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Tripura is one of India's Northeastern states. It is one of the regions least explored by foreign tourists, but offers immense natural beauty and an intriguing cultural heritage. Tripura is one of three Indian states ruled by communists, making their presence felt with murals and flags in many places.
Tripura belongs to the politically volatile North-Eastern region. As in neighbouring states, ethnic and communal strife has claimed many lives over the years. The current ethnic setup in Tripura is a consequence of the Partition of India, when large groups of Bengali Hindus left the area that became East Pakistan (today Bangladesh). The previous majority population, the tribals, became a minority and socio-economically disadvantaged in comparison to the new majority.
Two major tribal rebel groups operate in the state, the National Liberation Front of Tripura and the All Tripura Tiger Force, which wants Tripura to secede from India. There have been no known account of any violence against tourists in the state, nor any indication that tourist would be a target of violent groups. On the other hand, there are only a few foreign tourists reaching the state at all.
The main language in the state is Bengali. The largest language of the tribal population (approx 30% of the population of the state) is Kok Borok. Other languages include Manipuri, Chakma. Hindi is very rarely used in the state, but is understood.
Tripura is mainly surrounded by the Bangladesh border. There is a border crossing point at the outskirts of the state capital Agartala. There is a direct bus service operating between Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala.
For Bangladeshi visas, there is a Bangladeshi consulate in Agartala that runs a same day visa service. Tourist intending to obtain a visa are required to submit a filled up form with necessary documents, like photo etc. Usually, visa is issued the same day at afternoon.
Agartala is connected by air from Kolkata, Guwahati, Silchar and Delhi, Indira Gandhi Airport. The airport code is IXA. Foreign citizens need to register at the airport on arrival.
Recently, train services have also been introduced in the capital and an Express train runs daily between Agartala and Lumding, which enhances traveling in this princely state. The tickets to this service is highly sought after and should be booked well in advance. Daily train service is also available from Agartala to Silchar and Lumding (Assam) and Dharmanagar (Tripura).
Buses, run by CNG and disel are the main transport between towns of the state. At Agartala, City Buses are available in a regular interval. A small group can hire an Autorickshaw, run by CNG, for getting around the city. If time is more of an issue than money, one can hire a vehicle with driver. Do note that road conditions might be bad in rainy seasons, even by Indian standards. On some legs, vehicles travel in military convoys, moving extremely slowly through the countryside, especially on National highway, which connects Agartala with Assam. Some rural areas are not safe to travel by nighttime.
The fastest way to travel internally in Tripura is an helicopter service that connects Agartala with the northern parts of the state.
A Weekend Itinerary for visiting Tripura
7.00 am: Arrival at Agartala airport
(Regular flights available: Air India, Indigo, Jet Airways, Jetlite)
8.00 am: Check in any hotel. Breakfast.
9.00 am: City tour starts via AC cab, covering Ujjayanta Palace, Rabindra
Kanan, Sukanta Academy, MBB College, New Secretariat.
11.00AM: Move to Rose Valley Park.
01.00PM: Visit Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary, boating at lake.
03.00PM: Move to Udaipur, explore Tripureswari and Bhubaneswari Temple.
05.00PM: Visit Neermahal or Lake Palace at Melaghar.
Enjoy Light and Sound Show.
07.00PM: Collect Souvenirs from Purbasha, Govt. Emporium.
09.00PM: Dinner at Hotel.
Day 2 (Monday).
8.30AM: Check out from Hotel, go to Airport.
9.30AM: Depart for Kolkata/ New Delhi.
Tripura lacks an industrial base save some cottage industries (handicrafts and handloom). The Indian government has encouraged small scale industries especially weaving, pottery and basket making.
Typical Bengali cuisine includes rice, fish, meat and dal (pulse). Bengali sweets are also commonly available here. Some unique dishes of tribal people are also popular among the non-tribals and the tourists.One of the typical tribal dish is godok(Pork Disk) a must try disk. The major ingredients of Tripuri cuisine include pork, chicken, mutton, turtle, fish, prawns, crabs, and frogs.
Drinking of wine is banned in open. No bar is available at present. Beware of pirated alcohols, available in plenty. On the other hand, soft drinks of eminent brands are available in almost all shops.
Local people are quite innocent and helpful, but be aware of auto drivers, charging more than normal rate, for short distance travels always prefer three-wheeler rickshaws, they are convenient and easily available anywhere.
There are three ways to get out from here. Firstly, one can opt for Air Transport; regular flights are available for Kolkata, Guwahati and some other parts of India. One can also opt for Rail transport, though rails never run in this route in time. The state is connected with Assam through Meter Gauge Railway. If someone plans to visit Bangladesh, one can opt for Road Transport: state run TRTC service is available for visiting Bangladesh, which is cheaper and reliable. From Dhaka, link bus service is also available for going to Kolkata.Only advance Ticket is available in this route and the traveller requires a valid VISA for this route (Kolkata via Dhaka).