Surrounded by Bangladesh on three sides, the lush mountains, hills and valleys of TRIPURA became part of India in 1949 when the princely state joined the union. Its fate and culture has been closely entwined with Bengal, while indigenous ethnic groups form around thirty percent of the population, mostly around the northern and eastern districts bordering Assam. Partition and the subsequent creation of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1948, followed by war, famine and military regimes forced millions of Bangladeshis to flee into Tripura, where they now outnumber the indigenous people – such as the Tripuri, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group – which has caused resentment and conflict over the decades. In 2013, elections returned the CPI(M) government, making Tripura one of the last communist-held states in India. Today, Agartala, the capital, is a relaxed city with a palace and a few temples, with Udaipur, a town of lakes and temples, and the fairy-tale palace at Neermahal easily accessible. Of particular note is Tripura Sundari, one of the Northeast’s most important temples. It is located just outside Udaipur, and well worth a visit. A handful of sanctuaries, such as Gumti, Rowa, Trishna and Sepahijala, protect the state’s few remaining forests while to the northeast the medieval Shaivite rock carvings of Unakoti are now accessible after years of strife.
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