Tripura Sundari Temple, an ancient temple dedicated to Devi Tripureshwari, is located in Udaipur, the former capital of India's Tripura state. The Hindu shrine, popularly known as Matabari, is one of the country's 51 Shakti Peethas of the Goddess Sati. Tripurasundari is the Shakti (Goddess) worshipped here, and Tripuresh is the accompanying Bhairava. This pithasthan is also known as Kurma Pith because it is situated on a hill that resembles the hump of a tortoise (Kurma), and the shape is known as Kurmaphakti. This magnificent temple is approximately 500 years old, making it the city's oldest temple.
The state government has also established the Mata Tripura Sundari Trust to oversee the development of Tripureswari Temple and the surrounding area. The chairman of this trust, who oversees management, is the Honorable Chief Minister of Tripura.
As a Shakti Peetha:
Shakti Peethas are Mother Goddess shrines or divine locations. These are believed to be Shakti-enshrined locations as a result of the falling body parts of Sati Devi's corpse while Lord Shiva carried it and wandered throughout Aryavartha in sorrow. There are 51 Shakti Peeth, which correspond to the 51 alphabets of Sanskrit. Each temple has shrines dedicated to Shakti and Kalabhairava, and each temple assigns different names to Shakti and Kalabhairava.
The temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas; legend has it that Sati's little finger from her left leg fell here. Shakti is worshipped as Tripurasundar, and Bhairava is worshipped as Tripuresh. The main shrine, a cubical edifice with a three-tier roof and a finial was built in the Bengali Ek-Ratna style by Maharaja of Tripura Dhanya Manikya in 1501 AD. In her incarnation as 'Shoroshi,' the Goddess 'Kali' is worshipped (a sixteen-year-old girl). A smaller Maa Kali idol known as 'Chotto Maa' stands beside the presiding deity; it was reportedly carried along by kings during hunting expeditions and also during war for worship in tents.
All of this information is derived from Temple manuscripts. However, these manuscripts have been destroyed over time. Devi Tripura Sundari's idol is made of Kasti stone, which is reddish black in color.
History and Beliefs:
When Maharaja Dhanya Manikya came to learn about the divine grace and power of the Shivalinga or phallic symbol of Shiva (Swayambhuinga or Swayambhunath) at Chittagong, he decided to bring it to his state. Excavation began in full swing, but it was ultimately an unsuccessful attempt to dislocate it. The Maharaja received a divine message in his dream one night that the Shivalinga could not be moved, but the idol of Tripura Sundari could be relocated if he so desired. However, there was a condition that the idol could only be moved as far as possible by the following night and not after daybreak.
The Maharaja arranged for the transfer of the Tripura Sundari idol in accordance with the divine message. Servants loyal to the King toiled all the way to bring the idol but were forced to stop when the idol became static as soon as the sun came up. Maharaja Dhanya Manikya constructed a temple there and installed the idol. Matabari was later given the name of the temple's location.
The Tripura Sundari or Matabari temple faces west. The main entrance is in the west, but there is also a small entrance in the north. The latter, according to Chandrodaya Vidyabinod Bhattacharya, could have been carved out of construction in later years. He noticed that the ancient temples did not appear to have more than one entrance. The temple was measured physically in 1892 A.D., which provided the data that the exterior of the temple was 24'x24' and the inner compartment 16'x 16'. The temple wall measured 8' wide by 75' tall. The difference in measurement between the outer and inner temple walls is due to the temple wall being extremely thick.
Though the temple's outer morphology is tetragonal, the core chamber or lumen inside is rotund, as is the circular roof inside. In India, such temples with spherical lumen are uncommon. On the outside of the temple, there are four buttresses or supports. The horizontal carvings protruding at regular intervals encircling the buttresses greatly enhance their beauty. The buttress's apex is adorned with intricate artistry resembling an inverted pitcher. Horizontal lines joined symmetrically by vertical lines at alternate intervals create a texture of rectangles of varying magnitudes all along the surface of the walls.
The temple's roof is covered by four slanting roofs, or Chaar chaalas, which support a circular block in the center. A conical or stupa-like neck rests on the block, and numerous small alcoves or Kulangi serially surrounding its base give it the appearance of a blooming lotus. The Aanilok, a conical or myrobalan-shaped structure, is visible through the neck. From a distance, slender, convex undulatory curve lines run along the Aamlok. Karanda, a typical structure that resembles a flower-basket or a bee-hive and also bears the sacred flag on top, ascends to Aamlok.
Pilgrims have been drawn to Matabari for many years, dating back to ancient times. However, due to inaccessible terrain and a remote location, pilgrims encountered a variety of difficulties. In those days, there was almost no road connectivity across Tripura. As a means of communication, one would walk; ride on a boat, a palanquin, or an elephant. Horses were rarely used by common people in Tripura because they were scarce and were only used by royal members.
The tranquil lake Kalyansagar, located on the temple's back side, has added to the overall atmosphere of the temple complex. The lake is home to tortoises, which are highly revered by temple devotees. This ancient temple is also known as the Koorma (tortoise) Pith. It is a popular religious shrine where thousands of devotees from all over the country gather to celebrate the Diwali Festival in grand style.
How to Reach:
The temple is open throughout the year.
Agartala airport is the nearest airport, which is 70 km away.
You can take the train to Udaipur Railway station, which is 50 km by train from Agartala Railway station.
The temple is 60 km away from Agartala by road.