The Land of the Princely State
Beloved of nature, Tripura is popularly known as the ‘daughter of the Eastern Hills’ on account of her undulating hilly terrain and rich forest cover. It was a princely state ruled by the Tripuri Kings (bubagra) who held the title of Manikya for 3000 years until its merger. The state is bounded on the north, west, south and south-east by Bangladesh whereas in the east it has a common boundary with Assam and Mizoram. The history of Tripura as a administrative unit dates back to the days of Maharajas when the territory was a native State. It is significant to note that all though Tripura was conquered by force of arms in 1761, no Political agents was appointed in the State till 1871 – a gap of 110 years.
The early history of the kingdom of Tripura is a complex blend of history with Mythology. Tripura finds mentions in the Mahabharata, the Puranas and pillar inscriptions of Emperor Ashoka. There are references of Tripura in the Mahabharat and the Puranas. Tripura, the descendent of King Druya and Bhabru, contemporary of Yudhisthira, was the ruler on whose name Tripura is named. One more explanation says that the territory is named after the temple of Tripuri Sundari, located at Radhakrishnapur.
According to ‘Rajmala’ Tripura’s royal house trace their origin to the celebrated ‘lunar’ dynasty, following in the footsteps of their counterparts in the Hindu royal houses of the rest of India who claim to have originated from the ‘lunar’ or ‘solar’ dynasty. In addition to this it is also maintained that primarily the land was called “Tuipra” which connotes “A land adjoining the water.” It is fact that in days of yore the boundaries of Tripura was extended up to the Bay of Bengal when its rulers held sway from Garo hills to Arakan.
The state has over 60% of its total geographical area under forest cover, out of which about 6% is under protected areas in form of four wildlife sanctuaries. Tripura is land of high hills, hillocks, interspersed with rivers and valleys having moderately warm and humid climate, well distributed annual rainfall of 2500 mm. The terrain soil and climate of the State of Tripura are ideally suited for rain-fed Horticulture. Fruits like Pineapple, Jack fruit, Orange, Litchi, Cashew nut, Coconut, Lime, Lemon are produced in abundance. Fruit crops in the State are grown on hillocks, availing the well distributed rainfall without application of any fertilizers or chemicals. Therefore, Tripura fruits are mostly the products of organic farming.
Tripura has a history of tea plantations going back to 1916. In fact,Tripura is categorized as a traditional tea-growing state with about 60 Tea Estates and 3,000 small tea growers, producing about 7.5 million kg. of tea every year. Tripura is the 5th largest, among the 14 tea producing states, after Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu & Kerala. Some plantations in the state are going for organic production of tea.
The economy is primarily agrarian. The primary sector ( Agricultural) contributes about 64% of total employment in the state and about 48% of the State Domestic Product. Animal Husbandry and Fisheries are also carried out though the level of production is not adequate to meet the demand of the state and hence there is need to make considerable development.
The culture of Tripura is weaved around the various lifestyles and economy of the people in the state. Like many other states in the North-east India, Tripura too has many festivals weaved around the theme of environment. The Garia Dance is performed by tripuris to thank God “Garia” for good harvest. Another dance called the Lebang Boomani Dance is performed when Tripuris expect monsoons after Garia. Men make intricate rhythmically sweet sounds with bamboo chips to take the insects out of their hiding places and women run after the insects called ‘Lebang’ to catch them.
There are many wildlife sanctuaries in Tripura that are home to many animals, birds, insects and plant kingdom. The Gumti Wildlife Sanctuary is stretched in a vast area where it has a great water reservoir which attracts several local resident birds along with some migratory birds. Elephants, Bison, Sambar, Barking deer, Wild goat or Sarow apart from many other animals and reptiles dwell in this sanctuary. The Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary has a Botanical Garden Zoo, which attracts a commoner and a Botanist alike, a lake and plentiful species of tress. All through the year this sanctuary is extremely green with plantation. The spectacular view of 150 species of migratory and non migratory birds is bewitching. Two more Wild Life Sanctuaries viz Gondacherra Wild Life Sanctuary and Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary also house many rich biodiversity. A rendezvous with Tigers, Bison, Deers, various primates, even a few wild horses is sure an exciting and enthralling experience.
The most important mineral potential possibility of Tripura is oil and natural gas which are being explored by the Oil and Natural Gas Commission. The Industry Sector has also remained to undeveloped so far, despite the vast potential. The secondary sector contributes only about 5% of total employment and about 7% of the total income (SDP) of the state at present. Influx of people from neighbours like Bangladesh is causing an alarming situation of forest encroachments that threatens eclogical habitat of many species and disturb the biodiversity balance of the region.