Tripura


Tripura
/trip"euhr euh/, n.
a state in E India. 1,760,000; 4033 sq. mi. (10,445 sq. km). Cap.: Agartala.

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State (pop., 2001 prelim.: 3,191,168), northeastern India.

It is bordered on three sides by Bangladesh and by Mizoram state; it has an area of 4,049 sq mi (10,486 sq km), and its capital is Agartala. It was an independent Hindu kingdom for more than 1,000 years before it became part of the Mughal Empire in the 17th century. After 1808 it was under the influence of the British government. Tripura became a union territory in 1956 and acquired full status as a state in 1972. The main economic activity is agriculture, with rice and jute the major crops.

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Introduction

      state of India. It is located in the northeastern part of the subcontinent. It is bordered on the north, west, and south by Bangladesh, on the east by the state of Mizoram, and on the northeast by the state of Assam. Covering an area of only 4,049 square miles (10,486 square kilometres), it is India's third smallest state, after Goa and Sikkim. With its isolation, hilly terrain, and tribal populations, Tripura shares many of the problems of India's northeastern region. Agartala is the capital.

Physical and human geography
      Central and northern Tripura is a hilly region crossed by four major valleys—from east to west, the Dharmanagar, Kailāshahar, Kamalpur, and Khowai—carved out by northward-flowing rivers (the Juri, Manu and Deo, Dhalai, and Khowai, respectively). The lower valleys in the west and south tend to be open and marshy, although in the south the terrain is heavily dissected and densely forested. North–south-trending ranges separate the valleys. East of the Dharmanagar valley, the Jāmrai Tlāng rises to elevations between 2,000 and 3,000 feet (600 and 900 metres). Altitude decreases westward through the successive ranges—the Sākhān Tlāng, the Langtarai Range, and the Artharamura Range—with the westernmost hills, the Deotamura, attaining heights of only 800 feet.

      West of the Deotamura Range is the Agartala Plain, an extension of the Ganges-Brahmaputra lowlands, with an elevation of less than 200 feet. It is drained by numerous rivers, the largest of which, the Gumti, emerges from the eastern hills in a steep-sided valley near Rādhākishorepur.

      More than 80 inches (2,000 millimetres) of rainfall occur during the monsoon season from June to September. Maximum temperatures in the lowlands average around 95° F (35° C) in the summer, though it is cooler in the mountains.

      Forests cover about half the state; although extensively cleared for cultivation, they still contain valuable trees, including sal, a tree that yields hardwood, second in value only to teak. Animal life includes tigers, leopards, elephants, jackals, wild dogs, boar, gayal ox, wild buffalo, and gaur—the largest of the world's wild oxen.

The people
      Tripura is predominantly rural. The highest densities are in the state's most fertile agricultural lands, located in the western plains and the Gumti, Dharmanagar, and Khowai valleys.

      More than 40 percent of the state's population belong to Scheduled Castes (untouchable) and Scheduled Tribes. More than half speak Bengali, and it and Tripurī are the state's official languages. The other important language is Manipurī. Hinduism is the religion of most of the people. There are also small minorities of Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians.

      Towns are concentrated on the western plain, where the state capital of Agartala is located. The four towns for which the northern valleys are named all serve as local marketing centres.

The economy
      Tripura's economy is primarily agricultural. The major crop is rice, which is grown throughout the state. Cash crops include jute (used in the manufacture of sacking, burlap, and twine), cotton, tea, sugarcane, and fruit. Livestock plays only a subsidiary role in the state's agriculture. Forestry-based industries produce timber, firewood, and charcoal.

      Manufacturing is largely on a small scale and includes many cottage industries, such as weaving, carpentry, basketry, and pottery making. The state government is active in fostering the growth of small-scale industries. Industrial units also exist for the production of tea, sugar, canned fruit, agricultural implements, bricks, and footwear; larger establishments include a spinning mill, a jute mill, a steel mill, a plywood factory, and a pharmaceuticals plant. Tripura has a state cooperative bank, a land mortgage bank, and a number of agricultural and marketing societies.

      Energy is provided by diesel-powered thermal plants at Agartala, Āmbāsa, Khowai, Dharmanagar, Kailāshahar, Udaipur, and Bagafa and by the Gumti Hydroelectric Project (completed in 1976). Extensive resources of natural gas have recently been discovered in the state.

      Tripura's hilly topography renders communications difficult. Moreover, with Bangladesh bordering the state on three sides, Tripura is virtually isolated from India; land routes consist only of the Agartala-Karīmganj (Assam) road and a metre-gauge railway link from Dharmanagar to Kalkālī Ghāt, Assam. Most rivers carry boat traffic, but this is generally for local transport. Agartala is linked by air to Calcutta (in West Bengal) and various towns in Assam. Intrastate air service also exists.

Administration and social conditions
      Tripura is divided into three administrative districts: North Tripura, South Tripura, and West Tripura. The governor, appointed by the president of India, is the constitutional head of state. The actual administration is conducted by a Council of Ministers, headed by a chief minister responsible to the elected unicameral Legislative Assembly (Vidhān Sabhā). The jurisdiction of the Guwāhāti High Court (in Assam) extends over Tripura.

      Higher educational facilities include Tripura University at Agartala and several professional and technical institutions, including nursing and engineering schools.

      Health services include hospitals, public health centres, and dispensaries. In addition, there are family-planning centres, as well as specialized clinics for the treatment of leprosy, venereal diseases, and diseases of the eye, chest, and teeth.

Cultural life
      Most of the population, adhering to Hinduism and speaking Bengali, share in the broader cultural traditions of India, while the Muslim minority is closer in culture to Bangladesh. Tribal customs, folklore, and folk songs are important elements in Tripura's culture. Two major annual ceremonies are the Garia (April) and the Kas (June or July), both of which often include animal sacrifice.

History
      The history of Tripura includes two distinct periods—the traditional, largely legendary period described in the Rājamālā, a chronicle of the supposed early kings (maharajas (maharaja)) of Tripura, and the period since about 1431–62, the reigning years of the great king Dharma Māṇikya. The Rājamālā, written in Bengali verse, was compiled by the Brahmans in the court of Dharma Māṇikya. During his reign and that of his successor, Dhanya Māṇikya (reigned c. 1463–1515), Tripura suzerainty was extended over much of Bengal, Assam, and Myanmar in a series of remarkable military conquests. It was not until the beginning of the 17th century that the Mughal Empire extended its sovereignty over much of Tripura.

      When the British East India Company obtained the dīwānī, or financial administration, of Bengal in 1765, the part of Tripura that had been under Mughal rule came under British (British Empire) control. From 1808 each successive ruler had to receive investiture from the British government. In 1905 Tripura was attached to the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam and was known as Hill Tippera.

      The last ruling maharaja of Tripura, Bīr Bikram Kishore Māṇikya, ascended the throne in 1923 and, before his death in 1947, settled that Tripura should accede to the newly independent country of India. Tripura officially became part of India on Oct. 15, 1949, and was made a union territory on Sept. 1, 1956. It became a constituent state of the Indian Union on Jan. 21, 1972.

      In the 1980s there was considerable ethnic violence in this state, largely fueled by demands for an independent tribal homeland in Tripura. In 1988 tribal dissidents ceased hostilities and dropped demands for autonomy in return for increased participation in state government.

Shiba P. Chatterjee Deryck O. Lodrick

Additional Reading
General surveys include Jagadis Gan-Chaudhuri (ed.), Tripura: The Land and Its People (1980); Omesh Saigal, Tripura: Its History and Culture (1978); and Sukhdev Singh Chib, Tripura (1988). Political developments from historical times to the present are examined in Jagadis Gan-Chaudhuri, A Political History of Tripurā (1985). See also S.N. Chatterjee, Tripura: A Profile (1984); and S.N. Guha Thakurta, Tripura (1986).Deryck O. Lodrick

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Universalium. 2010.

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