6/10/2011 to 6/12/2011 | India , Tripura

Udaipur of the East

Udaipur is Tripura’s historic heart.  Not to be confused with that other Udaipur in Rajasthan.  In and around Udaipur are several temples and palaces, some forgotten in a state of ruins, while others a focal point of pilgrimages to this day.  By far the most active of the temples around Udaipur is the Tripura Sundari Mandir at Matabari.  A place I found fascinating enough to visit twice.  During my first visit to this Kali Temple built temple was full of pilgrims and washed with goat’s blood, as goat after goat was beheaded in ritual sacrifice.  My second visit was lighter on the blood, as it apparently wasn’t the time of day for animal sacrifices, instead a steady stream of wedding parties parading to the raucous music of their accompanying brass bands, made there way to tank behind the temple to perform pre wedding rituals.The most famous, or at least iconic, of the architectural sites in Tripura, the Neermal in Melagarh, is Tripura Udaipur’s own lake palace, though not quite as spectacular as the more famous one in Rajasthan’s Udaipur.  The palace built on an island in Rudra Sagar Lake is more interesting for its setting than its architecture, consisting of a series of plain white washed pavilions and towers.  The weather was far from ideal on the day I visited with pre-monsoonal showers only letting up briefly and grey skies throughout the visit.The furthest south I ventured in Tripura was to the ruins at Pilak.  The remains of Buddhist as well as Hindu temples dating from the 8th century are scattered about rice fields and villages.  While none of the ruins themselves could be called spectacular, the rural setting was a pleasant venue to hunt down the bits of sculpture and foundations that remain.  The local villagers brought out there guestbook proud to show the many (though certainly not that many) foreign visitors have found there way to this relatively remote site.  To my surprise, in one of those small world moments, one of the pages they randomly showed me had my friend Robin’s* entry from 2006. *A chronic traveler from London who I had first met in Ladakh in 2008 and had most recently traveled to Manipur with earlier this year.

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