These beautiful rock-cut carvings and stone images stand tall between 30 and 40 feet, and among the deities found in this location include Lord Ganesha, Goddess Durga, Goddess Ganga, and Nandhi. Besides these giant sculptures, Unakoti is also popular for the Solar Festival during Makar Sankranti and Ashokastami which are celebrated during the first half of the year.
While Unakoti is a must-visit ancient marvel in India, many still raise questions regarding the mysterious 99,99,999 sculptures of deities found in this location. Who carved these majestic sculptures and what are the legends behind them?
The Legends Behind The Magnificant Sculptures
The name Unakoti which translates to one less than a crore (ten million) in Bengali is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Legend says that Lord Shiva camped at this site together with 99,99,999 gods and goddesses while on their way home to the sacred Mount Kailash, one crore including himself. While Lord Shiva ordered them to wake up before sunrise, seeing them sleeping till dawn made him furious. He then curses them to become stone images and set off to Mount Kailash alone. Now there are one less than a crore stone carvings at this location.
A different version of the legend suggests that Kallu Kumar, a master sculptor was challenged by Goddess Parvathi to carve one crore sculptures of deities before dawn to deny the request of the sculptor who wished to follow Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi to Mount Kailash. When dawn arrived, Kallu Kumar only managed to carve one short to a crore, thus he was left behind.
Source: India.com, Northeast Mojo & Postcard
Image Credit: Bharat Temples, Unakoti District, Speakseazy, The Inner World & Temple Vibhaga.