Tripura: a history

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Tripura: a history

Sources of this article

TripuraTourism JagranJosh southtripura iloveindia tsu [1]

The origin of the word Tripura

The origin of the name of Tripura is still a matter of controversy among historians and researchers. According to the 'Rajmala", Tripura’s celebrated court chronicle, an ancient king named 'tripur' ruled over the territorial domain known as 'Tripura' and the name of the kingdom was derived from his name.

Many researchers explain the name 'Tripura' from its etymological origin: the word 'Tripura' is a compound of two separate words, 'tui' (water) + 'pra' (near) which in totality means 'near water'. The geographical location of the state with it's close proximity to the vast water resources of eastern Bengal coupled with the generic identity of the state's original inhabitants as 'Tipra' or 'Twipra' apparently justify this explanation of the State's name.

Ancient times

The history of Tripura dates back to primeval era of the great Indian epics, such as, the Mahabharata, the Puranas; and pillar inscriptions of Emperor Ashoka.

Tripura has a long story of its origin, its distinctive tribal culture and a captivating folklore.

The history of Tripura can be learnt from ‘Rajmala’ chronicles of king Tripura and writings of historians.

It was called Kirat Desh in the earliest times. According to the mythological legends, Tripura, who was the successor of King Druya and Bhabru, was the prodigy on whose name the state was named. Another fable affirms that the state was named after the Goddess Tripuri Sundari (whose temple is situated at Radhakrishnapur).

Dating back to the time of Mahabharatha, the very helm of the Kingdom of Tripura encompassed the greater part of Eastern Bengal stretching from the Bay of Bengal in the South to the Brahmaputra in the North and west and Burma, now Mynmar in the East. The earliest trace of the history of Tripura can be found in the Ashokan pillar inscriptions. The history points out that around the 7th Century, the Tripura Kings with the title of ‘Pha’ which means father, ruled from the Kailasahar region in North Tripura.

Mythology mingled with history

The early history of the kingdom of Tripura is a complex blend of history with Mythology. According to 'Rajmala' Tripura’s royal house trace their origin to the celebrated 'lunar' dynasty, following in the footsteps of their counterparts in the Hindu royal houses of the rest of India who claim to have originated from the 'lunar' or 'solar' dynasty.

Yoyati's descendents

Tripura has been a princely state.

Tripura is claimed to be one of the oldest princely State of ancient India. The princely rule r s of Tripura claimed to have been descended from the Yoyati of the Lunar Dynas ty of the Mahabharata. The king Yoyati’s successor king Druhya, king Bavru, king Pratardan, king Daitya, king Tripur and king Trilochana. Rajratnakar, the oldest State annals, endorsees that the king Bavru conquered the countries up to river Baitarini in O rissa adding a portion of Burma to his kingdom, also brought sea (Bay of Bengal) under his control. The king Bavru also attended the Aswameda Yajna(Horse Sacrifice) of Emperor Dasharatha of Ayodhya. The king Tripur was contemporary of king Yudhisthira of M ahabharata era. King Trilochana is said to have attended the Rajsuya Yajna of king Yudhisthira of Mahabharata era. King Trilochana was a pious king, a votary of Lord Siva.

There are references of Tripura even in the Mahabharata and the Puranas. According to ‘Rajmala’, the rulers were known by the surname ‘Fa’ meaning ‘father’.

Manikya Dynasty

The documented history reveals that the Tripuri Kings (Habugra) adopted the title of Manikya and ruled the kingdom for about 3,000 years. Rangamati (now called Udaipur), located in South Tripura District, used to be their capital.

The historical chapter of the Royal line of Tripura known a Manikya Dynasty had ac tually begun the reign of Maharaja Maha Manikya who ascended the tcrown 1400 A.D. Maharaja Maha Manikya was the first ruler who started rulling the State the Royal title of Manikya. In between the first ruler Maharaja Maha Manikya and the last ruler Mahara ja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur ruled the pri n cely State by assuming Royal title of Manikya.

The 14th Century

In the 14th Century, the history of Tripura witnessed a change with the shifting of the capital from Kailashahar to Udaipur. It was around the same time that the Tripuri kings adopted the title of Manikya and the Manikya dynasty, which had an Indo-Mongolian origin, ruled Tripura for around 3000 years according to a school of historians. The dominance of the Manikyas was also acknowledged by the Mughals when they were the central rulers.

There is a reference to rulers of Bengal helping Tripura kings in the 14th century. Kings of Tripura had to face frequent Mughal invasions with varying successes. They defeated the Sultans of Bengal in several battles.

The 17th Century

The 17th Century is a major watershed in the history of Tripura when the administration of the region passed on the hands of the Mughals with some powers left with the Manikyas.

The 18th century

In the 18th century, King Krishna Manikya shifted the capital Old Agartala, and subsequently to the present Agartala in the 19th century.

The 19th century

Actually it is the 19th century that marked the beginning of modern era for Tripura, when King Bir Chandra Manikya Bahadur Debbarma made changes in administration policy on the lines of British India. He passed various reforms for this.

In the Colonial era, the Britishers extended their control over Tripura granting some limited independence to the Manikya kings.

The last king Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur who reigned fo r the period from 1923 to 1947. He was a versatile as well as farsighted king who died on 17 May, 1947.

Over a period of 547 years altogether 35 Maharajas ruled the kingdom of Tripura.

As a result of the Ganamukti Parishad movement, the kingdom of Tripura was integrated with India in 1949.

The Partition of India influenced Tripura to a great extent, whilst Hindu Bengalis came from East Pakistan as refugees after independence in 1947.

The 20th century

1941 Constitution

The Times of India, Jun 18 2015

`Princely Tripura's constitution is older than Ambedkar's'

Biswendu Bhattacharjee

The princely state of Tripura had a written constitution which had all the fundamental provisions of the present Indian Constitution. Tripura Law Training Institute and Research Centre director Sankari Das on Wednesday published the constitution with commentaries, detailing its similarities with the present Constitution. Tripura law minister Tapan Chakraborty released the book.

“The last king of Tripura, Bir B ikram Kishore Manikya, had notified the constitution having 68 articles, seven parts and three schedules in July , 1941. It came into being at least nine years before the Indian Constitution was adopted,“ said Chakraborty .

The king's constitution covers all important provisions and articles of the present Constitution, including The Preamble, gender neutrality, emergency provi sions and judicial institutions. It appears that many things, including terms in the Indian Constitution, were borrowed from the king's constitution.

“The Tripura king's constitution had clearly described the provision of disqualification of membership in legislative assemblies for criminal offences in Article 24(i)(e). Later, this provision got a place in the Representation of People Act, 1951. But still it is not fol lowed properly ,“ he said.

Moreover, even when many countries did not ensure voting rights for women, Article 25(ii) of Tripura Constitution, during the British rule, made it clear that no woman shall be disqualified to be a voter or a candidate for election as member, by reason only for her sex, if otherwise qualified, said Chakraborty .

According to Tapas Dey , one of the associates of the Tripura Royal family , king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya had understood that absolute monarchy would not sustain for long after his visits to Europe and America.He had a meeting with Hitler before the World War II started.

By that time, the Indian freedom struggle had also gained momentum which made him realize that citizens need to be given limited powers to run the administration.

“With this background, the king formed a constitu tion drafting committee headed by him in 1939. His visionary zeal and exposure helped him to bring out such an excellent constitution in democratic spirit under monarchy ,“ added Dey .

While comparing both the constitutions, it appears that not only the articles and provisions, even narration and terms, were similar to the Tripura constitution, Das told the media.

The Tripura Constitution also had `interpretation' provision like that in the present Constitution (Article 367) besides resemblance with the judiciary and executive, council of ministers, chief minister, khash adalat (high court) and many more, said Das.

“It is quite astonishing that during the British rule, the Tripura King, in his written constitution, had made a core concept of democracy , which finds its concrete manifestation through the idea of representation,“ added Das.

May 1947

The State of Tripura was a princely state, and Maharaja Birbikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur was the last king. After the death of Maharaja Birbikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur in on May 17, 1947, a Council under the leadership of his widowed wife Maharani Kanchan Prabha Devi took over the charge of the administration on behalf of minor prince Kirit Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur.

15 October, 1949: merger with India

The colorful kingdom , princely rule came to close due to the merger of the State with India on 15 October, 1949. Maharani Kanchan Prava Maha Devi who signed the Tripura Merger Agreement on 9 September, 1949 in New Delhi on behalf of her son Kirit Bikram Kishore Manikya in accordance with consent of her late husband Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur. Thus the native princely State mer ge with India on 15 th October, 1949.

The monarchy came to an end on 9th Sept, 1947 [???; doubtful statement] and Tripura was merged with the Indian Union as a part 'C' State, administered by the Chief Commissioner.

Then the princely State became a part of C State under the administration of a Chief Commissioner Sri Ranjit Roy, I.C.S. was appointed as the first Chief Commissioner on 15.10.1949. A Council of Advisory was appointed by the President of India to advice the Chief Commissioner. Under the Act of State Re - organization the Territorial Council was set up consisting of 32 members including 2 nominee members.

Thereafter in place of the Advisory Committee, a Territorial Council was formed through the adult franchise on 15th August, 1957.

Union Territory

Tripura became a Union Territory on 1st November 1956. The territorial council was formed on 15th August 1959, which was later dissolved and a Legislative Assembly with a council of ministers was formed On 1 July, 1963.

In accordance with the consent of the President of India the Terr itorial Act was enacted on May, 1963 and under the provision of Article 239 of the constitution of India a presentitive administrator of the President was appointed and coming into the force of State Organization Act. The Territorial Council was abolished and in accordance with the Constitution Act 1962 provision was made for the creation of Legislature and Council of Minister s . Tripura Territorial Council was converted to the Tripura Legislative Assembly on 1 July, 1963 and Council of Ministers was formed for the first time under the Chief Ministership of Sri Sachindralal Singha. The first Legislature of the State began with strength of 30 members.

1972: statehood

The same democracy process continued up to 1971. With the objective of giving full - fledged democratic rights to people of State Tripura was granted Statehood by Act of Parliament on January, 1972. In General Election held in March, 1972 the National Congres the election with overwhelming majority under the leadership of Sukhamay Sengupta. Sri Sukhama y Sengupta became first Chief Minister of the State after its attaining Statehood. Sri B. K. Nehru, I.C.S. became first Governor of Tripura State.

On January 21, 1972 Tripura became full-fledged State by the Act of Parliament called the North Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971.

Armed conflicts

After the Indo-Pak of 1971, Tripura is facing the problem of armed conflicts. The Tripura National Volunteers, the National Liberation Front of Tripura and the All Tripura Tiger Force emerged as groups during this time to chase off the Bengalis, who migrated in masses from Bangladesh.

The reorganisation of districts

Till 31st August 1970 the district administration was run by one Deputy Commissioner. On 1st September 1970, Tripura was divided into 3 (three) districts, namely, North Tripura, South Tripura and West Tripura. Later the fourth district called Dhalai was created which started functioning from 16th April,1995.

South Tripura: History

The South Tripura District with its headquarter at Udaipur was created in 1970. Udaipur is popularly known as the city of lakes and was the capital of Tripura till 1760 A.D. The city is famous for its Mata Tripura Sundari Temple which is situated about 3 km away from Udaipur at Matabari. The temple is one of the 51 Mahapithasthans of India. The legend is that toe of the right foot of Mata Sati fell, as a result of the cutting of the body of Mata Sati into pieces by Sudarsan Chakra of Lord Vishnu .


The present territory of Tripura predominantly hilly with a geographical area of 10491 Sq. km and is surrounded on three sides by deltaic basin of Bangladesh with tropic of cancer passing through it.

Judiciary: Traditional, British and post-1949 systems

W.W. Hunter in the Statistical Account of the State of Hill Tipperah (1876) observed that:

“Until the year 1873-74 the Courts of Hill Tipperah dispensed justice according to a primitive system of equity and good conscience and there was no regular judicial procedure” (page - 462).

No historical documents or historian has so far contested that claim, in stereotype of the colonial administrators. Some rudimentary proclamations were issued before 1873-74 to regulate the penalty in Criminal cases, but there was no supervisory Court. The King was the fountain-head of the justice.

The administration of justice witnessed a remarkable change in the year 1873-74 when nine enactments which included a Criminal Procedure Code, a Civil Procedure Code, a Police Guide, Limitation Act and Evidence Act etc. were promulgated by the King. In 1874, two Magisterial Courts and One Civil Court of original jurisdiction at Agartala were established. There were an appellate Court and a Court for Special appeals.

There were two Criminal Courts of original jurisdiction, one having jurisdiction over hill-tribes and the other over Bengalees and Manipuris. The functions of those Courts were partly legislative and partly judicial. For purpose of enacting the laws the Maharajas constituted a State Council, power of which however was subject to the assent of the Mahahaja.

The Privy Council was formed with three members for hearing the appeals to the Maharaja. It has been recorded in the Tripura District Gazetters that the judgments of the Courts having affirmed by the Maharaja were not subject to the revision by any Officer of the British Government. By dint of the Constitution of Court Act, 1318 T.E. (corresponding to 1908) several Courts were established in the sub-divisional level.

A Khas Adalat or the Chief Court with its original and appellate sides was also established. The language of all Courts was Bengali. It has been recorded that there were ten Courts of the original jurisdiction both for civil and criminal cases during the year 1905-06 spread over the various sub-divisions.


After the merger of Tripura with the Union of India on October 15, 1949, Tripura (Courts) Order 1950 came into force with effect from January 26, 1950. The Court of Judicial Commissioner, the Court of District Judge, the Court of the Subordinate Judge, the Court of the Munsiff were established under Sections 3 and 15 of the Tripura (Courts) Order, 1950.

Thus, after the merger, judicial set-up of Tripura has been similar to that of other States of the Indian Union and gradually the Government of Tripura either had adopted the various States Laws having their operation within the territorial jurisdiction of Tripura or they has extended the Central Laws. The Judicial Commissioner’s Court was the highest Court in Tripura and it used to exercise almost all the functions of a High Court till 20th January, 1972.

The North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971

On reorganization, by operation of the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971 (Act 81 of 1971) when Tripura became a full-fledged State, the High Court of Assam and Nagaland was abolished in terms of Section 28 of the said Reorganisation Act, 1971 and a common High Court came to be established for the five states of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura and two Union Territories (Union Territories of Mizoram and the Union Territories of Arunachal Pradesh).

High Courts

The High Court of Assam and Nagaland was renamed as the Gauhati High Court (The High Court of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura). Again, with the enactments called the State of Mizoram Act, 1986 (Act 34 of 1986) and the State of Arunachal Pradesh Act, 1986 (Act 69 of 1986), Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh attained statehood on 20.02.1987.

By the State of Mizoram Act, 1986, coming into force from the appointed day i.e. 20.02.1987, the common High Court for the State of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram became the High Court of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram. Similarly in terms of the Arunachal Pradesh Act, 1986 from the appointed day i.e. 20.02.1987 the common High Court for the State of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh came into being having the Principal Seat at Guwahati.

The Benches of the said high court in each of the States were established on different dates. Tripura got it Bench of the common High Court on 24.01.1972. Those Benches eventually converted to the permanent benches and Tripura got its permanent bench on May 14, 1992 with the approved strength of three permanent Judges by the Presidential declaration made on the same day.

The people of Tripura by their elected representatives and the legal fraternity continued to aspire for a separate High Court and finally by the Act called The North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Act, 2012 it has been declared that the State of Tripura along with other two States namely, Meghalaya and Manipur shall get their separate High Court. For that purpose some significant amendments have been carried out in the Principal Act.

“28A.(1) on commencement of the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Act, 2012 there shall be a High Court—

(a) for the State of Meghalay to be called the High Court of Meghalaya;

(b) for the State of Manipur to be called the High Court of Manipur;

(c) for the State of Tripura to be called the High Court of Tripura;”

The North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Act, 2012

The Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs in terms of Sub-Section (2) of Section 1 of the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Act, 2012 appointed March 23, 2013 as the date on which the said Act shall come into force. Prior to that by the Presidential warrant in exercise of powers conferred by Article 217(1) of the Constitution of India Hon’ble Mr. Justice Deepak Gupta, Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court has been appointed to be the Chief Justice of the High Court of Tripura with effect from March 23, 2013 and by other notifications, the other Hon’ble Judges, who were formally the Judges of the Gauhati High Court became the Judges of the High Court of Tripura from March 23, 2013 in their respective capacities.

On March 23, 2013 the Hon’ble Chief Justice and other Hon’ble Judges of the High Court of Tripura have been administered the oath of the office by His Excellency, the Governor of Tripura, Dr. D.Y. Patil at Durbar Hall of the Rajbhaban in presence of the high dignatories. The relentless journey for dispensing justice by the High Court of Tripura has commenced thus, from the momentous day of March 23, 2013

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