Unakoti Hill: The Lost Hill of Faces
- April 29, 2021
By Vijita Mukherjee
The hilly state of Tripura, located in the North-eastern corner of India is home to a centuries-old Shaivite pilgrimage site, Unakoti. About 178 kilometres from the capital city of Agartala, this ‘Lost Hill of Faces’ or ‘Hall of Faces’ has India’s largest bas-relief sculptures tucked away in a dense forest.
The word ‘Unakoti’ means one less than a ‘koti’ or crore (ten million). Unakoti denotes the supposed number of these statutes that are scattered in this area, known as Raghunandan hills.
As yet it has not been established who sculpted these massive statues or even exactly when the work began. However, there are many legends that exist about Unakoti and its creation. Here are some interesting ones:
Once one koti (or one crore) gods and goddesses including Lord Shiva were travelling from Kailash to Kashi. They stopped in this very place to rest for the night. It was decided that the next day, at the break of dawn they would all leave for Kashi. Shiva awoke much before sunrise and was ready at the appointed hour. However, much to his chagrin the other gods and goddesses had not moved at all and were fast asleep. Angered with this, Shiva cursed them to stay as still as stones and rocks and he left. And so they, the Unakoti, (one less than a koti or 99,99,999) remain there to this age.