Unakoti, known for its centuries-old ‘Shaivite rock’ sculptures in the northern part of Tripura, will soon have a cafeteria, toilets, drinking water and other facilities for travellers, a senior tourism department official said here.
Unakoti, also called the ‘Angkor Wat of the North-East’ region, has been shortlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
‘During a recent meeting, Tourism Minister Sushanta Chowdhury requested the ASI to set up a cafetoria at Unakoti to cater to the needs of the tourists and pilgrims,” Director of Tourism Tapan Kumar Das told PTI.
The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is the custodian of the Unakoti rock carvings created in the 8th-9th century on Raghunandan hills, about 180 km from the state capital Agartala.
“The ASI also assured us that steps will be taken to open the cafeteria by September 15. Besides, they will ensure that other amenities – safe drinking water and toilets – come up there,” he said.
Presently, only rudimentary facilities exist at the site.
Das said the Tourism department has been working on infrastructure development centring Unakoti archaeological site.
The Union Ministry of Culture has sanctioned Rs 70 crore for the development of the Unakoti site, he said adding that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is also expected to sanction a loan of Rs 70 crore for setting up tourism-related infrastructure there.
The Tourism department has initiated a move to build a modern accommodation facility at Sonamukhi Tea Estate, 7-8 km away from Unakoti archaeological site.
“At least 32 families can be accommodated there. It will have a swimming pool, a meditation centre and arrangements for adventure sports,” the tourism director said.
The tourism department is also working on setting up a parking lot for tourists at the Unakoti site.
The structures of the rock-cut sculptures are gigantic and have distinct mongoloid features and display almost the same mystical charm as the spellbinding figures in the Angkor Wat temple of Cambodia. That is why it is called ‘the Angkor Wat of Northeast.
In December last year, Unakoti featured in the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.