Unakoti literally means one less than a Koti (ten million) in Bengali. It is a historic and tourist place in northern Tripura. It is an ancient religious pilgrimage centre situated in the Raghunandan hills of Tripura. Unakoti is a rocky hill with a small stream flowing through the middle of it, the entire hill cliffs are carved with hundreds of exquisite stone images of Shiva and other Hindu gods and goddesses. The name Unakoti probably refers to the innumerable stone carvings that are present in the hills here.
A popular myth is that the sculptures here were made by a local mason ‘Kallu Kumar’ to please Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. The mason swore that he could make one crore sculptures of the lord in a single night. But by the sunrise, he was one short. Hence the significance of the name ‘Unakoti’.
Another story has it that Shiva was going to Mt. Kailash along with one crore gods and goddesses. They stopped here for an overnight stay and lord Shiva warned all the gods to wake up and start before dawn. However tired from the journey, the gods failed to wake up in time, Lord Shiva in his rage, cursed the gods and they turned into stone sculptures.
Tripura is one of the most inaccessible states in India, with Bangladesh on its 3 sides, the air is the easiest way to reach anywhere in Tripura. Although Kailasahar near Unakoti (20 minutes, 10 km) has its own airport, most commercial flights come to Agartala the state capital.
Kumarghat Railway Station is approximately 20 kilometres from Unakoti and is the nearest railway station. Trains connecting Guwahati with capital Agartala passes through Kumarghat.
From Agartala, private vehicles take close to 5 hours (145 km) to reach here.
The Unakoti compound is the prime attraction here. It has several majestic sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses. Among the rock-cut sculptures, the most attractive is the Unakotishwara Kal Bhairav, a 33-ft-high carving of Lord Shiva’s head. It is in the centre of attraction in the complex. There are two figures seated on either side of the bust. One of the figures is believed to be that of the goddess Durga seated on a lion while the other one is believed to be that of Ganga astride a Capricorn.
Another three-eyed figure some distance away is believed to be that of Surya or Lord Vishnu. A massive Ganesh figure is also carved in the complex while there is a Chhaturmukhi Shivlinga nearby. Among other rock-cut and stone images are those of Vishnu, Nandi, Narasimha, Ravana, Hanuman, and several unidentified divinities.
Unakoti is a warm place because the state is characterized by a warm and humid tropical climate. Humidity is generally high throughout the year. October to June is the more suitable time to visit here, during the rainy season travelling becomes a little difficult. Two largest festivals of the area are the Makar Sankranti in January and the Ashokastami festival in April. Every year on Ashokashtami (eighth day of the Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar), local tribes congregate for fair, known as the Ashtami Mela or Unakoti Mela