Unakoti hill, literally meaning, less a crore in Bengali, hosts an ancient Shaivite place of worship with huge rock-cut images and stone idols of Lord Shiva. It is the prime tourist spot of North Tripura District in the Kailashahar Subdivision in the North-eastern Indian state of Tripura.
It is a historic Shaiba pilgrimage spot and dates back to 7th – 9th centuries if not earlier. While the marvelous rock carvings, murals with their primitive beauty form the chief attraction, natural beauty including mountain scenery and waterfalls are an added bonus.
The images found at Unakoti are of two types: namely rock-carved figures and stone images. Among the rock cut carvings, the central Shiva head and gigantic Ganesha figures deserve special mention. The central Shiva head known as Unakotiswara Kal Bhairava is about 30 feet high including an embroidered head-dress which itself is 10 feet high. On each side of the head-dress of the central Shiva, there are two full size female figures - one of Durga standing on a lion and another female figure on the other side. In addition three enormous images of Nandi Bull are found half buried in the ground. There are various other stone as well as rock cut images at Unakoti.
Every year a big fair popularly known as Ashokastami Mela is held in the month of April which is visited by thousands of pilgrims. Another smaller festival takes place in January.
Unakoti lies 178 km to the northeast from Agartala which has the closest airport, 8 km to the east from Kailashahar, district headquarters of North Tripura District, 148 km to the south-east from Silchar. The nearest railway station is about 20 km away at Kumarghat on the Lumding-Agartala line.
The site has suffered centuries of neglect causing degradation and loss of considerable scale to the rock art. Since its adoption by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) as a heritage site, the situation has slightly improved, though a lot of work including substantial excavation remains to be undertaken.The government of India has approached to UNESCO to declare it as a world heritage site. The Centre has recently granted Rs 12 crore to the state for developing the area, 178 km from here, as a major tourist destination.
Once lord Shiva was going to Varanasi along 1 crore god and goddesses including him.On the way they thought of taking rest and shelter on this hill for night, before going to bed lord Shiva strictly warned them to get up at the dawn before the sun rises and leave for Varanasi.The following morning only lord Shiva got up and nobody else woke up being in angry mood he cursed them to become stone sculptures or images and stay there forever and ever.Since then we are having images numbering less than one crore sculptured on unakoti hill
According to the regional people, there was a sculptor & potter named Kallu Kumhar.The local tribals believe that it was Kallu Kumhar who had carved all these images. He was a devotee of Parvati and wanted to accompany Shiva and Parvati to their abode on Kailash Parvat. On Parvati’s persuasion Shiva agreed to take Kallu to Kailash if he would sculpt a koti images of Shiva in one night. Kallu worked as a man possessed. But as the dawn broke the number of images was still one less than a koti. Shiva who was keen to get rid of this nuisance called Kallu, used this excuse to leave behind Kallu Kumhar and his images at Unakoti.