Tripura: Tracing the Threads of Culture and Landscape

TripuraTracing the Threads of Culture and Landscape

Tripura, a small state in Northeast India, is known for its rich cultural heritage and scenic beauty. According to Hindu mythology, Tripura means the land of three cities, built by the demon architect Mayasura. It is India's third-smallest state, covering 10,491 km² with a population of about 3.67 million.

Tripura is bordered by Assam and Mizoram to the east and Bangladesh to the north, south, and west. It is home to 19 tribal groups, and the majority of the population is Bengali. The official languages of the states are Bengali, English, and Kokborok.

Agartala, the capital and largest city, is Tripura's administrative and cultural hub. Historically ruled by the Manikya Dynasty, Tripura became part of independent India in 1947. Despite its isolation and economic challenges, Tripura boasts a high literacy rate and a vibrant blend of traditional and mainstream Indian cultures.

In this article, we will delve into the intriguing aspects of Tripura.

Tripura’s History

The name Tripura is connected to the Hindu goddess Tripura Sundari and a king named Tripur. Tripura Sundari is worshipped at the Tripura Sundari Temple in Udaipur. Legend says Tripur was a powerful ruler in the region. Some think Tripura's name might come from the Kokborok language. Other names like Tipra, Tuipura, and Tippera are also used and might be linked to the local people. Some believe it could mean "near the water," showing its past closeness to the Bay of Bengal.

Tripura's history goes way back, mentioned in ancient texts like the Mahabharata and the Puranas. The Twipra Kingdom ruled it, with 179 kings over time. The kingdom's borders changed, stretching from the Sundarbans in the south to Burma in the east and Assam's Kamarupa kingdom in the north. Muslim invasions began in the 13th century, and Mughal influence came by 1733. When the British ruled, Tripura became a princely state under British India, with the capital moving from Udaipur to Agartala.


After India gained independence in 1947, Tripura became a Part C state, later becoming a Union Territory before becoming a full state in 1971. The partition of India brought economic challenges for Tripura, with longer travel routes isolating the state. Bengali Hindus migrating during and after the Bangladesh Liberation War caused tensions with the indigenous Tripuri people, leading to violence and insurgency.

However, efforts to bring peace, such as creating a tribal autonomous district council, have helped reduce conflict. Tripura is generally peaceful now, though occasional incidents, like mosque attacks in 2021, remind us of past tensions.

Geographical Landscape

Nestled in Northeast India, Tripura is one of the Seven Sister States, bordered by Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Bangladesh. Despite its small size—around 10,491.69 square kilometres—it boasts diverse landscapes of hills, valleys, and plains.

The state's terrain comprises five hill ranges and numerous valleys, giving it a unique geographical makeup. Its highest point, Betling Shib, stands at 939 meters. Rivers like Khowai, Dhalai, and Manu originate here, nourishing the land. The region's geological history, spanning from the Oligocene to the Holocene epochs, has shaped its soils and terrain.


Tripura experiences a tropical savanna climate with distinct seasons. Monsoons bring heavy rains, sometimes leading to floods. Winter temperatures range from 13 to 27 degrees Celsius, while summer temperatures soar from 24 to 36 degrees Celsius. Reports indicate the state faces significant risks from wind and cyclones.

Tripura, boasting over half of its land covered in forests, is a biodiversity hotspot. Its flora features species like Dipterocarpus, Artocarpus, Sal (Shorea robusta), bamboo, and cane, while its fauna includes diverse mammals like elephants, bears, leopards, clouded leopards and various birds and primates. Wildlife sanctuaries like Sipahijola and national parks such as Clouded Leopard and Rajbari protect this rich natural heritage, attracting visitors and researchers alike.

Administration and Politics

In January 2012, Tripura underwent significant changes in its governance. Four new districts—Khowai, Unakoti, Sipahijala, and Gomati—were added to the existing four, along with the establishment of six new subdivisions and five blocks. Each district is led by a collector or magistrate, overseeing subdivisions and blocks, which are further divided into Panchayats and town municipalities. Currently, the state is divided into eight districts, 23 subdivisions, and 58 development blocks.

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Tripura follows a parliamentary system with three branches: executive, legislative, and judiciary. The Tripura Legislative Assembly has 60 elected members, and the Chief Minister leads the executive branch. Tripura sends representatives to both houses of the Indian parliament. Politics in the state have changed over time, from the Indian National Congress's long rule to Left Front dominance, and now the Bharatiya Janata Party is winning. Tripura also faced insurgency, especially the Tripura rebellion, which led to the enforcement and later removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

Tripura’s Economic Landscape

Tripura's economy has been growing lately, reaching ₹640 billion (US$8.0 billion) in 2022-23, showing a 10.38% rise from the previous year. Agriculture plays a big role, with over half of the population relying on it, even though only 27% of the land is suitable due to hilly terrain and forests. Rice is the main crop, along with potatoes, sugarcane, and jute.

Fish farming has seen significant growth, with Tripura producing more fish seeds than needed. Rubber and tea are important cash crops, making Tripura the second-largest producer of natural rubber in India. Handicrafts, especially hand-woven fabric and bamboo items, are also well-known.


Although the industrial sector is still growing, Tripura has substantial natural gas reserves, and exploration and production by organisations like ONGC continue. Tourism is also becoming more important, adding to the state's income.

Despite progress, Tripura still faces challenges like poverty, inadequate infrastructure, and high rural unemployment. The government has taken steps to promote industrialisation and reduce poverty through various schemes and policies, which have had some success. Still, more needs to be done to address these ongoing issues.

Transportation Facilities

Transport in Tripura spans air, rail, road, and waterways. Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport in Agartala connects the state to major Indian cities, while helicopter services link to towns and remote areas. The rail network, established in 1964, now extends to Agartala, connecting it to Lumding in Assam. Plans for a new railway line to Akhaura in Bangladesh aim to enhance connectivity. National Highway 8 serves as Tripura's main road link to the rest of India, supplemented by NH 108. Waterways are utilised, particularly in rural areas. The state shares a border with Bangladesh, facilitating bilateral trade and transportation, including a bus service to Dhaka and proposed railway links. Despite legalities, illegal movement across the border persists.

Media and Communication in Tripura

Media and communication in Tripura are diverse, with Doordarshan operating a TV station in Agartala and several local channels. The print media scene includes 56 newspapers, primarily in Bengali, with notable titles like Ajkal Tripura. A study by the Indian Institute of Mass Communication highlighted the effectiveness of television, radio, and newspapers in information dissemination.

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Major telecom companies like Airtel, Vi, Jio, and BSNL provide extensive coverage, with mobile connections surpassing landlines. BSNL alone reported over 325,000 GSM mobile service connections in 2011, reflecting the state's reliance on mobile communication.

Healthcare Landscape

Tripura's healthcare system, run by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, offers coverage to everyone through a network of primary, secondary, and tertiary care facilities. The state has 17 hospitals, 11 rural hospitals, and 79 primary health centres, including alternative medicine like homoeopathy and Ayurveda.

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While some choose private healthcare, Tripura relies on government facilities more than the national average. Even though there are challenges, the state's healthcare indicators, like birth and infant mortality rates, are better than the national average. However, there are health risks from diseases like malaria and Japanese encephalitis, so it's essential to keep monitoring and responding.

Education and Sports

Tripura boasts a commendable literacy rate, reaching 87.75% as per the 2011 census and later soaring to 94.65%, the highest in India according to a 2013 survey. The state offers a diverse educational landscape with schools affiliated with boards like CISCE, CBSE, etc.

Tripura University
Tripura University

Students typically progress through a 10+2+3 system, choosing from streams like liberal arts, commerce, or science post-secondary education. With over 4,000 schools and institutions like Tripura University and medical colleges, the state prioritises education accessibility and quality.

In sports, football and cricket reign supreme, with Agartala hosting annual club football championships. Tripura's cricket team competes in the prestigious Ranji Trophy. The state actively participates in national and regional games, showcasing talent in various disciplines. Notable athletes like Somdev Devvarman, who clinched gold at the 2010 Asian Games in tennis, and Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics in 2016, have roots in Tripura, highlighting the region's sporting prowess on the global stage.

Tripura’ Demographics

Tripura, the second most populous state in North East India, is home to 3,671,032 people according to the 2011 census. With a sex ratio of 961 females per thousand males and a literacy rate of 87.75%, which surpasses the national average, the state displays progressive demographics. Indigenous Tripuris comprise about 31.78% of the population, while Bengalis represent around 70%. Tripura's diverse ethnic makeup includes 19 recognised tribal groups with unique languages and cultures.

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Hinduism is the predominant religion, followed by Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. The state's demographics also reflect historical events like the arrival of Bengali refugees during the Partition of Bengal in 1947 and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, which significantly influenced its composition and social dynamics.

Colourful Culture

Tripura's culture is a lively mix of diverse groups, each adding to its rich heritage. The state includes Tripuri communities like Tripura, Debbarma, and Jamatia, as well as migrant tribal groups like Chakma, Garo, and Mizo. Bengali culture, deeply rooted here, blends with indigenous traditions, creating a melting pot of customs.

Handicrafts, especially bamboo and cane works, display local skills, while music and dance are vital to celebrations. Traditional dances like Goria, Hojagiri, and Lebang reflect different community cultures, and festivals like Durga Puja and Kali Puja hold significance for Hindus.

Tripura's Culture
Tripura's Culture

Places like Unakoti and Devtamura showcase the centuries-old sculptural heritage, blending Buddhist and Brahmanical influences. Alongside indigenous art forms, Tripura embraces mainstream Indian music and dance, with masters like Sachin Dev Burman enriching cinematic music.

The state's cultural diversity, with its various traditions and artistic expressions, highlights its rich heritage and communal harmony.

Tripura, known for its vibrant culture, diverse population, and beautiful landscapes, showcases the blending of history, tradition, and modernity in Northeast India.

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