Unakoti hill, literally meaning one less a koti in Bengali, hosts an ancient Shaivite place of worship with huge rock reliefs celebrating Shiva.
Unakoti is a historic Shaiva pilgrimage spot and dates back to 7th – 9th centuries if not earlier. While the marvellous rock carvings, murals with their primitive beauty form the chief attraction, natural beauty including mountain scenery and waterfalls are an added bonus. As per Hindu mythology, when Lord Shiva was going to Kashi along with one crore gods and goddesses including him, he made a night halt at this location. He asked all the gods and goddesses to wake up before sun rise and proceed for Kashi. It is said that in the morning, except Shiva himself, no one else could get up so set out for Kashi himself cursing the others to become stone images. As a result, we have one less than a crore stone images and carvings at Unakoti. These carvings are located at a beautifully landscaped forest area with green vegetation all around which add to the beauty of the place.
There is also another story that suggests about a blacksmith who wished to live with Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati on the mythological Kailash Mountain. Lord Shiva had bet him that if he could make a crore (koti) idols of Lord Shiva, with in the period of one night, He would take Kallu, the blacksmith, with him to Kailash Parvath. When counted in the morning, the idols were one less than a koti (crore). This made the name of the place be changed to Unakoti, literally meaning one less than a crore.
The images found at Unakoti are of two types: namely rock-carved figures and stone images. Among the rock cut carvings, the central Shiva head and gigantic Ganesha figures deserve special mention. The central Shiva head known as Unakotiswara Kal Bhairava is about 30 feet high including an embroidered head-dress which itself is 10 feet high. On each side of the head-dress of the central Shiva, there are two full size female figures - one of Durga standing on a lion and another female figure on the other side. In addition, three enormous images of Nandi Bull are found half buried in the ground. There are various other stone as well as rock cut images at Unakoti. Sidewise these statues is lush green grass and moss accompanied by beautiful waterfalls which are soothing to the eyes after walking through the small traffic and windy roads of hilly Kailashahar to reach there.