Friday, January 8, 2010

Agartala – the development in news

“Indian Airlines welcomes you to Singarbil Airport, Agartala. The outside temperature is 22 degrees centigrade and the captain feels it’s quite comfortable. Please do not try to open the overhead lockers until the plane comes to a complete stall. This might harm you or your fellow passengers. We thank you for travelling with Indian Airlines and we hope you will travel with us soon. We wish you a pleasant stay in Agartala.”

At last, the plane stopped and we landed fine. As soon as I came out of the front door, I waved goodbye to the beautiful airhostess, turned outwards and took a deep breath. Ah! The whiff of my land filled my lungs. I have fewer words to describe the feeling of it. I was coming back after almost four years and I alone knew how much I missed it.

After checking out with the baggage, I was surrounded by a horde of car and auto drivers. The first signs; so uncommon about Agartala! For a moment, it did not feel like my own land! Anyways, I took an auto after twenty minutes of bargain and only after deciding upon a price which I thought should be enough for the ride home.

The ride was not so good. I mean, I did not feel I was in the same place where I spent most of my years! Agartala had changed so much since I left it that it gives me an impression as if the aero plane went back to Guwahati instead of landing in Agartala. The roads were widened; the shops were pushed back; the footpaths were fabricated and there were small saplings planted all through the road till I reached home. One might question the objective of the authorities, but all I felt was an improvement – a step towards development of the capital which had never been of priority to the government. I liked it.

After reaching home, I took recess for rest of the day. The cool bath in my own shower and a neck-fill lunch allowed me to do nothing more but sleep. So, I went upstairs and slept in the terrace. When I woke up, it was almost dark and the quirking crickets were shouting at the peak of their voice, as if they were welcoming my return. Only then, I felt I was back – home! The sound of crickets and the dancing fireflies in the middle of the city can only be experienced in Agartala, and nowhere else, I believe.

Agartala is the capital of one of the seven sisters of north east – Tripura. Tripura is a land that was never under British rule. This is why I say that Tripura is a virgin state (LOL). The ancient state takes up a huge area including some districts of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Bangladesh and it was ruled by Tripuri Kings or Twipra Dynasty for almost 2500 years. On October 15, 1949 Tripura was merged with independent India. The state lost lion’s share of its area to Bangladesh during partition of East Pakistan and India. Tripura became a centrally administered Union Territory on July 1, 1963 and attained the status of a full-fledged state on January 21, 1972. Agartala, the capital city of the state is where I was born. I have travelled across the length and breadth of India extensively during my school, college and post graduation days and no place could fascinate me more than my own little piece of land.

The next morning I carried my age old bicycle to the nearest puncture shop (well, most of the shops here were either ‘puncher’ or ‘pancar’ shops all these years, but somehow, all of them had suddenly learnt the right word, it seemed!) to mend it. The bicycle is still a perfect ride for the city. The total city area does not go more than 60 Sq. Km and you can still travel from one corner to the other just by handing over a five rupee coin! Everything is in the vicinity. You need not travel more than 12 hours to reach any of your relatives residing in any part of the state. At present, with the inception of railways (after 61 years of independence) the travel time has reduced even more.

The bicycle ride to the only railway station in Agartala illustrated many changes in the city. I intentionally took the longer route and met many of my old friends and relatives on the way. By the time I reached the station it was noon and there were no trace of any engine. Alas! I was excited hoping to see an engine for the first time in Agartala, but could not. The railway station itself has been built in a way to depict old palaces. The look of the white station gate gave a tremendous feeling. We all were waiting for it since childhood when the then railways minister promised to get Agartala connected to the rest of India. And when it happened, most of us were not present here in Agartala. Anyways, the very sight of the railway tracks and the platforms gave me immense pleasure. I came back.

The current Agartala is situated not far from the old and original one, called “Purano Agartala” or “Old Agartala.” One can still see the erections of the ancient kings who ruled the state in Purano Agartala. One of the main temples of Tripura where the traditional Kharchi Puja is celebrated is situated in this place. Many other small and big temples can be seen there that depict the engineering and art of ancient Tripuri Kings. However, the main palace, called the Ujjayanta Raajprashaad is situated in modern day Agartala and the city is built up all around it.

While travelling back home, I thought of getting into the market place – Kaman Choumuhani and Hawker’s Corner. The moment I entered the area, my eyes went ablaze! What was there that I am seeing? Big shopping malls have come up in place of small chain of shops and the roads are not covered with shop less hawkers anymore. There were parking made for cars and bicycles and the whole place was glowing and bustling like a metro! The changes what I saw around me left me awestruck; but for the people around me, nothing at all! Maybe they were more adaptive or practical or mature. Whatever it was, I was in no mood to think about them. People change as the environment and the society they live in changes. I know, I know!

On the way back, I cycled passed my school, the hospital that I was born in, the Motor Stand, the South and North Gates to the palace compound, the Astabal Maidan, the Buddha Mandir, the Governor’s house and the Malancha Nivas, where Kabiguru Rabindranath Thakur used to stay. My school building was demolished and a big palace stands in its place now. The place near Buddha Mandir had grown up to a satellite market place. Governor’s house remained a mystery with its high raised guarding walls as we could never peep into it and see what is there to be seen. Renovation works on Malancha Nivas were still going on. A few roads were being re-laid and the smell of tar and charcoal filled the air. Sight of the circuit house, road towards Bholagiri Ashram’s field and the age old Kunjavan Quarters gave me pleasant hindsight of the olden days. Some things never change and I was happy that they do not. By the time I reached home, it was dark and Maa scolded me after years and I promised within to be late for each of the rest days of my tour.

The stay in Agartala came out to be pleasant as wished by the airhostess earlier. I could not travel to different parts of Tripura, and relished my excursions into my native – felt like old wine in a new bottle! There are many places one can visit when in Tripura – the Tripureshwari Kaali Bari, Neermahal, Shipahi Jala animal resort and zoo, Unokoti Mountains containing idols of 33 crores Hindu Gods and Goddesses inscribed on rocks, Pilak and many more small but historically irreplaceable places. Due to shortage of time, I could not visit any of those; but I browsed through the paths and roads of Agartala to my heart’s content. The next time I go there, I am sure to see many more changes, developments and shifts in overall beauty of the city but I am confident on one thing – how much ever they change Agartala, I will know it as much as I have always known and it will love me as much as it always does!

Phew! Nostalgic Agartala!
Its almost a work of fiction, as I have not visited the place for 2 years, 11 months and 16 days; however, the facts are all true as I got to see the photos and experiences that my friends and relatives have shared with me. When I go there now, it will not be much different!
Was thinking where I should put thie writeup - in this blogor my regular blog. Then, since I have not actually gone there in years, I felt this is the right place for this to be... Hope you enjoyed...

Pics above:
1. Tourism Map of Tripura.
2. Railway Station, Badharghaat.
3. Ujjayanta Palace.
4. Neermahal, Melaghar.


  1. interesting place, Agartala, ur hometown.. you have described it so beautifully. i will never get a chance to see it but the beautiful pictures are imprinted in my mind.. peace..

  2. I enjoyed reading about your post, feeling like I did tour the place myself...but was disappointed with your postscript that it was just fiction!

    But anyways, very good for sharing it with people like me. And yeah, do visit my blog too.

    You've been out for quite sometime!!!

  3. Agartala is a Great place to live in! There are reasons unavoidable that I cannot be there...

    Well Amity, it had to eb a fiction since today, we completed 3 years out of home - Agartala! Have no idea how it has transformed now...

    I miss the place!

  4. how come u found the indian airlines airhostess as beaufiful..lolz
    btw i haven't travelled indianairlns in recent years, they might have improved their status!!


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