I recently visited the Unakoti caves in Agartala in Tripura. We made a special trip as, as a family we are history buffs. The north-east part of India has hidden jewels and a beauty that is untouched. Thus, our visit to explore one of the beautiful yet untouched parts of India.
The Unakoti caves were the main attraction for they are designated as a World Heritage UNESCO site. ‘Unakoti’ literally means one less than 1,00,00,000 (one crore). The number of statues in Unakoti caves is exactly one less than 1,00,00,000 or 99,99,999 idols.
There are two different legends about the statues. If the 1st legend is to be believed, it is said that Lord Shiva, along with his wife, was accompanied by 99,99,999 gods. They were going to Kashi. Lord Shiva told the other Gods to get ready early in the morning so that they could continue with their journey. In the morning only Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were the ones who got up. Lord Shiva was so furious that he turned all the other Gods into statues of stone.
According to the second legend, Goddess Parvati and God Shiva told a man to make one crore statues in a specific time. They expected that he would never be able to make those many statues. The sculptor managed to complete all the statues in the limited time, except 1.
It is estimated that the statues date back to the 7th to 9th century. Each statue is of a different God. I was dumb struck on seeing so many different statues and of such huge size. Among the many statues, there are statues of Nandi, Ganesh ji, etc.
I felt wonderful looking at the old statues all over the mountain side. We walked on the different trails to see the different statues. I found it easy to climb up and down the mountains to see the statues, because I was wearing my sports shoes. Some people wore heels and were finding it very difficult to walk.
The Unakoti caves are one of the best kept secrets of India. They are carved into the mountain. Not many tourists can be seen there. It is a peaceful place to visit. I came to know of many Hindu gods, which I did not even know about. Some of those gods are Hari- Gauri and Hari- Hara.
I found it funny that many locals were sitting near the statues, trying to earn money in the name of God. They were sitting with flowers, incense sticks and sweets to be given as ‘parshad.’ Nothing new!
I spent quite a lot of time just looking at the statues and marveling at the way that they were carved. It took us a whole day to roam around and admire the statues. But overall, I quite enjoyed the experience and found Unakoti caves to be very beautiful and full of many details.
It is very rare to find a place that is so beautiful. The environment is serene. There is a lack of hustle-bustle lending a strange quietness to the place. The Unakoti caves are a must-see.