Tripura is a state in northeast India which borders Bangladesh, Mizoram and Assam. It is surrounded by Bangladesh on its north, south and western side with the international boundary is 856 km (84 per cent of its total border). It shares a 53 km long border with Assam and a 109 km long border with Mizoram. The state is geographically connected with the rest of India by only one highway (National Highway-44) that runs through the hills to the border of Karimganj district in southern Assam and then winds through the states of Meghalaya, Assam and North Bengal to Kolkata.
|Languages in use||Bengali, Kokborok (tribal language) English, Hindi, Manipuri, Chakma|
|Temperature||Summer :20 to 36° C.
Winter :7 to 27° C. Winter 2°. C Min
|Rainy Season||June to August|
|Average Rainfall||2500 mm per annum|
|International Border (with Bangladesh)||856 Km.|
|Literacy Rate||87.22% (2011 Census)|
At the time of Tripura's merger with the Indian union in October 15, 1949, the major mode of farming by the tribals in mountainous areas was shifting cultivation, locally called ‘Jhum' cultivation (slash and burn method of farming), which produced little surplus food grain. Some areas of the plain lands of the state were under settled agriculture undertaken by Bengalis, and the main crop was rice. Most of the plain lands of the state were not under cultivation and were covered with cane-brakes and marshes. Thus at the time of formation of the state, the economy was predominantly agricultural and forest-based, with no industrial base, a low level of urbanisation and limited infrastructure.
For administrative convenience and decentralisation of power Tripura which had once been a single district only is now divided into altogether eight districts, twenty three subdivisions and forty five rural development blocks. Besides, a special feature of the state is the vibrant existence of an Autonomous District Council (ADC) for tribals based on 6th schedule of the Indian constitution. The ADC in Tripura encompasses 68.10 percent of the state's total geographical territory and is home to roughly one third of the state's population of 37 lakh.
Tripura is the second smallest state in terms of area, but the second most populous state in the North Eastern Region. Although the state is small with a population of only over 3.7 million, the social composition of the population of Tripura is diverse. In particular, around one-third of the population comprises people belonging to the scheduled tribes.
According to the 2011 census, the state’s population stood at 36.74 lakh, with a density of 350 persons per sq. km.
Population pattern and demography have always been sensitive issues in Tripura over the past century which saw an actual decline in indigenous tribal population in terms of percentage because of resettlement of non-tribals in the state, particularly in the aftermath of the partition of the country in 1947. In 1901 Tripura's population was 1.73 lakh, with tribals making up nearly 52.89 per cent of the whole. By 1941, the total population rose to 5.13 lakh with a barely 50.09 per cent tribal majority. But by 1981, the tribal population dipped to 28.44 per cent of a total population of 2.05 million. Evidently, the tribal people were reduced from over a half to barely more than a quarter of the state's population in a century. The demographic changes, the economic pressures created by the sudden influx of people and the spread of education through missionary influence among the Mizos, Kukis and other tribes, have generated new impulses and a mix of expectations and aspirations. A feature of note is that around 97.4 per cent of the tribal population is rural. Human development among tribal people is thus very closely tied to the evolution of the rural economy.
The range of hills rises from the plains of Bangladesh at the north and proceeds southwards until they join the hills of the Chittagong hill tracts in southeast Bangladesh. The elevation of hills gradually increases in the east. The eastern range of the Jampui is situated at an elevation of 914 meters above MSL and the western range of the Baramura, Deotamura with its elevation of 244 meters above MSL is the lowest.
A full-fledged state of northeast India, Tripura was formerly a princely state that had a long list of tribal kings stretching back into antiquity. According to versions presented in different editions of 'Rajmala', princely Tripura's court chronicle , altogether 184 or 179 kings of the Manikya dynasty had ruled the state . Scholars on Tripura's history, however, attribute all the pre-fifteenth century kings to the realm of mythology though continued sway of the Manikya dynasty has been attested since the year 1432.
The partition of India in 1947 and political upheavals that had preceded and followed the momentous development had brought an end to princely rule of Manikya dynasty in Tripura. After India became independent, Tripura acceded to the Indian Union on 15 October, 1949 as a "C" category state and became a Union Territory in November 1956. A popularly elected ministry was formed in Tripura in July 1963 and since then, the State has had governments elected on the basis of universal adult franchise. Tripura attained full statehood on January 21, 1972 alogn with Manipur and Meghalaya. Tripura is also rich in its composite cultural heritage embodied in archaeological remains , architecture and sculpture.
ART AND CULTURE
Folk culture of the tribal and non-tribal (Bengali) people of the state forms the backbone of Tripura's cultural tradition. This is reflected as much in the delicately rhythmic physical movement of the 'Hoza Giri' dance of the Reang tribesmen as in the collective musical recitation of 'Manasa Mangal' or 'Kirtan' (devotional songs in chorus) of the non-tribals. Apart from this, the 'Garia' dance of the tribals, organized on the occasion of New Year festivities and worship of 'Garia', and 'Dhamail' dance of the non-tribals, organized on familial occasions like wedding ceremony in rural areas as well as musical duels (Kabi Gaan) between two rival rhyme-makers on public platforms form the staple of Tripura's folk culture. Enriched by myths and legends of tribal society over the past half a millennium.
Tripura's folk culture now confronts a major threat from so-called modernity. Gone are the days when rhythmic movement of artists in 'Garia' or 'Dhamail' dance would keep viewers awake all through the night.These forms of culture have been falling prey to invasion of modernity as western musical instruments like guitar, mandolin etc keep replacing the traditional instruments like indigenous drums and flutes and western 'break dance' push aside the pristine purity of the 'Garia' dance or 'Dhamail'. However, cultural programmes, marked by songs and dances, associated with birth anniversaries of great poets and lyricists Rabindra Nath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam add colour and charm to the state's multi-layered cultural mosaic enriched by contributions from many streams of sub-culture.
RABINDRANATH TAGORE AND TRIPURA
Nobel-laureate poet Rabindra Nath Tagore's close relation with the princely state of Tripura and its four successive rulers forms an important chapter in the state's history. This was of course a natural corollary to the liberal patronage extended to Bengali language and culture by the Manikya dynasty rulers of Tripura since the days of King Ratna Manikya (1464-68). It was in the course of a political crisis that Tripura's ruling monarch Krishna Kishore Manikya (1830-1849) had got in touch with Prince Dwaraka Nath Tagore, fabled grand father of Rabindra Nath, and obtained timely assistance. In his maiden letter to King Bir Chandra Manikya ( 1862-1896) dated May 6, 1886 Rabindra Nath Tagore had referred to this familial relation while seeking ingredients of Tripura's history on which he later based his celebrated novel ' Rajarshi' and dramas 'Visarjan' and 'Mukut' . Even before that, young Rabindra Nath had occasion to have a feel of King Bir Chandra Manikya's magnanimity in 1882.
The King was in a state of shock following the untimely death of his dear consort and queen Ms Bhanumati Debi in the year 1881 and during that period of bereavement he studied young Rabindra Nath's celebrated love-poem 'Bhagna Hriday'. A highly refined and sensitive man- practically a poet in the core of his heart-king Bir Chandra found a resonance of his anguish in Tagore's elegiac lyric and deputed his political secretary Radha Raman Ghosh to the family home of the Tagores at Jorasanko near Calcutta to congratulate the poet on his behalf. Bir Chandra was also deeply pained to know that leading lights of contemporary Bengali literature at that time took a dim view of young Tagore's creative work and passed unsavoury comments. He offered to purchase and install a full-fledged press to print and publish Rabindra Nath's works. The relation between the king and the poet deepened as they met on several occasions at Tripura's royal household in Calcutta and holiday resort in Curseong .
Rabindra Nath's relation with Tripura's royal family did not however snap as he himself had feared with the demise of King Bir Chandra Manikya in 1896. Birchandra's son and successor King Radhakishore Manikya (1897-1909) also maintained a close relation with Tagore and it was during his reign that the poet visited Tripura for the first time in the year 1900. The poet also tried to help his benefactor in many ways and visited Tripura altogether five times during his reign.
Apart from this, a number of Bengali men of letters received financial assistance from King Radhakishore Manikya. Similarly, King Birendra Kishore Manikya also maintained a close but respectful relation with Rabindra Nath. After Rabindra Nath had won Nobel prize King Birendra Kishore organized a function to celebrate the occasion and the poet visited Tripura again in the year 1919. Rabindra Nath visited Agartala for the seventh and last time in the year 1926 when he was introduced to King Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya(1923-1947). A cultured man of refined tastes, King Bir Bikram was a devoted fan of the poet and organized a special programme in May, 1941 to celebrate the poet's eightieth birth day. When the poet died within a few months, a day's official mourning was observed in Tripura at the behest of King Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya. The poet had penned at least five renowned and oft-heard songs during his visits to Tripura and all the Kings of Manikya dynasty from Bir Chandra to Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya extended generous financial assistance to Rabindra Nath and his dream project 'Viswa Bharati'at Bolpur in West Bengal. In fact Tagore's 'Viswa Bharati' had been showered with liberal financial assistance from Tripura's royal coffer from its inception . This assistance soon took the form of annual grants and formed part of princely Tripura's annual budgets till the last days of the state's last king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya (1923-1947). Apart from this, financial assistance had also been provided by kings of Tripura to help 'Viswa Bharati' launch a hospital, a library and 'Sangeet Bhawan'. Renowned artist Dhirendra Krishna Debbarman and Manipuri dance expert Buddhimanta Singh were deputed to 'Viswa Bharati' and it was Tripura's contribution that enabled the 'Viswa Bharati' authority to introduce Manipuri dance in its cultural curricula. Only a month ahead of the octogenarian Tagore's death king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya himself, accompanied by other royal personages, visited 'Viswa Bharati' and conferred the title of 'Bharat Bhaskar' on Rabindranath. A grateful poet was effusive in his praise of the kings and the people of Tripura. On the auspicious occasion of the poet's 150th birth anniversary the people of Tripura are reminded of the poet's immortal lines on the state: "when the woodlands of Tripura have sent out invitations to their floral feast through their courier of the south wind, I have come as a friend".
SACHIN DEVVARMAN AND TRIPURA
Legendary music maestro and scion of the Tripura royal family Sachin Dev Burman was the grandson of Tripura's 180th erstwhile king Ishan Chandra Manikya.
Born in Comilla’s Chortha village, 85 km south of Dhaka (now in Bangladesh), on Oct 1, 1906, Burman was a noted Bollywood music composer and an all-time great Bengali singer and composer. His son Rahul Dev Burman also made it big in Bollywood as a music director.
Comilla was part of Tripura during its princely rule.
S.D. Burman was born in the royal family of Tripura and began his training in classical music under his father Nabadwipchandra Dev Burman. S.D. Burman’s mother Nirupama Devi, who was a princess of the Manipuri royal family, also played a key role by giving inspiration, encouragement and assistance to make him famous.
“The death of his father in 1930 upset him. He left the Tripura palace and went to Kolkata and took shelter in a small rented accommodation and thus began his struggle for existence,” said Pannalal Roy, a senior official and editor of a commemorative book on the maestro.
“It still remains a mystery as to why the great singer turned his back on Tripura despite being a scion of the royal family,” said Roy.
Roy said that after his father’s death, the then Tripura king Maharaja Birbikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur offered Burman the post of education minister, but he preferred to remain in the world of music.
The Tripura government, following a resolution of the state legislative assembly, has urged the centre to request the Bangladesh government to take steps for conservation of S.D. Burman’s ancestral residences in Comilla.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation had earlier declared Burman’s north Kolkata house a ‘heritage building’.