Unakoti literally means one less than a crore (10 million). The place does not have that many rock-cut sculptures but these hundreds of massive rock-cut sculptures and those made out of sandstone, besides scattered ruins of ancient temples make Unakoti a unique place.
The Unakoti Tirtha located about 180 km from Tripura's capital, Agartala, and just about 8 km from the sub-divisional headquarters of Kailasahwar town, is a unique place which bears no resemblance to any other place in the country in terms of sheer grandeur and artistry.
A number of legends and myths are associated with the site and people in the region revere it as a holy place. One of the stories being told about the site is that a renowned sculptor Kalukumar saw Lord Shiva in his dream. He was asked by the Lord to carve out one crore images in a single night to make the site as sacred as Varanasi. The sculptor, along with his associates worked all night and were able to almost complete the creation of one crore sculptures. However, when Kalukumar was just short of one sculpture, the idea dawned on him to carve out his own figure to attain immortality but before he could complete his work, day broke out and the massive task of one crore sculptures and figures remained incomplete.
Yet another legend is that one crore gods and goddesses and their followers led by Lord Shiva were on their way to Varanasi. They expressed a wish to rest for the night. In the morning none of the deities were able to rise at the break of dawn except Lord Shiva. Others had turned into stone. Hence, the place got its name Unakoti.
Among the rock-cut sculptures is a 33-ft-high bust of Lord Shiva. It includes an 11-ft-high headgear which is now partly broken. The bust is the central figure in the complex and is locally called Unakotiswara Kalabhairava. The bust of Shiva is identified from the third eye and a trident. 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 chaturmukha Shivlinga nearby. Among other rock-cut and stone images are those of Vishnu, Nandi, Narasimha, Ravana, Hanuman, and several unidentified deities. The consensus among archeologists is that although the predominant influence of the Shiva cult is obvious, the sculptures were also influenced by several other cults like Tantric, Shakti, and Hatha yogis. It is also inferred that the site dates back to the period between the 12th and 16th centuries, and that the sculptures belong to two different periods of art.
Fairs & Festivals
During Shivratri, Makar Sankranti, and Ashokashtami, thousands of pilgrims come here to take a dip in the Sita Kunda.
How To Reach
By Road - To get to Unakoti, one can hire a taxi from Agartala, the state capital.
By Air - Kailasahwar town is connected with bi-weekly Indian Airlines flights from Agartala.