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Tripura- meaning three cities, were constructed by the great Asura architect Mayasura. These were united afterwards , Maya's cities were destroyed by god Tripurantaka, an aspect of Shiva. The above link provides very interesting but a very short description of those 3 cities.

So I am interested in a detail description about these three cities from puranas. Like the names , locations , residents and internal details etc.

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    In Shiva Purana it is described in detail and several chapters are used to describe it... – Tejaswee Jun 12 '17 at 13:18
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    Related How Lord Shiva became Tripurari? – The Destroyer Jun 12 '17 at 13:29
  • The three cities is another way to refer to the three worlds of earth, sky and heaven. – Swami Vishwananda Jun 13 '17 at 10:09
  • @SwamiVishwananda - Yes - काञ्चनं दिवि तत्रासीदन्तरिक्षे च राजतम् | आयसं चाभवद्भुमौ पुरं तेषाम महात्मनाम ||१९|| The noble asuras established the three cities in the three places. The city of the Gold was lodged in the heaven , the city of silver was lodged in the sky and the city of iron was lodged on earth - Linga purana , chapter 71 – SwiftPushkar Jun 13 '17 at 10:12
  • They are not 'in' each, they are each. – Swami Vishwananda Jun 13 '17 at 10:21
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The three cities (Tripura) are described in Chapter 1, Yuddha Khanda (Rudra Khanda) of Shiva Mahapurana.

Mayadanava built three different cities at one place made of gold, silver and iron & steel for Tarakaksha, Kamalaksha and Vajramali respectively.

आज्ञां ददौ मयस्यापि कुरु त्वं नगरत्रयम्।
काञ्चनं राजतं चैव अायसं चेति भो मय! ॥ ५५॥

Mayadanava was then ordered to build three cities of gold, silver and iron.

इत्यादिश्य मयं ब्रह्मा प्रत्यक्षं प्राविशद्दिवम्।
तेषां तारकपुत्राणां पश्यतां निजधाम हि॥५६॥

After thus issuing a command to Mayadanava, in the presence of the sons of Taraka, Brahma- the creator, returned to his abode, in full view of all of them.

ततो मयश्च तपसा चक्रेत धीरः पुराण्यथ।
काञ्चनं तारकाक्षस्य कमलाक्षस्य राजतम्॥५७॥
विद्युन्माल्यायसं चैव त्रिविधं दुर्गमुत्तमम्।
स्वर्गे व्योम्नि च भूमौ च क्रमाज्ज्ञेयानि तानि वै॥ ५८॥

Then Maya who was filled with wisdom, making all the efforts, made the city of gold for Tarakaksa, a silver city for Kamalaksa and a city of iron, for Vidyunmall, together with three forts, which were located with heaven, the sky and the earth.

दत्त्वा तेभ्योऽसुरेभ्यश्च पुराणि त्रीणि वै मयः।
प्रविवेश स्वयं तत्र हितकामपरायणः॥ ५९ ॥

Bestowing the three cities to the Danavas, keeping in view their welfare, he himself also started living there.

एवं पुरत्रयं प्राप्य प्रविष्टास्तारकात्मजाः।
बुभुजुः सकलान्भोगान् महाबलपराक्रमाः॥ ६०॥

After getting the possession of the three cities, the sons of Taraka, entered therein. The immensely valorous Danavas, started enjoying all the comforts there.

They had citadels, Rivers, kalpavriksha trees ,places for worship of Shiva.

कल्पद्रुमैश्च सङ्कीर्ण गजवाजिसमाकुलम्।
नानाप्रासादसङ्कीर्णं मणिजालसमावृतम्॥ ६१॥

Numerous kalpavriksas were growing in those cities, besides numerous horses and the elephants. There were several places, with gem-studded windows.

सूर्यमण्डलसङ्काशैर्विमानैः सर्वतोमुखैः।
पद्मरागमयैश्चैव शोभितं चन्द्रसन्निभैः॥ ६२॥

There were several planes in which rubies were fixed in all the four sides, and illumined like the sun rays. Some of them resembled the moon, which decorated the city.

प्रासादैर्गोपुरैर्दिव्यैः कैलासशिखरोपमैः।
दिव्यस्त्रीजनसङ्कीर्णैर्गन्धर्वैः सिद्धचारणैः॥ ६३॥

There were the huge royal places. The gates of the cities, resembled the peaks of the Kailasa mountain. There were numerous divine damsels, besides those of the Gandharvas, siddhas and cdranas.

रुद्रालयैः प्रतिगृहमग्निहोत्रैः प्रतिष्ठितैः।
द्विजोत्तमैः शास्त्रविज्ञैः शिवभक्तिरतैः सदा।। ६४॥

Every house had a Siva temple, places for performing the homas, and the learned people well-versed in the scriptures, lived there.

वापीकूपतडागैश्च दीर्घिकाभिः सुशोभितम्।
उद्यानवनवृक्षैश्च स्वर्गच्युतगुणोत्तमैः।। ६५॥

There were enough of step-wells, wells, tanks, both big and small, besides the divine orchards with charming trees.

नदीनदसरिन्मुख्यपुष्करै: शोभितं सदा।
सर्वकामफलाद्यैश्चानेकैर्वृक्षैर्मनोहरम्॥ ६६॥

All the rivers, rivulets and canals were filled with water. The place was quite delightful with the trees which yielded useful fruits.

मत्तमातङ्गयूथैश्च तुरङ्गैश्च सुशोभनैः।
रथैश्च विविधाकारैः शिबिकाभिरलङ्कृतम्॥ ६७॥

The place had the herds of elephants, horses, chariots and palanquins of different types.

People there even studied Vedas, women were chaste and highly devoted to Lord Shiva. This is also the reason why Lord Shiva was reluctant to destroy three cities initially.

समयाध्युषितैधैव क्रीडास्थानैः पृथक्पृथक्रा वेदाध्ययनशीलाभिर्विविधाभिः पृथक् पृथक्॥ ६८॥

During the evening time, besides the play grounds, the separate rooms were made for the study of the Vedas.

अदृष्टमनसा वाचा पापान्वितनरै: सदा।
महात्मभिः शुभाचारैः पुण्यवद्भिः प्रवीक्ष्यते॥६९॥

No sinful persons, could be found there who spoke evil words by speech or the mind. Everywhere only the noble people with good conduct could be seen.

पतिव्रताभिः सर्वत्र पावितं स्थलमुत्तमम्।
पतिसेवनशीलाभिर्विमुखाभिः कुधर्मतः॥७०॥

The houses of the city were adored with the chaste women who were devoted to their husbands and served them well, and were averse to evil ways.

दैत्यशूरैर्महाभागैः सदारैः ससुतैर्द्विजैः।
श्रौतस्मार्तार्थतत्त्वज्ञैः स्वधर्मनिरतैर्युतम्॥७१॥

The immensely fortunate, daitya-warrior lived with their sons and wives, besides the Brahmana, who were well-versed in the Smarta doctrine and were devoted to their dharma.

व्यूढोरस्कैवृषस्कन्धै: सामयुद्धधरै: सदा।
प्रशान्तैः कुपितैश्चैव कुब्जैर्वामनकैस्तथा॥७२॥

There were enough of dwarfs, having broad chests, high shoulders, well-versed in peace and war, who could get enraged at the appropriate time only and found everywhere.

नीलोत्पलदलप्रख्यैर्नलकुख्रितमूद्धजै:।
मयेन रक्षितैः सर्वैः शिक्षितैर्युद्धलालसैः॥७३॥

Mayadanava, had kept on duty the warriors there, who had the complexion like the blue lotus flowers, having the curly hair resembling the black wasps and who were always anxious to fight.

This is mythological description or mythological story of Tripura Dahana. But three cities or Tripura have deeper metaphorical meanings. Three cities can be interpreted as three states of wakefulness, dream and profound sleep and destruction of cities is destruction of these states and dissolving into Lord, as stated in Kaivalya Upanishad (translated by Swami Madhavananda)

स एव मायापरिमोहितात्मा शरीरमास्थाय करोति सर्वम् ।
स्त्र्यन्नपानादिविचित्रभोगैः स एव जाग्रत्परितृप्तिमेति ॥ १२॥

12.With his self thus deluded by Maya or ignorance, it is he who identifies himself with the body and does all sorts of things. In the waking state it is he (the Jiva) who attains satisfaction through the varied objects of enjoyment, such as women, food, drink, etc.

स्वप्ने स जीवः सुखदुःखभोक्ता स्वमायया कल्पितजीवलोके ।
सुषुप्तिकाले सकले विलीने तमोऽभिभूतः सुखरूपमेति ॥ १३॥

13.In the dream-state that Jiva feels pleasure and pain in a sphere of existence created by his own Maya or ignorance. During the state of profound sleep, when everything is dissolved (into their causal state), he is overpowered by Tams or non-manifestation and comes to exist in his form of Bliss.

पुनश्च जन्मान्तरकर्मयोगात्स एव जीवः स्वपिति प्रबुद्धः ।
पुरत्रये क्रीडति यश्च जीवस्ततस्तु जातं सकलं विचित्रम् ।
आधारमानन्दमखण्डबोधं यस्मिँल्लयं याति पुरत्रयं च ॥ १४॥

14.Again, through his connection with deeds done in previous births, that very Jiva returns to the dream-state, or the waking state. The being who sports in the three cities (viz., the states of wakefulness, dream and profound sleep) – from Him has sprung up all diversity. He is the substratum, the bliss, the indivisible Consciousness, in whom the three cities dissolve themselves.

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The available description of tripura in Srimad Bhagvatam is as follows:

स निर्माय पुरस्तिस्रो हैमीरौप्यायसीर्विभुः ।
दुर्लक्ष्यापायसंयोगा दुर्वितर्क्यपरिच्छदाः ॥ ५४ ॥

SB 7.10.54 — Maya Dānava, the great leader of the demons, prepared three invisible residences and gave them to the demons. These dwellings resembled airplanes made of gold, silver and iron, and they contained uncommon paraphernalia.

Alternative translation:

The demon constructed three big and mighty cities made of gold, silver and iron. Possessing the uncommon ability to move [floating] around in formation they were difficult to discern.

He constructed for them three huge cities, made of gold, silver and iron, that were immensely great and of an uncommon traffic and of peculiar specialties [they were reported to hover as airships over one another in the sky].

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