The great nation of Bharata has produced many heroes who are revered to this day for their valour. Maharaja (Bubagra) Colonel Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Debbarman, a statesman par excellence, is one such National hero who has unfortunately been forgotten by our post-independence state and its intellectuals.
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb today unveiled a massive statue of Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya at Dharmanagar under North Tripura district.
The Chief Minister said, “The previous regime never bothered for own state’s culture nor they were bothered about their own country’s tradition. Rather they were busy with foreign figures whereas, 37 lakh citizens of our beloved state are forever indebted to Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya, the Architect of Modern Tripura”.
One is thus reminded of the day the Lenin statue fell in Tripura, ushering a new era where our national heroes would be revered over ideological imports like Lenin. Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore is the ‘father of modern architecture of the state of Tripura‘. He is considered to be one of the greatest kings in India’s history who is credited to have built the current state of Tripura by developing institutions and infrastructure and paved the way for its national integration.
Born in 1908 to Birendra Kishore Manikya, Maharaja of Manikya Dynasty of Tripura, Bir Bikram Kishore took the reigns of the state in 1923. The new king, soon after assuming the power necessitated the development by ushering a new era of reforms in the princely state of Tripura. Bir Bikram first started with building the capital of his kingdom, the city of Agartala. He consolidated the state land holdings by bringing land reforms and reserved large tracks of land for his tribal populace, known as Tripuri, which is presently recognised as TTAADC (Tripura Tribal Area Autonomous District councils) Areas. Addition to this, the first airport of Tripura was built in 1942 by Bir Bikram at Agartala, which has been renamed by the BJP government at the centre to honour the great king.
Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore was also renowned to be a great educationist. He built numerous schools, college and started Tripura’s first University. This led to the spread of education across the state and acted as the foundation for the Tripura’s high rate of literacy in the coming years. Bir Bikram Manikya played a huge role during the Bengal famine of the 1940s. He came to the rescue of people of Bengal by providing food grains when they were ravaged by severe famine. Along with his son Maharaja Kirit Bikram Kishore, Bir Bikram also provided much-needed help to the Hindu Bengali refugees who fled their homes as they faced persecution by the Muslims of East Bengal during the partition of India.
Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya died at a very young age of 39 in 1947 just before India’s independence. He was the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of the Tripura. After his death, his son Kirat Bikram Kishore took the reigns and merged it with independent India in 1949. The untimely death of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore limited the development of the state of Tripura.
The Manikyas dynasty of Tripura not only had great rulers but also preserved and promoted Hindu culture and traditions, especially the Bengali language and the culture. The Kingdom of Tripura and the family of Bharat Ratna Rabindranath Tagore had a very close relationship.
The Kings of Tripura is said to have given huge contributions to Rabindranath Tagore and also helped Tagore to build ‘Viswa Bharati’ in Bengal to revive Hindu culture and literature. Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore also provided annual grants to the university throughout his rule from 1923-1947. The Kings of Tripura are also said to have helped to launch a hospital, a library and ‘Sangeet Bhawan’ at Viswa Bharati.
The greatest gift of Tripura Kings to India’s culture is their pledge to revive Manipuri dance form, by contributing to its introduction in Viswa Bharati’s cultural curricula. The contributions from the Tripura Kings helped Rabindranath Tagore and his authorities at Viswa Bharati to depute experts like renowned artist Dhirendra Krishna Debbarman and Manipuri dance expert Buddhimanta Singh to revive Manipuri art form.
The royal family of Tripura has done an exceptional work over years to promote our national cultural heritage and also united many diverse linguistic and ethnic groups to create a modern state of Tripura and successfully merge it with the idea of India. The Government of Tripura’s recent decision to mark respect by raising a statue of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya, one of India’s greatest kings is truly remarkable as the contribution of the Kingdom of Tripura in the process of cultural preservation and nation build is irreplaceable.