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  • A 1,000-year-old archaeological site in Tripura and two more are luring visitors.

The state government of Tripura has started taking steps to develop Pilak, an almost 1,000-year-old archaeological site, as a part of a historical tourism circuit with two other locations.

The location was part of a chain of Hindu-Buddhist shrines on the triangular intersection of East Bengal (now Bangladesh), Tripura, and Arakkan (Myanmar) area, located at Jolaibari, about 100 kilometres away.
It is a well-known tourist destination in Tripura’s South District that draws tourists from all across the nation. We have developed a route for tourists interested in archaeology that includes Pilak in South Tripura district, as well as Chhabimura and Udaipur in the Gomati district. According to T K Das, director of the state tourism agency, a package tour connects the three locations.

Every day, 200 or so individuals travel to Pilak.

The Tripureswari Kali temple, one of the 51 Shaktipiths, is located in the northeastern state of Udaipur, which is connected to Pilak via a tourist route that begins in Agartala. In addition, Udaipur is home to the Bhubaneswari Kali temple, which was mentioned in Rabindranath Tagore’s book “Rajarshi.”

It also includes Chhabimura, which is renowned for its panels of rock carvings on the craggy mountainside along the Gomati River.

At the Pilak site, which spans three square kilometres in the highlands and lush valleys of the Belonia subdivision, you can find stone engravings of Hindu deities carved on stone in the Buddhist style, including statues of Shiva, Surya, Baishnabi, Mahishasurmardini, and Buddha.

According to the late Ratna Das’ research, Pilak started to become a significant Hindu-Buddhist centre in the seventh century.

The Archaeological Survey of India is in charge of maintaining the location, which contains a number of terracotta plaques and rock-cut images.

According to Uttam Pal, executive engineer of the state tourism department, the state government has plans to improve the site for Buddhist travellers from South-East Asia and other regions.

The location had been controlled by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) since 1999.

No permanent structure may be built within 150 metres of Pilak since it has been designated an archaeological site, although several facilities have been developed for tourists outside the prohibited area, according to Pal. Unusually high visitor traffic is present. A tourist bungalow has been constructed nearby at Jolaibari by the state government.

According to a senior ASI officer, P Kumaran, the ASI Superintendent, oversaw the excavation of a stupa in Sundari Tilla.

The official went on to explain its significance by stating, “This is a full-size Buddhist stupa built in the 11th century on the pattern of architecture during the reign of Palas of Bengal.” According to writer and historian Panna Lal Roy, Pilak is a powerful representation of the cultural connection between Hindus and Buddhists as well as the state’s illustrious heritage.

According to Roy, the predominant style of the Pilak rock-cut pictures and sculptures reflects the influence of the Arakkans in Myanmar (now Burma), the Palas and Guptas of Bengal, and the local style.

There are also several representations of Tantric Buddhist gods and goddesses in the region. Buddha, Chunda (10th century), Avalokitesvara (8th–9th century), Marichi (9th century), and Tara, Avolokiteswar, Hariti (bronze) are all depicted in stone. The style of Pilak sculptures was prevalent in Bengal during the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries’,” Dr Biswadip Nandi, a historian, wrote in his book ‘Rock-cut and sculptures of Tripura’.

“The moulded terracotta plaques bear resemblance with moulded plaques recovered from Paharpur and Mainamati in Bangladesh”, Roy said.

According to a state government website, “it may be presumed that the extensive plains of Tripura were under the control of several dynasties who ruled in Eastern Bengal and Samatata in ancient period. Others were Hindus, while others were Buddhists. The majority of these kings had their royal centres close to this area. Pilak is not too distant from Comilla, where the ancient kingdom of Pattikera had its capital.

The Tripura government received over Rs 1,600 crore in funds for developing the tourism sector for the next five years, state Tourism Minister Sushanta Chowdhury said in April.

In 2022-23, the northeastern state received nearly 3 lakh tourists of whom more than 35,000 were foreigners.

Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly was recently roped in as the brand ambassador for Tripura Tourism and the initiative is expected to give a boost to the state’s unexplored tourist destinations
Source- the print
Link- https://theprint.in/india/1000-yr-old-tripura-archaeological-site-2-others-beckoning-tourists/1670672/


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