The Angkor Wat of the Northeast, Unakoti is aiming for the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage tag. The government along with ASI are working to preserve lakhs and lakhs of Shaivate rock carvings and the sculptures of gods and goddesses at Unakoti.
Compared to the extraordinary figures in Angkor Wat of Cambodia, Unakoti features gigantic rock-cut chiselled sculptures with distinct characteristics. Situated in Raghunandan hills, Unakoti is home to these massive sculptures, which are said to have almost an other-worldly charm, carved out of the hill that dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries.
Tripura’s Unakoti to compete for UNESCO World Heritage tag
The Central Government has reportedly approached UNESCO to get the World Heritage tag for Unakoti. It has also sanctioned an amount of INR 12 crores to Tripura to develop Unakoti into a tourist attraction. Tripura government is taking full measures to work on the site and the areas surrounding it, in order to attract more tourists.
Unakoti translates to one less than a crore. This site of unique rock art has suffered from bad weather conditions and neglect, resulting in the degradation of many of the sculptures.
At Unakoti, there are two kinds of figures found, rock-carved figures and stone images. A central Shiva head and a massive Ganesha figure are the most prominent and major rock-cut carvings found here. In fact, the Shiva head, known as Unakotiswara Kal Bhairava, stands tall at about 30 feet including a head-dress that itself is about 10 feet high.
Apart from these, there are also three enormous images of Nandi Bull half-buried in the ground. If folklore is to be believed, Lord Shiva had once spent the night here while he was on his way to Kashi. He was followed by Unakoti or one less than a crore gods and goddesses on his journey.
Panna Lal Roy, a famous historical writer of the state, whose area of expertise has been these sculptures, said, “Legend has it that Lord Shiva had asked his followers to wake up before sunrise and make their way towards Kashi. Unfortunately, none woke up in the morning, except Lord Shiva himself. “Before he set out for Kashi alone, he cursed the sleeping gods and goddesses to turn into stone and that is how the site got its name.”
Roy also mentioned how Unakoti became a major Hindu Shaivite pilgrimage site at the time of the reign of the Pala empire in Bengal, while some archaeologists suggest that it might also have had Buddhist influences.
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