha' states- 'Tripura
Sundari temple has been built (The surname Dharmaraja' might have been
attributed to Ram Manikya because no rulers in between the reign of Dhanya
Manikya and Ram Manikya had the title 'Dharrna prefixed to their names.) in the
style of the 'Joykail temple' at Kalighat'. Inspite of few similarities in their
style the statement can't be accepted because the temple at Kalighat had been
built (1806-1809 A.D.) 305 years after the Tripura Sundari temple.
Thus, it is obvious that Oldest the construction of Tripura Sundari Temple was
not among the inspired by that of the Kalighat, instead, the latter had old
Temples absorbed a lot from the former. The temple of Tripura Sundari is older
than both the Kalighat temple as well as the temple of Kamrup Kamakhya at
Guwahati. Kamakhya temple was founded by the king of Koch Nara Narayan and
Chilla Ray in 1565 A.D. Among the three pitha-temples in the eastern India, the
temple at Udaipur is the most ancient.
The deity of Goddess Tripura
Sundari or Tripur Sundari which adorns the temple is made up of touch-stone. The
of height of the idol is 1 meter 57cm and its width is inside the temple 64 cm.
It is being installed on a stone-altar. The Devi or the Goddess bears two pairs
of forelimbs which depicts typical gesture or Mudra of Devi. According to
scriptures, the upper right hand exhibits Varmudra or a gesture of blessing. The
lower right hand exhibits Abhaymudra or a gesture of trust and assurance. The
left forearm holds a Kharag or a Faichion; whereas, the lower arm holds an
Asur-Munda or a head of a demon. But, these features are not distinctly visible
in the present idol. The Devi wears a, Joga-mukut (a 'crown on matted hair')
which conceals the tufts of undulating matted hair that flow down bilaterally.
She wears a Munda-mala or a wreath of 13 severed heads. Her face is oval with a
small flat nose and a pair of relatively small round eyes. The well shaped
structure of the idol radiates the kind of charm that is unprecedented.
She stands upright on the idol of Shiva that lays in
Shavasana. Five mundas are supposed to be engraved on the surface of the altar
which bears the Devi.
According to Tantrasaar, Devi Tripuri has
been referred to as Kali. If one keenly follows Murtishastra or the theories of
idol-making one would observe that Devi Tripuri lacks similarities with Tripura
Bhairavi and Tripura Sundari Kali. Tripuri Devi bears four arms and rests in
Godhasana. The hands pose typically showing the configuration of Paash Ankush
Var and Abhaimudra. Tripura Bhairavi Devi bears a pair of arms and she is found
associated with the Shiva. She holds a book in one hand and an Akshamaala in the
other. On the other hand, Devi Tripura Sundari has two arms and she is posed on
The Shiva. Considering the various attributes, the idol installed by Maharaja
Dhanya Manikya can't be claimed as that of Tripura Sundari, according to the
'Fundamental principles behind idol-making'.
Thus, following that,
although the image of the diety is that of Kali, as a Pitha Devi; according to
the scriptures, the idol would be considered that of Tripura Sundari. Moreover,
this idol has been worshipped as Tripura Sundari, the Mother-Goddess of Tripura,
right from the ancient times. It has since the inception considered as "Ama
Tripura" by the Tripuri people.
One can't say exactly when
the idol of Tripura Sundari had been carved out, but, studying the style and
craftsmanship, probably it could be some time between 10th to 12th century.
There is another stone-idol inside the temple and it is known as 'Chhoto Maa' or
'Chandi'. The idol is 48cm tall and extends 35cm bilaterally. The Mudra signs of
the four hands of the Devi is beyond recognition as the upper layer of the stone
has been worn out. But it looks distinct that once there was a Jota Mukut on the
head. Eyes are relatively small. The nose is pressed and the lips are small and
According to a
'Chhoto Maa' had been worshipped by one
and all before Devi Tripura Sundari came up. Another hearsay goes that during
the battles the Maharajas used to keep the idol of 'Chhoto Maci' along with them
as the replica of Tripura Sundari. Though basically an idol of Kalika Devi, it
is being worshipped as Chandi, since the scriptures don't allow the worship of
two Kalika idols under the same roof.
Another peculiar yet
fascinating possession of Tripura Sundari Temple is the image of Lord Vishnu.
The God is being worshipped here in the form of a 'Shaigram Shila' or a black
geode. Such an instance of Vishnu being worshipped along with Sakti Devi in a
Kali temple or any Shaktapitha is not only rare but an unique feature in this
subcontinent. This makes the temple an unparallely exceptional one. And this
very exception is the significance of the temple too. This unique synapse and
harmony between Shakta and Vaishnav culture have not only magnified the
greatness of the temple, but also largely glorified its significance too.
Here, the Devi is being
worshipped through Shorashi Yantra, Iviantra of ShorashiKall and keeping with
Vichaar Tantra. Such a harmonious process of making use of Tantra, Mantra and
Yantra together is actually the outcome of the basic principle behind Tantrik
Sadhana or its methodical use.
A prayer is being recited
through a Tantra, Yantra is employed for invoking Devi Sakti through typical
geometrical drawings and eventually through this procedure directed in Tantra, a
puja is being exercised.
The site at Matabari in
Udaipur, where the temple of Tripura Sundari has come up is regarded as one of
the 51 Pithas.
There is a mythological anecdote behind the establishment of the Pitha. Once,
Prajapati Daksha arranged for a 'Mahayagna' or a great Sacrificial rite. All the
Gods except Shiva were invited. Sati turned up in her father's home without any
invitation. Suddenly, at the yagna site, Daksha started condemning Shiva
acrimoniously. Sati could not bear the reproach against Shiva and she gave up
the ghost at the very site. When Shiva heard this, he assumed a destructive mood
and consequently, Birbhadra came into being from the shrine or his
yellowish-brown matted hair. Alongwith the the 'Pitha' company of
Shiva-followers, Birbhadra demolished all the preparations of the Yagna. Furious
with anger, Shiva took up the life-less body of Sati on his shoulders and began
'Tandava-Nritya' or a frantic annihilation dance. All the objects of creation
including the Earth was on the verge of extinction as a result of the 'Tandava'.
When all attempts to stop the 'Tandava' failed, Lord Vishnu used his invincible
wheel shaped missile 'The Sudarshan Chakra' that severed the body of the Sati
into many pieces. The sacred fragments of the body of Sati fell on to many parts
of the Sub-continent, which were later referred to as Maha-Pithas. Later, those
sites developed into holy places of pilgrimage.
It is mentioned in the 'Pithamaala
Tantra', 'Maha Pitha Nirupan' and 'Shiva Charita' and other references that the
right hind-limb of Devi fell on Matabari as a consequence of 'Tandav'. Here
'Devi' implies to Tripura Sundari and 'Bhairav' is 'The Supreme Lord of
Tripura'. It is also mentioned in Dr. Dinesh Chandra Sarkar's book 'The Shakta
Pitham' that the Maha Pitha in Tripura came into being on account of the right
leg of Sati.
Tripura Sundari is a popular
site in the country as a famous Devi Pitha. It is true that both the popularity
and the significance of the temple had greatly enhanced as it came up in a
Pitha. But, one can't deny that had Dhanya Manikya not built the temple over
there, it would have been virtually impossible to detect the site of this Pitha,
mentioned in the scriptures. Since, the temple and the Pitha occupy the same
place, their attraction and significance compounded by-and-by.
When Maharaja Dhanya Manikya
founded the Tripura Sundari Temple in 1501 A.D.,
the Vaishnav culture was yet to find its ground. Though a contemporary figure, 'Chaitainya
Dev' took to asceticism (Sanyaas) in 1510 A.D. The Vaishnav culture began to
spread from that period. Its influence in Tripura was detected in the following
years. That there was a heavy influence of Shakta Dharma or Shakta culture in
Tripura was evident from the temple itself and various other descriptions on
religious activities and rituals.
In his book Rajmala and The
History of Tripura', Sri Kailash Chandra Singha have mentioned that Dhanya
Manikya was a Shaivite and he built and patronised many a temples meant for
worshiping of Shiva or Shakti images. On the auspicious day of the ritual
enshrinement ceremony of the holy idol of Tripura Sundari, many beasts as well
as humans were immolated as offerings to the Devi. Long before that human
sacrifices were already prevailent in Tripura. Dhanya Manikya had imposed some
restrictions on the practice of Human sacrifices. Practice of sacrifices was not
a feature of the Shakta Dharnia only, it had been noticed in the customary
traditions of the natives Tripuri people too. The Tripuri used to offer eggs in
the Tripura Sundari Temple and goats in the Mahadev Temple at Udaipur. It is
worth mentioning that the individual used to sacrifice beasts in front of the
Mahadev idol and the Tripuris felt it a sacred duty, offering Chicken to Devi
Maximum human sacrifices in
Tripura were offered at the 'Chaturdosh Devta Temple'.
While commenting on human sacrifices in Tripura, Rev. James Long says- "Human
sacrifices prevailed at an early period in Tripura, and even of the Late years
strong suspicions have been entertained of the practice being occasionally
observed at the Shrine of Kamakhya in Assam, and at the Kalighat at Calcutta.
But in no part of India were more human victims offered than in Tripura which
appears to have been one of the strongest holds of Hinduism". (J.A.S.B.-V0L.
In those days, goats,
buffaloes, wild bovines, tortoises, ducks and eggs used to be sacrificed and
offered to the deities, and some of these practices still prevail today. Those
specifically employed by the Maharaja for performing the sacrifices were known
Construction of the Tripura
Sundari Temple reflects the religious conscience of that period. When Maharaja
Dhanya Manikya was constructing the Tripura Sundari Temple, at the same time The
Sultan of Bengal Alauddin Hussain Shah also undertook the construction of a
Mosque at Ballipur under Dhaka. Dhanya Manikya was enthroned in 1490 A.D. and
Hussain Shah in 1493 A.D. Both were said to be engaged in four battles over the
Three years prior to the
completion of the Tripura Sundari Temple, in 1498 A.D., Vasco-Da-Gama discovered
the route to India and he landed on the Calicut port. The Portuguese followed
the same route to India which later opened the door for colonization. Famous
religious leader, the Sikh guru, Nanak emerged at the same time in India. At the
other hemisphere of the globe, Italy was experiencing the golden period of
Renaissance, and the famous artist Leonardo Da Vinci was creating waves with his
While describing different
profile of the history of Tripura Sundari Temple, The Rajmala states that the
Mogh forces had once demolished the crown of the Tripura Sundari Temple which
was again rebuilt by Kalyan Manikya. This mishap might have occurred during the
reign of Amar Manikya. This assumtion is based on the fact that Udaipur was once
invaded and conquered by the Arakan with the help of the Portuguese in 1584 A.D.
Consequently the Arakans or the Moghas carried out unimpeded looting, killings
and massacre at Udaipur. Though the crown of the temple was severely damaged, it
was not revealed whether other parts of the temple were affected. The idol of
the temple was also not disturbed or looted. This suggests that there would be a
Swarna-Kalash or a pitcher made of gold on the temple crown which had lured the
invaders. It's notable that the Gopinath Temple (1650 A.D.) also had a
gold-pitcher crowned on the top.
Nevertheless, one must admit that
Tripura never experienced the kind of atrocities which had destroyed so many
temples and monasteries across India at different period in the past. Even
Tripura had never witnessed destruction of any temple by invaders. In the past,
looting of precious items used to be the inevitable consequence of any invasion
or a war. Thus, there might have been precious ornamentation like a gold pitcher
on the crown of the temple that led to its destruction.
According to historian Sir
Jadunath Sarkar, Udaipur was attacked and conquered by the Mughals in 1618 A.D.
and they had the possession for almost two and half years. The history of that
period has no description over any attacked on Tripura Sundari Temple. But
according to the hand written old Rajrnala, religious practices, worshipping
Chaturdosh Devata and Kalika Devi were all forbidden. To mark the supremacy and
the governance of the Mughals, 'Mughal Mosque' was built at Udaipur.
Nevertheless, temples or monasteries were never affected.
Besides the hostile and
discriminatory attitudes exercised in the form of attacks on temples and
religious prohibitions, there was a fascinating account of how an invader
belonging to one religion showed great honour to another religion. That, Samser
Gazi's though Samser Gazi had attacked Udaipur, he also Devi- Worship worshipped
the idol of Tripura Sundari Temple, is mentioned in the biography, 'Gazinaama',
written by Sheik Manuhar. 'Gazinaama' also states that daily offerings to the
Devi was virtually interrupted for seven days due to the unfavourable situation
that persisted after the battle between Samser and the king.
"There was one Motai
Thakurani* in Udaipur. Maharaja used to bear the expenses of the daily worship.
Worship remained off for seven days due to up roar She appeared in the dreams of
Gazi. I'm the Motai Goddess, recognise me. Wake up and go allot for a win in the
battle. Sacrifice buffaloes and you'll definitely win the battle. O Almighty. I
am a Muslim and thou a Goddess. Muslims don't practice all the rituals of the
Hindus. So, not myself but, I'll arrange a Brahmin for thy worship. A Brahmin
was hired who conducted the worship with proper rituals. The aroma of inseenee
powder, oil and musk enchanted the mountains.' -Gazinaama
* In Kokborok i.e. Tripuri language Motai means Goddess.
In the past. Tripura Sundari Devi was also known as Motai
But it hasn't been learnt
whether Devi Puja was stopped during the reign of Samser Gazi after he took over
Tripura in 1746A.D.
Today, a fair is being held
every year at Matabari during the time of 'Dipawali'. Lakhs of people gather
around there. Whether such fair would have been held in the past is not known.
But from 1903 A.D. onwards a fair began to be held annually at the Tripura
Sundari Temple premises on every Uttarayan Samkranti (the solstice or the
transitory period between the month of Poush and Magha i.e. in the mid January).
It was hitherto unknown before that. Another fair was supposed to be held
annually on every Shiva-Chaturdoshi (the 14th lunar day of the month of Phalgoon
when Shiva is worshipped) at Mahadev Bari in Udaipur. Its venue was said to be
fixed in 1902 A.D. An interesting profile of this fair has been mentioned in the
book '(Udaipur-Biharan' written by Brajendra Chandra Dutta which states that an
exhibition on agriculture and industry had also been arranged during the fair in
1904 A.D. Considering this, the history of the Matabari-Fair doesn't seem to be
Pilgrims, for years, right
from very old days, have experienced a different attraction to Matabari. But due
to inaccessible terrains and remote location, pilgrims had to face various
problems. One can say there was almost no road linkage across Tripura in those
days. One would walk on foot; ride on a boat, a palanquin or an elephant as
means of communication. Horses were seldom used by common people as they were
not found in plenty in Tripura and were only employed by royal members.
Sometime between 1709 and
1715 A.D. two representatives of then Ahom King Rudra Singh, namely Ratnakandali
Sharma and Arjun Das Bairagi had come to visit Udaipur. Their travelogue throws
light on the roads and communication system of that period. It took exactly 132
days for them to cover the distance between the capita of Ahom and the capital
of Tripura. Initially, they began their journey from Naam Daanga to Demera via
Roha. There from, they travelled down to Khachhpur, the capital of Cachar, on
foot. Then they navigated through river Mokhura at Udarvan and again through
river Barak to Lakkhipur. Then they walked down a distance along river Rupini
(it was the demarcation line between the territory of Tripura and Cachar). Their
next destination was Rangrung - the most difficult trekking across the
inaccessible terrain. Rangrung had its border shared by Tripura, Cachar and
Manipur. There was a police station too, that belonged to Tripura. Then the two
tourists reached Rupinipara on maacha, a traditional form of a palanquin.
Thereafter, they came across Taijal Para, Kumjaang para situated by the river
Chharthaang, and Chhairangchuk one by one. Then they crossed the river Manu via
river Deogaang on a bamboo-raft and reached Kerpa. Again from Kerpa, they had to
walk down a long distance to Chhoto Morichharaipara to Khaakraichhera via Boro
Morichharai para. Eventually they reached Udaipur, situated by the river Gomati,
riding on horses. Names of many a places mentioned here doesn't exist today.
In those days, it would take
at least ten to twelve days to reach Kailasahar from Udaipur. There was also the
fear of ferocious wild animals that had compounded the problem of
inaccessibility. Instances of hunting tigers had also been recorded from some
places near Udaipur. During the reign of Radha Kishore Manikya (1896-1909 A.D.),
tiger cubs, gibbons and some other specimens of wild fauna were said to be
collected from Udaipur division for Zoological Garden in Calcutta. Apart from
the dangers from tiger, bear, wild bear and elephants, there was the fear of
rhinos too. So, people hardly dared to move around without proper security.
There was a 22-23 miles long
way between Udaipur and Mahesh Pushkurini at Belonia. According to the reference
in 'Udaipur Bibaran', people from Khandal used to frequently use the passage on
way to Sonatala Pathor, Mundamaala, Gambhari Killa and Joshmura Killa. There was
a passage between Udaipur and Bishalgarh named Naajirer Jaangal. The road
between Udaipur and Sonamura had been laid in 1901-1902 A.D. to fascilitate
motor communication between Kumilla and Udaipur. Most of the pilgrims used to
prefer this passage to Matabari. Starting from Kumilla, one would have to come
across Bibir Bazaar, Bhogjor, Kotok Bazaar, Bara Pathor, Chundal Ban, Rani Ban,
Chandinamura, Chandrapur and Matabari at last. There was a very old road link
between Matabari and Udaipur by the southern-west bank of Gomati. There was
another road called Gowalinir Jaangal that linked Udaipur with Kakraban via the
old Gowalgaon, Teparia, Hadra, Shalgara and Amtali. Then there was another link
between Amtali and Sonamura through Nalchhar and Rudijola. The UdaipurAmarpur
road was by the foothill of Devtamura. There was one way to Dumbur via Jhanimura
but that was too inaccessible. The main route for navigation was through Gomati.
Though sometimes 'Long' and 'Konda' boats were used to navigate through
Chhangang, Kachi, Raima, Saimachhera and Gangachhera. But most of the times in a
year those rivers had almost no water for navigation. Along the river Gomati
there were ferry-ghats at Kakraban, Amtali, Shalgara, Dubhaichhari,
Radhakishorepur, Pitra, Maharani, Amanpur and other places for ferrying across
the river. Boats used to ferry between Kumilla and Udaipur, and upto Kakraban
during winter. Even motor driven launches were said to ferry (1930 A.D.) when
the rivers had enough water. When the Assam-Bengal rail line became operational,
communication between Agartala and Udaipur became much easier (there being
railway connection between Akhaura and Kumilla). There was one more route
between Agartala and Udaipur. It followed Araibari to Kumilla, then to Sonamura