Tripura’s longest boat will fulfil more than one dream and leave a legacy
Tripura’s Dulan Sutradhar started making boats when he was only 12 years old and hasn’t stopped even at 70. He claims to have made over five thousand boats so far and is hoping to make more than a splash with his latest and also the longest boat, currently receiving finishing touches from the expert artist.
Sutradhar practices his craft in Melaghar town in state’s Sepahijala district, about 60 kilometres away from capital Agartala, and hopes to help drive more tourists to the local Rudrasagar Lake, which is home to India’s only the second water palace,Neermahal, once his 200-seater magnum opus makes a floating debut in December.
“Currently, we are making a 65 feet long and 11.5 feet wide boat. This will be the state’s longest-ever boat with a capacity to seat 200 persons,” Dulan said with pride teeming in his eyes.
Dulan says he also built all the ten other boats, including three traditional race boats and a speed boat, currently operating in the Rudrasagar Lake.
The putting together of his masterpiece began in October and it doesn’t appear to be just commercial in nature, one gets the sense that he wants to leave a legacy.
“I feel this will keep the art of making boats alive forever,” Dulan said.
A cooperative society of around 2,000 fishermen and boatmen, who are footing the cost of the boat, too, seem driven by a cause.
Rudrasagar Udbastu Fishermen Samabay Samiti was started by 600 members, who made the lake their home and the source of livelihood, after settling down in Melaghar from different places in the state.
Most of their children are well-settled in government jobs, earning fat salaries.
“We didn’t take financial help from the government. The estimated cost of the boat is ₹12 lakhs,” said Parameshwar Das, secretary of the Samiti.
Samiti feels the new boat will make a trip to Neermahal special.
“This longest boat will ferry tourists from Rajghat to Neermahal and then drop them at the initial point,” Das added.
Neermahal, the red and white palace, was built over 2100 acres in the Rudrasagar Lake by state’s last king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Deb Burman in 1939.
The state’s BJP-IPFT government handed out 2,000 ducks to 100 local families for release in the lake in March this year to boost income from poultry and tourism.
1.3 million tourists visited Tripura in past three years including the Neermahal.