Neer Mahal: The Palace on the Vanishing Lake


Neer Mahal, literary meaning the water palace, located around 53 kms from Agartala (Capital of Tripura), was built as a summer palace by Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarma Manikya (1908-1947), who was the last ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Tripura. The Manikya dynasty ruled the state from 1463 to 1947 and the last king was a progressive ruler, who built great buildings and infrastructure, ushering what was essentially a tribal area into modernity.



Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarma Manikya
Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarma Manikya|Wikimedia Commons

In 1921, the Maharaja commissioned the British company, Martin and Burns to build a unique water palace in the middle of Lake Rudrasagar. The lake palace was designed and built on detailed instructions from the Maharaja himself and blended Hindu and Muslim architectural styles. Marble and sandstone were used extensively and even today, the stand-out is the profusion of balconies, towers, pavilions and bridges, that make this palace, an architectural splendour. The dome-shaped minars that can be seen from far, also give the Neer Mahal a fort-like appearance. The palace is said to have taken nine years to build!


The Neer Mahal in Tripura is not as popular as the Lake Palace in Udaipur, but it is just as spectacular

Neer Mahal is noted for its resemblance to the enchanting Jag Niwas Palace (better known as the Lake Palace Hotel) on the Lake Pichola at Udaipur in Rajasthan. In fact at night, it is even more spectacular. The reflection of the Palace can be seen on the water and it seems to be floating in the air. Sadly however, the Rudrasagar lake, on which the palace stands, is fast disappearing. Reclamation of the catchment areas for agriculture is damaging the already fragile ecosystem.

It is ironic, that while the Lake palace of Udaipur gets so many tourists, this ‘Lake Palace of the East’, gets barely any. It is in need of urgent attention!


LHI TRAVEL GUIDE

The palace of Neermahal is in Melaghar town and is located at a distance of about 53 km from Agartala, the capital city of Tripura. For those traveling by rail, the two nearest railway stations are Kumarghat (160 kms) and Dharama Nagar (200 kms). if you wish to fly in, Agartala Airport is the nearest airport to Neermahal. One can access the Palace by road from the airport which is 68 kms away.

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