Tripura is a state in Northeast India, and one of the Seven Sister States. The third-smallest state of India, it occupies an area of . Tripura is surrounded by Bangladesh on the north, south, and west. The Indian states of Assam and Mizoram lie to its east. The state capital is Agartala. A landlocked state, Tripura's geography is characterized by several north-south hill ranges with intervening valleys, and plain in the western part of the state.
The area of the modern Tripura was part of an independent Tripuri kingdom that ruled for several centuries, probably millennia. It was a Princely state during the British Raj in India. The kingdom merged with independent India in 1949 with the Tripura Merger Agreement. Ethnic strife between original tribes and largely migrant Bengali population has led to tension and scattered violence since its integration to India. Establishment of an autonomous tribal zone and other strategies soothed such tensions to a great extent, and the state remained peaceful, as of 2011.
Tripura lies in a geographically disadvantageous location in India as only one major highway connects it with the rest of India; this hinders the economic prospects of the state. An agrarian state, most residents are involved in agriculture and allied activities, although service sector is the biggest contributor to the state's gross domestic product. Forests cover more than half the area of the state, and provide remarkable biodiversity for a relatively small state and also a source of livelihood for many tribes. Scheduled tribes are about 30% of the population in which Kokborok-speaking Tripuri people form the major tribe; Bengali people form the ethno-linguistic majority of the population. The mainstream Indian cultural elements led by Bengali culture coexists along with tribal traditional practices.
Scholars have postulated several etymological roots of the name Tripura. Many scholars agree that Tripura is Sanskritized version of Tipra, the name of the aboriginal people inhabiting the area. One popular theory suggests that Tripura is derived from two Kokborok words tui and pra. Tui means water, pra means near. In ancient times the boundaries of Tripura extended up to the Bay of Bengal when its ruler held sway from the Garo Hills to the Arakan. According to another school of thought, the word Tripura may have originated from Tripura Sundari, the presiding deity of the Tripura Sundari Temple at Udaipur, famous as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas (pilgrimage centres of Shakti worshippers of Hinduism). Yet another myth suggests the word Tripura is attributable to the legendary tyrant king of Tripur who reigned in the region. According to legend, Tripur was the 39th descendant of Druhya, who was a descendant of Yayati, one of the mythical lunar race kings.
The Puranas (ancient Indian religious texts) and pillar inscriptions of Emperor Ashoka (third century BCE) mention Tripura. An ancient name of Tripura is Kirat Desh, probably referring to the Kirata Kingdom or the more generic term Kirata. Kings of Twipra Kingdom have reigned in the region for centuries, but the historical beginning of the kingdom is not documented. Rajmala, a chronicle of Tripuri kings that was first penned in the fifteenth century, provides a list of 186 kings from antiquity to the present day.
The boundaries of the kingdom changed over centuries of reign; at various points in time, the southern border reached to the jungles of Sundarbans on the Bay of Bengal, to Burma in the west, and to the borders of Kamarupa kingdom in the north. Several Muslim invasions came to the region starting from the 13th century, finally culminating in Mughal dominance in the plains of the kingdom in 1733. The hilly region never came under Mughal rule though, and the Mughal had some influence on the appointment of the kings in the dynasty. Tripura was a princely state during the British rule in India. Udaipur, in the present day South Tripura district, was the capital of the kingdom. The capital was shifted to Old Agartala by King Krishna Manikya in the 18th century, and then to the present Agartala in the 19th century. King Bir Chandra Manikya (1862 1896) modeled his administration on the pattern of British India and enacted various reforms including the formation of Agartala Municipal Corporation.
Following the independence of India, the Regent Maharani (queen) of Tripura signed the Tripura Merger Agreement on 9 September 1947. Tripura became a Part C state of India. Tripura became a Union Territory without legislature in November 1956 and an elected ministry was installed in July 1963. On 21 January 1972 Tripura attained statehood. Tripura was heavily affected by the partition of India and the majority of the population now comprises Bengalis, many of whom came as refugees from East Pakistan after independence in 1947. The partition of India also resulted in major economic and infrastructural setback for the state, as the road transport between the state and other major cities of India became significantly longer and more difficult. The road distance between Kolkata and Agartala before partition was less than , which became following partition, as the road now winded around East Pakistan (later Bangladesh). The geo-political isolation was aggravated by lack of rail transport.
Some parts of the state received shelling from Pakistan Army during Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Migration of Bengali people and settlement by Hindu Bengali increased around the Bangladesh Liberation War. Reversal of demographics led to tribes becoming a minority. Ethnic strife between the tribes and largely migrant Bengali community led to scattered violence in the state since the independence of India, and an ebb and flow of insurgency spanning decades. The insurgencies gradually abated following establishment of a tribal autonomous district council and strategic counter-insurgency activities, aided by overall socio-economic progress of the state. The state remains peaceful as of 2011.
Geography and climate
Rural Tripura Tripura's landscape Tripura is a landlocked state in Northeast India, the seven contiguous states of which Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura are collectively known as the Seven Sister States. With an area of , Tripura is the third-smallest state of the country. The state extends between 22 56'N and 24 32'N and 91 09'E and 92 20'E. Its maximum stretch measures about from north to south and from east to west. Tripura is bounded by the country of Bangladesh in the west, south and north; the Indian state of Assam lies to the north-east, and Mizoram forms the eastern boundary. The state is accessible to the rest of India through the Karimganj district of Assam and Aizawl district of Mizoram in the east.
The physiography is characterized by hill ranges, valleys and plains. The state has five anticlinal hill ranges running from north to south. From west to east, these ranges are Boromura, Atharamura, Longtharai, Shakhan and Jampui. The intervening synclinal valleys are Agartala Udaipur, Khowai Teliamura, Kamalpur Ambasa, Kailasahar Manu, and Dharmanagar Kanchanpur valleys. Betling Shib in the Jampui hill range with an altitude of is the highest point of the state. The small isolated hillocks interspersed in the state are known as tilla, whereas narrow fertile alluvial valleys mostly present in the western part of the state are called lunga. In geologic time scale, the rocks found in the state date from the oligocene epoch (approximately 34 to 23 million years ago) to the holocene epoch (started 12,000 Before Present), according to lithostratigraphy data published by the Geological Survey of India. The hills have red laterite soil that is porous. The flood plains and narrow valleys have alluvial soil. Flood plains in the western and southern parts of the state contain most of its agricultural land. A number of rivers flow through the hilly regions carving valleys, and pass through the plains to enter Bangladesh. The rivers Khowai, Dhalai, Manu River, Juri and Langai flow towards north; Gumti is westward; Muhuri and Feni flow southwestward.
The state has a tropical savanna climate designated Aw under the K ppen climate classification, although the undulating topography leads to local variations particularly in the hill ranges. The four main seasons are as follows Winter (December February), Pre-monsoon or Summer (March April), Monsoon (May September) and Post Monsoon (October November). The southwest monsoon brings heavy rains during the monsoon season. According to data from 1977 2008, the average annual rainfall of the state is . Generally, the maximum and minimum temperatures during Winter (December January) are around and , and during Summer (March April) are and respectively. Heavy rainfall during the monsoon causes frequent floods in the state.
Flora and fauna
Tripura like the most of the Indian subcontinent lies within the Indomalaya ecozone. According to the Biogeographic classification of India, the state is in biogeographic zone 9B the North-East Hills. Forests form 57.73% of the area of the state. Tripura hosts different types of ecosystems including mountain, forest and freshwater ecosystems. Hill slopes and sandy river banks have evergreen forest with species such as Dipterocarpus, Artocarpus, Amoora, Elaeocarpus, Syzygium and Eugenia dominating the canopy. Major part of the forest in the state comprises two types of Moist deciduous forest moist deciduous mixed forest and Sal (Shorea robusta)-predominant forests. A notable peculiarity of the flora in the state is the presence of large tracts of bamboo and some cane forests interspersed with deciduous and evergreen flora. Grassland and swamp are also present, particularly in the plains. The swamp lands are noted for herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees such as Albizia, Barringtonia, Lagerstroemia, Macaranga; shrubs and grasses include Schumannianthus dichotoma (shitalpati), Phragmites and Saccharum (sugarcane).
A survey in 1989 90 concluded that Tripura hosts 90 land mammal species from 65 genera and 10 orders. The main extant land mammal species include: elephant (Elephas maximus), bear (Melursus ursinus), binturong (Arctictis binturong), wild dog (Cuon alpinus), porcupine (Artherurus assamensis), barking deer (Muntiacus muntajak), sambar (Cervus unicolor), wild boar (Sus scrofa), gaur (Bos gaurus), leopard (Panthera pardus), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), and many species of small cats and primates. Out of 15 free ranging primates of India, 7 are found in Tripura; this is the highest number of primate species found in any Indian state. There are nearly 300 species of birds in the state.
Wildlife sanctuaries of the state include Sipahijola Wildlife Sanctuary, Gumti Wildlife Sanctuary, Rowa Wildlife Sanctuary, and Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary. National parks of the state include Clouded Leopard National Park and Rajbari National Park. These protected areas cover a total of . Gumti is also an Important Bird Area. In winter, thousands of migratory waterfowl throng Gumti and Rudrasagar lakes.
Gross State Domestic Product at Constant Prices
(2004 05 base) figures in crores Indian rupee
Rice field in Tripura Tripura's gross state domestic product for 2010 11 was at constant (2004 05) price, recording 5.71% growth over the previous year. In the same period, the GDP of India was , with a growth rate of 8.55%. Annual per capita income at current price of the state was , compared to the national per capita income . In 2009, the tertiary sector of the economy (service industries) was the largest contributor to the gross domestic product of the state, contributing 53.98% of the state's economy compared to 23.07% from primary sector (agriculture, forestry, mining) and 22.95% from secondary sector (industrial and manufacturing).
Tripura is an agrarian state, with more than 50% of its population depending on agriculture and allied activities. However, due to hilly terrain and forest cover, only 27% of land is available for cultivation. Rice is overwhelmingly major crop of the state, with 91% of cropped area being sown with rice. 2009 10 statistics reveal that potato, sugarcane, mesta, pulses and jute are other major crops, in terms of production. Jackfruit and pineapple top the list of horticultural products. Traditionally, most of the tribal population of the state practiced jhum method (a type of slash-and-burn) cultivation. The number of people dependent on jhum has declined over the years since Tripura joined the union of India.
Pisciculture has made significant progress, since per capita consumption of fish in the state is high. Rubber and tea are the important cash crops of the state. Tripura, known as the second rubber capital of India, is the second largest producer of natural rubber in India, after Kerala. The state is known for its handicraft, particularly hand-woven cotton fabric, wood carvings, and bamboo products, are also important. High quality timber including sal, garjan, teak, and Gamar are found abundantly in the forests of Tripura.
According to the Economic Census 2005 report, after agriculture, the maximum number of workers were engaged in retail trade (28.21% of total non-agricultural workforce), followed by manufacturing (18.60%), public administration (14.54%), and education (14.40%). Government-sponsored organized sector remains the primary avenue of employment in organized sector in the state, as private presence in organized sector is minimal, except some brick fields and tea industry. Tripura has poor mineral resources, with meagre deposits of different types of clay minerals, glass sand, lignite, and limestone but this state has considerable amount of natural gas. According to estimate by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the state has a reserve of 400 billion cubic meter natural gas, out of which 16 billion cubic meter is recoverable. ONGC produced 480 million cubic meter natural gas in the state in 2006 07. The industrial sector of the state continues to be highly underdeveloped. ONGC has its natural gas gathering station & Gas Authority of India Limited has marketing terminals of natural gas in north, west and south part of Tripura. Heavy industries are conspicuous by their absence in the state. Tourism industry has shown an increasing trend, with the revenue earned in tourism sector crossing for the first time in 2009 10, and surpassing in 2010 11.
The Planning Commission estimates the poverty rate of all north east Indian states based on head count ratio in the state of Assam (the largest state in north east India). According to 2001 Planning Commission assessment, 22% of Tripura's rural residents were below the poverty line. However, Tripura government's independent assessment based on consumption distribution data reports that 55% of the rural population was below the poverty line, as of 2001. Geographic isolation and communication bottleneck coupled with insufficient infrastructure has restricted economic growth of the state. High rate of poverty and unemployment continues to be prevalent.
Government and politics
The 19th century Ujjayanta Palace, earlier used as the meeting place of Tripura's State Legislative Assembly and now under reconstruction
Tripura is governed through a parliamentary system of representative democracy, a feature the state shares with other Indian states. Universal suffrage is granted to residents. There are three branches of government. The legislature, the Tripura Legislative Assembly, consists of elected members and special office bearers such as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, that are elected by the members. Assembly meetings are presided over by the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker in the Speaker's absence. The judiciary is composed of the Guwahati High Court (Agartala Bench) and a system of lower courts. Executive authority is vested in the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister, although the titular head of government is the Governor. The Governor is the head of state appointed by the President of India. The leader of the party or coalition with a majority in the Legislative Assembly is appointed as the Chief Minister by the Governor, and the Council of Ministers are appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Council of Ministers reports to the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly is unicameral with 60 Members of the Legislative Assembly, or MLAs. Terms of office run for 5 years, unless the Assembly is dissolved prior to the completion of the term. Tripura sends 2 representatives to the Lok Sabha and 1 representative to the Rajya Sabha. Auxiliary authorities known as panchayats, for which local body elections are regularly held, govern local affairs in many villages. A unique feature of the state is the presence of an autonomous tribal self-governance agency, the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council. This council is responsible for some aspects of local governance in 527 villages with high tribal concentration.
The main political parties are the Left Front and the Indian National Congress. Tripura is currently governed by Left Front, with Manik Sarkar as Chief Minister. Until 1977 the state was governed by the Indian National Congress. The left front governed from 1978 to 1988, and then returned in power in 1993. During 1988 1993 the state was governed by a coalition of the Congress and Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti. On the last elections (23 February 2008) the Left Front gained 49 out of 60 seats in the Assembly, 46 of which went to the CPI(M).
In January 2012, major changes were implemented in the administrative divisions of Tripura. Prior to these changes, Tripura had four districsts Dhalai (headquarters Ambassa), North Tripura (headquarters Kailashahar), South Tripura (headquarters Udaipur), and West Tripura (headquarters Agartala). Four new districts were carved out of the existing four in January 2012 Khowai, Unakoti, Sipahijala& Gomati. Each district is governed by a district collector or district magistrate, usually appointed by the Indian Administrative Service. Each district is subdivided into Sub-Divisions, governed by a sub-divisional magistrate, and again into Blocks. Blocks consists of panchayats (village councils) and town municipalities. The eight districts of the state are subdivided into 29 subdivisions and 50 development blocks. National census and state statistical reports are available for the previous administrative divisions, as of April 2012. The largest city and capital is Agartala. Other major towns are Badharghat, Jogendranagar, Indranagar, Pratapgarh, Khowai, Teliamura, Bisramganj, Bishalgarh, Sonamura, Udaipur, Amarpur, Belonia, Sabroom, Ambassa, Kailashahar, and Dharmanagar.
Transport and communication
A road crossing in Agartala
Tripura is remarkable in that only one major road, the National Highway 44 (NH-44), connects it to the rest of India. The national highway starts at Sabroom in southern Tripura, goes north to the capital Agartala, turns east and then north-east to enter the state of Assam. Locally known as Assam Road, the NH-44 is often called the lifeline of Tripura. However, the highway is single lane and of poor quality; often landslides, rains or other disruptions on the highway cut off the state from its neighbours. Tripura Road Transport Corporation is the government agency overlooking public transport on road. A hilly and land-locked state, Tripura is dependent mostly on roads for transport. The total length of roads in the state is , of which national highways constitute ; state highways , as of 2009 10.
Rail transport was absent in the state until 2008 09 when a rail connection was established between the capital Agartala and Lumding junction in Assam. This is a meter gauge rail track connecting to the usual Indian gauge at Lumding. The major railways stations in this line are in Agartala, Dharmanagar, and Kumarghat. As of 2009 10, the total length of railway tracks in the state is . Extension of railway line from Agartala to the southernmost town of Sabroom is in progress, as of 2012. Agartala Airport, which has flights to Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, and Silchar, is the main airport of the state. The Agartala Kolkata and Agartala Guwahati flights are particularly important for rapid connectivity with the rest of India. Passenger helicopter services are available between the capital and major towns (Kailashahar, Dharmanagar) as well as to more remote areas such as Kanchanpur, Tripura and Gandacherra. Residents in rural areas frequently use waterways as a mode of transport.
Most of the major telecommunication companies of India are present in the state, with the state capital and regions of the state being served by Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, Reliance, Tata Indicom, Idea and BSNL landline, mobile, and broadband networks. There are 84 telephone exchanges (for landlines) and 716 post offices in the state.
Tripura is the second most populous state in North-East India, after Assam. According to the provisional results of 2011 census of India, Tripura has a population of 3,671,032 with 1,871,867 males and 1,799,165 females. The sex ratio of the state is 961 females per thousand males. The density of population is 350 persons per square kilometer. Tripura constitutes 0.3% of India's total population. The literacy rate of Tripura in 2011 was 87.75%, higher than the national average of 74.04%.
In the 2001 census of India, Bengalis represented almost 70% of Tripura's population and the tribal population comprised 30% of Tripura's population. The tribal population comprises several different tribes and ethnic groups with diverse languages and cultures. The largest tribal group was the Kokborok-speaking tribe of the Tripuri who had a population of 543,848 in 2001 census, representing 16.99% of the state population and 54.7% of the scheduled tribe population. The other major tribes in order of decreasing population were Reang (16.6% of the tribal population), Jamatia (7.5%), Chakma (6.5%), Halam (4.8%), Mog (3.1%), Munda, Kuki tribes and Garo. Bengali is the most spoken language, due to the predominance of Bengali people in the state. Kokborok is a prominent language among the tribes. Several other languages belonging to Indo-European and Sino-Tibetan families are spoken by the different tribes.
Tripura ranks 22rd in the combined (rural and urban) Human Development Index, and 24th in the combined Human Poverty Index in India according to 2001 National Human Development Report, which was based on 1991 data. According to 2001 census, Hinduism is the majority religion in the state, with 85.6% of the population following the religion. Muslims make up 7.9% of the population, Christians 3.2%, and Buddhists 3.1%. The Muslim percentage in the state gradually declined from 1971 due to heavy influx of Hindu populations from and the migration of Muslim population to Bangladesh. Majority of the tribes in the state are Hindu and practice Hindu religious rites. They believe in the existence of God in all the elements of nature as they are animistic. Mogs and Chakmas are the followers of Buddhism in Tripura. Christianity in the state is followed by Lushai, Kuki and Garo tribes.
Traditional Tripuri dress of the Tripuri tribe Tripura has several diverse ethno-linguistic groups, which has given rise to a composite culture. The dominant cultures are Bengali, Manipuri, Tripuris, Jamatia, Reang, Noatia, Koloi, Murasing, Chakma, Halam, Garo, Kuki, Mizo, Mogh, Munda, Oraon, Santhal, and Uchoi. Bengali people represents the largest non-tribal community of the state. Bengali culture, as a result, is the main non-tribal culture in the state. Indeed many tribal families, especially those who are from the elite class and reside in urban centres, have embraced Bengali culture more than their tribal cultural roots. The Tripuri kings were great patron of Bengali culture, especially literature, and Bengali language was the language of the court. The Nobel laureate Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore had notable friendship with the kings. Elements of Bengali culture, such as Bengali literature, Bengali music, and Bengali cuisine predominate particularly in the urban areas of the state.
Tripura is noted for bamboo and cane handicrafts. Bamboo, woods and cane are used to create an array of furniture, utensils, hand-held fans, replicas, mats, baskets, idols and interior decoration materials.
Music and dances are integral part of the tribal people of Tripura. Some of their indigenous musical instruments are the sarinda, chongpreng, and sumui (a kind of flute). Songs are sung during religious occasions, weddings, and other festivals. Each tribal community has their own repertoire of songs and dances. The Tripuri and Jamatia tribe perform goria dance during the Goria puja. Jhum dance (also called tangbiti dance) in the harvest season, lebang dance, mamita dance, and mosak sulmani dance are other Tripuri dances. Reang community, the second largest tribe of the state, are noted for their hojagiri dance performed by young girls balancing on earthen pitchers. The Bizhu dance is performed by the Chakmas during the Bizhu festival (the last day of the month of Chaitra). Other tribal dances are wangala dance of the Garo people, hai-hak dance of the Halam branch of Kuki people, sangrai dance and owa dance of the Mog tribe, and others. Besides tribal music, Indian classical music is also practiced among the residents. Sachin Dev Burman of the royal family was a maestro in the filmi genre of Indian music, creating many popular tunes in the bollywood films.
Hindus believe that Tripureshwari is the patron goddess of Tripura and an aspect of Shakti. Durga Puja, Kali Puja, Ashokastami and the worship of the Chaturdasha deities are important festivals. Some festivals represent confluence of several tribal traditions, such as Ganga puja, Garia puja, Kherchi puja, Ker puja. Unakoti, Pilak and Devtamura are historic sites where large collections of stone carvings and rock sculptures are noted. These sculptures are evidence of the presence of Buddhism and Brahmanical orders for centuries. These sculptures represent a rare artistic fusion of traditional religions and tribal influence.
Football and cricket are the most popular sports in the state. The state capital Agartala has its own club football championships every year where many local clubs compete in a league and knockout format. Tripura participates as an eastern state team in the Ranji Trophy, the Indian domestic cricket competition. The state also is a regular participant of the Indian National Games and the North Eastern Games.
Tripura schools are run by the state government or by private organisations, including religious institutions. Instruction is mainly in English or Bengali, though Kokborok and other tribal languages are also used. The schools are affiliated with the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), the National Institute of Open School (NIOS) or the Tripura Board of Secondary Education. Under the 10+2+3 plan, after completing secondary school, students typically enroll for 2 years in a junior college, also known as pre-university, or in schools with a higher secondary facility affiliated with the Tripura Board of Secondary Education or any central board. Students choose from one of three streams, namely liberal arts, commerce or science. Upon completing the required coursework, students may enroll in general or professional degree programs.
Notable education institutions of Tripura are Holy Cross College, MBB College, National Institute of Technology, Tripura Institute of Technology, Agartala Government Medical College, Tripura Medical College, Tripura Institute Of Paramedical Science, Tripura University, Indira Gandhi National Open University and ICFAI University all located in Agartala and outskirts of it.
- Jagadis Gan-Chaudhuri (1985), An Anthology of Tripura, Inter India Publications ISBN 81-210-0075-0
- Roychoudhury, N.R. (1977), Tripura Through the Ages: A Short History of Tripura from the Earliest Times to 1947 A.D., Bureau of Research & Publications on Tripura.
- Bhattacharjee, P.R. (1994), Economic Transition in Tripura (Hardcover), Vikas Publishing House ISBN 978-0-7069-7171-2
- Palit, P.K. (2004), History of Religion in Tripura (Hardcover) Kaveri Books ISBN 978-81-7479-064-4
- Debbarma, Chandramani (2006), Glory of Tripura Civilisation Parul Prakashani, Agartala
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