Unakoti is a hill from which the name of Unakoti District is derived. The Kokborok name of Unakoti is Subrai Khung as claimed by Jamatia Hoda; Unakoti hill literally means one less a koti in Hindi and Bengali, hosts an ancient Shaivite place of worship with huge rock reliefs celebrating Shiva. It is the prime tourist spot of Unakoti District, Tripura in the Kailashahar Subdivision in the North-eastern Indian state of Tripura.
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.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva once spent a night here en route to Kashi. 99,99,999 gods and goddesses followed him. He had asked his followers to wake up before sunrise and make their way towards Kashi. Unfortunately, none awoke, except Lord Shiva himself. Before he set out for Kashi alone, he put a curse on the others, turning them to stone and that is how the site got its name.
स्थानीय आदिवासियों का मानना है कि इन मूर्तियों का निर्माता कल्लू कुम्हार था। वह पार्वती का भक्त था और शिव-पार्वती के साथ उनके निवास कैलाश पर्वत पर जाना चाहता था। पार्वती के जोर देने पर शिव कल्लू को कैलाश ले चलने को तैयार हो गए लेकिन इसके लिए शर्त यह रखी कि उसे एक रात में शिव की एक कोटि मूर्तियाँ बनानी होंगी। कल्लू अपनी धुन के पक्के व्यक्ति की तरह इस काम में जुट गया। लेकिन जब भोर हुई तो मूर्तियाँ एक कोटि से एक कम निकलीं। कल्लू नाम की इस मुसीबत से पीछा छुड़ाने पर अड़े शिव ने इसी बात को बहाना बनाते हुए कल्लू कुम्हार को अपनी मूर्तियों के साथ उनाकोटी में ही छोड़ दिया और चलते बने।
Every year a big fair popularly known as Ashokastami Mela is held in the month of April. The festival 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 Unakoti district, 148 km to the south-east from Silchar. The nearest railway station is 19.6 km away at Dharmanagar railway station on the Lumding–Sabroom section. From Dharmanagar railway station it takes about 30–40 minutes by car. Travelling from capital town Agartala has become much easier nowadays. The morning train from Agartala reaches Dharmanagar before 10 am. The afternoon train from Dharmanagar reaches Agartala by 8 PM.
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.
- Hindu pilgrimage sites
- National Geological Monuments of India
- List of Hindu temples
- Tourism in India
- "Untitled Page". Archived from the original on 21 August 2001.
- "A Mystery from Tripura That You Might Never Have Heard About". 6 July 2021.
- "TRIPURAINFOWAY: Tripura's Latest News, Views & IT Portal". www.tripurainfoway.com.
- "A Magic Number: Into the lost hill of Unakoti, Tripura". 27 March 2016.