Tripura's Neermahal palace catches tourist fancy

Melaghar (Tripura): Neermahal, the iconic red and white palace on the famed Rudrasagar Lake here in West Tripura, has become a tourist hot spot, a long 81 years after it was built.

Taking note of its rising popularity among tourists, the Centre has decided to provide money for a facelift of the palace built by Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur in 1930.

Officials of the Tripura Tourist Department said that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism, headed by Sitaram Yechury, had last February recommended renovation of the water palace, a blend of distinct Hindu and Islamic architectural styles.

The Standing Committee has asked the Tripura government to prepare a detailed project report for renovation of Neermahal, the only palace of its kind in eastern India and comparable to the lake palace in Udaipur in Rajasthan.

The committee has proposed to increase the water level of the lake, construction of a ring road around the palace, retrofitting of the palace and preservation of biodiversity.

The officials said that a Rs 40-crore project had been envisaged, which includes renovation of the building, development of catchment areas of the lake, preservation of bio-diversity, dredging of the lake and rehabilitation of the fishermen's community and protection of their livelihood.

There is also a plan to preserve the bio-diversity and take proper care of Noyacherra, a stream which is the source of the lake.

Extensive dredging has been planned for increasing the water level of the lake which has shrunk to just 374 hectares at present from 2,066 hectares in 1947.