A Magical Place Hidden Into Unakoti Hills
Innumerable huge rock-cut images and stone idols of Lord Shiva lay silently in the lost hills of Unakoti. Behind this persists the mystery that how they were made. We are only left with various myths to rest upon.
Located in the chief tourist spot of Unakoti District in the Kailashahar subdivision of Tripura, Unakoti is an ancient Shaivite place of worship with colossal rock carvings of Shiva.
Let’s delve into the history of Unakoti which gave rise to such a magical place:
1. Literally Unakoti means one less than a crore.
2. Unakoti houses one of the largest bas-relief sculptures in the country. Bas-relief is a type of ancient Asian art in which an image is projected at a shallow depth.
3. There are several myths associated with the place.
4. Myth 1 – Lord Shiva was travelling with ten million deities to Kashi. On the way, the deities decided to stay for the night at Unakoti. Before taking a sleep, Shiva warned the followers to wake up before dawn to continue the journey on time. However, only Shiva was the only one to wake up to time. Shiva turned angry on this and cursed to the fellow deities turning them into stones who now adorn the hills of Unakoti as reliefs.
5. Myth 2 – The alternative myth is about a famous sculpture named Kallu Kumhar who was a devotee of Parvati and wanted to go with Shiva and Parvati to their abode i.e. Kailash Parvat. Shiva agreed to take Kallu to Kailash on one condition if he would sculpt one crore images of Shiva in one night. Kallu worked but he was just one image short and as a result his desire didn’t get fulfilled.
6. Another version of Myth 2 – another variation of aforementioned story is that Kallu Kumhar was given the duty of carving the stone images of Gods in a dream, but in spite of carving images of all the deities, he carved one last image of himself that made it just one short of a crore. As per believe of the locals it was a lesson on why not to submit to pride.
7. The most celebrated of all the Unakoti reliefs is a figure of the face of Lord Shiva known as ‘Unokotiswara Kal Bhairava’ measuring about 9 meters in height.
8. The exact age when these reliefs were made is still vague.
9. The total number of these stone carved images is still not clear.