Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jharkhand – A Heaven in a Package

Set in the eastern part of India, Jharkhand in one of the most charming destinations of the country. With its wealth of flora and fauna, indigenous rich culture, magnificent ancient temples, fossilized flora and a beautiful hill station, Jharkhand makes a popular destination for global tourists visiting India. In fact, every time the traveller visiting Jharkhand get confused in what to see and what to leave. Because the state house a number of tourist attractions and offers excellent opportunity to experience the tribal culture and traditions.

Now the big question before everyone raise. From where one should start his trip in Jharkhand. I would suggest you to start your journey from Betla National Park known for its tiger population. Spend a night with the cheetals, your morning on elephant back, tracking the tigers or watching a bunch of elephants slough off mud in the numerous waterholes. If you want to know more about wildlife then walk into the Nature Interpretation Centre, that houses stuffed animals and birds, snakes and lizards in formalin, tiger pawa case in plaster of paris and animal scat bottled and labelled.

For adding a little history and culture into your journey, drive to Palamau Fort that was built by the Chero King Raja Medini Rai, around 400 years ago. Here the Purana Qila (Old Fort) stands as a sentinel on a hilltop on the banks of Auranga river while the Naya Qila (New Fort) lies on a neigbouring hilltop.

Next head to Netarhat which is known for the number of bureaucrats who passed out the Public School. Also known as the Queen of Hills, Netarhat is a wonderful weekend getaway from Ranchi. Bestowed with lush green sal trees and the shimmering Koel river, Netarhat makes every aesthete’s dream vacation. Best moments in Netarhat are during the sunrise from the tower of the Tourist Bungalow and the sunset from Magnolic Point.

If you are in the mood for experiencing something unusual, then must drive or take a train to Rajmahal, the abode of the Viceroy and a mint town from 1639-1660. Nowadays Rajmahal is every anthropologist's favourite on the holiday itinerary. Here resides immense fossilised flora preserved as impression, cast and petrifications.

Those who are interested in birds, must head to Sahebganj / Rajmahal to sit by the lake and watch the winged delights in Udhwa Bird Sanctuary. Jami Masjid is another major attraction in Rajmahal, which was built by Mughal Emperor Akbar’s trusted general Raja Maan Singh in 1592.

If you are looking for pilgrimage vacation in the state, then Maluti should be a destination. The sleepy town is dotted with numerous temples and steeped in divinity. Here you will feel that temples take cue from the Shikara and Bengali style of architecture are actually made of teracotta. The brown temples of Medieval Age give Maluti a very distinct earthy tone. Lord Shiva is the ruling god of Maluti, but you will also find temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Durga. Most of the temples in Maluti depict scenes from the epic Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

No trip to Jhanrkhand is complete without experiencing the tribal life. Chottanagpur plateau is considered one of the oldest settlements in the world. Traces of the ancient culture can be seen in the rock art in Isko dating back to mid-Stone Age and lower Paleolithin Age tool in Ramgarh, Barkagaon and other areas close to the river Damodar.

For centuries, the tribals of Jharkhand are adhered to their indigenous culture, speaking a very different language and each following different religious rituals. As the tribals lived in harmony with nature forever, so most of the rituals are pagan, especially obvious in such festivals are Sarhul and Karma. Sarhul is a spring festival during which the flowers of sal tree are brought to a sacred place and the tribal priest offers prayers to gods. Karma festival is more pagan in its nuances, having a closer link with the nature. However, the young tribal girls celebrate this festival for the health and prosperity of their brothers.

On the whole, Jharkhand offers much more to travellers. In fact, as a traveller you would never be disappointed and as a stranger you would always feel at home.

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